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The next day, her friend called and said: "'Iztok really likes you.' And I thought, no way, he's a player," she says. "Yeah, he was gorgeous, but I thought his shy, nontalkative approach was just an act to get what he wanted."
Shortly thereafter, Wilhelmina called the five-foot-seven, 119-pound single mom about a local casting call for a Verizon TV commercial. "Guess who was there? Iztok." They both got the roles.
"He asked me out for lunch, and I said no," the brown-haired Skrzycki says. A few weeks later, the two were cast together again for a Bud Light commercial. "They were in an ad for responsible drinking that featured Cedric 'The Entertainer' Kyles," says Anheuser Busch spokesperson Gayla Daugherty. "The scene is inside a club, and Cedric was the designated driver, and he's waving his keys in the air. The clubbers see him and think it's some new crazy dance, so they start to follow suit."
When filming wrapped, the two went together to Segafredo on Lincoln Road. "He's talking about where he's from and what he's done, and I start thinking this guy thinks he's James Bond," Skrzycki says. "I'm not going to fall for that; he's full of it."
That spring, he finally played for the Morays. He didn't earn much with the team he was paid per game, though he won't say how much but an April 2, 2005, photo in the Miami Herald shows Plevnik and Ethenic Sands, a former University of Miami receiver, practicing at Gibson Park before the Morays' first home game. "I tried out for the Miami Dolphins," Plevnik says, "but they wanted to send me to NFL Europe. I had just left Europe, and I didn't want to go back, so I said no."
Patricia Lorie, who met Skrzycki six years ago during a day of boating, remembers the pair's courting and the wedding this past June. "They got married on a cruise that left from Fort Lauderdale and sailed to St. Martin and St. Thomas in 40-foot seas," Lorie laughs. "I yakked the whole time! We had a tropical storm following us the entire way, and the boat was rocking so much during the ceremony, they had to take the cake apart because the tiers were going to topple over."
The couple now lives in Skrzycki's three-bedroom Miami Shores townhouse with her 12-year-old son, Zach Brockett. "I look up to [Plevnik] as a role model," the charismatic, sandy-haired teenager says. "He was teaching me kickboxing for a while, and I got to a red belt in tae kwon do. And you know what else? He's really good at cooking too."
"I tried a bunch of different jobs here in America," says Plevnik, grinning, "but I missed the bodyguarding. I wanted to get back into that world."
So in summer 2005, once again, he called up Fike and suggested opening a firm. "I worked for Uncle Sam for 26 years," says Fike, who retired from the armed forces in 2001. "I met a lot of people in my time, good and bad, and in our line of work, it sometimes pays to know both. Between us, we have the skills and the connections, so I said, 'Sure, why not?'"
In September 2005, Plevnik incorporated Z7 Force Protection, a private security firm. (The name is taken from a term for a knife stroke that hits all the vital organs.) He was the president and Fike the director of operations. "We don't have an office," says Plevnik, adding that the company headquarters is his Miami Shores home. "We don't need one because most of our work is in the field.
"Right now, we have six full-time clients, and they all signed a one-year contract with us. Then we have other [people] we work for when they need us." He declined to discuss fees, company earnings, or names of clients for obvious reasons. Most of those who have hired Z7, he explains, are in Europe and South America.
"We have about 20 or so operatives we can call on," adds Fike, noting that they too are scattered across the globe. All are ex-military or former law enforcement officers. Eighteen months after its launch, the company is doing well enough to maintain six private jets (initially financed by Skrzycki's parents), Plevnik says.
Mike R. Miller, director of marketing for Equiflor, a Miami-based flower company, met Plevnik last year at a celebrity-studded affair thrown for a luxury yacht company. "He was handling security at the event, [which included] the likes of Don Johnson and Pam Anderson," Miller says. "Even though he works with celebrities, he's a very humble guy, and he seems to understand that people want to be made to feel important, and he's good at that."
For Fike, this kind of scene is a welcome change. "The people we've worked with in the past were really bad guys," he says.
Skrzycki is even happier. "I don't want him doing these dangerous jobs anymore," she says. "I don't know what I'd do if something happened to him."
Now the partners are turning their attention to Hollywood.
Standing in front of a 145-foot yacht perched on the moonlit waters of Biscayne Bay, Plevnik raises his right arm and waves to a friend.