Chapter Twenty - Four
Landing in Milwaukee, he rented a car at the airport, and took the thirty minute drive to the town where Brad now lived, Pewaukee. A very tiny town compared to Chicago. Beautiful and green, Apollo enjoyed the scenery as he made his way to Walnut Street.
Parked in the driveway, Apollo noticed a brand new Mercedes SL550 Roadster. He admired it as he walked past on his way to the door. Apollo wondered who Brad sold the fake collection to. Whoever it was, certainly didn’t know what they were buying, and Brad basically robbed them too.
He rang the doorbell, and waited. Moments later a short brunette with green eyes, and long wavy hair answered the door. Taken aback at how much she reminded him of Sateria, he came to the conclusion that Brad must have missed having Sateria in his life.
“May I help you?” She asked, looking up at the very handsome man.
Apollo smiled. “Hello, my name is Apollo Leonard. I was wondering if Brad was at home.”
“Yes he is, come on in,” she said stepping back letting Apollo in. She closed the door and said, “I’ll go get him for you.”
Apollo looked around the very well decorated living room with thick plush carpet, and matching drapes. Moments later Brad walked in. When he looked at Apollo, he could’ve sworn that he’d seen him somewhere before.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Leonard. What can I do for you?”
“Is there somewhere that we can talk in private?”
“Well, I don’t know. Depends on what you want to talk about.”
Apollo tipped his head to the side. “Sateria Murphy’s jewelry collection.”
A look of surprise immediately told Apollo that Brad realized who he was. He immediately agreed. “Sure. Come back to my office.”
They went to his office and closed the door.
“What about her collection?”
“Well, I didn’t come all this way to beat around the bush.” Apollo pulled his gun from his breast pocket and pointed it at Brad. “Did you steal it?”
“No, no,” he said nervously. “I heard that there was an attempted robbery on the museum where it was displayed, but that’s all I know.”
Apollo shook his head. “You are lying to me. And this is how I know you’re lying.”
Apollo proceeded to tell Brad the story.
“Well I didn’t take it,” Brad said, confidently this time.
“How did you get your hands on that identical pendant then?”
Not about to rat Jayden out, he replied, “I bought it off the exchange. That’s where I buy all of my collectables, or at least I did.”
“Mr. Zimmerman told me you knew the pendant was a fake. What did you do with it?”
“I put it back on the exchange for a significant amount less than what I paid for it.”
“Do you know who bought it?”
“The penthouse that was torched after the museum robbery was mine. I’m not happy about that Brad. I lost my entire life in that fire. If I find that you had anything to do with robbing and burning my place, I’ll be back. Are you sure that you don’t know who robbed me?”
“No, I don’t.”
Apollo pulled a business card from his pocket. “If you have any idea who might have done this, I wanna know about it.”
“I’ll leave you now. But first I have to ask. The woman who answered the door. Is that your woman?”
“What’s her name, if you don’t mind my asking?”
Apollo grinned. “Were you aware of how much she looks like Sateria?”
Brad hung his head. “Yeah. I miss her sometimes.”
Apollo stood up and put his gun back in his breast pocket. “Well, she’s my woman now, and I love her. After what I’ve gone through over the past year, you come anywhere near her, and I’ll kill you. Got it?”
“You don’t have to worry about that. I’m happy here.”
“Well I’m glad. If you can think of anything that might help me, don’t hesitate to call. I’ll see myself out.”
Apollo left Brad’s house, got into his rental, and drove back to the airport.
Brad sat and lots of things began running through his mind. Knowing that Apollo and Jayden were connected, he wondered if Apollo was going to tell Jayden where he was. If Apollo knew the collection was a fake, he was certain that Jayden knew it. He hoped Apollo would keep his location a secret or he was certainly a dead man.
Landing back at Ordway, Apollo went to the hanger where AJG’s private jet was housed. He was happy to see it there. He went to the office in the hanger to find the pilot there, watching television.
“Mr. Leonard I haven’t seen you in a while. What can I do for you today?”
“You up for a short trip?”
Johnny’s former pilot stared at the wealthy man who made the request. Bound by corporate law, he asked the question he really didn’t want to ask. “Sure. Where are we going?”
“I haven’t been down there in a while. How’s the landing strip?”
“Honestly Chip, I don’t know. But it will be an out and back. You up to it?”
Chip knew exactly where his livelihood was. Sateria would fire him if he did something wrong. He didn’t want that, so he took measures to be sure that he could keep his job. “Sure, I just have to clear it with Miss Murphy first.”
Apollo shook his head. “No, I don’t want her to know.”
What? Mr. Leonard didn’t have the proper approval. Chip was hesitant. “We really should say something to her. Accounting will get an unexplained trip on the bill, and they will ask questions.”
“You let me deal with that,” Apollo said reaching into his wallet, pulling out three hundred dollars.
Chip shook his head. “No, Mr. Leonard. I don’t want your money. I’ll fly you if you can guarantee I won’t lose my job behind this.”
“You have my word.”
Chip smiled. “Deal. Give me a minute let me email my flight plan to the control tower.”
Thirty minutes later, they were air bound. An extremely short flight, they landed in Olney only thirty minutes after take off.
Apollo made his way to the house on foot, used his key, and made his way to the basement. He went to where the jewels were originally hidden and noticed the concrete slab had been disturbed. Now he was positive. Sad that he’d been betrayed, he went back upstairs, and made his way back to the plane where Chip sat waiting.
“Let’s go home, Chip.”
Agonizing over his discovery, he wondered if all of his friends were in on it. He didn’t have any idea what he was going to do next; he only knew that he had to keep Sateria safe. The spearhead of “Operation: Rob Apollo” would certainly try to find out where the collection was. Apollo wasn’t worried about his safety; he was more than capable to kill any one of them if he had too.
He made it home and looked in the refrigerator to see what he could whip up in a hurry, there was nothing. Sateria was due to arrive home in an hour, and there was nothing to cook. We haven’t gone out in a while. We’ll eat out tonight, he thought. He pulled a beer from the fridge and waited for his woman to get home.
She walked in the door and announced, “I’m home babe!”
Apollo walked down the stairs grabbed her and kissed her. “Let’s go out and eat tonight. Your choice.”
“Okay, how about Japanese?”
“I thought you said you would be home late.”
“I got finished a little early. I’ve only been home for about an hour or so.”
“So what did you have to do?”
“I’ll tell you over dinner.”
“Is it okay that I go like this?”
“You look fine. Come on, I’m hungry.”
Apollo grabbed a dinner jacket and they headed off to Japonais.
After they were seated and the drinks ordered, Apollo started with the simple. Something Sateria would immediately understand without her getting upset.
“I went to Olney today.”
“To test my theory. Remember when you asked if we can trust our friends?”
“We can’t. At least one of them was after the collection, and burned me out to get it.”
Sateria shook her head. “No, impossible.”
“Babe, I went to Olney to check the hiding place. The slab was broken in half. I didn’t leave it that way. I sealed it back after I took the collection from the hole. One of our friends, our partners in crime, is after the collection.”
“I’m not sure,” Apollo lied. “But it could be any one of them. Pheonix and Troya have the knowledge to use untraceable accelerants in the fires they start. Jayden is just greedy, and he has been acting weird lately. Not to mention the fact that I’m almost positive that he is the one who shot you.”
Surprised at his words, “You think Jayden shot me?”
Apollo nodded. “I do.”
Sateria sat quietly for a minute. “So what do we do?”
“There’s nothing we can do for now. What I want you to do is watch your back. I’m certain that one of them, whichever it is, is going to come after you to find out where the collection is.”
“I can work from home if I have to.”
“No. Then they will know we are on to them. Just go to work.”
“That’s why you’re coming back to work. To keep an eye on me.”
Apollo nodded. “Yes. That is the reason I didn’t want you to say anything.”
“I’m scared, babe.”
“You’ll be fine. Just try not to be alone.”
Sateria nodded. “So what else have you been up to today?”
“I went to see Brad.”
Sateria clicked her teeth. “I thought I told you not to go alone.”
“I had too. And I’m glad I did. He’s still enamored with you. When I went to his door his woman answered, and well she looks a hell of a lot like you.”
“Yup. Shorter, but hair color and length the same and she has the same sultry green eyes.”
“But he claims to know nothing, so I’ll leave him alone. I left him my card just in case he can help us.”
“So what time are you coming to work tomorrow?”
“For the next week, we’ll go in together. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the office, and I have to get a feel for everyone’s routine again.”
“I’m still scared babe.”
“Relax. Just follow my lead, and everything will be fine.”
Tuesday morning, Sateria and Apollo went into the office and attended the meeting she planned. She announced Apollo’s return and his official capacity.
“Mr. Leonard has decided to come back as a consultant, so he may be here all day, and he may not. I personally am glad to have him back with us even if he isn’t on payroll. He will assist Mark in the many meetings that he has going on concerning our recent growth,” Sateria said glancing at Mark. “He will also be working on some marketing analysis for me from time to time. With that said, please welcome him home.”
Sateria stood and started clapping. The directors and VP’s followed her lead. Soon after the welcome, the meeting ended.
“Mr. Leonard, if you would join me in my office for a moment, I’ll let you get started after that.”
“Certainly, Miss Murphy.”
Apollo followed her to her office.
“So, what’s up?” Apollo asked.
Sateria grinned seductively. “Nothing. I just wanted to kiss you.”
Enjoying the kiss, he pulled away. “I gotta get to work sweets. I’m gonna go meet with Mark to see what he has going on. Do not leave the building without me knowing about it first.”
The first week Apollo was back at work, everything seemed normal. They worked, went to lunch, and even started plans for a museum hit. Pretending to be comfortable around his teammates, Jayden still had yet to locate Brad. He wondered if Apollo had found him yet but he didn’t dare ask. But there was a way he could find out. There was certainly a clue in Sateria’s emails. Only one person in the company had access to her box. Donna.
The following day, Jayden thought of a fantastic lie and approached Donna while Sateria and Apollo were both out of the office.
“Donna, Miss Murphy asked me to do some analysis on the other real estate companies we’ve been in contact with over the last quarter. I need to make sure I have them all. Can you verify them for me?”
“Certainly, Mr. Johns.”
Jayden ran off the list of companies he was certain they had contact with. “Is that it?”
“No,” Donna said. “It seems we have connections with a, Home Sales Group out of Springfield.”
“Ugh. Okay. I didn’t need that one. I’m sorry I was only interested in commercial companies. Thanks, Donna.”
“You’re welcome, sir.”
Jayden walked away from Donna’s desk grinning. He would do what Sateria did to find the missing and elusive Bradley Morris. He went to his office and closed the door. Making a phone call to the Home Sales Group, he acquired the same information on Brad as Sateria did. He however didn’t realize that he was too late.
After getting the information he needed, he immediately went to Troya’s office.
Finishing the reply to an email, she looked up. “Nope, what’s up?”
Jayden closed the door behind him. “I have Brad’s address. He’s in Wisconsin. I can’t go just yet. We need to find out where the collection is first. That’s where you come in. Nate is aware of what is going on, am I right?”
“Since he is an independent, works his own hours, and reports to no one, he gets to be a part of our plan.”
“What do you want him to do?”
Jayden smiled and told her his plan.
The following Monday, Apollo and Sateria were getting ready to go into work. Apollo was comfortable with her going in alone at this point.
“Are we riding in together this morning babe?” Sateria asked.
“No. I have to make a stop before I come in. Classical Realty wants to have a meeting first thing.”
“Mark set that up?”
“I don’t know, but an eight in the morning meeting isn’t right. I hope there’s plenty of coffee.”
Sateria kissed Apollo on the cheek and made her way to work. Apollo, however, went to the offices of Classical Realty and began his meeting. As he sat there listening to his co-worker brag on the things AJG has done in the past year, and why they should merge, he worried about Sateria.
In between the various, boisterous speeches on whose company was better, Apollo sent a text message.
Hey, thinking about you, very bored. What are you doing?
He waited, for a minute, and he did not get a reply. He sent another message.
Hey babe, what are you doing?
This time he waited five minutes, and he didn’t get a reply. Looking down at his phone in his lap, he quickly typed out a one word text message.
Waiting to get a reply from her, it didn’t come. Panic stricken, he waited as long as he could for the meeting to be over. Mark was going on about revenue, and he waited.
Mark talked another fifteen minutes before Apollo interrupted him.
Standing up so he was sure to be recognized, he said, “Excuse me folks. I have a family emergency that I need to attend to. Sorry, Mark. I’ll see you back at the office.”
Apollo stormed out of the conference room and went straight for his car. Practically speeding to the office, he made it without breaking any laws. Pulling into the parking lot, he noticed that Sateria’s car was parked in her designated spot, and he hoped she was upstairs in a meeting or something. Making his way through the glass doors, slightly before lunch, he asked, “Donna is Miss Murphy here?”
“No sir. She hasn’t come in today.”
Immediately thinking the worst, he asked, “Are Mr. Johns and the Smith sisters here?”
“Yes sir. All three are in their offices.”
Apollo closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Are they busy?”
Donna checked the calendars of all three. “No sir.”
“Thank you, Donna.”
Apollo stormed down the hallway to Pheonix’s office. He barged in and she was on the phone. He closed the door behind him and waited patiently for her to hang up.
“She’s not here? She normally is in by eight. I haven’t seen her.”
He went to Troya’s office. “Hey Troya.”
“Oh hey, Apollo.”
“Have you seen Sateria?”
“No. She’s not here?”
“No. If you see her can you send her to my office?”
Then he went to see Jayden. He was also on the phone. He held up his finger to let Apollo know he’d be off in a minute.
“Yeah I’ll see you tonight. Look I gotta go. I’ll call before I leave okay...I love you, too.” Jayden hung up the phone and turned to Apollo. “What’s up?”
“Have you seen Sateria?”
Jayden shook his head. “No. I saw her car in the parking lot when I came up this morning. I thought she was here.”
Apollo rubbed his face in disgust. “Fuck!”
“Apollo, what’s going on?”
“I sent her a few text messages from my meeting, and she hasn’t responded yet.”
“No reply. If she isn’t here, where in the hell is she?”
“I believe she had a meeting this morning, and maybe her phone died.”
Apollo went straight for Jayden’s computer, hoping she’d forget to tell him about a change in her schedule.
“What are you doing?” Jayden asked.
“Checking her schedule.”
Knowing Apollo would do this, Jayden had Donna add a meeting which he was supposed to attend with Sateria, and he suddenly backed out. This would let them believe, she went to the meeting alone.
Relieved, Apollo said, “Oh, here it is. Baxter and King, nine o’clock. I’m gonna kill her.”
“See and you had me all worried for nothing. Relax. You know as well as I do that it is easier to take the L to their offices than driving. There’s never any parking at their building.”
Apollo nodded. “You’re right. Well, I ran out of my meeting before it ended. I hope Mark can handle it.”
“Sure he can. Shit, you trained him.”
“You’re right,” Apollo said nodding. “Well, I have nothing else to do until Mark gets back, so I’m going home. Tell Sateria where I am when she comes back from her meeting.”
Apollo left Jayden’s office, and Jayden chuckled quietly knowing exactly where Sateria was.
She sat in the damp basement tied to one of the support beams. Her eyes still covered so she wouldn’t know where she was, Sateria was scared. She wondered if she was going to die. Her captor was no where to be found, and she continually tried to get free. Wrestling with the tight ropes at her wrists, she wasn’t getting anywhere. The only thing she was accomplishing was severe rope burns.
She was thankful that she’d stopped by Starbucks to get her favorite sandwich. A Sausage & Cheddar Classic. Loaded with carbohydrates and protein. This would keep her from being hungry for the time being. She had a lot of work to do that morning, and didn’t want to be bothered by a growling stomach. She finished her sandwich before she entered the parking lot. She parked her car, not wanting to look terrible going into the office; she pulled down the visor, and looked in the mirror. She discovered that she ate all of her lipstick off as she consumed her breakfast. She reached in her purse and re-applied her favorite shade. Looking in the mirror smiling at her own beauty, she put the tube back in her purse, and got out of her car. Making her way to the elevator bay, she pushed the button to get to the ground level of the garage. To her surprise, she felt something cold and hard next to her temple. She glanced to her right to find that it was a gun.
Her heart beat furiously as she feared dying for a reason she didn’t know. The man, who held her captive, didn’t utter a word. He quickly put a dark hood over her head and led her back to the garage. Before he put her in the car, he handcuffed her hands behind her back. He opened the door and put her in. Soon after, they were on their way. Scared for her life, Sateria wondered what evil she had done.
Sitting for what seemed like forever in the car, they stopped, and her abductor got out and opened her door. He pulled on her arm and she stepped out of the car. Missing the sounds of the city, Sateria wondered where she was. Still afraid that she would be shot, she didn’t utter a word.
She’d been tied up, wherever she was, for only a few minutes, and had yet to discover why she’d been taken.
Moments later, she heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Oh good, she thought. Now I get to find out why I was kidnapped.
Thinking her abductor would immediately reveal why he’d taken her, she waited on them to speak. Maybe she would recognize their voice.
“Let me go,” Sateria said quietly. “I have more money than anyone you may know. I can pay you.”
Quiet footsteps circled around her. “I don’t want your money,” the voice came from behind. Disguised by a voice box.
Disappointed. “Well what do you want?”
“In time, Miss Murphy. In time.”
The footsteps made their way up the stairs. An hour later, she heard the footsteps coming back down stairs.
“I want to know the location of your jewelry collection,” the voice said.
“Because I want it.”
Sateria immediately thought the man who took her was Jayden. “Jayden look. I can give you the money for the collection, if that’s all you’re after. Just let me go, and I won’t talk.”
The laugh that came from the man behind the voice box was eerie. “My name is not Jayden. Nor is my name important. I just want you to tell me where the collection is, and I’ll see to it that you get safely home.”
“I don’t know where it is,” Sateria lied.
“Aw come on. It’s your collection. You have to know where it is.”
“No, I don’t. It was taken from my boyfriend’s penthouse some months ago.”
“You collected the insurance money from it, right?”
“Well then. Perhaps it is you who is the thief. I will expose you to the media, and you will lose your company, and maybe even go to jail for fraud. So how about you just tell me where it is?”
“I already told you. It was stolen.”
“Hmm. Maybe when you get hungry enough you’ll talk.”
The man went back up the stairs leaving Sateria in her dark damp prison.
Fraud? She thought. Yes, her captor was Jayden. She was sure of it. But why would he do this to her? Why would he do this to Apollo? She then thought about how well of a shot Jayden was. She immediately believed that it was Jayden who shot Johnny. This made her angry. She pulled on the ropes again, desperately trying to break free, but to no avail. She would find a way to kill him for taking away her happiness. Not that she wasn’t happy now, but it was Johnny who freed her from her sorry life still addicted to her first love. She loved him for that, and still wanted to avenge him.
The ropes wouldn’t give. Two hours later, she started to get hungry. Would she tell her abductor where the collection was? She shook her head, no. If she reviled where it was, lots of people would get hurt. She didn’t want that. She stayed strong. Footsteps fell on the stairway again.
“Well?” the man asked.
“Do I have to keep repeating myself? I don’t know where the collection is. It’s just gone.”
Circling her, the man replied, “The collection was a fake. I want the real one. Where is it?”
The man stopped circling her and stood fast. “Don’t insult me. You know it was a fake as well as I do. One hundred million dollars in jewels is floating around this country somewhere. Tell me where it is, and you can go home. If not, you stay here until you do.”
Sateria heard the man go up the stairs again.Her stomach began to growl. How much longer could she hold out? She didn’t know, but she had to keep the location of the real collection a secret.