Jenny and I gave a wide yawn once the plane shook us awake. We had left the US behind and landed in Vatican City, our new home. Outside, the towering cathedrals and obelisks were reaching up to the late-morning sun. Down on the airport tarmac, a limo was waiting for us. Jenny and I looked at each other and smiled, both giddy and nervous.
We stepped out of the plane with our luggage, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the fresh air. The limo driver quickly took our luggage and loaded it into the back for us. Dr. Alfonse, Jenny, and I climbed inside, and found Professor Medici sitting near the back of the cabin. The doors were closed and the limo quickly began moving forward.
“I must say Mr. Ashford, you’re terms were steep. It took a lot of convincing to get the other members to accept you and Ms. Donovan into the Illuminati, without any previous affiliation. However, once they looked into your history and considered what you could offer us, they all accepted. While I wish our first meeting hadn’t been so… interrogative, I can easily say that I do not regret our arrangement and look forward to working with you in the future.” He said.
“Thank you, I’m glad that there are no negative feelings.” I replied.
“You’re welcome. Now, I’m here to inform you two as to your entitlements and benefits as members of the Illuminati, as well as responsibilities. Let me first make it clear that as long as you work with the Illuminati, you work for the Illuminati.
As a member, you will not receive any payment for your services. We’ll have nothing to do with your finances, and unless an individual is giving you a personal loan, you will not get any money from other members. However, as long as you work with/for the Illuminati, you will have access to the benefits and perks of all members. Such examples include free vacations, flights to any location, tax exemption, medical care, and anything else owned by another member.
In terms of your personal activities, the Illuminati doesn’t care about what you do, as long as there is no way it can be traced back to us. However, if the Illuminati council has a strong disagreement with your actions, then you’ll have two options; stop what you’re doing, or leave the Illuminati. We refuse to be affiliated with drug cartels, serial rapists, slave traffickers, or anything else like that. It took a lot for us to overlook your already… bloodstained… history.
There is no rule against telling people that you are a member of the Illuminati, mostly for the fact that they won’t believe you or shrug it off. However, if you give out details of our group or our members, we can easily have you killed.
That is mostly all you need to know as members of the Illuminati. You will learn more later, but we’ve covered all of the important things. Now, allow us to discuss the procedure…” He said as the limo drove down the beautiful Roman streets.
“Well I was able to come up with designs on the flight here, so all I need is the time and resources to build them. Once I get the required materials, I can have the pair ready in… four days. But I will also need x-rays and scans of your arms, because I need a lot of details in order to make sure that the prosthetics will fit.” I said.
“Of course, Anthony can have those delivered by tomorrow. Now, in our agreement, I said that you two would be granted safe asylum. Not only will you be protected by both the sovereignty of Italy and the Vatican, but you will also be granted free housing. In fact, ownership of a villa just went up for grabs…” He began. Jenny grabbed my hands and stopped breathing the second she heard the word ‘villa’.
“An elderly widower passed away a few days ago in the hospital, but he had no family and no will in which to leave his possessions to any of his friends. Since the property has not been left to anyone, its ownership has fallen to the bank, the bank that I am a board member of.
Basically, the house and all of the possessions belong to you two. I’ve pulled some strings and tweaked the paperwork so that it’s all tax-free, including water, power, and gas. I have also acquired a serviceman who will run errands and act as a driver. He will be paid, but like your taxes, it will be handled by askew bank funds.” Medici said. Jenny gripped my arm and couldn’t help but give a very girlish squeal, causing us all to laugh.
“We’ll bring the scans tomorrow, use the rest of the day to make yourselves comfortable and do some sight-seeing.” Professor Medici said before the door closed and limo drove away.
Jenny and I were standing in front of a two-story mansion with our luggage beside us. The villa was situated in and looked out over the Vatican Gardens, was made of white granite bricks, and had a medium-sized rose window above the door, just like a cathedral. With its location in the Vatican Gardens, it was just a short-walk away from the city streets but granted privacy. It had a large water fountain out front, with a long gravel driveway.
We opened up the door and stepped inside, gazing at the chandelier that hung from the vaulted ceiling, the art that decorated the walls, and the flawless marble tiles on the floor.
Laughing with excitement, Jenny jumped up into my arms, kissing me wildly. I was as excited as she was, for not only were we finally safe from the authorities, but we were home. We didn’t have to run anymore, we could live out our lives in Rome. We finally had a home that we could call our own.
We brought our luggage inside and explored the house. In the villa’s entryway was a large marble staircase in line with the front door. The steps were covered in a red carpet, and at the second level, the staircase split to the left and right at perpendicular angles, and then turned into balcony walkways that allowed access to the second story rooms. There were several large pillars built into the balconies, both to support them, but mostly to support the roof. Along the staircase were wide handrails, with bronze statues set at each corner. There were two doors, one to the left of the main entryway and one to the right.
We stepped through the left door and entered an expansive den, holding several easy chairs, an L-shaped couch, a large fireplace, and a huge flat-screen TV. Bureaus and shelves lined the wall, filled with antiques of several different collections. At the far end of the room was a fully-stocked bar, with a large cabinet filled with well over a hundred bottles of aged wine and liquor.
We moved to the back of the villa and stepped into the kitchen. The kitchen had rosewood cabinets and shelves, onyx tabletops, an island table, a top-of-the-line stove, and a spice rack that was the size of a bookshelf. The previous owner either loved to cook, or had a very talented chef. There were two doors in the kitchen, both leading to rooms underneath the staircase. One was the downstairs bathroom and the other was the laundry room.
We moved to the back-right corner of the house and entered a massive dining room. Like the kitchen, the table was made of red rosewood with a black onyx surface. One wall was lined with windows, letting the sunlight stream in, and along the other wall were shelves and cabinets full of china, silverware, napkins, tablemats, candlesticks, and etc.
We stepped into the front-right corner of the first floor, just to the right of the entryway. This room held the lounge, but unlike the other rooms, it was circular and the ceiling was up at the second floor. The half of the circular wall that was part of the building’s outer surface had nothing but windows, all with colored glass. With two levels of colored windows occupying two sides of the villa’s corner, the room was illuminated with an endless rainbow of different shades and hues.
Across the room from the windows was a fountain, stretching up to the second floor. It was built to resemble a waterfall, with water running down a surface of twisted blue and purple glass. Down at the bottom of the fountain was a bed of stones, with the drain hidden underneath. The glass surface was slanted ever so slightly, so that the water wouldn’t be sprayed out when it was released from the top and not splash out when it reached the stones. The slow rate of the fountain and the grooves in the glass also made sure that the water would not spray of splash out. The light from the windows reflected off and was distorted by the wall of water running down the glass, fusing the colors in ways that not even I could describe.
In the center of the room was a large grand piano made of ebony wood, with ivory keys and a flawlessly maintained surface. It had obviously been played often, though it had been taken care of so well that its condition was even better than those that had never been played.
We moved back to the entryway and climbed up the stairs with smiles on our faces. Again, we started by checking out the left side of the house, moving from the split staircase and onto one of the balconies that lined the sides of the second story. The first door led to a modest guestroom with a queen-sized bed, a bureau, closet, and a personal bathroom.
The second room was the master bedroom, sitting in the front left corner of the villa, with windows looking out over Vatican Gardens. The king-sized bed had silk sheets and blankets, each with thread counts of over 800. None of which seemed to have been used. Set against the wall was a bureau filled with clothes, and in the corner were two walk-in closets. One was filled with suits, coats, shoes, and etc. The other was filled with blankets, sheets, and towels.
We walked through a door in the back of the room, stepping into the bathroom. Unlike the other rooms of the house, which had been painted with bright colors, the walls of the bathroom had been painted with deep soothing blues, and were even adorned with shells and pictures of angels.
Next to the door was a long marble counter with a wide mirror and silver sink. Beside it was the toilet, and in the back of the room was a combination of a hot tub and a shower. It was a large circular porcelain bath with a wooden foundation, water jets, and seats like a hot tub, but up above was a huge showerhead and in the corner was a drain. The showerhead was large enough to pour as much water as a fire hose. I could only assume that it was just a hot tub that could also be used for showers and bathing. Behind the hot tub was a bay window with curtains for privacy or to just control the light, and around it were candles, soaps, and oils.
Jenny and I moved to the right side of the house and opened the first door. We stepped into a vast library, with well over a thousand books on countless subjects. In the corner were two easy chairs and lamps for reading, along with towering windows to let in sunlight. The walls were wood-paneled instead of being made with plaster, between the two easy chairs was a gas fireplace (built with extra security and safety due to its surroundings), and hanging from the ceiling was a chandelier.
We stepped out of the library, walked down the balcony, and looked in the next room. The next room held a personal office with hardwood floors, blue/grey painted walls, an oak desk with a comfy office chair, windows behind the desk, and more bookshelves along the walls. I could just imagine myself sitting at that desk, using the room as my private study for any work I had.
We stepped back out onto the second-story balcony and walked to the final room. We stepped into some sort of workshop for both woodwork and metalwork. The workshop was quite large, obviously built for projects of all scales and all types, ranging from art to invention.
There was a long workbench with countless sets of tools, all perfectly arranged and organized. The workbench was covered with half-finished wood projects and dismantled clocks. Next to the workbench were shelves and drawers, filled with more tools and materials. There were several tables throughout the room, and in the back was an area for creating paintings, sculptures, and pottery. Whoever owned this house had a lot of hobbies.
As we stepped back out into the atrium of the villa, I looked through the window on the back wall and saw an outdoor balcony, looking out behind the house. There was a glass door, just barely visible to the naked eye. We stepped outside, admiring the view.
Just as we were about to go back inside, we both saw a spiral staircase in the corner of the balcony, leading up to the roof. Curious, we climbed up the rusted steps and laughed when we reached the top. The roof of the villa had been turned into a third floor with a huge swimming pool, surrounded by lawn chairs. From the roof of the villa, you got a spectacular view of the Vatican Gardens.
I stood in amazement, unable to believe how perfect the house was. But it wasn’t just the house that was amazing; it was the point in time. Here we were, two genius teenagers who couldn’t legally vote, but we were filthy rich, were members of the Illuminati, and had a grand villa in the city of Rome. This was beyond people’s wildest dreams.
Jenny shook me from my thoughts as she pushed me into the pool and then jumped in after me, laughing. I surfaced and gasped for air, but was instantly forced back down as jenny wrapped her arms around me and began kissing me. We kissed for several seconds under the water before coming back up for air, with Jenny’s arms still wrapped my neck.
Under the Italian sun and soaking wet, Jenny was breathtakingly beautiful, especially with the wide smile on her face.
“We’re home Adrian, we’re home.” She said with disbelief.
“We are Jenny, we’ve finally found our home.” I replied, kissing her.
We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon clearing out the previous owner’s food, clothes, pictures, and personal memorabilia. We wanted to keep most of the possessions, such as the art, books, and antiques, and we had all the time in the world to get rid of what we didn’t want and acquire personal possessions of our own.
After we unpacked our things, we decided to take a walk through Vatican Gardens. We strolled through the expansive park with my arm around Jenny, admiring the vast collection of beautiful plants and intricate mosaics of flowers. There was a soft breeze caressing us in the shade of the trees.
“Did you ever imagine our lives would turn out like this? Owning a villa in Rome and being rich before legally able to vote?” I asked.
“Not like this exactly, but a little similar. I always knew that you were destined for greatness, and I would dream every night of being your wife and the two of us traveling to places like this whenever we wanted.” She said dreamily.
“How long have you been dreaming that?” I asked.
“Since middle school. That was when I first noticed that you were different from everyone else. Just by looking in your melancholic eyes, I knew that you had a path that stretched away from everyone else’. Although you had resigned yourself to walking this path alone, I knew I wanted to walk it with you.
Have I ever told you that?” She hummed.
“Countless times. But I love hearing you say it.” I chuckled as I kissed her on the forehead.
We were laid out on the grass, enjoying the cool shade and watching the drifting clouds overhead. Jenny had her arm across my chest and her head on my shoulder, purring like a cat with every breath.
“You’re not the same man I fell in love with.” She suddenly said out of the blue.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You’re so much different from the way you used to be. In a way, I miss your cold machine-like personality. I miss trying to understand you like a puzzle and watching you try understand me. I miss playing the game that our relationship was in the early stages. I miss looking at you and your level of brilliance like you were the summit of a mountain that I could not reach.” She said.
“Do you mean you’re unhappy?” I asked with worry.
“No, of course not!” She said, raising her head and giving me a reassuring smile and kiss.
“I’m just saying I missed the challenge, almost like the saying about how finding the treasure is half the fun. Everyone misses the early stages of their relationships, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t overjoyed with the current stage that their relationship is in.
In the early stages, I felt alone, even though I was with you. A part of me was lonely because it was hard to get you to show your feelings for me. I was happy and madly in love, but a part of me wished you were different. Then after your fight with Ben, you finally told me that you loved me, and after your dream, you were completely different than before.
Ever since your dream, I’ve felt like this is a true relationship. I can sense your feelings for me, instead of you just trying to mirror my feelings for you. I don’t feel alone in this relationship; I can feel your support and your love. I’m still amazed by you every single day, even more than I was before you trained me. I have reached the mountain summit that is your level of brilliance, and the view of the world is breathtaking. I miss the challenge of the beginning of our relationship, but I am happier and love you even more than I did then.
What was the beginning of the relationship like for you?” She said softly, putting my heart at ease.
“It was confusing, more confusing than I thought possible. Being in a relationship was like moving to a country that no one had ever heard of, starting a new life, and adopting a whole new language and set of customs. But what kept me in the relationship was curiosity and interest.
Being with you made me feel something that I hadn’t experienced in years; happiness. I hadn’t been happy since I was a little kid, and this was a new kind of happiness, one that I had never felt before. I wanted to study this happiness, I wanted to examine it, and I wanted to find out what was causing it. I wanted to find out what it was about you and being with you that was affecting me in such a way, when all other human interactions just caused annoyance.
I enjoyed the confusion, because like you said, it was a challenge. It was nostalgic to come across something that I didn’t understand and have to put work and effort into it in order for it to open up to me. You were an enigma that was so complicated, not even I could figure you out.
Eventually, I realized that while it was the challenge that made me keep coming back, I was losing my curiosity as to what was making me happy. I no longer wanted to study and examine every aspect of the relationship from a distance; I wanted to live in it. I didn’t want to answer the mystery; I wanted to embrace it.
And only when I finally lowered my defenses of trying to understand it, did the mystery finally open itself up to me. It wasn’t the challenge that was making me happy; it was you. The only challenge was the one I was creating, because I was unable to understand that you were making me happy. I had been alone for so long that my subconscious could not accept that human interaction was making me happy. It was then that I realized I loved you.” I said.
“And then you got shot in the head.” She joked, flicking the metal plate in the middle of my forehead.
Jenny and I were sitting in one of the restaurants in Rome, eating lemon pasta with grilled shrimp and lamb chops with mint pesto. Outside, the street lamps were being lit as the sun sank below the horizon. The light bounced off of the water fountains, swerving and dancing on the rough surfaces of the stone buildings and streets.
“Cheers.” We both said as we clinked our glasses together and drank lightly, savoring the taste of the wine.
“So what do you plan on doing now? We have our whole lives ahead of us and we’ve finally settled down?” I asked her as I set down my glass.
“Well, I was thinking that I could attend the university that Professor Medici teaches at. I haven’t even graduated from high school, but I’m sure Medici could pull some strings so that I’ll be accepted. There are so many things I want to study, especially since you taught me to harness my whole brain.” She said with excitement.
“What about you? I can’t imagine the Illuminati will have you actually work for them in a cubicle.” She asked.
“Well, after I build prosthetic hands for the Illuminati members, I figure I’ll go back to my old job of building and inventing, like back when I was creating surgical tools for the hospital in our town. I miss working with my hands to build new machines and I miss the physical challenges that come with a hobby.
I also want to hone a few of my skills. I was a pretty good computer hacker before we left, and I want to regain and enhance my skills. I’ll need them in order to put my plan into action.” I replied.
“So what is the next step?” She asked.
“The next step is to find the nukes. Even if the Illuminati doesn’t have the nukes, using their connections to find whoever does will be easy.” I answered, shifting sideways in my chair.
“How do you know the nukes even exist?”
“Hundreds of thousands of nukes were built by the US and Russia during the Cold War, and after the fall of the Soviet Union, a very large percentage of them completely disappeared. Since the Cold War, Russia and the US have been working together to dismantle the vast excess of atomic bombs, but it took a long time for Russia to stabilize. Atomic bombs and enriched uranium were literally up for grabs. There was even a confirmed story of a janitor taking enriched uranium in small amounts over time because he wanted to buy a new fridge for his family.”
“And after that?” Jenny asked, leaning forward with a smile.
“Then with a little work, the world will be in a palm of our hands. Once that is achieved, I shall force the nations of the world to exist in equilibrium, and I shall hand them the keys to peace.”
“Thanks Clovis.” I said as Jenny and I stepped out of the limo.
After all the wine she drank with dinner, Jenny was struggling to stay on her feet. The limo driver was holding bags of groceries we had picked up before going to restaurant. Clovis was the driver/errand boy Professor Medici had hired to work for us. But once we got settled in, I planned on letting him go.
“Of course sir, I’m paid to be at your disposal.” He replied.
“Come on honey, time for bed.” I said, hoisting Jenny up onto my shoulder.
“Put me down, I can walk!” She laughed.
“We tried that baby, remember? You almost fell into the fountain because you wanted to make love underwater.” I hummed as I opened the front doors of the villa.
“Clovis, please put the food in the refrigerator. That will be all.” I said, turning to him.
“Yes sir.” He said, making his way to the kitchen.
I carried Jenny upstairs and into the bedroom. I gently laid her down on the bed and turned on the lights. Jenny gazed at me with a look of peace on her face.
“No matter how many times I look around, I just can’t believe we’re really here. We’re home.” She murmured. I wrapped my hands around hers.
“I know, and it’s better than I ever imagined. We don’t have to run any more, we don’t have to hide, and we don’t have to constantly move every time we get comfortable. We can finally live out our lives.” I said as I kissed her hands.
Downstairs, I could hear Clovis walking out of the house and closing the doors behind him.
“I’m going to go turn out the lights. Promise me you won’t fall asleep with your clothes on.” I said softly.
“I promise.” She whispered in reply.
I got up and stepped out of the bedroom. I moved throughout the house, turning off the lights. With the only sound coming from the towering fountain in the lounge and the only light shining in from the moon and stars outside, I made my way back upstairs.
I stepped into the bedroom and smiled. Jenny was sound asleep beneath the blankets, with her clothes having been lazily tossed onto a nearby chair. Only half of her body was covered, and the rest was reflecting the light from the bedside lamp beautifully.
I sat down beside her, careful not to wake her up. Ever so gently, I stroked her golden hair and brushed my fingers against her soft cheek, admiring her beauty with a small smile on my face. Finally, I stood up, undressed, turned off the light, and climbed into bed. I wrapped my arms around Jenny and held her close, letting the warmth of her body put me to sleep.
I don’t know what time my eyes opened. The moon was slowly approaching the horizon, casting a pool of light across the floor, broken up by a net of shadows from the window frames. Jenny had woken me up, for she was gently kissing me and stroking my manhood to a full erection.
“Jenny?” I asked with a yawn.
“We never got to celebrate our new home. Don’t wake up completely; I want us to give each other our hearts while our minds are on the precipice between reality and dreams. Be gentle, my love.” She cooed, kissing me over and over again, but as gently as a falling leaf.
I wrapped my arms around her in reply and rolled over so that I was on top. I held myself over her, so tired that I could barely maintain my erection. While I kissed Jenny over and over again, I pressed the head of my cock against the soft lips of her pussy. I slowly pushed it in, but instead of a moan, Jenny just gave a soft gasp.
I began moving back and forth in the familiar rhythm, exploring the insides of Jenny’s body with my throbbing cock. But unlike the other times, I was being slow and gentle, as to Jenny’s request. We kissed over and over again, with our lips only separating for the briefest of moments.
With every gentle thrust, Jenny would give a soft hum of pleasure instead of her usual nymphomaniac moans of sexual ecstasy. But while the reply was far softer than normal, I could sense that she was enjoying it more. True to her words, with our minds on the precipice between being awake and being asleep, our physical experiences were being transformed into more powerful psychological bliss, with each feeling of euphoria traveling through our exhausted bodies and enraptured minds. I could barely feel my own body, for my mind was turning every experience into an emotional tremor.
For once, I was unable to keep track of time while Jenny and I were intimate. I could not tell the difference between seconds and minutes, as my mind would constantly switch between moving at a snail’s pace and then running at lightning speeds. I knew that it was a long time, far longer than any of our earlier sessions. My only clue was the pool of moonlight slowly moving across the room, eventually coming upon us. With her face and body illuminated by the moon, the look of bliss on Jenny’s face was unparalleled. It was as if her body was mirroring the jubilation of her mind.
At last, we both had a simultaneous orgasm. Though with my mind as tired as it was, I don’t know if what we experienced was really an orgasm. All I know is Jenny arched her back like a gymnast and gave her first moan of the night, and my body gave out and I passed out beside her. Seconds away from a deep sleep, all I could sense was the sweet smell of Jenny’s hair, and the warmth of her body as she pressed herself against me.
There were seven men and one woman facing us, with one of them being Professor Medici. Six of them were in the same state as Medici, with the youngest of the whole group no less than fifty years old. Everyone who was losing the use of their limbs had a personal doctor and assistant beside them. We were in a privately owned building, meeting the rest of the Illuminati members in Italy. The remaining members would be flying in next month.
“Mr. Ashford, Ms. Donovan, I would like to introduce you to Sybil Anniston, Wyatt Abdul, Hannibal Stewart, Howard Porter, Mort Taegan, Clancy Valdemar, and Brennan Delbert. We shall have a formal initiation next month, but I wanted to introduce you to the members in Italy.” Medici said. Jenny and I gave a quick bow of our heads, since we could not shake the members’ hands.
“This building is the Italian Illuminati headquarters. It had embassy status so that the authorities can’t attack, it offers emergency shelter and asylum, hosts teleconferences with all other members, and is one of the few locations that hold our servers.” Medici said.
“Your servers?” I asked with interest.
“Yes, we keep all of our data and information on servers in every headquarters. All the servers in an outpost will self-destruct if the building comes under attack or someone hacks our system. Come see for yourself.” Medici said.
I tried to keep my smile hidden as I walked between the long aisles of servers, all kept in a dim temperature-controlled room. Somewhere in this cyber maze was the answer I sought, and all I needed was to dig. Jenny could almost see the sparks flying in my mind.
“Once you are granted full membership of the Illuminati, you shall have access to all of the information in our archives. That is… as long as you hold up your end of the deal.” Medici said, sitting in the doorway.
“Don’t worry my friend, you shall all get what you want. I will give you back your life and make it so that you can return to teaching.” I replied.
“I hope so, because no one in this organization trusts you… at all. You’re the youngest member in the history of the Illuminati by more than two decades, you have a bloody past and an IQ that makes you capable of anything, you’ve been watching us with the same hunter’s eye as ourselves, and you extorted your way into our group. It will be a while until anyone trusts you enough to even turn their back on you.” Medici warned. I chuckled and walked towards him with Jenny beside me.
“That’s good, I was worried that no one in the Illuminati would give me a challenge if I decided to take over.” I said with a grim laugh. Unfazed, Medici had Dr. Alfonse turn his wheelchair so that he could face us.
“By the way, we have two of the things you asked for.” Medici said. On cue, Dr. Alfonse held up a suitcase and a manila envelope.
“The envelope holds scans and measurements of my arms for the procedure. The suitcase holds royalty payments from your bank account, unlocked by our hackers. Now you have everything you asked for, it’s time to hold up your end of the deal.” Medici said dryly.
“But of course. In one week’s time, you shall be given new hands. And before the formal initiation, all of the other members with your disease will be granted the same gift.” I said as I looked in the suitcase. There had to be at least ten million dollars in the case. Jenny and I turned and walked away, and once we were out of earshot, Jenny leaned over.
“All according to plan.” She whispered coyly.