"My God Fi, you're looking fabulous, girl!" Barry said when they saw him on Wednesday. "What have you been doing to yourself? Whatever it is, I've got to start."
Fi glared at Barry. She knew exactly what he meant by fabulous. Her tits and butt were getting bigger. Fi expected a certain amount of male attention wherever she went, but the last week or so had been a lot more attention than usual.
She knew why. Her shirts, skirts, and shorts were all too snug these days.
And, while she might be looking like a sex kitten, all she really felt was sleepy. It was probably some sort of
weird post-adrenaline high thing, but by now she should have been bouncing back. A few weeks of feeling tired and cruddy after the year they had made sense, but it'd been a month now.
She was starting to wonder if she had picked up some sort of parasite or weird tropical bug when they were down in Panama.
"Thank you, Barry, but we're here for something other than how I look."
"And what can I do for my favorite power couple?" Barry asks.
See, the thing about Barry is that he's not just a money launderer. He's also a very good financial manager. And well, Mike and Fi do not have run of the mill finances. Mike's been on an all-cash-all-the-time gig for the last six years, and though Fi has credit cards, they're in half a dozen fake names with the sorts of low limits no one looks twice at.
Which can make getting a place sort of tricky. Mike's had no credit history for half a decade now, and Fi's is sketchy at best, so it's not like they can just scoot over to the local bank for a mortgage. Not that they're looking to buy a place, right now.
But it's on the horizon. Because when it comes down to it, it's safer for all involved to own a place free and clear (through a few shadow corporations) than it is to rent. And it takes time to set those corporations up.
Which is why they're having lunch with Barry. It's time to talk finances and get things in order to see about looking for a real home.
They spent Thursday looking at rental places.
The corporate apartment they're in isn't bad. But it's not home.
Unfortunately, none of the places they've seen have really made either of them happy. Sure, they're temporary, the sort of place to spend a year, get everything in order, and then find a final base of operations. But, they haven't found anything they even want as a temporary base.
"Last one," Mike says, sounding deeply unenthusiastic.
"I know. It'll be different than the others."
"Maybe that'll be good."
This one is single family house. As they pull up it reminds Mike a bit of the home he grew up in. It's not huge, but looks sturdy. There's an unattached garage, and a shed.
It's in the middle of the street, so houses on three sides. A nice high wall around those three sides, covered with some sort of thick vine, which means it'd be pretty easy to cut an emergency exit that'd be hard to see.
The landlord pulled up a moment later. He didn't appear to be much older than they were, but gave off an aura of softness. Soft face, soft hands, soft belly. Nothing about the man inspired even the least idea that he'd ever done anything even remotely difficult in his entire life. "Michael and Fiona?"
They shook hands. "Good to meet you. I'm Edwin Uen. Well, let's show you around."
And he did. He kept the chatter to a minimum, which both of them appreciated. It's not like they can't figure out the room with the stove, fridge, and island in the middle of it is the kitchen.
Everything looks fairly new, and is much more luxurious than Michael was expecting at this price point. Michael asks about that. Turns out the Uen had tried to flip this house, gotten it all spiffed up before the market crashed, and then put it up for sale right as values tanked. For the first six months he turned down offers for less than he had been hoping for. Then there weren't any more offers. He'd been renting it since, and having a hard time finding renters that are willing to pay what he wants.
Right now he'll settle for just having someone in it paying something.
At this point, Michael's sure there's more to this story than Edwin is telling them, but really, he doesn't much care. Not like the place can actually be haunted, and he's more than capable of taking care of anything else that might make it unfavorable.
After all, it's not like he doesn't have experience with dealing with the drug dealers next door, or whatever else it might be.
Meanwhile, Fi's appreciating this place. There are nice things here, like closets, a dishwasher, a washer and drier, and enough space for both of them to be in the bathroom at the same time.
It's further out of downtown Miami than either of them would like, but it's not exactly the suburbs either.
Kitchen, living room, dining room, master bedroom, powder room and den are on the first floor. They're pretty generic empty spaces. The bedroom feels small, but compared to the empty space of the loft, anything with walls around it is going to feel small. There's a real bathroom, as opposed to the tiny added on shower and toilet the loft had on offer. The kitchen has a decent amount of counter space, and an island in the middle.
"Is this poured concrete?" Michael asks about the counters. If it is, that would be good. It's hard to damage concrete.
"Yes. The floor is, too." Even better.
"Michael, come look at this." Fi takes him to the back porch. There's a hot tub and minibar with built in grill overlooking a bit of backyard.
"Sam will never leave."
"Have you kept this up?" Mike asks Uen.
"No, I've drained it and turned it off. Last I checked the blowers worked but the heating coil was busted. If you fix it up and maintain it, I'll knock ten bucks a month off the rent."
That was a decent offer. Compared to the Charger, how hard could a hot tub be?
"Do you want to see the upstairs?"
They nod and head up. Michael can tell this was originally an attic. But it's been rebuilt into two bedrooms flanking a common bathroom.
"Do you have kids?"
"No, it's just the two of us."
"Then it's a guest room or two, or study, or storage. Whatever you want to use it for."
Mike scans the room, there's only one tiny window. Might be a good place for clients to hide out, maybe put some sound proofing on the other one, and that could be a place for holding prisoners. Though he's not sure he'd want them in his home... Oh well... there are possibilities here. Take out a bit of the wall between the bathroom and one of these bedrooms, put in some better ventilation, and this might be a good set up for DIY projects.
He checks the electrical supply. More than enough. With some remodeling, this might be a very good space.
He can see Fi thinking similar things. And on top of that, he knows she prefers keeping the work part of their life out of the living space, so having it on an entirely different floor would be a plus for her.
Michael looks at Fi, and she nods at him. "When could we move in?"
"Soon as your check clears."
"How about cash?"
"You can have the keys as soon as it's in my pocket."
On Saturday Sam said, "Mike, when you said you had a job, I didn't think it'd involve lugging stuff around," as he put a taped up cardboard box on the floor of Mike and Fi's new bedroom.
"Think of it this way, Sam, at least there isn't much to move." Which was true. Most of their stuff had gone up in flames, and what was left was living in storage units all around Miami. Sure, they'd taken some of the things out of storage to move to the new place, but it wasn't like they had furniture.
"I've moved sofas that weighed less than this," Jesse said as he put a box in the bedroom that has 'Fi' written on it. "What do you have in this, Fi?"
Fi swept in with a smaller box. "Be careful with that. There's enough ordinance in there to blow up the block."
"Oh Good. Tell me that before I carry your stuff!"
"If it's got Fi's name on it, it goes boom." Michael smiled.
"That's half the truck!"
Fi shrugs. "If the dress I want is in a storage locker half-way across town, it's not an issue. I get dressed a little later. If the gun I need is, that's a problem."
"Does your landlord have any idea what you're storing in here?" Jesse asked.
"I very much doubt it. And I really hope it stays that way." Michael answered.
"Mike, give me a hand with this. It's another of Fi's boxes." Sam calls out. They both lift the box off the back of the 4x4 they've borrowed from one of Sam's buddies. "You know, you're paying for the massage and the mojitos after this. I think I pulled my neck on the last box."
"No problem." They get the box into the house. "In fact, I think I've got something better than that. Go check out the back porch."
He hears the sliding glass door open, and then. "Oh, Mikey, I may never leave."
"Elsa'd miss you."
"She can come, too. It'd be good for her to get away from the hotel. Does it work?"
"The heater's broken, but the jets work. Won't take too much fixing to get this up and running."
The first meal at their new home was take out. They're ten minutes from Little Havana, so it's take out Cuban.
Arroz con pollo, tostones, and cold beer eaten with friends on the porch watching the sun set was pretty sweet.
Tomorrow, they'd start getting furniture.