Mike picks up Jon and Sam at the private portion of the airport that night.  Jon, I don’t know how to express my gratitude, Mike tells him.  A case of Orange Crush would be an appropriate gesture, Jon tells him.  Thanks for coming, Sam.  Mike tells her.  She nods and looks him over.  Where to?  Jon says there’s plenty of room at Jax’s place.  Yeah, cool.  Here’s the deal, Mike, negotiated by Jon and my uncle.  I get free room and board during my stay.  You will pay Lana’s llc $80/hour for my billable hours.  I’ll invoice you weekly, due upon receipt.  Pay with a check, not cash – this is a legitimate business arrangement.

Why I am paying Lana?  Mike asks.  Just drop it, Mike.  Jon knows why, and it won’t improve with the telling.  I don’t understand, Mike says.  How about this?  My continued presence in NYC is otiose.  Oh.  Mike looks over at Jon.  How do you spell that?  Jon asks Sam.

Where’s the rest of the band?  They’d already made plans to go to a symphony, or they’d be here.  Not what I expected to hear, Sam replies.  Rolf was approached by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  His date isn’t long for this earth, Mike replies.  Does she need an organ?  Mike shakes his head no.  Sam looks out the window.  Lana asked out Simon, and told him that he had to wear plaid.  Sam laughs.  And Jax is taking Bettina.

What’s the story there?  Her father is freaked out that Bettina can read Rolf's mind when they stare at each other.  He sounds like a cool guy from what I’ve read about him; you’ll have to introduce us.  Mike looks straight ahead, and nods in agreement.  Who says that you never get a second chance to make a first impression?  Jon mumbles just loud enough for Mike to hear.

***

Where’s Sam?  Simon asks Mike as he and Jax walk through the door in their suits, as they return from the orchestra.  She borrowed the Tuscan and went for a drive.  I think she’s gone to the grocery store.  Is it cool if she stays here?  For tonight anyway.  Half an hour later, the guys are watching Under Siege, Steven Seagal’s best movie, when Sam comes in with groceries.  Hello, she tells them.  I got it, keep watching your movie.  When she brings in the last bag of groceries, she snatches the Orange Crush out of Jon’s hand.  Do you know what aversive conditioning is, Jon?  I think so.  Next time I see you drinking one of these, I’m going to do a nerve strike.  And she walks away and pours it down the sink, and comes back with a glass of water for him. Twenty minutes later, she comes downstairs in pajamas with wet hair and sits next to Jon.  Who stiffens, and looks straight ahead.  Why are you acting guilty?  She takes his hand and puts him in a wrist lock.  Where is it?  In my lap.  If you were anyone else, you’d have a broken wrist right now.  Grab it and follow me into the kitchen.  Do I have a choice?  He gasps as she puts pressure on the joint.  Take a long sip, chug it if you want, it’s going to be your last.  He chugs it.  She hits the inside of his wrist hard with her knuckles.  OW!  He yells.  Orange Crush = pain.  I can’t feel my wrist.  Get a glass of water, and use it to dilute the poison that you just put in your system.

They come back into the huge den.  Jax has the flatscreen turned off.  What’s going on, Sam?  Well, Jon impressed my uncle, and told him that Mike wants to hire me.  So here I am.  He knows the terms of my employment already.  What are they?  Simon asks Mike.  She gets free room and board.  Eighty an hour.  Formal invoice every week.  Payment with a personal check.  Did I miss anything?  He asks Sam.  That’s the jist of it.  But I’m not sure what you expect from me, Mike, so I’d appreciate some clarity. I never thought you’d actually come, so I’m still processing this, Mike admits.  This is a dream come true.

Mike is going to take on that boxer who beat up Rolf in a UFC fight.  Get him ready for it, Jax tells her.  Shut up and let Mike speak for himself, Sam tells Jax, who draws his head back, and looks over at Simon.  Mike, be honest with me.  You’ve told the guys that you’re going to do this, so now you’re committed and cannot back down without losing face, but you’re secretly dreading it.  Sound about right?

I’m Irish, Sam.  Fighting, drinking, and uh, rock and roll, are what I was born to do.  I WANT to give him a public beatdown.  I can make this problem go away, Mike.  Just say the word.  No, he tells her.  Straight-up, man-to-man, toe-to-toe in the Octagon.  I’m fine if he gets rich from it.  I’m fine if he gets in a lucky punch and knocks me out.  But my goal is to leave it all in the ring, and may the best man win.

Sam nods.  Jax, I apologize for being rude to you a minute ago, especially in your own house, but I needed to hear it from Mike, in his own words.  Please tell me how you want me to get him ready?  Jax looks at Simon.  Get his mindset right, Simon tells her.  He’s going to be taking a lot of punches.  Take off your glasses, Sam tells him.  She looks at him.  Get Lasix.  She looks over at Mike.  I need a blankie if I’m going to watch TV with you.  Mike gets up and disappears.  What does your girlfriend do for Rolf to earn her eighty dollars an hour?  She’s his doorman.  No one gets in that house, Jax replies.  Rolf’s a homebody and a night owl, Simon explains.  He doesn’t go out much during the day.  He pays her that kind of money for that?  That’s ridiculous.  Lana is really good at her job: she’s polite, firm, and discrete.  She’s really good at turning away people without them getting curious.

Mike comes back with a thermal blanket.  Good find, she tells him.  So I get to be like Lana and be the doorman here?  Sam asks Mike.  I’m not going to pay you to watch an empty house.  She frowns.  What am I doing here then?  You can be my bodyguard.  You go where I go.  Not a bodyguard - that would be exhausting.  How about your executive assistant?  That sounds good, Mike agrees.  What does an executive assistant do?  He asks her.  I envision it as a daytime ride-along job; we can flesh out the arrangement as we go.  But I want to be off-the-clock when I’m home.  So when we leave, the clock starts; when we come back, clock stops.  And it doesn’t start again till the next day.  Does that sound workable?  Mike nods.  What about sharing?  Simon asks.  Sam shakes her head no.  My uncle sent me here for Mike because Jon had the guts to ask.  You need to get on Mike’s schedule if you want to spend time with his assistant.

What about training?  Mike, my money’s on you.  You don’t need me to train you for this fight.  But I want to train with you, Mike insists.  I’ll workout with you at the gym, and if you want to find a dojo, I’ll take lessons with you, but I’m not going to spar with you.  Why not?  You’re an amateur; you’ll get carried away and hurt me, and then I’ll get carried away and really hurt you.

What would you do if I got carried away and kissed you?  She looks at him steadily.  Bettina told me that you liked me, Mike explains.  I do like you, Mike.  But I’m involved with another man; you need to remember that.  I could take him, Mike says dismissively.  That’s what I thought, she tells him.  Need I remind you how that turned out for me?

So what’s his deal?  Why is he so special?  Simon asks.  Lana hasn’t told you his story? Jax shakes his head no.  Lana keeps a lot of things to herself.  You should hear it from her, Jax.  I don’t think she’d tell me, Jax responds.  Jax, all you need to know about Raul is that I’m rooting for you and Lana, Sam says with a big grin.

Mike, I’m actually looking forward to this.  It’ll elevate me in Raul’s eyes to see me with you.  I’m not good with pretend, Mike says.  Me neither, she tells him with a nod of approval.  Simon, I want Raul to know that I’m Mike’s executive assistant.  Talk to your girlfriend.  Simon grins.  That’ll work.  I was looking for an excuse to call her.

Alright, Sam.  You’re welcome to stay at my house, subject to the usual terms and conditions…I think Lana will be okay with it, but I’ll have to check with her.  You understand?  Jax asks.  Sam nods.  Just don’t bring your business into my home.  This is a safe space.  I understand.

What are you going to do for a car?  Simon asks her.  Hitch until my GTO gets here.

What time do you want me ready to go?  Sam asks Mike.  Eleven.  Then I get to stay up late and watch the movie.  No Orange Crush, she tells Jon.  He sneaks a quick glance at her.