Chapter Twenty - One
Knowing now that everyone knew he lied about his reason for leaving, he had to try and take care of Sateria in a matter of days. Jayden’s plan was simple. Pretend he was on a stakeout, and tail her to learn her routine.
He sat on the street outside of the parking garage at her home and waited for her to come out. When he saw her BMW, he followed her. Not to his surprise, she went straight to the office. He went home himself, and waited until it was close for her work day to end. Entering the garage, he parked where he had plain view of her car. An hour later, she came down to the garage and got into her car. When she pulled out, Jayden followed. Since he was supposed to be out of town he wondered if she was still going to the gym. She didn’t. Jayden smirked and continued to follow.
By the time she had gotten home, she stopped by the grocery store, and the flower shop. He watched her pull into the garage, and he went home himself. The following day, he watched her again. This time after work, she went straight home. He continued this for a week. He had her routine pretty well down, and knew that if he was going to get her, it would definitely have to be in the parking garage. It was risky, but he had the perfect plan. Soon, Sateria would be dead, he would have saved Apollo from death, and he could move on with his life.
“When I get my share, we can get out of here.”
“What about your sister?” Nate asked.
“What about her?” Troya asked.
“You really gonna leave her here?”
“She won’t leave. She told me a long time ago that she felt like she had one last thing to do for Johnny. Though she didn’t know what it was at the time.”
“You probably will never see her again, you know that.”
“Nah. I will. She’s my sister. After we liquidate everything, you and I will have fifty-million dollars, and each other.”
“You gonna tell her we got married?”
“Eventually. But one thing at a time.”
Benton Thompson, Johnny’s old lawyer, looked down at his phone as a reminder came up. Hmm. I’d totally forgotten about that. He got up from his desk, and went to his file room. He went to Johnny’s file, and pulled out a single envelope with Sateria’s address on it. He prepared it for official mailing, and on his way out of the building, he dropped it in the mail shoot. There it is Johnny. I hope they find your killer.
A day later, the letter arrived at Sateria’s penthouse. On her way in from work, she stopped by the front desk and picked up her mail. Most days, she didn’t bother reading it right away. If it came in an envelope with a window, she definitely saved it for when it was time for her to pay bills.
It was Friday night, and she couldn’t concern herself with mail. She was going to romance her man. Some fruit, champagne, candles, and some loving were on her to do list for the night. She dropped the mail on the table near the door, went to the kitchen, took out a fresh cantaloupe amongst other fruit, and went to town. Apollo was out of the house on a late interview. She hoped that he would soon get a job. Not that they needed the money, but she knew he was beginning to get bored just sitting around the house. She hoped to have everything ready by the time he got home.
Johnny’s letter sat for two days.
Sunday morning, Sateria rolled over and looked at the clock. Six A.M., and Apollo still slept. She went to her kitchen to get some water, started a pot of coffee, and looked at the calendar. It was the 25th of the month. Time to get the bills paid, she thought. Going to the table where she usually dropped her mail, she picked up the stack of envelopes and dropped them on the dining room table. In the hallway, she kept her calculator, her pens, and extra paper. She went and grabbed everything she needed. Before sitting down, she went to the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth. When she was finished, the coffee was done. She poured herself a cup, and went to her dining room table.
The first five envelopes were credit card bills. She opened them one by one, gasped at her ridiculous shopping habit, and wrote checks for each one. Her cell phone bill and all other utilities were the next to be paid, so she wrote checks for them. She got to the last few envelopes. One was Apollo’s cell phone bill. She grinned, wanting to write a check, but she knew he would have a fit, so she set the unopened envelope aside. The next was from Apollo’s insurance company. She set that one aside as well.
The last envelope was from B. Thompson, attorney at Law. Thinking that she was finished with Benton, Sateria wondered what this could be. She opened it to find a blank piece of paper with her address wrapped around another sealed envelope.
Her mouth fell open as she looked at her name and address on the envelope in Johnny’s handwriting. Just as she was ready to put him behind her, he surfaced again. She opened the letter and was extremely surprised by its contents.
I hope things are going well, and I hope you aren’t dead, because if you are, well I wrote this letter for nothing.
My jewelry collection, or sorry, your jewelry collection is not what it seems to be. This is probably going to shock you, but I want you to keep it under your hat. Don’t tell any of the team, because well, they might come and desecrate my grave, or even worse, try to hurt you. I loved them all dearly, and trusted them to a point. No honor amongst thieves my dear.
The entire collection on display is a fake. I did this for several reasons, but mostly to protect our future assets. This was going to be our retirement money so to speak. I didn’t want it stolen, so I hid it.
The real collection is located in Olney. If you haven’t been there by now, it is a beautiful piece of property about five hours away. Located in the basement of the house is where you’ll find it.
Leave it there. A lot of the pieces were stolen, but the majority of it wasn’t.
This is the last time you’ll hear from me. I love you, Sateria Murphy. And know that you were the only one I ever trusted.
Tears streamed down her face, and she didn’t know what to do. As she sat there reading the letter for the third time, Apollo smelled the coffee brewing, and rose to get a cup. He went to the kitchen, fixed his cup, and went to the dining room. There he found Sateria gazing at a piece of paper, crying.
“Oh,” she said quickly wiping her face. “Apollo you scared me.”
He sat down on the opposite side of the table and stared at her for a minute. Wondering what had her in tears so early, he figured if she wanted to talk about it, she would.
“Paying bills?” He asked.
“Yeah,” she said handing him two envelopes. “These are for you.”
“Thanks,” he said taking the envelopes and placing them to the side. Still wondering what had her so upset, he prodded. “Too much shopping?”
She managed a small giggle. “Yes. Macy’s is five thousand dollars, but I just had to have those two suits. And the dress I wore to Pheonix’s house for Max’s birthday. Not to mention the three pairs of shoes I bought because I couldn’t decide on what would look best with my dress. And I bought you something too. Did you see your new suit?”
Apollo shook his head. “No, I didn’t.”
Still thinking about Johnny’s letter, the tears wouldn’t stop. “You have a new suit. I thought you might need some new things since you are interviewing now.”
Apollo sipped his coffee and patiently waited for her to reveal the cause of her tears.
“What’s that?” he asked, no longer able to wait for her.
Sateria wiped her face again. “What’s, what?” she asked pretending not to know.
“In your hand.”
She quickly folded up Johnny’s letter. “Oh it’s nothing.”
“Well, something has you upset this early.”
Wanting to be completely honest with Apollo, she knew she couldn’t hide it. She wondered how this was going to make Apollo feel. It would definitely make him angry. She was the happiest she’s ever been, and this letter was definitely going to ruin it. She knew Apollo would blame both her and Johnny for his place being torched, and he would probably leave her. She decided to take the risk.
“You’re right,” she said handing him the letter.
Apollo took the letter, and Sateria sat and watched him read it. When he was finished, he rubbed his face in disbelief. He slammed his hand down on the table causing Sateria to jump. He stood up and left the room in a huff. Sateria followed him down the hall, back to their bedroom.
Apollo began to get dressed.
“Where are you going?” Sateria asked her heart racing.
“Get dressed...now.” Apollo said in an angry tone.
“Where are we going?”
“Just put on some clothes.”
“What about breakfast? I’m a little hungry babe.”
“We’ll grab something on the way. Just put on some jeans or something.”
“On the way to where?”
They jumped into his dark green Lexus LS460 and they were on their way. Apollo still trying to understand why Johnny would do this without saying anything eluded him. Of all the team, he was certain that Johnny trusted him the most. Now he knew why Johnny didn’t mind having the collection on display. Still fuming that his place was destroyed behind this fake collection, he realized he hadn’t said anything to Sateria in an hour. She sat in the seat next to him looking out the window, tears still streaming down her face.
“I’m not angry with you, Sateria. I’m angry with Johnny, though it does me no good to be angry with him. But it is his fault that my place was destroyed, not yours.”
“So why are we going to Olney?”
“To see if Johnny was telling the truth. How did he put it in his letter? No honor amongst thieves.”
“So if we do find it, what do we do?”
“I’m not sure yet. Let’s find it first.”
Hours later, they pulled up to the 3500 square foot house, and got out. Walking into the front door, Apollo took a deep breath. Though the house smelled a little dusty, he remembered how much he loved this property. He many times offered to buy it from Johnny and he absolutely refused. Now he knew why.
“Apollo, how long are we gonna be here?”
“You have to work tomorrow, so we’ll leave tonight.”
“Can we stop by the store and buy some food? I mean we might get a little hungry.”
Apollo walked over to Sateria and wrapped his arms around her. “You know, I tried to buy this place from Johnny several times. He wouldn’t sell it to me. But since you own it now, maybe one day, we could live here together. I mean I’m not making any promises or anything, but just maybe we could.”
Sateria grinned. “You’re so sexy when you’re being romantic.”
Apollo managed to grin in spite of his mood. “Babe, we don’t have time right now. Okay, we’ll go to the store and get some snacks, but we have to get to work.”
“So we find the jewels then what?”
“We take a piece back to get it appraised to find out if Johnny was telling the truth. If he was honest, then of course we leave the collection here.”
“And you’re not going to tell anyone else about this?”
“No babe. I’ll keep it a secret, I promise.”
They went to the store and bought some snacks. They went back to the house and immediately went to the basement. It was a large basement that expanded the entire house. It was empty.
Sateria looked around and saw nothing but a concrete floor made up of 3x3 foot squares. “Oh you have got to be kidding. There’s nothing down here.”
Apollo walked the basement looking for any clue that Johnny told the truth. He came across a square where the rubber sealant around it seemed almost new compared to the rest of the basement tiles.
“Wait, he said. “ Come here and look at this.” Sateria moved to where he was kneeling down. “You see this. This sealant is new. There might be something underneath.”
“So how do we find out?”
“There are some tools in the shed. Let’s go.”
They went outside to the same shed where they kept their paintball gear, and retrieved the tools, went back to the basement and got to work.
Not long after they broke the seal, Apollo moved the stone tile out of the way to discover a very large plastic bag. They looked at each other in amazement. Could this really be it? Apollo pulled the bag from the hole and placed it on the floor. When they opened the bag, they couldn’t believe their eyes. There it was. The collection, just as Johnny said. But was it the real thing?
“Oh my goodness. Look at this,” Sateria said, pulling out a beautiful diamond necklace.
“I remember that piece. Johnny went all the way to Belgium to get that one.”
“So this one is not stolen?”
Looking through the collection of precious gems, Apollo pulled out a gorgeous brown diamond pendant. “This however, is stolen. It came from one of the first store hits we pulled together. This is the one we’re going to take back with us.”
“So what do you think its worth?”
“Well, when we hit the store, it was priced at around three thousand. I’m thinking it should be about that amount if not more.”
“So we’re just going to leave the rest here?”
“I don’t see why not. It’s been perfectly safe here all this time.”
“Okay babe. You’re the boss.”
“I’ll take this piece to an appraiser tomorrow while you’re at work. If it turns out to be the real thing, then we have another mystery on our hands.”
“Really? What’s that?
“Who knew the collection was at my house, and wanted it bad enough to torch my place for it?”
“One of the team?”
Apollo shook his head. “No. Couldn’t be. They didn’t find out the collection was missing until we told them about it.”
“But that doesn’t mean that one of them didn’t do it. No honor amongst thieves, remember?”
Apollo sighed. “I remember.”
The next morning, Sateria walked into the office a little later than usual, and Donna was preparing for her day.
“Good morning, Donna.”
“Good morning, Miss Murphy.”
“Is Mr. Johns in yet?”
“When he gets in will you send him to my office please?”
Sateria stopped by the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and went immediately to her office to begin her morning routine. Patiently waiting for Jayden to come see her, she thought about what she was going to say to him. She’d become to trust him as a part of both of her teams. Knowing he’d lied to her, she began to wonder if she should continue to trust him.
An hour later, Jayden stuck his head in Sateria’s door. “You wanted to see me?”
“Yes. Come in and close the door.” Jayden closed the door and moved to sit in a chair in front of her desk. She sipped her coffee looked up him and asked, “Where have you been?”
She knows! Shit! Jayden thought, but kept his facial expressions under control. “Just like I told you. My grandmother is in the hospital, and I had to go see her.”
“Funny. Apollo told me your grandmother died two years ago.”
Jayden smiled snidely. “I do have more than one, you know.”
“Fair enough,” Sateria said taking another sip of her coffee.
“Are you finished with me?”
“Not really. If I find out that you were lying to me Jayden, I’m gonna have to take some disciplinary action.”
“It’s the truth. I have no reason to lie to you. Besides, you know more about me now that you should’ve ever known.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that I’m a very private person, and it takes a lot to get to know little things about me. Take my grandmother for instance. Apollo knew my grandmother on my father’s side passed away. She was the one that I was closest too. My maternal grandmother not so much, but that doesn’t take away the fact that I love her. What I’m trying to get at is, I let you all know what I want you to know. If I choose to withhold something from you, or anyone, that’s my choice. I’m here, granted a little late, but I’m here ready to go to work.”
Sateria sat and sipped her coffee once again. “Fine. I wanna see the quarterly numbers by tomorrow afternoon.”
“I just got back. I can’t have them ready by tomorrow.”
“Okay, but I wanna see them this week.”
Jayden smirked. “Okay boss,” he said and got up to leave.
“Oh and Jayden,” Sateria said.
“Yes?” he asked.
“The next time you want some time off just ask. No need to lie to me about anything.”
Jayden rolled his eyes. “Whatever,” he replied, and walked out of her office.
Across town, Apollo made his appointment with a well known jewelry appraiser. Gabriel Zimmerman’s Appraisers was renowned in the industry, and Johnny used them often himself.
Apollo pulled the pendant from his pocket and handed it to Mr. Zimmerman. Gabriel looked at the piece and immediately recognized it, but he went about his business.
When he was finished, he looked up at Apollo. “This is a beautiful pendant, Mr. Leonard.”
“Is it real?”
“Yes, it is. Worth every bit of five thousand dollars. Might I ask where you acquired this?”
“It is a part of my girlfriend’s collection. Why do you ask?”
“A few months ago I saw a piece identical to this one. My client asked me the same thing you did. As it turns out, his was a fake.”
“Besides this one and the other one you saw, have you ever seen any others like this one?”
“I’ve seen a lot of jewelry in my lifetime, Mr. Leonard, but I will say no. I have not.”
Apollo had his first clue. Someone was definitely watching him. “Can you tell me who this client of yours is?”
Gabriel looked Apollo square in the eyes. “A collector of fine jewelry by the name of Mr. Bradley Morris. He has been one of my best clients for at least ten years.”
“Thank you, Mr. Zimmerman. You’ve been a huge help,” Apollo said taking the pendant and putting it back in his pocket. He pulled his wallet from his pocket, paid the fee, and walked out of the door.
He immediately went home, to try and put two and two together. Apollo was aware that one of Johnny’s buyers was a man named Brad. And it was highly possible that Gabriel’s Bradley and Johnny’s Brad were the same man. That made sense to him. But what he really wanted to know if Sateria’s Brad and Gabriel’s Bradley was the same person. He couldn’t wait until she came home to ask.
Later on that evening, Sateria walked into her house to find Apollo in front of the television with a beer, watching a basketball game.
“Hey, babe,” she said giving him a kiss on the cheek.
“Hey,” he said, almost ignoring her.
Not used to him being in his own world when she came home, she figured something had to be bothering him. “What’s going on?”
“The Bulls are losing.”
“No babe, not with the game, with you.”
“Oh. Sorry. I’m just trying to put some things together.”
“I went to see an appraiser today.”
“Oh wonderful. Is it real?”
“It is. Worth about five thousand dollars.”
“So what’s bothering you?” Sateria asked, sitting down next to Apollo.
He turned to her and continued his story. “I took the pendant to an appraiser Johnny used to use on occasion. He confirmed the pendant was real, but he also told me that one of his largest clients had an identical piece, but his was not. I asked if there were lots of these pendants around, and he told me he’d only seen two. Mine and another in the recent past.”
“So what does it mean, Apollo?”
“I’m getting to that. Johnny occasionally sold some things to a man by the name of Brad. I personally never met him. The appraiser told me his largest client’s name was Bradley. It is not a coincidence that this could possibly be the same man. However, your Brad is the one I’m concerned with. What was your Brad’s last name?”
Sateria’s mouth dropped open. It had been well over a year, almost two since she’d even seen Brad. Could it be possible he robbed Apollo?