They spent as much of the week together as they could. Johnny of course had other work to do. So between meetings with the many contractors, he spent time with the woman he was sure that was going to one day be his wife.
They ate, and made love. She left the Grand and started her new job; he complained that the carpet in the bedroom was the wrong white.
The following week, it was time for practice. They were in Johnny’s warehouse where they built a mock up of the building that they were going to enter, so they could work out the timing to perfection.
Johnny was frustrated. “Jayden, you have to move faster than that.”
“I’m trying. Perhaps it’s not me, but the product.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“I have to be able to get all of the screws out in a matter of a minute. If the screwdriver is slow, then I’m slow.”
Johnny rolled his eyes. “So we need new equipment. Apollo, get to the hardware store. I need the latest and greatest wireless screwdriver on the market.”
“Back in a few.”
Apollo made it back and they started the practice run again.
“Gah! Still thirty seconds too slow.”
Understanding Johnny’s frustration, Apollo replied, “Johnny, we’ll work on it. Let’s move ahead.”
After four days of practicing the same routine over and over, Johnny realized the job was not going to happen in the fifteen minute window they planned for.
“Damn it!” Johnny yelled. “Fuck! What is wrong with all of you?”
His four comrades looked at each other, afraid to speak up. This time, Johnny’s plan failed. No one was going to tell him, but Apollo thought it was time to bring up his back up plan with the rest of the team. He remembered to respect his leader, and gently told him that the timing was impossible, but he didn’t want to discourage him.
“Johnny, perhaps fifteen minutes is cutting it a bit close. Let’s add an additional two minutes.”
Defeated, Johnny replied, “Fine.”
The plan in place was still perfect, but the team could not execute.
“You all are giving up millions of dollars in diamonds. Get your act together. Let’s go again.”
After many more hours of practice, Johnny was angry. “Fuck! Seriously? Troya your job is easy, yet you still keep messing up after a week. Jayden, yes it is a huge amount of money in your hands, but can you walk without dropping the goods?”
Apollo thought it was time to reveal his plan to the team. “Johnny, it’s not gonna work. We have to do something else.”
“If we add another two minutes, then-”
Apollo shook his head. “No. Please let me tell everyone what I have planned.”
Johnny, the genius, was afraid to look weak in front of the team that had worked with him for so long. He was the mastermind behind their wealth, and he didn’t want to give it up. What he didn’t know is that Apollo always had a back up plan. This job was going to get someone on the team hurt or killed if the timing wasn’t perfect. They could not get the timing down so he decided to give Apollo a chance.
Apollo pulled back at the chance to stick his chest out, and told the rest of the team his idea. “I say we execute the job the same way it was done all those years ago. Get the jewels even before they get there. That way no one gets hurt. Well, maybe a couple guards, but none of us.”
Johnny already aware of the plan sat back and listened with the rest of his team.
“I’m down, how was the original job planned?” Pheonix asked.
“The gems are raw and uncut. At least that is what Johnny said. Straight from the mine, so they could look like anything. We get a hold of some fake rock and make the exchange right off the plane. We need to find out who the security company is who is going to do the transport and when. After that, it’s easy.”
Pheonix nodded. “The fake gems go to the museum and we make off with the real thing.”
“We need to get jobs then?” Jayden asked.
Apollo shook his head. “No. We steal two trucks and hi-jack a third. One to leave the airport with the actual goods, and eventually abandon it at some point on the road. Whoever is on that team, they are on a plane, after the truck is dumped. The other delivers the fake goods to the museum, leaves and dumps that truck in the opposite direction of the truck that had the real diamonds and the third will be the actual truck that was supposed to make the delivery in the first place.”
Johnny waited and watched the team’s reaction. He was himself, impressed. If the timing was right, no one would get hurt, the entire team would come home, and no one would die.
“Nice plan, Apollo. It’s actually better than mine. Maybe I have been out of the game too long.”
“You mean that?”
Johnny nodded. “I do. Good work. Maybe I have underestimated you all these years.”
Apollo grinned. “Perhaps you have.”
“Don’t hesitate next time. I may be the one with the most cash and most of the brilliant plans, and you all trust me. But if something doesn’t feel right from here on out, I want to hear it, even if it seems as if I don’t want to hear it. Corner me and make me listen. That goes for all of you. We are a team. I want us to remain that way until something goes wrong. When that happens, we’ll deal with it. Got it?”
The others agreed.
As it turns out, Apollo’s plan was flawless. The real jewels were transported, landed in an armored car, and immediately left the state. The fake jewels were delivered to the museum, and that armored car was dumped two hundred miles from the delivery location. The real armored car never made it to the airport. It was found about a mile away with both the driver and guard dead. Pheonix, who drove the armored car, didn’t leave one single fingerprint, got into the rented car with her sister. They made their way to an airport outside of Nevada, and went home. Two days later, they all met up with their leader.
“Time for a long break,” Johnny said.
“Are you sure?” Apollo asked.
“Yeah. We have enough money for now, and I have other things I need to take care of. If something comes up before then, I’ll let you know. Good job. I’ll see you all later. Enjoy.”
Days before Sateria’s birthday, Johnny was at the condo to look at the finished product. He walked from room to room with the interior decorator discussing and inspecting. The bedroom was flawless, and so was the kitchen. Johnny examined the small dining room and discovered a flaw in the table.
“No. This has to go back. There is a knot on the tabletop. Fix it or find me another one.”
The decorator nodded. “Yes sir,” she said, jotting his opinion on her notepad.
There were other things that weren’t right, but easily fixed. The day before Sateria’s birthday Johnny went to the condo to admire the finished product. Everything was perfect. He hoped she would love it. He wanted her to love it enough to live in. If not, he would have to rent it out, and hope the one who rented it would take care of it. He had no desire to refurbish the condo again.
At this time, their relationship was still going strong. He loved her, and was certain she loved him. She had yet to say it, though it had been six months. The condo, the perfect gift, was going to get him what he wanted…he hoped.
He was out of pocket the night before her birthday on purpose. He wanted her to freak out because she couldn’t contact. On the morning of her birthday, so she would be happy to see him. What Johnny didn’t realize is that this raised questions in Sateria’s mind.
Six months. A half a year, they had been together. She’d been through a longer relationship prior. Thoughts of Brad’s past actions kept coming into her mind. Did Johnny really mean all he said? Did he really want her, or was he building her up just to get rid of her? She really didn’t know. She loved him and she was certain he loved her. Whatever happened on the day of her birth, she would accept it. She owed it to herself, and she owed it to her friends.
Johnny rose extremely early, and happy, on Sateria’s birthday. He felt it was about time he took over his relationship. For the last six months, she was in control. No more. This day, was the day for ultimatums. Give up working and be at his disposal, or give him up all together. The man of power was the man in charge, and he wanted to remain that way even in his personal relationship.
Johnny stood on his balcony, watching the water on the lake, rhythmic and soothing. His only thoughts of Sateria. He had not let his team meet her as he promised. Something about Sateria was different. He understood what she was saying when she wasn’t ready for her friends to meet him. He now felt the same way. Something about their relationship was special. Something about the way she made him feel, wanted to keep her a secret. And he did.
“Close your eyes.”
Sateria grinned and closed her eyes as Johnny suggested. He grabbed her by the hand and led her to the door. This was the door to his heart. If she walked through this door and agreed to stay, he had her. He wanted her. He had gone beyond and above for this one.
“Open,” he said, closing the door behind him.
Sateria opened her eyes to find the room she was standing in was not only roomy, but beautifully decorated. She could have died in the room that she stood. What did it mean? She had to ask.
“Johnny, where are we?”
“This is your new place. Your bedroom furniture you picked out yourself. The rest is your favorite color. It is bigger than where you live now, so you have options. Do what you want to do. All I ask is one thing.”
Sateria turned to look at him. “What’s that?”
“I want you to be a curious about me.”
“Shhh. I know what you are thinking. Curious about me simply means, ask about who I am. Ask me how I am so rich. Ask to come to my house. You haven’t done that in the six months we’ve been together. I can’t take it anymore. Sateria, please say that you are interested in something I do. Even if it is what time I cross the street. If not, I will rent this place out to someone else.”
“Johnny, I don’t know what to say.”
“Please say yes.”
She looked around the condo decorated to her taste by a man who obviously wanted more from her than just sex. Hues of blue were all over the place. The living room, the dining room. The bedroom was the exact set she picked out; only the bed was the king he suggested. How could she say no? Johnny spent a huge amount of money, and at least eight-thousand she was aware of. Who knows how much he spent on the rest of the condo.
Johnny was much more than Brad ever was. Perhaps she made a mistake wanting and wishing her first love would come back to her. There was a new man in her life. He cared deeply for her and wanted the same from her. It wasn’t until it was presented that she finally understood.
“Yes. Johnny, forgive me if I have said or done anything wrong. I realize now that you only want to take care of me.”
“And I love you.”
“And you love me. From now on, whatever you want, if I can give it, I will.”
Johnny shook his head. “I don’t want a slave, Sateria. I will be there when you need me. I’ll protect you with my own life if I have too. Just stay with me.”
Sateria looked in his eyes and finally understood that he was in her life to stay. She looked around the room and the reality sank in. As long as she never changed who she was, he would be there forever. This made her happy.
She sat down on her new sofa and rubbed her hand across the soft leather. Johnny watched her as she admired it. She looked up and smiled. She patted the spot next to her, and Johnny sat next to her.
“So,” she began. “Do you live close by?”
Johnny smiled. He was happy she finally asked. “As a matter of fact I do.”
“Well, are you ready to show me where you live?”
His smile grew to a toothy grin. “Baby, I’ve been ready to share my place with you since I was certain I wanted a relationship with you.”
“Can we go now? I’d love to see it.”
Johnny sat for a moment and thought he should ask one more question. “Sateria, before we go, there is just one more thing I want to know.”
“What is it babe?”
“Do you love me?”
Sateria clicked her teeth. “Now, what kind of question is that? You know I do.”
She gave him a very seductive smile and replied, “Aurelius Johnathan Gianopoulos Jr., I love you.”
Johnny smiled at her words, stood and held out his hand. “Come on,” he said. “It’s time we made love in my bed.”
She rose and took his hand. They went to his house and immediately went to the bedroom. He didn’t let her look around too long. He’d finally gotten his wish, and was ready to celebrate.
They woke the following morning with the sun. Johnny kissed her gently on the lips. “Good morning, beautiful.”
She replied, “Good morning, lover.”
“So, what do you think?”
“Think about what? Your place? I haven’t really seen it.”
“You’re right,” he said, chuckling. “Let me show you.”
Johnny didn’t move from the spot he lay in. “This is the bedroom.”
Sateria laughed. “Obviously.”
Johnny continued. “Quite a large room with vanilla paint and champagne colored carpet. Armless chaise lounge, dresser, large nightstands, a small dresser, and a wall mounted television. Also a small glass table with two chairs where I like to sit sometimes and think.”
“You’re forgetting something, aren’t you?”
“Oh yes. My favorite part of this room. My extremely large king-sized bed who I only share with the people I love.”
“You’re so sweet.”
Johnny got up from his bed and went to his closet. He pulled out two of his robes. One for him, and one for Sateria. He grinned widely at the love of his life. “Come on. Let’s go see the rest.”
They left the bedroom, and what Johnny showed her was one of the most stunning penthouse apartments Sateria had ever seen; not that she had seen any. Also, she thought it was a bit large for a single man.
Four bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms. It was two levels. On the main floor were all the bedrooms, the dining room, family room, kitchen, and living room. The second floor was the great room alone. This was his playroom. His enormous television and other playthings lived there. Attached to the east and west ends of the great room were two separate terraces. Nineteen foot cathedral ceilings, and various hardwood, marble and carpet throughout then entire dwelling. Sateria was extremely impressed.
“So, what do you think?” Johnny asked.
“Your place is amazing. Big for one person, but I love it.”
“I’m glad you like it.”
Sateria sat down in the great room and remembered she promised her best friend she would throw a party, and let her friends meet the man in her life.
“My birthday is tomorrow. I was wondering if I could have a birthday party in my new place. I promised Kyra months ago that I would throw myself a birthday party and allow her to meet the man in my life. Are you okay with that?”
“Of course. You can do what you want there, remember? Tell me your plans, and we can definitely make it happen.”
They had been together a year. Being involved with a wealthy man had its advantages. She lived in a beautiful and safe condo thanks to him. He was aware of her love for shopping for new clothes and gave her a monthly allowance just so she could shop until her heart was content. Johnny introduced her to the Chicago elite at parties and various events they went to. He hired a personal chef for her to cook whatever she wanted to eat.
He made love to her when the mood struck him, and that itself kept her excited to see him. She never knew if they were going to do it in an elevator, or on one of the terraces at his place.
She discovered that he owned several rental properties in the city and three restaurants. One of which was his own chain. He also owned property in other states. She landed the big fish, and wondered what she ever saw in Brad.
Johnny, also in his own personal heaven, never did introduce Sateria to his team. When Jayden asked about her, Johnny replied, “We broke up.”Having no reason to think Johnny was lying, they let it go. He did have to open another office in a different building so he could keep his other life hidden from her, and her hidden from his closest friends. He was enjoying the way things were and didn’t want to change them.