Guardian Angel Ch. 03byAurora Black©
This was my first "real" attempt at writing a romantic caper story with a sexy leading man and plucky heroine. I was 20 at the time.
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The night was cold and foggy. The moon was barely visible in the mists of the seaside area where a man walked alone. Raphael Cabrezi made his way down the deserted dock, his eyes searching the darkness around him. He was looking for someone, a man that was both widely known of and a complete enigma.
The man who had hired him.
As he walked, Rafe's mind wandered back to the events that occurred a few hours before. He thought about what went on at the museum, and he wondered at the mystery that was Sabrina Thomas, the woman that he could not get out of his mind since he first saw her earlier that day...
He remembered that he had a few hours to kill before his appointment that morning, so he had decided to tour the museum to get acquainted with the art that he was supposed to "observe."
After a half hour and more than a few wrong turns, he finally found the room where the highly prized Angel sculptures were being displayed. He had felt himself gravitate towards the classic and ancient beauty of those special works of art, and for a moment he noticed nothing else in the room.
The Angel sculptures of Michelangelo. They were every bit as lovely as he had imagined. The sculptures were created in the early 16th century; probably between 1503 and 1505, which was soon after his "David" statue was finished, Rafe had recalled.
He had done his homework on the subject, but nothing could prepare him for the real thing. He was completely blown away, and he continued to watch the statues as if he was under a spell.
Rafe remembered that his concentration on the sculptures had been broken when he heard the soft sound of a woman weeping behind him. He had turned just in time to see the woman remove her hands from her teary face, and he was mesmerized.
She was absolutely beautiful.
He had noticed that she kept her eyes closed, and he realized that she didn't know that he was there. Part of him wanted to leave her alone with her grief, and he had almost left the room when something inside urged him to pause.
A larger, more foreign part of him wanted him to stay. He stood in the doorway, his instincts warring over whether or not he should make himself known to her, help her.
He walked over to her and offered her his handkerchief.
He remembered her reaction to his presence; she had been shocked and embarrased at being caught in such a private moment. She had left the room soon after, and he was slightly disappointed that he didn't catch her name.
Of course, Rafe thought with a smile, that was what I thought before I walked into that office.
He was as shocked as she had been when they met again. The brief meeting went well and soon he was able to follow through with his mission, which was the inspection of the sculptures. They were authentic, and phase one of the plan had been completed.
Now let the games begin, Rafe thought as he returned to the present.
He continued to walk down the dock, keeping his eyes peeled for signs of his assigned contact. He finally stopped at a pier and checked his watch. 11:55 pm. The meeting with his new employer was scheduled for midnight.
As the last five minutes ticked by, Rafe found that his thoughts turned once again to Sabrina. He was impressed by her professionalism during their earlier meeting, but something told him that she was not everything that she seemed to be. She was like a rose; she had many layers to her, but each one must be opened with a careful hand to discover the wonders inside.
Yes, he thought, there is a lot more to her than meets the eye.
His thoughts were interrupted when he noticed the sudden flashing of lights in the distance. He checked his watch again and discovered that it was exactly midnight. He put his hands in his coat pockets and slowly walked towards the lights.
The lights turned out to be the headlight beams of a limousine. As Rafe drew near, the doors of the limousine opened and two heavily-muscled men came out. One of the men stepped closer to Rafe while the other glanced around the boardwalk for any other late-night strollers. Finding none, the observant one signaled the big man in front of Rafe. The big man stepped forward, regarding Rafe with a calculated stare.
"Are you Cabrezi?"
Rafe cleared his throat and said, "Yes. Are you the one that I'm supposed to see?"
The big man glanced at his companion before answering. "No. He sent us to escort you to the meeting place. Come with us, please."
The limo ride was long and tension-filled. The men stared at Rafe for the entire duration of the trip, and all of his questions concerning the mysterious employer were met with stony silence. He was not able to see where the limo was going because the night was so dark, and something told Rafe that he was probably better off not knowing where he was headed.
The limousine finally came to a stop, and the two men ushered Rafe out of the vehicle. He was led into a building that appeared to be abandoned except for a few floors on the top. Rafe was guided through several long hallways that were illuminated only by moonlight.
The men then accompanied him on a service elevator which brought them to the very top floor. Another long hallway awaited them, and Rafe observed that it was highly decorated with art from all over the globe.
At the end of the hall were two of the largest doors that Rafe had ever seen. They look like they could take on a World War without a scratch, he thought as he looked at the shiny steel that made up the doors. The two men opened the doors and pulled him inside.
The room was decorated with exquisite furnishings; Rafe was impressed by the obvious style and care of the person who put the arrangements together. With one quick glance around the room, Rafe was able to recognize several art pieces that were well worth over $1,000,000 each.
"Who the hell is this guy," Rafe couldn't help but wonder aloud.
Rafe didn't expect his question to be answered, so he was surprised when he heard a rumbling voice behind him.
"Who am I, you ask? Sorry, but I'm not the type who rushes into introductions."
Rafe began to turn around to discover the owner of the voice, but the rather large man from the limo ride clearly had other ideas. The big man suddenly lashed out and trapped Rafe's head between his meaty palms, preventing Rafe from turning his head.
The mystery boss remained behind Rafe and the big man, sizing up the situation. After a minute, the enigma sighed and said, "Release him, Roscoe."
The chunky hands fell away from Rafe's face, and Rafe was able to breathe again. The boss motioned for the men to leave him and Rafe alone.
As the big man and his partner left the room, Rafe couldn't resist saying, "Don't forget to clip those nails, Freddy Kreuger."
The mystery boss laughed, and Rafe turned towards him and got his first view of... a man wearing a black mask.
"Why all the secrecy?" Rafe was genuinely curious.
The boss motioned for Rafe to take a seat.
"Pardon me, but it is of no concern of yours. Please let us get down to business."
The masked boss sat down at his desk, smooth as silk in his approach.
"Mr. Cabrezi. It is a great honor indeed to have a man of your talents in my presence."
Rafe knew the procedure; whenever he signed up with a new employer who had a taste for rare and valuable art, he always heard the same thing at the first meeting. How much of an honor it is to have the exceptional Raphael Cabrezi working for them... the man of a thousand ways, a thousand skills.
Raphael Cabrezi, art expert, art afficionado... and art thief.
Rafe held up a hand to prevent the boss from saying any more.
"Please, I've been in this business too long to waste time listening to empty flattery. Could we possibly skip this farce and 'get down to business' like you so thoughtfully suggested?"
The eyes beneath the mask glittered under the room's lights, and the boss threw his head back and released a forced laugh.
"Indeed, Cabrezi. I like the way you think. You have seen the sculptures, have you not? They are very lovely, but are they real?"
"They are authentic."
The boss released a pent up breath at the revelation. "Real." Another laugh. "I had to be sure before we proceed."
Rafe leaned forward in his chair and looked the boss directly in the eyes. "Now that you know that the Angels are real, it's time to discuss my fee."
The boss cleared his throat. "The Angels, if brought to me unscathed, are worth $20,000,000 each. Since there are four sculptures, that brings everything to eighty million in total. I want them, Cabrezi. You are the only one skilled enough to get them, so I am willing to pay you five million now and another five once you've successfully brought the Angels to me."
Rafe's mind was going a mile a minute. "I accept your proposal. I need to have the official up-to-date blueprints and layout of the museum, and I need three weeks to prepare."
The boss' eyes shone beneath the black mask. "Of course. These things take time. Now that it's settled, I bid you a good evening."
The boss got up from his chair and opened the huge steel doors. With a snap of his fingers, the boss summoned the two men who were waiting outside the door. The big man, Roscoe, was carrying a briefcase.
Rafe got up from his chair and took the briefcase from Roscoe. Rafe opened the briefcase and inspected the contents. All five million dollars were there.
As soon as he closed the briefcase, the two beefy men began to lead Rafe away from the room. Rafe briefly hesitated, saying to the boss, "We never discussed what I should call you."
The masked man's mouth hinted at a smile. He motioned for the men to continue leading Rafe back outside, back to the darkness from which they came.
As the service elevator began to lower Rafe and the other men back to the ground floor of the building, Rafe heard the boss' voice as it echoed from above.
"Call me nothing."