Chapter Twenty - Two
“Do you know how to get in contact with him?” Apollo asked, desperately.
“No. The last time I saw him, was at Johnny’s funeral.”
“He was at Johnny’s funeral?”
“Yeah with some short brunette chick with big boobs. She was wearing a dress very close to mine. And now that I think about it, she was at the reading of Johnny’s will. I can’t recall her name though.”
“Venus Knight,” Apollo said, shocked.
Apollo nodded. “Johnny had been looking for her for a while after they broke up. She disappeared.”
“Did she do something wrong?”
“Well he didn’t want her anymore, and the only way he could let her go without her blabbing, was to kill her. Now I know why Johnny didn’t tell you about us or let us meet you. He was protecting you.”
“So what do we do?”
“We have to find Venus. When we do, we’ll have Brad. Then I get to beat him to a pulp for torching my place.”
“We don’t know that he did it, Apollo.”
“Are you defending him?”
Sateria shook her head. “No. I know you’re upset about your place, but-”
“But what? He just happens to have a piece of jewelry that I’m certain came from the fake collection?”
Sateria sighed. “You’re right.”
“So like I said, we find Venus, we find Brad.”
“So how are we going to find Venus? I mean if Johnny couldn’t find her, then who can?”
“There is only one person that I know for a fact who has her address.”
A few days later, Apollo was again in Benton’s office, this time by appointment.
“It’s good to see you again, Mr. Leonard. What can I do for you today?”
“I need an address from you.”
“Certainly. Is it for one of Mr. Gianopoulos’ many charities?”
“Actually no. I’m one step closer to finding his killer,” Apollo said appealing to Benton’s interest.
Benton’s eyes grew wide. “Really? Anything I can do to help. One moment, let me pull his file.”
Benton left the room and came back minutes later with Johnny’s file. Opening it to the “next of kin” page, Benton looked up. “So, who do you suspect killed Mr. Gianopoulos?”
“I’m not here for you to give me a suspect, Benton. I need an address, and that’s all.”
“Oh. Forgive me,” Benton said nervously. “So, whose address would you like?”
Benton smiled. “Ah, Miss Knight. I met her before Mr. Gianopoulos died. Though it was some time ago. They came in and inquired about domestic partnership. They wanted to know the legal stuff, you know.”
Apollo smirked. “Benton, has anyone ever told you that you talk way too much? Address please.”
Benton wrote down Venus’ current address and handed it to Apollo.
“Thank you, Benton.”
“You will tell me when you have found his killer?”
“If you really want to know, sure, but not after the police know.”
Benton smiled nervously. “Certainly. Have a good day, Mr. Leonard.”
Apollo held her address in his hand and it took everything in his power not to go rushing right over her house to find out what she knew. Johnny’s words echoed in his head. “Patience, my friend.” Apollo rolled his eyes, and continued home.
On the way, he debated on whether he should tell the team of his discovery. He knew they all loved Johnny, and he didn’t want to hide anything from them, but ultimately it would be Sateria’s decision.
Apollo went home and started dinner for the woman he loved. He kept the meal simple but he wanted her to eat healthy.
Lean pork chops, some steamed green beans, and some brown rice was on the menu that night. As he cooked, he fought with the idea of telling his friends about the collection being a fake. He shook his head many times, quickly flipping the chops, and decided against it.
At six, Sateria walked into the door and announced herself as she always did.
“Babe, I’m home!”
She dropped her briefcase by the front door and immediately started to take off her earrings. Apollo, hearing her voice, got up from his basketball game to greet his woman. To her surprise, he was in the bedroom watching television.
“Hey, beautiful,” he said getting off the bed, wrapping his arms around her.
Sateria grinned. “Hey,” she said giving him a chaste kiss. “You are in a better mood today. Any luck on finding Venus’ address?”
Apollo nodded. “Yes ma’am. Now what do we do with it?”
Sensing his anxiety, he was leaving her no choice but to give him a definitive answer. She chose to see where his head was.
“What do you want to do?”
“I wanna smash Brad’s fucking head in, is what I want to do.”
Sateria nodded. “As I thought. Sweetie, maybe we go talk to her first. Find out what she knows.”
“You’re still defending him, Sateria,” Apollo growled.
“I’m not. I just don’t want you to get hurt, nor do I want you in trouble with the law. But babe, I know you’ve made an awesome dinner. How about we talk about it over your hard work?”
They sat down to eat the meal Apollo prepared. She raved about the green beans and wondered what his secret was.
“Chicken broth,” Apollo said grinning.
“Thanks, and by the way, there is no, we.”
“If I talk to Venus, it’s gonna be just me and her.”
Sateria shook her head. “No. You two have a history. Both of you being a part of Johnny’s past. I have no idea what went on when Johnny was with her and there is no way in hell I’m gonna trust you around her.”
Apollo tipped his head to the side. “Are you saying I would cheat on you?”
“I’m not saying that at all,” she said shaking her head. “I’m saying you’re upset about your place right now, and you might get violent, simply for that reason. You go with me, or you don’t go at all.”
“And how are you going to stop me?”
Sateria smiled seductively. “And how do you think?”
“Sateria, come on.”
She shook her head. “No ass for you for weeks if you go without me.”
Apollo rolled his eyes. “So do we tell the rest of the team?”
Sateria grinned in victory. “Depends on what Venus says.”
“So, you’re gonna ignore what Johnny said in the letter?”
“Eh,” Sateria shrugged. “He’s dead.”
The following day, Sateria thought she would take a day off. She didn’t trust Apollo at home alone, knowing in her heart that he would move without her. He rolled over, expecting her to be gone, only to find her still lying next to him.
He opened up his eyes and there she was. The dark haired beauty whose subtle green eyes kept him excited. He gently pushed a strand of hair from her face, careful not to wake her, and admired her as she slept. So in love, his thoughts began to drift a bit farther into the future.
Apollo didn’t see himself being in the corporate world much longer. The only reason he looked for a job in the first place was to get out of the house. He didn’t have to work, Sateria knew it, and so did he. She didn’t have to work either. She could turn the presidency of AJG to anyone of her choosing, as long as the board approved. That was Apollo’s wish.
He wondered how long would she just stay home. Just stay safe. He so desperately wanted her to forget about Johnny. Perhaps she had. Her previous night’s attitude suggested that she may have, but he wasn’t sure. He wanted to show her that of the three men she loved in her life, he was the one she was supposed to be with. But how long could he keep her out of danger? How long could he suppress the impulse he helped instill in her?
Apollo rolled his eyes and thought of what a fool he was. It was at that moment he realized he loved her on sight, and he became angry with himself for not acting on his impulse in the beginning. That day, the first day he saw her in the Grand Lux Café, Apollo fell in love and allowed his closest friend to steal her from under his nose.
He brushed another strand of hair from her face, and slowly, her eyes opened.
Happy to have him at her side. “Good morning, handsome,” she said with a sleepy smile.
Apollo returned her smile. “Good morning. Why are you still here? Don’t you have to work today?”
Sateria grinned. “I don’t trust you. I go to work, and you go storming over to Venus’ house. No way mister. Not without me.”
“So you wanna go see Venus today?”
“That’s why I haven’t gone to work. Of course I want to see her today.”
Apollo smiled. “Fine, we see her today. But before we do, I have a surprise for you.”
Sateria’s eyes lit up. “Really? What’s that?”
“You up for a short trip?”
“I know a sweet old couple who lives not to far from here. We could go see them if you’re up to it.”
“Nah, let’s just get this Venus thing taken care of.”
“Venus can wait. But I’m thinking that Wilhelm and Calla Leonard have waited long enough.”
Sateria’s eyes were wide as saucers. “Your parents?”
Apollo grinned and nodded. “Waukegan awaits my dear. We can be there in a matter of minutes.”
“They’re that close? How come you never told me that?”
Apollo grinned as he watched Sateria panic. “Because you never asked?”
She jumped out of the bed and ran to the closet. “Oh my goodness, what do I wear?” she exclaimed quickly going through her closet.
Apollo sat up, swung his legs out of the bed, and watched her, thrilled. She was examining all of her outfits, concerned that she wouldn’t make a good impression.
“What’s the weather going to be like today?” She asked.
“A little chilly, but we aren’t going to be outside, so you can wear anything you want, just bring a coat.”
She continued to thumb through her closet and pulled out her skinny, berry Capri’s.
Apollo shook his head. “Nope. My mama hates Capri pants. She thinks they are lazy.”
“What does that mean?”
Apollo chuckled. “I don’t have a clue.”
Sateria then pulled out her Maggy London sleeveless white cocktail dress. Apollo shook his head. “Too early for that.”
“When are we leaving?”
“As soon as you decide on what to wear.”
“But I haven’t showered.”
Apollo chuckled. “Okay, after you shower then.”
She pulled out a black pleated maxi skirt with a white beaded top. “How’s this?”
Thinking how his mother would approve, he nodded. “Perfect.”
Sateria threw her outfit on the bed, and immediately went to the shower. Apollo chuckled and went to one to the other bathrooms to shower himself.
He chose a pair of black slacks and a white shirt with a black tie. While Sateria was getting ready, he called his parents and told them he was bringing them a surprise. Quite surprised he was doing this himself, he was happy at the same time. Finally someone was able to propel him forward emotionally. He’d been lost without Kalista. Now a woman with equal beauty was in his life, and he wondered how he ever lived without her.
An hour later, they pulled up to the Leonard’s Waukegan home. Remembering the story of his father’s failed business, there was no way they lived the way they did. The house at least 2500 square feet, was beautiful. Complete with flower garden and well groomed lawn.
“You did say that your father lost his business right?”
Apollo nodded. “I did.”
“So how do they live like this?”
“My brother and I support them.”
“I told you he was gay, but I didn’t tell you that he is a real estate mogul like Johnny. Between the two of us, our parents never have to work again.”
Sateria smiled. “I’d like to meet your brother. He seems like a good man.”
“He is. I look forward to you meeting him.” Apollo stopped the car in the driveway. “Ready?”
Nervous, Sateria pulled the visor mirror down and looked at herself. She reached in her purse and reapplied her lipstick. She then turned to Apollo. “How do I look?”
“Like a queen,” Apollo said grinning.
For only the second time in her life, she was meeting her boyfriend’s parents. She got out of the car and checked her outfit to ensure it was perfect. She didn’t want Apollo’s mother to think she was a slouch. She was a billionaire after all.
Sateria then began to wonder how much his parents knew about her. Did Apollo have secret and discreet phone calls with his father? Did he send pictures of them to his mother? Sateria had no idea, but meeting parents was a step in the right direction.
The front door opened, and a man who closely resembled Apollo answered. Grey, tall and unbelievably fit for his assumed age, Wilhelm Leonard was an older version of his son.
As he grinned, Sateria was easily reminded of Apollo. “Hey son, miss. Come on in.”
“Your mama is in the kitchen making some breakfast. You surprised us, and well she wasn’t ready.”
“I hope she isn’t going crazy in the kitchen. We don’t plan on being here long.”
Wilhelm nodded. “I see. So, who do we have here?” he asked looking in Sateria’s direction.
Apollo’s chest stuck out a bit more than usual. “This is my girlfriend, papa. Sateria Murphy.”
Wilhelm smiled. “Welcome to our home, Sateria. It’s been a long time since our son brought a woman to meet us.”
“Thank you, Mr. Leonard.”
Wilhelm shook his head. “No. When my boy brings a girl home, it means he’s serious about her. Therefore, I insist she call me, papa.”
Sateria looked up at Apollo unsure. He nodded, and she replied, “Thank you, papa.”
“My wife, Calla. Greek woman, you know. Wanted all the men in her life to share her heritage. She is well...a very outspoken woman. However, I love her, and have for many years. My sons respect her as much as I do. I will be honest with you, Sateria, she is the queen. Don’t let her intimidate you. She is really quite gentle, she does however; want the best for her sons.”
Sateria looked up at Apollo suddenly nervous again.
Before long, Calla, a medium height, dark haired woman with intense blue eyes and a remarkable figure walked into the living room. She looked up at her son and then at Sateria. Curious. She spoke in Greek.
“Γιατί δεν μας λέτε εσείς είχε ένα γιο κοπέλα?”
Apollo responded to Sateria’s surprise in Greek as well. “Επειδή η μαμά σας δεν ζήτησε ποτέ.”
Wilhelm grinned, looked at Sateria, and said, “They do this all the time. My wife asked why he didn’t tell her he had a girlfriend, and he said, because you never asked.”
Sateria looked up at Apollo still quite surprised. “You speak Greek?”
Calla answered for him. “Of course he does. And you don’t?”
Apollo wasn’t going to let his mother bully Sateria, she was nervous enough. “Mama, this is Sateria Murphy. My girlfriend.”
“Mama didn’t you make us something to eat?”
“I’m sorry, yes I did. Welcome Sateria. I will have to say that you are quite a surprise.”
“Oh? Why is that?”
“Because when Kalista passed away, we didn’t think Apollo would ever recover from that.”
“Μαμά αρκετά (Mama, enough),” Apollo said, giving his mother a stern look.
“Okay fine. Come on to the dining room, so we can talk some more.”
Calla prepared pastries, cheese bread, and coffee. Sateria expected to see a huge spread, but she realized that Apollo’s mother was from a different culture, and the Greek people didn’t eat a traditional American breakfast. This surprised her, because both Johnny and Apollo loved it.
Sateria smiled. “It looks delicious.”
“Mama makes everything from scratch. When we were kids we ate the same thing you see here for breakfast.”
Thinking about her figure, she almost didn’t want to eat. But she didn’t want to offend his family either.
With the coffee poured and the food on the plates, Wilhelm asked the first question.
“So, where did you two meet?”
“At Johnny’s funeral.”
“Poor Johnny,” Calla sighed. “He was such a sweet boy.”
Apollo nodded. “I miss him.”
“What do you do for a living, Sateria?” Calla asked.
“I’m president of AJG Realtors,” she grinned.
Calla stared at Sateria. “Johnny’s company?”
Calla’s mouth fell open. “You’re the Sateria Murphy I read about in the paper?”
“One and the same.”
Calla grinned widely at her son and said, “Συγχαρητήρια γιο. Κρατήστε αυτό εντάξει?”
Apollo grinned back. “Αγαπώ τη μαμά της.”
Wilhelm had to stop them. “Okay enough you too. Sateria doesn’t understand a word you’re saying.”
Apollo chuckled. “Sorry, papa.”
“Now tell Sateria what you two said.”
Apollo turned to Sateria and said, “Mama said, Congratulations son. Keep this one. And I told her that I love you.”
Sateria grinned. “Aww. I love you, too,” she said giving him a peck on the lips.
They sat at the table and finished their food. Apollo looked at his watch and decided it was time for them to leave. Wilhelm wanted to talk to his son so he pulled Apollo away for a moment.
“Before you go son, can I speak with you in private for a moment?”
Sateria stood. “Let me help you with the dishes, Mrs. Leonard.”
Calla smiled. “Of course.”
Apollo and his father moved to his father’s den.
“Does you bringing her here, mean what I think it means?”
Apollo shrugged. “I don’t know. But I do know that I love her. I quit my job just so I could be with her.”
“So it’s serious then.”
“For me, yes. Something about Sateria reminds me a whole lot of Johnny.”
“So you don’t think she’s serious about you?”
“So what’s the problem?”
“There are a lot of things we still have to straighten out with Johnny’s estate.”
“What does Johnny’s estate have to do with the two of you?”
Apollo looked away from his father’s gaze. “They dated before he died.”
Wilhelm looked disappointed. “Son, you didn’t.”
“No, no papa. Nothing like that. Johnny was long gone before I even approached her.”
“Did she inherit his entire estate?”
“Most of it. Johnny left me something too. But I mean what I feel for her has nothing to do with her money.”
“That’s good to hear. She seems to be a very nice girl. A little young for you, but nice.”
Apollo grinned. “She’s twenty-six, papa.”
“Oh, she looks a lot younger. She’s gonna stay beautiful for a long time. It’s hard to believe your mother is sixty five.”
Apollo looked at his watch again. “Papa, we really have to get going. We’ll invite you and mama over one night for dinner.”
“You’re living with her?”
Apollo grinned. “Yes. Don’t tell mama. I want it to be a surprise.”
Wilhelm smiled. “Okay, you got it.”
The two men went to the living room to find Sateria sitting alone. When she heard them coming, she stood up.
“Are you ready?” Apollo asked.
“Yes.” Sateria walked up to Wilhelm and gave him a hug. “It was nice to meet you, papa.”
Wilhelm kissed her on the cheek. “Nice to meet you too, Sateria.”
“Come on babe, we’re gonna be late. Papa, tell mama I’ll call her later.”
The two of them were out of the door. Apollo pulled out of his parent’s driveway and was almost down the block when he said, “Venus’ address is in the glove box inside of my date book. Grab it and give it to me will you?”
Sateria did as Apollo asked, and they were on their way.
Fifteen minutes later, Apollo pulled into the driveway of a huge gray house on the corner, and sat for a moment. Sateria was worried.
“Apollo, are you gonna be able to keep your temper?”
“Yeah. If I don’t, she won’t tell me anything.”
“Okay, I’m gonna hold you to that.”
“Come on babe, let’s get this over with.”
They got out of the car and rang the doorbell. Not expecting any company, Venus immediately opened the door and got the surprise of her life.
“What are you doing here?”
“Can we come in?” Apollo asked, ignoring her question completely.
Venus backed away from the door and let her unexpected company into her house. “Um, how did you find me?”
“Never mind that. I’m not here looking for you. I came to see Brad.”
Venus closed the door behind her company. “Brad doesn’t live here.”
Apollo turned to face her. “So where does he live?”
“I don’t know. He moved out a little bit ago.”
“So you aren’t seeing him anymore?”
“What ever gave you the idea I was seeing him?”
Apollo smirked. “Because you left Johnny’s funeral with him. Where is he Venus? I know you know.”
“No, seriously,” she said shaking her head. “I don’t know. I came home one night to find the TV on and he wasn’t here. I thought he was just gone to the store or something but he hasn’t been back. What do you want with him anyway?”
“I have a really good reason to believe that he torched my penthouse.”
Venus smirked. “Really? Brad Morris torched your penthouse. I don’t believe it for a second, do you Sateria? And hello, by the way.”
“Hello, Venus, and actually, I do.”
“So tell me why you think good ole, I’m not a criminal like some people, would torch your place.”
Without thinking, Apollo told her the story Gabriel told him.
“That doesn’t mean anything, Apollo. Brad buys stuff all the time, who knows where he got that pendant.”
Apollo looked around the room and asked, “Is this his house?”
“It was. I got a letter in the mail saying the owner was walking away from their mortgage. I bought it, so now it’s mine.”
“Where did the letter come from?”
“Some company in Springfield.”
Apollo glanced at Sateria, and she nodded. “Venus, I certainly do hope that you have no feelings for Mr. Morris. Because when I find him, I’m gonna beat him to death. Oh, and please redecorate. This is a hovel compared to the way I know you are used to living. Come on babe, let’s go.”
They left Venus where she stood, and went back to his car. Apollo started the engine and backed out of the driveway.
“Good job with keeping your temper,” Sateria said.
“Thank you. You know what you have to do now, right?”
“Babe, I don’t think you should chase him down. I mean, your place is on the market now, and soon will be sold.”
“That doesn’t excuse the fact that I still don’t know who put me on the street in the first place. If Brad didn’t do it, I’ll drop it. However, if he did…well.”
“So what do you want me to do?”
“Get a hold to that agency and get everything you can on the sale. We’ll find him through there.”
“Babe, I really think you should let this go.”
Apollo shook his head. “No. I have to get some satisfaction out of this. I lost everything because of some asshole. I’m not gonna leave this alone.”
Sateria rolled her eyes. “Okay.”
As soon as Apollo and Sateria were gone, Venus sent a text message to Jayden in case he was in a meeting or something. He happened to be putting the finishing touches on the quarterly numbers when her text made him stop working. He got up closed his office door and immediately picked up the phone.
“What the hell do you mean Apollo has been there?”
“He was here along with Sateria asking about Brad. They say he bought some fake pendant or something like that.”
“Apollo thinks Brad robbed him and torched his place.”
“Did you say fake pendant?”
“We have a problem, Venus.”
“No babe, we don’t. Let’s just get the hell outta here. I’m ready to go.”
“Venus, think. Brad was moving stuff for me. We have to find him.”
“Are you saying Johnny’s collection is almost worthless?”
“Yes, and Brad made off with ten million dollars of my money. Where is he?”
“I don’t know.”“We have to find him before Apollo or things are gonna get really ugly, really fast.”