Saving an Angel
This story is completely fictional. Any similarities to any persons or events, past or present are purely coincidental. This story may contain scenes which involve sexual situations between young males. If this type of material is offensive to you, or it is not legal for you to be reading this type of material, please do not read any further. This story is copyright © 2007 by Jason Finigan. Please do not copy this story for distribution or post on any online server without the author's permission. Please send all your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit my site at: www.jasonfinigan.net. Thanks and enjoy the story.
From the last chapter:
"Woohoo!" I yelled out from the doorway of the kitchen. "We have two dads!" Ryan and Jason separated suddenly, and looked over in the doorway to see Greg, Adam, Darren and me standing in the doorway looking at them.
All Ryan and Jason could do was stand there and smile at each other. I could only guess at what was going through their minds right now. It was obvious to all of us that they were a couple, and I knew that this was something that Ryan had wanted his whole life. His dream had come true at last. He had a family.
Ryan was not looking forward to this day at all. In fact, he loathed having to go into work today, precisely for the reason he was. Jason sat beside him in the car, a wide smile seemingly permanently attached to his face. It made him look goofy and cute all at the same time. Despite the meeting he had to go to, and the mood it would set for the rest of the morning, he could not help but smile and look at his boyfriend. He was in love. Something he didn't see as possible before.
Pulling into the driveway to the apartment building Jason lived in, he stopped the car just in front of the apartment's entrance.
"I will meet you here after the meeting is done, and I will take you to my work," he told Jason.
"You still don't have to do that, Ryan."
"I know, but I want to.
"I love you."
"I love you too, Jason," Ryan said, and leaned over to give his boyfriend a kiss.
"Good luck at the meeting," Jason said, after they had separated.
"Thanks. I'm going to need it I think," Ryan sighed.
"Hey, just think. You'll be helping out the company, and Adam all at the same time."
"I know. It's just that this is the first time I've had to fire a manager. I've let go of several employees before, but never a manager. Especially not one who I've come to rely on as much as I have with Rick."
"He's human like the rest of us though, Ryan. We each have our demons. His have just gotten out of control and are affecting the people at work, and your son."
"You're right of course Jason," Ryan said.
"Of course I am," Jason said smugly.
"Would you get out of here," Ryan laughed.
"Alright. I'll see you soon my love," Jason said, giving Ryan another one of his smiles.
"Very soon," Ryan replied. With that Jason climbed out of the car, walked around to the entrance and looked back at Ryan. He waved his hand and then disappeared into the building. Ryan saw through the windows as Jason got into the elevator, and waited for the doors to close before driving off.
The drive to work was the longest he had ever driven; or so it seemed to Ryan. By the time he had finally pulled into the parking lot, and parked his car in the spot reserved for him, he had managed to calm his nerves down slightly. He was still not looking forward to what he was about to do, but it was something that he was now ready to do.
He got out of the car and walked to the entrance; he opened the doors and immediately saw Jodie, his office assistant, sitting behind the desk in the reception area.
"Good morning Ryan," Jodie said, seeing Ryan walk in.
"Good morning Jodie, how is that husband of yours and your kids?" he asked.
"We're doing fine thanks, actually we're expecting our third in about eight months."
"You're pregnant?" he asked, surprised.
"We just found out yesterday," Jodie said.
"Well congratulations then!" Ryan said.
"You be sure to introduce me to the little one when he or she arrives."
"Oh you can be sure of that, Ryan. Actually, Vince and I were hoping we could convince you to join us for dinner sometime."
"I would love to. Though there have been several changes in my life recently."
"Oh really?" Jodie asked.
"Well, I've recently fostered three young boys..."
"Oh how I do pity you!" Jodie said sarcastically.
"I know," Ryan laughed. "But they're really sweet guys. Adam's the youngest, he's 8, and then there is Greg and Kyle who are both ten."
"Well it certainly sounds as if you've taken on a lot. You definitely have to bring them by too. I know that Cam and Jenny would love to see them," Jodie said.
"That's not all. I now have a boyfriend," Ryan said proudly.
"Really? That's wonderful Ryan. It's about bloody time too if you ask me," she said.
"Yeah, I know. But with my parents death and running the business, I hadn't had much time for myself lately."
"Well, I'm glad that you've finally found someone. You have to bring him by too."
"Oh I will, trust me. You'll actually be seeing him later today. He's coming in for an interview later on."
"That would be the same Jason who called earlier then?"
"That's him," Ryan said.
"Knowing you, you've probably picked out someone who is more than capable for the job," she replied.
"I used to think so. Today I have to do something I haven't been looking forward to. I need you to call Ken and Rick into my office in fifteen minutes. I want to meet with the two of them before the morning meeting. Then I'd like you to ask Kira to join us in twenty minutes?"
"I'll take care of that right now Ryan. It's good to see you again. You've been away for far too long."
"It's good to see you too Jodie, and you're quite right. It has been too long," Ryan said, and walked past her to his office down the hall. Opening up the door, he walked inside, and looked around. Nothing had changed since the day he left it last. Everything was still in order as it had always been. On his desk he could see the in-box was empty, as was his out-box. There were a few messages waiting for him, but he decided that they could wait. For now, he just needed to collect his thoughts. It was very important for him to have both Ken and Rick present. He had no idea how Rick would deal with what he had to say, but it was best to be prepared for any contingency.
Sitting down at his desk, he looked at the clock hanging on the wall to his left. It was almost time. They would be here in the next few minutes. In the years since his parents' death, he had been required to make many business decisions, most of them sound ones in his mind. But now, he had to face the reality that sometimes, despite all his efforts, he had allowed himself to become lazy.
Now, however he knew that it was something he could no longer afford. He had three wonderful new sons to consider, and all of his decisions now could possibly affect all their lives. Today, he planned to make some important changes, and he knew there would be some who were not going to be happy, especially a certain soon to be ex-manager.
A knock on his office door brought him out of his thoughts. Putting on a neutral face, he called out for Ken and Rick to come in. They opened the door, Ken closing it after he entered. Ryan tried to determine their state of mind as he watched them come in. Ken's expression was relaxed and almost cheerful. But then, he always had that expression. Rick, on the other hand, was tense, and to Ryan, it seemed as though he really did not want to be here, even though Rick was smiling. The effect sent chills down Ryan's spine, and he was thankful that he had asked Ken to join him when he said what he had to say.
"Gentlemen, thank you for coming. Please have a seat."
"Good morning Ryan," Ken said, taking a seat in the chair in front of Ryan's desk to his right.
Rick looked at Ryan briefly, before finally taking the other seat. Unlike Ken, he did not say anything, though the smile on his face did not waver.
"I know I have scheduled a meeting with the staff this morning, but I wanted to talk to the two of you before we go in," Ryan said, his tone neutral.
"We appreciate that Ryan," Rick said, finally speaking up.
"It is only fair that my managers know what it is I am going to be talking about before the meeting. Not only that, but I also think it is wise that the managers of this company know what decisions I make regarding it's operation so that the employee's can see that we are all on the same page and working as a team. Wouldn't you agree?" Ryan asked them, pointedly looking at Rick.
"That is a sensible course of action," Rick agreed.
"Good. I'm glad you do Rick. Because what I have to say today will affect the both of you, and in turn, the rest of the staff. I have been away from here for far too long. Certain events have transpired, requiring me to divert my attention elsewhere. However, during the course of my absence, there have been some questions about the effectiveness of our operations. Specifically, the relations between my managers, and the rest of the staff. Would you both agree that discord within the company reduces the efficiency of the staff?"
"Yes, I agree entirely Ryan," Ken said. He was still smiling, but Ryan could tell that Ken suspected something was up. He was always as sharp as a whip, and he was counting on that.
"While I have been away," Ryan continued. "I have been keeping up with the happenings of this company. Everything that has transpired here during my absence has been reported to me. The two of you are not aware of this, but only recently have I become aware of certain things that have been going on without my knowledge. I am not a rash man, and I do not act without thinking things through. And in this case, it is no different.
"Yesterday, I had Darren, who only recently left as head of security for this company to ask the new head of security to start an investigation into the things I have been hearing about. Kira will be joining us shortly, but I wanted the two of you to know this before she arrives to give her report. If the things I have been hearing are true, then I will have no choice but to take action.
"Just what is it that you have heard," Rick said, the smile on his face now gone. He was now leaning forward, tense, and visibly upset. Sweat had begun to show on his forehead.
"I am not at liberty to say as of yet, Rick. I am also not someone to point fingers or lay blame without proof. That is what I am hoping to learn today. We will wait for Kira to arrive, and then I will know what has been going on for certain."
"For crying out loud Ryan, she's just a security officer. She doesn't know anything about what's going on here. If it wasn't for Darren suddenly leaving, she wouldn't have been in the position she is in. She does not have the experience," Rick said, openly becoming agitated.
"Darren tells me otherwise, Rick. I have known Darren since I was a child. He does not make judgments about people lightly, and I trusted his judgment in her selection."
"That is your choice of course, Ryan, though I disagree with Darren."
"Agree or disagree, the choice has been made, and she should be here any second now," Ryan said.
"Nothing to say, Ken?" Rick asked him.
"What is there to say, Rick? Ryan is the boss. It's his company to make decisions as he sees fit. I also think you damn well know what he is talking about too, Rick," Ken said.
"I don't know what you are talking about," Rick said flatly.
"We will see," Ken said.
Just then, there was a knock at the door. "Come in!" Ryan called out. The door opened and a young woman, who looked to be in her twenties entered the room. She had blazing red hair, which was cut short. Her facial features were lean, as was the rest of her, though she still carried about her a sense of power, and her demeanor suggested someone you did not want to cross. Ryan knew immediately that he liked her, and felt that his Uncle did indeed make a good choice.
"Kira, I take it," Ryan said, standing up and extending his hand.
"Yes sir," she replied, shaking his hand briefly.
"Please, we are informal here, call me Ryan," he said, giving her a slight smile.
"Have you had a chance to conclude your investigation?" Ryan asked.
"I have finished my investigation, yes, however I have only been able to prepare a summary report," she replied.
"I see you have it with you," Ryan said, noticing the folder she carried with her.
"Yes. I had a feeling you would be asking for it when I was called."
"Damn, you are good," Ryan said, obviously impressed.
"Thank you. I try to do my job to the best of my abilities."
"Well, you are doing it quite well. Please, grab a seat and pull it up between Ken and Rick," Ryan said, sitting back down and opening the folder. Kira did as Ryan asked, and found a chair which was sitting against a wall. She brought it over, and placed it where Ryan had asked her to, then sat down.
Ryan was still going through the report for several minutes, but he did manage to sneak a couple glances at both Rick and Ken. Ken was as cool as ever, but Rick looked to be bordering on the verge of a panic attack. He was sweating profusely, and he kept tapping his fingers on the arm rest. The smile had long since gone, and he was now glaring at Ryan. Normally that intense of a glare would have made Ryan flinch, but he was the owner of this company, and he would not back down, not to anyone.
"Alright. I have read your report Kira, however I would much prefer to hear from you, the results of your investigation."
"Ryan, I still object to Kira having investigated anything," Rick said. "She has no experience with investigations, and only limited experience handling security."
"And who would you suggest I ask to investigate then, Rick?" Ryan asked. "I could ask Darren to do it and you know what a thorough job he is capable of. Would that make you happier?"
"I would like to think that we, as your managers are capable of handling whatever situation might arise. That is after all why you have hired us, is it not?"
"You are only partially correct, Rick. Yes, I hired you and my other managers for that reason, but I also hired you because you demonstrated to me at the time, that you could follow the policies of this company and apply them fairly to everyone who came here, whether they were client or employee. If there is a problem with a manager, do you honestly suggest that I leave it to that manager to solve it for him or herself?"
"Yes," Rick said.
"I used to think so, Rick. But now I can't be so lenient. There has to be checks and balances within every company. This isn't a democracy. This is a business, and it's success depends greatly on the ability of myself, my managers, and my employees being able to get along with each other in a fair and productive manner."
"Fine, do whatever you wish then," Rick said, scowling.
"Thank you for that permission, Rick, anything else you want to 'allow' me?" Ryan replied sarcastically. Rick did not answer back. "Please continue," Ryan directed Kira.
"This is not the first time I have been required to partake in an investigation, as Rick has suggested," Kira said. "Before joining this firm, I was a member of the Halton Regional Police force, with the rank of Detective in the Hate Crimes Unit. I think it was why Darren suggested me for this position, and I hope that I do not disappoint him."
"I'm sure you will not," Ryan said. "Carry on."
"During the course of this investigation I have talked to every employee in this firm. Everyone from the janitorial staff, to the highest consultant we hire. I have also talked with all of the managers, Rick and Ken included, though I did so covertly as I was told by Darren that what I was investigating was a problem within the management.
"What I have found are a series of complaints made by several employees with regards to negative comments and harassment by management. Most of these complaints seemed small and petty separately, but when taken together, paint a much different picture of what has been going on.
"I have had reports from some of the gay staff that they have been reduced in hours, or transferred to projects which had little prospects for financial gain. I have also gone through some of the hiring reports and found that the majority of potential employees we have turned away have been all gay.
"Everything I found out showed that there was clear biased action being directed against our gay employees. Three of our employees have quit because of this treatment, and one is in the hospital for depression. Apparently he had attempted suicide."
"My God," Ryan said. "How could it have been this bad? Why was there no indication of this happening?"
"As I dug further Sir, I found records of emails on their computers which supported their complaints. Every one of those emails came from the same email address. Now it could have been someone trying to frame another employee, but my investigation has revealed that there is only one person who is at the center of both the emails and of the complaints.
"Ryan, Rick Thomas is that manager. It was his email address used to harass employees and threaten them, and it was him that the majority of complaints had been lodged against.
"This is ridiculous!" Rick protested, standing up. "There are no reports of harassments anywhere on file against me, or any one else in this company."
"Kira? What about that? Is that true?" Ryan asked.
"Yes it is. There are no complaints currently on file."
"There you see?" Rick said smugly, as if he had been vindicated.
"But there were," Kira continued.
"What do you mean?" Ryan asked.
"The records of complaints against Rick Thomas were erased. I could find no record of them on file, or on the main computers."
"Then how did you find them?" Ryan asked.
"Because sir, Darren had his computer set up to make copies of all inter-office documentation," Kira said.
"That crafty old bugger," Ryan laughed.
"I protest! That is an invasion of privacy!" Rick exclaimed.
"I'm afraid not, Rick. You, above anyone else, should know that as a part of everyone's contract, inter-office documentation will be monitored. Employee's privacy will be maintained which is why only a select few ever have access to them, myself included. You, like everyone here, signed that contract, so you cannot claim invasion of privacy when you had already agreed that all information stored on these computers automatically becomes property of Adams Consulting," Ken said.
"Are you denying everything then?" Ryan asked. "It's all right here. A copy of the emails, and the complaints. Kira has even supplied me with the logs for each computer, including when and where they were deleted from. I just want to know one thing before I terminate you. Why?"
"Why? You ask me why? Because you are all a bunch of disgusting fagots, thats why. You all make me sick! I would do anything to get rid of all of you. I'm only sorry I couldn't do more."
"Is that why you beat upon your son, pulling down his pants and underwear and hitting him repeatedly over and over again with your belt against his bare skin? Who's the sick one, now?"
"I did no such thing! You can't prove it!" Rick yelled
"Can't I? I have a frightened eight year old son, who's afraid his father is going to take him and hurt him again. You don't think I know what you're doing? Go ahead Rick. Go to court. We'll see just who the court thinks is more suitable to raise Adam."
"I've had enough of this!" Rick yelled, advancing on Ryan.
"I wouldn't if I were you," Kira said, gabbing a hold of his arm, and holding him back.
"Get your hands off me you bitch!" Rick yelled, and moved to swing a punch at her. She ducked easily, refusing to let go of his arm, and twisted it around his back, allowing his momentum to carry him forward. Losing his balance, he fell to the floor. Kira still had a hold of his arm, pressing on it hard, and making him cry out in pain.
"Kira, I want this piece of garbage out of here, and in police custody. I want him charged with harassment, attempted assault, and assaulting a minor," Ryan said.
"Yes Sir," Kira said, slapping a pair of handcuffs on Rick's wrists, and pulling him up off the ground. She guided him out of the room, his screaming voice sounding in the hallway and all the way to the reception area.
"Wow," Ken said, looking at Ryan.
"Yes. I know," Ryan replied.
"So what now?" Ken asked.
"Now you and I go to the meeting and get ready to tell the staff what's happened," Ryan sighed.
"You know you have my support Ryan. I honestly never knew anything about what was going on. Nothing came across my desk."
"I know. I don't blame you, my friend. It was partly my fault. I set up the system that made it possible for Rick to do what he did."
"Don't blame yourself entirely Ryan. We all worked with him, and we should have seen the signs that something was going on. We didn't. For that all I can do is ask for your forgiveness."
"Nothing to forgive, my friend. You've done an amazing job with the company in my absence."
"Just trying to keep things running the way you want it to," Ken said.
"And you do one hell of a job at that. Ken, with Rick gone, we need a new project manager."
"I think I know just the person for the roll."
"Oh? Who is it? Anyone I know?"
"No, I don't think so. He is a very bright man who should have been promoted months ago, but he was passed over several times because of Rick. I think he would be excellent for the job, and would take it if it was offered to him."
"I think I would like to meat this person. I guess I owe him and everyone else an apology too."
"Probably, but not for the same reasons I suspect," Ken said.
"You're a true friend, Ken."
"And don't you forget it. Now what is this I hear about you finding a boyfriend?"
"Damn, news travels fast around here," Ryan exclaimed.
"You know how most of us are more like a family, Ryan," Ken said.
"Yes, I know."
"So, what's his name?" Ken asked, his signature smile back on his face.
"His name's Jason."
"Sounds like you really love him already," Ken said.
"I do. Which reminds me, he's coming in today for an interview. I want you to interview him for me."
"Yes, but I don't want my relationship with him to influence your decision. If he's good for the company, hire him. But if in your judgment he's not, don't. I'm not going to compromise this company's work by introducing someone who can't do the job."
"I understand, Ryan. And don't worry. I wouldn't dream of doing anything less than my job."
"I know you wouldn't. By the way. He already passed the first interview, and was invited back to a second one before. He declined the second interview though, because he perceived that there was a bias against him because of his sexuality."
"Was he then? Who was his interviewer?"
"Rick," Ryan said.
"Ah, that would explain it."
"Well, if he got past Rick on the first try, I'm sure he's perfect for the job. You know we have that new contract with the city council."
"Oh we won that one then?" Ryan asked.
"Yes. They want us for the initial analysis sometime next week."
"That's great!" Ryan said enthusiastically.
"I thought you would like that."
"Oh I do. Come on though. We're going to be late for the meeting."
"Relax. You're the one that called for it. You're allowed to be late," Ken snickered.
"You're probably right, but I think I want to show that there is accountability for management's actions. Lead by example, I believe."
"Always a wise choice," Ken replied. Together the two of them walked out of Ryan's office and into the hallway, making their way to the lunch room where everyone was waiting for them.
"Well, here we go," Ryan sighed, and opened the door.
* * *
"Uncle Darren, come on in!" I called out from the shallow end of the pool. It was now almost noon and Greg, Adam, and I had asked Uncle Darren if we could go for a swim. Since we had breakfast a few hours ago, he let us, but told us that we could only stay in the pool until lunch time. That was okay with me, because I had so long wanted to swim in the pool ever since I first saw it, when Ryan brought me to the house.
I couldn't believe how easily I trusted him. It was like I had known him all my life. I knew that he would do everything he could to protect me, and I could tell that he really did love me. At the same time, I could see that same love for Greg and Adam too. Greg was still not used to him, but I think he will be, eventually. Adam was a different matter entirely. He was so starved for love I think he wanted to do everything he could to make people love him. The thing was, we already did. It was just a matter of us trying to show him that he didn't have to prove himself to us all the time.
Greg and Adam were splashing around by the side of the pool. Even though Adam was a pretty good swimmer, Uncle Darren had taken no chances and told us to stick with him constantly. Adam was too old for water wings, but every now and then he got too tired and needed us to help him stay afloat.
Both Greg and I were tall enough that we could stand on the bottom of the pool and still have our heads above water, but little Adam still wasn't tall enough. Every now and then, we had to help Adam when he got tired over to the stairs so he could stand on one of the steps, or sit on the side of the pool. Once he was rested, he jumped right back in and we played with him.
"Kyle, I can't swim with you guys right now. In fact, it's time for you guys to get out of the pool. Lunch will be ready soon," Darren told me.
"Aw, can't we stay in the pool for a little while longer?" Greg asked.
"Not right now Greg," Darren said. "Maybe later, after your stomach has had a chance to digest some of your lunch, and when your Dad gets home. For now, though, come on out and you can have a snack before lunch."
"Oh goodie!" Adam squealed, and without help, he pushed himself out of the pool, almost running across the grass to the back door. Uncle Darren was waiting for him with a towel.
"How did you like your swim, Munchkin?" Darren asked Adam.
"It was neat! I can't wait to go swimming again. Can I have some goodies now?" Adam asked.
"What's the magic word?" Darren asked, wrapping the towel around the dripping wet eight year old.
"Please?" Adam said, looking up at Darren with puppy dog eyes.
"That's my boy. You go on inside and get into the shower to wash away all the chlorine first. Then you can have a snack."
"Okay!" Adam said excitedly, still wrapped up in the towel, and went on inside. Then he suddenly stopped and turned around to look at Uncle Darren. "Um, I don't know how to turn on the water."
"It's okay Adam, Greg and Kyle will be right up there to help you out, okay?"
"Okay!" And with that, he disappeared up the stairs in a flash.
Greg and I climbed out of the pool and accepted the towels that Uncle Darren was holding out for us.
"You too, guys," Darren said. "Upstairs with you and into the shower. Kyle, you can use the one in you Dad's room."
"Cool, thanks!" I said, and wrapped up in my own towel, and headed up the stairs. I was still a little wet from the pool, but the towel was catching most of it. Greg followed right behind me.
"I bet I have to help Adam with his shower again," Greg said.
"Probably. Don't worry, he'll get used to it one day," I told him.
"Who's worrying? I like looking after him. He's like...my younger brother."
"He is your younger brother, silly," I told him.
"Oh yeah, I keep forgetting," he snickered.
"Oh, would you just get in the bathroom and help him out? I'm going to take mine in Dad's room and I'll see you guys downstairs."
"Sure. Leave me to babysit," he joked.
"Hey, you asked for the job," I teased him.
"Uh huh. Well, next time it's your turn," he teased back.
"Sure. Fair's fair, I guess," I said, then turned and walked into my dad's room, while Greg walked into the bathroom down the hall. I finished my shower in only a few minutes, just staying under the water long enough to wash my hair and rinse my body of the chlorine from the pool. Getting out of the shower, dressed only in the towel that Uncle Darren had given me, I went to my room to get changed.
I took the towel off and threw it into the hamper in my closet, then I opened up my dresser, taking out some socks and underwear, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I put everything on as fast as I could, then left my room, hurrying downstairs and into the kitchen. Uncle Darren was waiting for me there, sitting at the table and reading the newspaper.
"Your snack is on the table, make sure you share it evenly amongst you," Darren said, not even putting his paper down.
"How'd you know I was here?" I asked him.
"I heard you coming down the stairs, Kyle," he told me, now putting the paper to the side to look at me.
"Guess there's no sneaking around you, is there?" I said, looking at him with a sly grin on my face.
"There's very little chance of that, little one," he laughed.
The snacks he had alluded to were sitting on a plate in the center of the table. There were bananas, and apples, and oranges, and grapes on it. For a second, I just stood there looking at it.
"What'd you think it would be? Chocolate?" he asked.
"Well, I kinda hoped it would be," I admitted. "I love chocolate."
"Who doesn't?" he replied, "But not before lunch."
"Oh? Does that mean we can have some after lunch then?" I suggested.
"We'll see," he laughed. Just at that moment both Greg and Adam came down the stairs. Both of them still had wet hair, but I could tell from the looks on their faces that they were anxious for something to eat. "Hey boys. You can have one fruit, and one fruit only. Lunch is almost ready, so when you have picked the fruit you want, take it into the living room and you can watch a bit of TV until lunch is done."
"Okay Uncle Darren. Thanks," Adam said, grabbing an apple from the plate. Greg reached over and took an orange..
"Thanks Uncle," Greg said.
"You're welcome Greg," Darren replied.
"Thanks Uncle," I said after I had picked up another orange.
"You're welcome Kyle, now get. And I don't want you guys making a mess in the living room either. There's a plate already on the coffee table. Use that to put the seeds and apple core."
"Okay, we will," I said, and led the way to the living room, grabbing a hold of the remote and turning on the TV.
* * *
Ryan felt that the meeting was going very well. Most of the staff were happy to see him, and were quite pleased to learn that Rick was no longer with the company.
"Before I discuss anything further about the future of this company, I want to give each of you an opportunity to voice your concerns or suggestions. Every single person here has the ability to shape this company. I don't care if you are the newest hire in the janitorial department, or whether you are the most senior staff member assigned to one of our many contracts. I want to hear from all of you. And please, let's try to keep this an informal meeting. We're all family and friends here." Ryan said.
"Is your investigation over then?" one employee asked, raising his hand to speak.
"What's your name?" Ryan asked the person who spoke.
"Scott sir," he replied.
"Well then Scott, to answer your question, no the investigation is not over. In fact, it will never be over. Understand that at no time can this company afford any discord within it's ranks. Harassment and prejudice will not be tolerated at any level, and I will make it my mission to ensure that the safety of all out employees is our number one concern. We're here to make money people, but I will not, under any circumstances, allow intolerance or petty jealousies to jeopardize everything that we've worked so hard to accomplish," Ryan answered.
"If the investigation is not over, does that mean there will be more people being let go?" another employee asked.
"Your name is?"
"Well Sandra, that's entirely possible. If we cannot trust the people we work with, then our work will suffer, our clients will suffer, and they will find someplace else to get what they need. Would you want to risk all of that because someone you work with refuses to accept you for who you are?" Ryan asked.
"No, I wouldn't," Sandra replied.
"Neither would I. I am gay, most of you already know that. Had I been working under people like Rick Thomas, my career may have been over a long time ago. Three people have already quit because of Rick's actions, and another is suffering from depression. That to me, people, is utterly unacceptable. If there is anyone here right now who feels that they cannot accept their co-workers for who they are, I suggest you leave now." Ryan waited as several people looked at each other, but no one left.
"Alright then. We have a lot of work to do people, and not a lot of time to do it in. I don't want to take up too much more of your time today, but there is one announcement I want to make. With the departure of Rick Thomas, his position needs to be filled. Ken has informed me that he has someone in mind already to fill that position and will be asking to meet with that person after this meeting, in my office. Until then, everyone, let's get back to work!" Ryan said.
Everyone started to file out of the room, the whole room buzzing with excitement, everyone busily talking amongst each other, discussing the news that he had just given them.
"Not a bad job, if I do say so myself," Ken said, clapping Ryan on the back.
"Short and sweet. Just the way I like them," Ryan said, sitting down in a chair.
"You up for one more meeting, then?" Ken asked.
"Your choice for a replacement then."
"Alright. I'll meet the two of you in my office."
"I won't be long."
"Somehow, I bet you'll be longer than you think, Ken," Ryan laughed.
"We'll see," Ken said, leaving Ryan standing there shaking his head.
Ryan walked into his office, not even bothering to close the door. Walking around to his chair behind the desk, he let himself fall heavily into it, feeling his body relax into the comfortable leather.
"Well Dad," he said, looking over at the picture of his father hanging by the door. "I hope I make you proud." Closing his eyes for a second, he could almost feel his father's presence in the room.
"Ryan?" Ken's voice sounded from the door. Ryan opened his eyes and saw Ken standing in his doorway, with a rather handsome dark-skinned man with short curly black hair standing beside him. "This is Nazeem Rasshid. He is the Team Leader for our Algonquin Park contract."
Ryan stood up and walked around to the front of his desk, beckoning them into his office. "Come in, please," Ryan said. When Nazeem was close enough, Ryan held out his hand which Nazeem grasped in his and shook firmly.
"So, you are Ken's choice for Project Manager are you?" Ryan asked, indicating to Nazeem that he could sit down.
"Apparently so, Sir."
"Tell me why you think you deserve this position," Ryan said, sitting on the corner of his desk, facing Nazeem who sat down.
"Honestly, I don't know that I do deserve this promotion. I work hard, and I do my job, and I try to treat everyone on my team fairly, but so would anyone, if they were Team Leader," Nazeem replied.
"I think I like you already. Tell me a bit about yourself Nazeem, and please call me Ryan."
"Well, I graduated from Sheridan College about five years ago with a systems analyst diploma. I've been with the company for the last couple years, and before that I was living on my own while working part time at Future Shop."
"Really? I know someone who works there," Ryan said.
"It's possible. This isn't exactly a big city," Nazeem said.
"Don't I know it. What about family? Do they live in Burlington too?"
"Well, my sister does, but she doesn't talk to me these days. I don't know where my parents moved to. They didn't exactly tell me."
"Why wouldn't they tell you? Ryan asked.
"Probably because of the fact that like you, I'm gay. And please don't tell anyone," Nazeem said, his face beginning to turn red, and looking down at the carpet.
"I wouldn't dream of it, Nazeem. Your private life is just that. Private."
"Do you think that is the reason you were passed over for promotion before?"
"I think so yes, but how he found out I was gay, I don't know."
"I don't think it was just the fact that Nazeem is gay though," Ken said.
"What do you mean?" Ryan asked.
"I'm betting that it had something to do with the fact that Nazeem isn't white."
"You have got to be kidding me!" Ryan exclaimed.
"Just a suspicion, Ryan. Nothing I can prove," Ken said.
"Well, after seeing the way he behaved in here, I'm inclined to believe he is capable of anything."
"I've never seen someone act like that," Ken said.
"I have. Once," Ryan said, remembering the meeting he had with Tom, Kyle's old social worker. "At any rate. Nazeem, I want to ask you straight out. Do you want the position of Project Manager?"
"Yes I do," Nazeem replied, matter of factly.
"Then it's yours. I trust you will do a better job than Rick ever did," Ryan said, standing up.
"I will endeavor to do so, Ryan," Nazeem said.
"I'm sure you will. Congratulations, Nazeem, and welcome to the hell called Management," Ryan laughed, holding his hand out to him.
"Thank you Ryan," Nazeem said, shaking Ryan's hand firmly.
"Now, if you two will excuse me, I have to go pick up my boyfriend."
"Oh, you have a boyfriend, then?" Nazeem asked, smiling at Ryan.
"Yep, and he used to work at Future Shop too," Ryan laughed.
"Come on Nazeem. I'll show you where you're office will be. Once we get it cleared out, that is," Ken said, already directing Nazeem out of Ryan's office.
Packing up his briefcase, Ryan, walked out of his office, closing the door and locking it up behind him. He then went to the reception desk where Jodie was talking to someone on the phone.
"Going out, Ryan?" Jodie asked, hanging up the phone.
"Yes. I have to pick up my boyfriend for his interview. Who was that on the phone?" he asked.
"That was Kira. She told me that Rick had been placed under arrest and is currently a guest of the Halton Regional Police at the Burlington station. From what she said, he didn't exactly go quietly and complicated his case even more, by making several threats in front of officers."
"Oh boy. That man is his own worst enemy," Ryan said.
"I didn't like him to begin with. He gave me the creeps."
"Well, he's not going to be here any longer, so we don't have to worry about him. See you in a little bit Jodie," Ryan said, waving to her, already heading for the door.
"See you soon, Ryan," she called after him.
I am more amazed with each new chapter, how wonderfully Jason brings out the Humanity in his characters. That goes for the good and the bad parts of Humanity. The people in Jason's stories are all very real and full of life. I am glad to see Rick shown the door, and I hope he will be shown the lack of courtesy that he has shown to so many others. It looks like Ryan and Jason are going to be a very happy couple, and I am sure that all of the new family will be happy. Well, I hope so anyway.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher