Protecting David-Christopher Grows Up
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Protecting David-Christopher Grows Up 10
Gloria Morgan didn’t look ill … she looked, I dunno, frustrated - angry. Her hair was silver, and done in a tight, modern style; the style that seemed to be favored by wealthy women of a certain age. Her eyes were blue and very intense; and she smelled of an expensive perfume that was just a fragrant wisp floating on the air. She was wearing a pale gold pants suit with no jewelry, except for a pair of plain gold earrings. She finally stopped the pacing she’d been doing, and stared out the window at Lake Michigan.
She turned slowly and looked back at George, then me, and slowly shook her head. “You’re David’s grandson.” It wasn’t a question, just a soft statement; then she looked back out at the lake. “I can’t believe how old I am.” She shook her head again and looked down. “There’s never the time that you think there’ll be.”
She turned and walked back over to me, and said softly, “David is well?”
I nodded. “Yes, very. He and Mark are mostly retired, but as you can imagine, with David, that only goes so far.”
“Does he know you’re here?”
“No, but he will after this meeting, unless you’d rather I didn’t tell him. And we’ll be together for Thanksgiving in Denver. Well, actually west of the city in the mountains.”
She smiled. “Your fathers’ place on that plateau?”
She smiled, and said softly, “I saw the pictures in some magazine.”
I grinned. “He hated that. He figures they used some sort of drone to get those shots.”
She smiled again and sat down at the edge of the sofa. “I knew, even when your dad was little, that he’d do well. With David and Mark teaching him, there was no other way.”
She smiled at George and held out her hand to him. “Sit, please sit, both of you.” She said, “And now you have George. He should have come to work for me, but he couldn’t stand my son.” She looked at George, who was as unreadable as always.
She shook her head. “I should have known, George. I should have realized when you left … but he was my son, and I didn’t understand.”
At that moment, a maid came to the door of the room and tentatively lifted her hand.
Gloria said softly, “I have to go, my doctor’s waiting.”
She looked from George to me. “I own ninety-two percent of the Morgan Properties stock - my lawyers will be in touch later today. I also want anything we do to be a tax free event … as my attorney’s put it.” She stared at me. “We’re working on what will be a very reasonable price, as you’ll know when you’ve seen the assets. My lawyers will deliver all of that to you this afternoon.”
She looked at George. “You’ll understand it, George - you built it. But I need it to happen quickly.”
She looked at me. “My son will almost certainly try to stop it, but I think we’ve anticipated everything … just decide quickly. Talk to George, he’ll explain it all. If you have any further doubts, talk to your grandfather David; we’ve been in business together several times. He’ll tell you that I’m a square shooter.”
George adjusted his gold-rimmed glasses and sighed; which, for George, constituted and emotional outburst. We were seated in the back seat of my SUV, so we could talk while Jeff drove. It was the first time I’d ever sat back there.
“So, what the hell is wrong with her son?”
He shook his head. “It wasn’t a good family life. I’m not sure how it all began, but they were poisonous to one another. By the time he was twelve, they had lost all control.” He lifted his hand for a moment, then dropped it. “Too much money, too much everything. He started doing drugs and they sent him somewhere. When he came back, he was controlled but bitter. It wasn’t all Gloria’s fault, but she did have a hand in it. Anyway, he seemed to get better, but my long held hunch is that he was just planning - planning to take over. I could never get them to see that; and finally, it was just better that I leave.”
It was my turn to sigh. “Well, first let me ask you, are we buying into a pile of problems? I mean is this guy gonna haunt us?”
He shook his head. “No, it’s Gloria he’s after. It’s not like he’s broke, or that she’s taking the food out of his mouth. His grandfather left him a trust, he’s more than comfortable. He’ll try to hurt her with his kids … her grandkids. Keep them apart - that sort of thing.”
“Then that brings us to the company. What will she ask, and who owns the other eight percent of the stock?”
George shook his head. “Until I see the figures, I’d only be guessing. When I was still there, it would have been in the range of five hundred million, but it’s probably double that now.” He glanced at me. “Will that be a problem?”
I shook my head and glanced out the window. I spoke softly, “We tend to invest as a family.”
He said softly, “Then no, not a problem at all.” Then, “The other eight percent was stock they gave out to long-term employees. I’ve got a couple hundred shares myself. It won’t be a problem, everyone had to sign an agreement to sell it back to the company when they wanted out.”
When we got back to the office, two strange things happened. The first was a guy sitting in the conference room when I walked past it going to my office, who looked to be about my age, wearing a dark suit, and sitting bolt upright in a straight back chair. He was a little plain looking with dark receding hair, and an air about him that couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than tense self-control.
I glanced in Jack’s office and said, “Who’s the guy?”
Jack leaned back in his chair and said, “Connie said she talked to you about him, a secretary of some sort. He apparently worked for some governor, Colorado maybe.”
I sat on the edge of his desk. “Oh, shit yeah. She sent me an email, but that was like a month ago. And I forgot about it.” Connie was forever finding ‘hidden gems,’ people that she considered, ‘the best of a type.’ In the case of the guy in the conference room, she said he was the best aide de camp she had ever seen. Not the type to do Jack’s job, because with all Jack’s other qualities, he was not only an amazing manager, but a guy who gave you an edge; because he made sure you knew every tiny detail about everything you did all day long. I had never known Connie to be wrong about someone.
I looked at Jack. “You talked to him?”
He nodded and smiled. “Very alert … he won’t let you miss much.”
“Will he drive me crazy?”
Jack shook his head, “No, not like that. I’ve seen guys like this before, although not many. He’s a detail guy. The trick is to just let him do his job, but don’t let him run your life.”
I grinned. “Gay or straight?”
Jack handed me his resume and said, “I didn’t ask, and couldn’t really tell.” He grinned again. “Maybe he’s bi; anyway, his name is Gavin Tate.”
I sighed. “Okay, I’ll talk to him. In the meantime, get together with George on this Morgan Property thing. You’ll need to talk to Carlimenti and figure out the best way to do it, if we decide to. George’s ballpark guess was a billion bucks. I want us to keep forty percent, with the rest going to the family; and I want to know more about Morgan Farms. If it’s as nice as George says, I want to own it personally. You know, someplace to go on the weekend - and maybe the twins could have horses. They’re always bugging me about freakin’ horses.”
Jack said, “You do know they make cheese?”
“Morgan Farms. They’re kinda known locally for their cheese. Apparently, at the farm they make several different kinds of cheese that they sell. It’s supposed to be amazing - if you’re a cheese lover. Anyway, I’m told that it’s expensive … and they have some sort of gift shop at the farm where they sell it, and maybe online too.”
He shook his head. “Nope. It’s supposedly a big deal among people who know about this sort of thing.”
I said, “Make sure we get figures on that.”
I walked into the conference room and held out my hand. “Hi, I’m Christopher Bending.”
He jumped up and held out his hand. “I know, I know, I’m Gavin Tate.”
“Connie speaks very highly of you.”
“She’s been very kind … really kind. The only job I ever had was working for the governor, and when that ended; well, I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. She’s helped a lot.”
“Why were you interested in coming to Wisconsin? Surely there’d be more demand for your talents on one of the coasts.”
He shook his head and said, “Yes, but no … no, I wanted to come back here. My mom lives in Cedarburg just north of the city. I went to high school there. Then after college I got a job working for the governor, but that was back when he was the CEO of the utility here. I never imagined that job turning into the long-term thing it turned into; much less, it happening in Denver. My mom knew his secretary, that’s how that happened.”
I motioned for him to sit down, and I joined him at the table. “Connie said that among other things, you’d be able to help me with the political side of things.”
He nodded. “I’ve met and worked with so many politicians. The governor belonged to every conceivable organization, and served on dozens of committees and task forces. It was my job to figure out who was who and advise him on how to handle them. Over time, you get to know a lot of Chiefs of Staff and personal secretaries. It’s pretty much a community.”
“How on earth did you ever figure all that out?”
For the first time, he smiled. “At first, it was just crazy, but then slowly, I began to get it; and like with anything - you get better over time. A big thing was that in the beginning it was new for the governor too, so we were both learning. Then after a while, I just seemed to get it, and I realized I had a talent for the detail … it was my thing. It probably sounds a bit odd, but I enjoy the detail - making everything perfect.”
We talked for another half an hour, and I offered him the job. “I’m going out of town early next week, and I’ll be gone till after the Thanksgiving weekend. While I’m gone, they’re going to be moving my office upstairs. I’d like you to spend that time with Jack and get my office set up, and also yours. Jack can also give you the background information that you’ll need. You’ll also have to spend some time with Jeff, my security guy, and get squared away with him. Normally, he’d be going with me, but this is just a trip home for the holiday; and it’s a good time for him to spend time with his.”
As I was walking out of the conference room, Jack handed me a stack of photos, all of Morgan Farms. “I got some of these from Google Maps, and some from magazine articles. Looks like quite the place.”
I leafed through the photos. “Hmm, pretty nice.” And it was nice. The pictures showed a huge two-story brick house surrounded by gardens and white fences. Off to the right seemed to be horse barns and paddocks. ‘This looks like it’d be perfect for the twins.”
Jack handed me a scrap of paper. “By the way, Andrew called. He said he’s bringing his roommate home for the holiday. He said he figured no one would mind.”
I shook my head. “No, there’s loads of room. Did he leave the roommate’s name?”
Jack shook his head. “He didn’t mention it.”
“Better call him back and get it. Security will want to run it before he gets there.” My dad’s security team is very cautious.
But just as I walked into my office, Andrew called me.
“You think it’s okay, don’t ya?”
“You bringing your roommate? Sure. But they need his full name, so they can run a check on him.”
“It’s Tyler … Collter. You’re sure it’s okay, right?”
“Of course, Andrew, there’s a butt load of room; so it’s no problem. Just email the dads and let ‘em know. How come he’s not goin home for the holiday?” It was not like Andrew to be this nervous about anything.
“His parents are dicks. And they’re in Europe till after the first of the year.”
“Okay, that’s all good. Just remember, you guys gotta be here on the twentieth for the plane.”
“We’ll be at your place the night before.”
“You know the house is still torn up? So you may be roughing it. I’ll have Sam fix something up.”
“Don’t worry about it, Chris. We’ll make do.”
Our house is far from finished, but the exterior is basically done; and it looks great. I was sitting on the stone stairway that led from the circular drive to the front door. Puppy was sitting with me while I waited for my brother. He’d called five minutes earlier, and said that he was like only minutes away.
I kissed the top of Puppy’s furry head, and asked him, “You remember Andrew, don’t you? You like Andrew, remember he picked you up and kissed your nose? You’re such a good boy.” Puppy’s tale started wagged furiously, then like the dog had ESP or something, my old Honda appeared and turned in at our gate. I waved and pushed the button to let them in.
Andrew flew out of the car almost before it stopped, ran up the stairs, and enveloped me in a bear hug.
I only come up to Andrew’s chin, so I was basically smothered with him talking into the top of my head. “Man, I’ve missed you soooo much!”
I hadn’t heard the other car door open, so I pulled away and said, “I’ve missed you too, but introduce me to your roommate.”
Andrew held me by the shoulders and whispered, “Chris, he’s kinda shy around people he doesn’t know, so just be … I dunno, just be nice, okay?” I had no clue what he was talking about. I’m nice to everyone.
Tyler was still in the car, and Andrew went over to get him. He seemed to be talking to him almost constantly in a soft voice, and Tyler looked scared. Just looking at him brought a flashback to the days when I was living on the street and everyone was a potential threat. Well, he wasn’t quite as bad as I was, but I got the picture.
I went around to the passenger side of the car and held out my hand to Tyler before he even had a chance to get out of the car. When I spoke, I kept my voice low and soft.
He was about my height, with beautiful soft dark hair, and gray eyes that were amazing. “Tyler, it’s great that you could come. We’re really happy you could make it.”
Tyler smiled at me, and said quietly, “I was gonna spend the week at home watching Netflix, but your brother insisted. I hope it’s not a problem. I hope I’m not putting anyone out.”
I turned to look at Andrew, and he was staring at Tyler with a concerned look - and I knew instantly that he was in love. It seemed so strange, because I never really thought about either of the twins ever being willing to invest that kind of emotion in another human being. But it was all there - the whole alpha male protective thing. I couldn’t help but smile. In the mean time, Puppy decided that he liked Tyler a lot, and was shoving his nose into his crotch.