The story below is a work of fiction. It may contain erotic or sexually explicit behavior between males. If you find this offensive or are to young to read it, please exit now.

The author reserves all copyright privileges. This work may not be reproduced, except for personal use without the permission of the author.

Dedication: To all readers, especially those who have written to express their thoughts.

If you would like to drop me a line my e-mail address is John Tucker


Chapter Twenty-Eight

Monday morning, RET offices, Las Vegas

“Hi Boss,” Margaret said as Ron approached.

"Hi Margaret, can you come in a minute? Bring your pad.”

“Sure Ron, what’s up?”

Ron led the way into the office and immediately went to the built-in bar and poured himself a cup of coffee. Margaret sat in a side chair at Ron’s desk and waited. Ron walked around his desk, placed the coffee on a coaster, and sat down in his large leather executive chair. He looked at the ceiling, in thought.

“I’d like you to make a first-class plane reservation for four to Oahu then on to the Kapalua Resort. I’d like you to arrange limo service too. The departure will be Friday morning, with a return flight a week from Sunday.”

“Yes Sir,” Margaret replied. “In whose name shall I make the reservations?” she asked. “Everybody you know will be going to Florida.”

“Make them in the name of Ron and Tyler Turner, Matt Davidson and Dan Barnes. We’ve decided to elope!”

“You can’t do that!” Margaret said in alarm. “You have 700 people coming to your commitment ceremony in Florida! The Sojourn is booked and the reservations all made! The whole thing is valued at well over a million dollars! I mean… the amount of work pulling this off has been monumental! What will we tell the guests?”

“I guess you can say that we changed our minds and hope they have a nice vacation,” Ron said seriously.

“I can’t believe it!”

Margaret looked at Ron’s face and saw grim determination. She laid the pad on Ron’s desk, slumped back in the chair and tears began to form in her eyes.

Ron looked at her and said, “Gotcha!”

She looked up in relieved shock.

“Don’t think you cornered the market on surprises my friend. I just wanted to give you a taste of your own medicine,” Ron said without smiling. “As wonderful as the new plans are, I want you to realize that Matt had spent quite a bit of time planning the ‘old game plan’ and was at first pretty hurt and disappointed that his plans had been scrapped. He has gotten over it, but I’d not make a habit of making any change you want without telling us, and expect us to jump. The next time it won’t be a joke.”

Margaret nodded solemnly. “I’m really sorry Ron. I should have known better. When Sarah called I should have gotten with you and Matt immediately. We just got so excited at the possibilities for the greatest celebration ever, that we lost our heads.”

“You’re forgiven,” Ron said with the beginnings of a smile. “Your heart was in the right place, just your heads were a bit askew. Honestly, we’ve had time to get over the initial shock and are looking forward to the whole thing. Just please, in the future, include us in your schemes.”

“It’s a lesson well learned,” Margaret said earnestly. “I don’t want to go though again what I was feeling just moments ago.”

“Let’s leave all that behind and forgotten,” Ron suggested. “Let’s talk about what’s happening and going to happen.”

“Thanks for letting me off the hook,” Margaret said. “What would you like to discuss?”

“I wondered if we’re closing down the office on Friday since so many of the executives will be gone?” Ron continued.

“We thought about it, but then we’d have to close other offices too, and decided that it would be counterproductive. We’re letting the whole company shut down at noon, though. By the way, the four of you need to be here at 4 o’clock on Thursday,” Margaret said changing the subject.

“What’s happening then?” Ron asked.

“The office people want to have a little party in honor of the two couples. Even though a lot of us are going to the ceremony, many are not, and they’d like to show their good wishes for you all.”

“That’s very thoughtful. I’ll be sure and tell the guys later. Just out of curiosity, was Will Nuggent in on all the skullduggery with the switch in the ceremony plans?”

“Well yes, after it was set up but not finalized. He and Ethan were both co-conspirators, once removed. The idea was not theirs, and the planning and all the work going into the changes were left to the ladies. We just got their blessings, at the end. After all, Ethan does own Compass, and Will does manage all of your businesses. The whole thing could have been cancelled, by a ‘no’ from either of them, but after our sales pitches we let them talk to each other and agree before we drove the last nail.”

“That was very big of you,” Ron commented.

“I hope they’re not in trouble now too,” Margaret said with concern.

“Margaret, my dear friend,” Ron said with compassion. “You should know me better than that. I never look for someone to blame. Blaming people is a cop-out for the insecure and the weak. I often want to know who was involved in things that go bad and the circumstances that led to problems, but that is so that those involved can learn from their mistakes, not so that they can be punished. I’ll never lead a group that is afraid of retribution for making a decision, even if the decision turns out to be flawed. That kind of thinking ends up in a constipated organization that can’t do shit, so to speak. You realize now that the change in the plans had unanticipated reactions, but it’s certainly not any kind of grief we’ll continue to harbor. I’m sure that it will all turn out as wonderful as you conceived it, and that we’ll always remember it. I’m sure you will too.”

Ron smiled.

“Now let’s get down to business. What does my morning look like?”

Margaret, having recovered her composure, picked up the pad and looked at a few scrawled notes.

“Your weekly reports are on your desk for review,” she said. “At ten you have an appointment with Tyler and Gary Franklin. Then at eleven, the whiz kids would like to present their report on the Las Vegas Shelter that you had asked them to prepare. The normal Monday luncheon with Will, Jan and myself will be served here in your office at noon.”

“Good,” Ron replied. “I’ve asked Matt to join us at lunch. In the future Tyler will join us too, when he can. I’d like to include them from now on as they own sizeable chunks of RET and need to be involved in some of the major decision making. There is always a possibility that something could happen to me, and I want things to go on smoothly, if it should ever happen.”

“I think it’s a wonderful idea Ron,” Margaret agreed.

“Also, on the first Monday of the month, I’d like to include Mr. Peterson too. That will be the meeting when we discuss the charity operations. If I’m out of town at that meeting, we’ll schedule him for the first meeting when I’m back. If I’m going to have a prolonged absence, the meeting can go on without me, and with either Tyler, Matt or Will chairing the meeting.”

“I’ll see that it happens that way,” Margaret promised.

“Thanks Margaret. I guess that’s all for now, unless you have something else.”

“No, that’s it Ron. Again, I apologize for…..”

“Forget it,” Ron said smiling. “I have.”

“Thanks Boss,” Margaret said smiling. “If you’ll excuse me then...?”

“Sure. And thank you Margaret. In spite of what I’ve said this morning, we really do appreciate your efforts.”

Monday Morning, the Thornton Center

Matt sat at his desk thinking. The first three houses at the Center were complete and occupied and the next three would be finished within the coming month. House-parents had been selected for the next units and the first of the parents would be moving in during the next week. It seemed like the supply of boys was unending. Of the 18 spots currently finished, 16 were filled. Matt had no doubt in his mind that they would be at capacity by the time the next units opened. Of the 16 boys, 12 of them were in school, and one working part time and studying for his GED, while the remaining three had jobs. This time of day the main part of his job of working directly with the boys could be put aside. He was proud that they had been able to get legal stewardship for 11 of the 16. It made life easier and resulted in no oversight by the child welfare agencies. Even those agencies caused no problems, but also brought in no revenue from the State. Fortunately, that was never an issue since the Center was well endowed with its trust fund.

Matt looked up when he heard a knock at his open door.

“Hi Leonard, what’s happening today?”

“We’re interviewing candidates for the Recreation Director’s job today starting at 9:00,” the Director responded. “I’d like you to assist in the interview, if you have time.”

“Sure, I’d be glad to,” Matt replied. “I do have a lunch meeting with Ron at noon though.”

“I’m sure we’ll be finished before then. I brought the resumes and applications of each of the three candidates. I thought you might like to look at them in advance.”

“Thanks Leonard,” Matt said taking the three folders that were offered. “I’ll look at them right away. Where are the interviews to be held?”

“In my office,” Leonard said. “I’ll leave you, since there’s not much time before we’ll begin.”

“Ok, see you in a half-hour,” Matt responded looking at his watch.

At 9 Matt walked down the hallway to Leonard’s office and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” said a voice from within.

Matt opened the door and began to walk into the room seeing the Director was alone. Leonard looked up from his reading and asked, “Would you show the first candidate in? He’s in the Lobby. It’s Jessie Fox.”

Matt turned to go meet the first candidate. Entering the lobby, he saw a startlingly handsome young man in his early 20’s sitting in a chair. Even though the candidate wore a suit, it was obvious by the way he filled it that he was an athlete, and in great condition.

“Hi, I’m Matt Davidson,” Matt said offering his hand to the rising young man. “I’m the Center’s youth counselor and I’ll be sitting in on the interview with Leonard Johnson, the Director of the Center.”

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Davidson,” said the young man equally impressed with Matt’s appearance and general demeanor. “I’m Jessie Fox.”

“Please follow me,” Matt said smiling.

10 AM, Ron’s Office

“Come in Gary,” Ron said with a smile after Margaret had announced the arrival of their visitor. “Let’s sit in the conversation area, it’s more comfortable. May I offer you coffee or a soft drink?”

“Hi Ron,” Gary replied as he moved in the direction that Ron had indicated. “I’ll just take water, if it’s not too much trouble.”

“No problem at all,” was the response as Ron reached into the bar’s refrigerator and extracted three small bottles of water. He then joined Gary in the conversation area.

“Tyler should be here in a moment,” Ron offered. “Have you gone back to work at the Bureau?”

“I only went there to fill out the paperwork for a two-week vacation. I’m just not in the proper frame of mind to concentrate right now.”

“That’s certainly understandable,” Ron agreed. “I do hope you’re still planning on joining us in Florida.”

“Yes I am. At first, after Barry’s death, I just wanted to get away from it all. But then I realized that the trip was just what I needed, even though the ceremony itself will remind me about what is not to be,” Gary said sadly.

“I know that losing a loved one is very hard. I lost my first love and I let it nearly wreck my life,” Ron admitted. “Time helps, but activity helps even more. I admire your strength.”

“You wouldn’t say that if you knew how hopeless I feel,” Gary responded.

“I do understand the pain. It seems that one day the sun is shining, the world is wonderful, and happiness knows no bounds. Then tragedy strikes and the world can become a dark, hopeless place. I know that it’s too early to say this but I will anyway. You have a bright future, Gary, one with accomplishment in your work and love in your personal life. Believe me, it’s best at this time that love waits, until the hurt subsides. It is a good time, however, to pursue your work goal. The activity will be a great healer. When the time is right, you will find love again. I know that Barry would never want you to live your life with only his memory, and I truly believe that love will come to you again.”

The door to the office opened and Tyler rushed in.

“Sorry I’m late,” Tyler said apologetically. “I just received an update on our latest potential acquisition.”

“No problem,” Ron said as Tyler joined them in the conversation area. “Gary and I were just having a friendly conversation I hope the news is good.”

“It’s very promising,” Tyler reported. “I’ll tell you all the details later, Ron. Gary, what we’re talking about is the purchase of a large security company headquartered in Atlanta.

We’re trying to arrange our acquaintance with the son of the founder, who’s now operating the company.”

“You wouldn’t happen to be referring to Peter Zeckendorf, would you?” Gary asked.

Tyler and Ron both came to attention.

“Yes. Do you know of him?” Tyler asked.

“More than that we were fraternity brothers in college. He’s the one who got me interested in law enforcement. I even went home with him one weekend and met his parents.”

“Wow!” Tyler said in amazement. “You’re hired!”

All three men laughed.

“Seriously Gary, I’ve looked over your resume’ and am most impressed. We are growing at a phenomenal rate and are desperate for men of your caliber. What will it take for you to join us?”

“I guess I need to ask a couple of questions, before I proceed with the answer,” Gary responded. “First, where would I be stationed, and second, what would be my job?”

Tyler paused, before answering.

“The answer to your first question is: it’s up to you. You can stay here in Las Vegas, or go to wherever we have offices or want to open them. We’ll make room for you wherever you want to be. I will say that the best opportunities will be elsewhere because, in answer to your second question, I see you in management, and Wes Harper, who you know of course, fills the top spot in our Las Vegas office. In the back of my mind, especially after what you just said, I’ve got a thought that you might want to head our Atlanta office, particularly if the Zeckendorf deal goes through.”

“I’d like that,” Gary admitted. “I was raised in the Atlanta area, and have some family and a few friends in the area.”

“My idea at the moment, is that we might use you ‘detached’ from an assignment to any specific office, and you could work with me on the Zeckendorf purchase,” Tyler suggested. “While working on that, we can put you through some training in our operation, right here in Las Vegas. We have established a very small office in Atlanta already and, should the Zeckendorf deal not go through, we’ll expand that to become real competitors in the southern market. I’m hoping that we can bring the purchase to a good conclusion though. It will make expansion much easier. From the reports I’m getting, Peter Jr. does not appear to have much interest in running the company.”

“That wouldn’t surprise me,” Gary responded. “In college he didn’t seem very interested in stepping into his father’s shoes, and admitted as much to me during our visit to his parent’s home.”

“I guess the next question is my first question,” Tyler said. “What will it take to interest you in coming to work with us?”

“Let’s not beat around the bush,” Gary said. “I make $60,000 working for the FBI. I’d need at least 10% above that, as well as health benefits, and moving expense, etc.”

“Nonsense!” Tyler said, “You undervalue your worth. If you weren’t worth $100,000 a year, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. I’m offering that as your starting salary, a $20,000 ‘sign-up’ bonus, a company car, full medical benefits, then after 6 months, consideration of an increase in compensation and a profit sharing bonus proposal. We’ll pay full relocation costs too, if we agree on a move from Las Vegas. Of course, I’d expect a ‘hand-shake’ agreement that you will stay a minimum of three years with us. We’d like you to stay permanently, but we need at least a three-year commitment to recoup our investment. As a final word, I’d like to tell you of Ron’s philosophy about top managers. Good managers are expected to make their own decisions with little or no interference from ‘above’ and share monetarily in the wealth that they generate. If you don’t become a millionaire in this job, it will only be because you don’t want to be one.”

“I’m astounded!” Gary admitted. “I’ll tell you right now, that I accept your offer. My goal is to make sure your generosity is returned in full.”

That I like to hear,” Ron said grinning. “Welcome to the ‘club’. When can you start?”

“I can start right after the cruise. I have so much vacation and sick-leave accumulated, that I can give a month’s notice and never go back to work at the Bureau. My rapport with the head of our Las Vegas office is good enough, that I’m sure he won’t be upset.”

“That’s wonderful, Gary,” Tyler said. “Let me add my congratulations to Ron’s. I guess the next thing to do is to take care of the paperwork. If you’ll follow me to our Human Resources Department, we can take care of that, then you can go to the bank.”

“The bank?” Gary asked.

“The bank. You’ll want to deposit this,” he said reaching into his shirt pocket and withdrawing a check, handing it to Gary.

“You were that sure I’d say yes?”

“Nope, just hoping and covering all eventualities,” Tyler responded with a wink. “Let’s go.”

The three men stood and Gary turned to Ron, offering his handshake.

Taking the offered hand, Ron smiled and said, “Drop in anytime.”

“Thanks Ron. You guys are unbelievable! Bye.”

“Bye, Gary.”

Tyler and Gary left the office.

Ron walked to his desk and picked up the phone, pushing the intercom button.

“Margaret, please see if Mr. Peterson can join the whiz kids and me at our meeting, Thanks.”

“I knew you were going to ask that Ron. He’s sitting in your waiting area until Jeff and Phil show up.”

“Ask him to come on in, Margaret,” Ron said. “We can wait together.”

“There won’t be any waiting,” she responded, “they just stepped into my office.”

“Great! Thanks”

“Happy to oblige,” Margaret answered as the door to Ron’s office started to open.

“Welcome,” Ron greeted the newcomers. “Let’s meet at the conference table.”

The four men took their places while Margaret, who had entered after the men, got drinks for any who indicated he wanted one.

“I asked Mr. Peterson to join us,” Ron said to the two whiz kids. “Since he handles all our charitable giving, I thought it would be appropriate.”

“We’re glad you’re here, Sir,” Phil said, addressing Mr. Peterson.

“We’ve prepared the report you ordered,” Jeff said handing copies to both Ron and Mr. Peterson. We had planned to deliver Mr. Peterson’s copy after the meeting, but since you’re here we can get your comments and thoughts.”

Ron opened the report and looked at the Table of Contents. The first item was a two-page executive summary, followed by a full report that looked to Ron to be around 40 pages long. Ron turned to the executive summary and began to read. 5 minutes later he finished, then waited until Mr. Peterson was also done.

“Nice and concise summary, guys,” Ron said as a compliment. “Your points are well made and your recommendations well thought out.”

“I agree, Ron,” Mr. Peterson said. “Is it too early to ask for your thoughts as to implementing the recommendations?”

“My thoughts are that we should go ahead. I’ll get through the whole report in the next day or two, but I don’t want to wait.” Ron responded. “Mr. Peterson, you’ll have to head the effort. These two men are going to open the new Turner Consulting office in Chicago after the cruise.”

“Congratulations,” Mr. Peterson said smiling. “I’m sure you’ll do well there.”

“I’m counting on it,” Ron agreed.
“Unless you hear differently from me in the next two days, I want to forge ahead. I’ll contact Nate Bloomingdale, our land guy in Turner Construction to begin searching for a site for the new facility. He will report to you his findings, Mr. Peterson. I’ll call the Governor and handle the political angle. The rest is up to you. By the way guys, I really like your idea of taking the money that is paid for renting the existing building and using it for the operations in the new facility. Who is the owner of the building they are in now?”

“You are,” Jeff said.

“Woops,” Ron said laughing. “Oh well, we’ll remodel the place and get it out on the rental market.”

“In case you’ve forgotten,” Mr. Peterson commented, “you rented it to them for a dollar a year.”

“That’s good news,” Ron responded. Now we can make some money out of the place.”

“That’s one way to look at it,” Jeff chuckled. “Donate $5 million for a new facility, to make $5000 a month on the old one.”

“Hey! I’m just looking for the silver lining,” laughed Ron. “Anyway, I’m impressed with what I’ve read so far. Good job, guys.”

“Thanks Ron.” Phil said. “We’re just glad that we can leave a little legacy of our life in Las Vegas.”

“We’ll make you proud of the results from your efforts,” Mr. Peterson said. “Good luck with your career advancements.”

“Thank you Mr. Peterson,” Jeff said. “Is there anything else, gentlemen?”

“No, that’s all.” Ron responded. “Thanks again.”

“Our pleasure,” they both said in unison before rising and exiting the office.

“Mr. Peterson? It looks like you have inherited some extra work. Please feel free to utilize any of our staff to help, and that includes me.”

“It is truly my pleasure,” the older man replied. “Thanks for the assignment.”

“No thanks are necessary, my friend. We’ll make this town a better and more caring place yet”, Ron concluded.

Ron’s office, 12:30

“I’ll review briefly the weekly report that was on your desk this morning and is now before you,” Will Nuggent stated after everyone had finished lunch and the meeting had started. “First, the company overall has skyrocketed in value with the progress we’ve made in almost every subsidiary and in our investments. We’ve estimated that the combined net worth of our operations has exceeded $2 billion. Ron, you are personally worth more now than you were before you gave substantial portions of your holdings to Tyler and Matt. The investment portfolio for the Turner Charities has also blossomed, and, in spite of the massive infusion of money into the Friendship Trust in New York, the main Las Vegas portfolio is now worth close to $1 billion, and the separate Friendship Trust portfolio is nearly $170 million.”

Ron smiled his satisfaction, while Matt just looked astounded.

“The Construction Leasing operation, is now worth more than twice what we paid for it, followed by the increase of around 80% appreciation in Aztec-Turner Security.“ Will continued. “The other companies are doing well too, just not quite as spectacularly. Their figures are in the report.”

“Our cash position is excellent, with over $400 million in short term securities, that is available for acquisitions or other purposes. Also in order to avoid tax liabilities, the Charitable Trusts must contribute or use nearly $10 million a month. We’ll need to watch those contributions and uses carefully, to assure ourselves that the money is well spent. The separate Trust Fund for the Thornton Center has been hit hard by construction costs, but in spite of that, is now larger than when we started construction. We’ll need to find places to put the excess earnings soon.”

“I think we have that covered,” Ron replied. “Mr. Peterson is working on a new project for a facility here in Las Vegas for homeless youth to replace the current one, which is overcrowded in spite of the relief that the Thornton Center offers. We’ll have to look, as you’ve advised, at the Turner Charitable Trusts.”

“Unless you want to go into further details, Ron,” Will concluded, “that’s my report.”

“Thanks Will,” Ron said in satisfaction. “There will be plenty to do when we all return from the ceremony and cruise. Jan? How are our operations going?”

“They’re fine, Ron. The new GV is under construction as well as our new 727. In the meantime we’re surviving. We now have our existing GV, two leased smaller jets, and a time-share holding in two more. With our two new bigger jets coming on line this summer, I think we should be fine.”

“I’d like to suggest that when our new GV is delivered, one of them be assigned to Aztec-Turner permanently, and that we consider basing at least one leased plane in New York, ” Ron offered.

“It’s shaping up that way, by itself,” Jan responded. “I’ll have a usage study completed by the time the new aircraft are delivered, and bring the subject up again at that time. On the recruitment front, it’s a real challenge to staff up the new offices of Aztec-Turner Security. I’d suggest that Tyler’s operation expand it’s own Human Resources department, similar to those of Construction Leasing. It’s very difficult to adequately serve those companies that are either elsewhere or are so specialized from what the Las Vegas companies do here.”

“I’ll speak to Tyler about it, when he returns,” Ron promised. “Anything else?”

“Only that our vehicle fleet is continuing to expand and our new service contracts with Ken Friday’s are operating smoothly,” Jan answered.

“Matt?” Ron asked.

“Nothing special from me Ron,” Matt replied. “I’d just like to say how impressed I am with the operations of the Turner companies. Will? You, Jan and Margaret are to be congratulated.”

“We just wave the wand,” Will said humbly. “The companies’ presidents and their staffs do all the work.”

“We know that’s not completely true,” Ron contradicted. “I’m sure that I speak for Matt and Tyler as well as myself, that we truly appreciate the efforts of our front line, that is, you three.”

“Thanks,” the three responded.

“The meeting’s over,” Ron said rising from the table. “I guess it’s back to work! Thanks everyone.”

Everyone except Ron and Matt filed out of the office, leaving them alone.

“Ron. Thanks for the inclusion in your meeting. I’ve got a lot to learn,” Matt said.

“I should have done it before,” Ron said apologetically. “What are you doing this afternoon? Maybe we could sneak home for a little ‘recreation’.”

“I’d love to Ron, but I’ve got to get back. We’ve chosen a new Activities Director for Thornton.” Matt said sadly, “He’s coming in for his hiring process, and I promised Leonard that I’d be there.”

“Come here and give this lug a kiss before you leave then,” Ron said in resignation.

The two men kissed, then Matt reluctantly started for the door.

“Who did you choose?” Ron asked as Matt stepped into the doorway opening.

“A guy named Jessie Fox. He’s talented and cute. You probably don’t know him.”

The door closed and Matt couldn’t see the surprised look on Ron’s face as he muttered, “I hope not.”

The Thornton Center, two hours later

Matt and Leonard had completed their hiring interview of Jessie Fox. Now Matt and their newest recruit were leaving the office of Frances Peale, Leonard’s secretary, who also held the title of Thornton’s Human Resources Director. The hiring paperwork was complete, and Jessie had offered to start immediately, since both Leonard and Matt would be leaving later in the week for the ceremony/cruise.

“I’m really pleased that you can start right away, Jessie,” Matt said with a smile. “It really helps take the pressure off caused by Leonard’s and my absence.”

“I’m happy it worked out that way too,” Jessie said with a grin as they exited the administration building on the way to Jessie’s car. “By the way, I’d like to congratulate you on snagging Ron Turner.”

Matt was surprised at the comment, but decided to let it pass.

“Thanks Jessie,” he said as the new Activities Director climbed into his car, started the engine and rolled down the driver’s window.

The two men shook hands, and then Jessie backed his Camaro into the drive. The car started to roll forward, with Jessie adding, “Yes, Ron is a real catch. Besides being rich, he’s a great lover.”

He winked at Matt as the car’s window closed and the vehicle accelerated across the parking lot toward the street.

Matt’s mouth remained hanging open in surprise as the car disappeared from view.