Murdoch & Ryan

By Ron Robbins,
edited by Frank Perry
2009 All rights reserved

Part Nine

Ryan turned off his computer and took the elevator down to the first floor to look in on Sean. He walked into Murdoch office and found Sean seated in front of a blank screen crying. Ryan walked up behind him, "Sean, come with me." He led him over to the couch. They sat down next to each other. Ryan put his arm around the boy and pulled him close. Sean laid his head on Ryan's chest. "Let it all out, son, I've been there myself, I know what you're feeling right now. But, I want you to know that Murdoch and I love you, and we will always be here for you, your brothers, and sister."

Murdoch found them sound asleep in each other arms when he walked into his office. He sat down in the lounge chair opposite them and smiled. He let them sleep as he contemplated all the problems he would be facing in the next several days. His reverie was shattered when the housemaid arrived with the twins and Bridget in tow. They were smiling and excited about their outing. Bridget crawled up on Murdoch's lap and the two boys stood on each side of the chair telling him about their morning ride. Ryan and Sean woke up from the chattering of their voices.

"How long have you been here?" Ryan asked."

"About a half-hour, you and Sean looked so comfortable, I thought I'd let you sleep. The little ones just returned from their adventure and were beginning to tell me all about it. Chuck and Jimmy, why don't you sit on the couch next to your Uncle Ryan. This would be a good time to tell you about what happened today. Let me ask you all a question first. Sean, do you like staying here with Uncle Ryan and me?"

"Oh yes, Uncle Murdoch."

"How about you Jimmy and Chuck?"

"We sure like it here too, Uncle Murdoch."

"I know Bridget will do what her brothers do, won't you, Sweetheart?"

"Yes, Uncle Murdoch."

"How would like to live with Uncle Ryan and me from now on?"

"Could we?" the boys chimed in."

"Well, I'm glad we settled that. Before your Dad left us, he asked me to take care of you while he is gone. So if everyone agrees to living us, then that's it, guys. This is your new home. Since you all have your own room already, you are all settled. After lunch I'll have Raymond arrange to have all your things moved here. Chuck, why don't you and Jimmy go on up to your room and get cleaned up for lunch. I'll have Millie take Bridget up and help her wash up. Sean, I would like you and Ryan to stay." Murdoch called Millie and had her take Bridget and check on the twins.

"Sean, your father thought the world of you and told me many times how proud he was of you. He also told me you were mature for your age. For that reason, I going to treat you as a young adult and tell you exactly what was in your father's Will. Your father left everything to you children, the cottage and the land, everything. There was also some savings in his bank account. He made me executor of his Will as well. But, the most important part of his Will was that he granted me sole custody of you and your brothers and sister. In other words, I am your guardian, I'm responsible for you from now on. How do you feel about that Sean?"

Sean smiled, "I'm very glad that you will be taking care of us. We all love you and Uncle Ryan, and I know you will take good care of us. Dad talked to me about this a while ago. He asked me would I like to live with you if anything ever happened to him. I told him I would like that. I never thought anything would happen to him. He seemed to be getting much better after you gave him that new start. We thought our troubles were over." Sean's eyes fill up with tears. Ryan rubbed his arm and pulled him close again. "It's all right to cry, Sean, your father was a good man," Murdoch said.

After Sean calmed down, Murdoch continued, "I'm very happy you and your brothers want to live with Ryan and me. This makes what I'm about to tell you a lot easier. This morning I have taken steps to legally adopt all of you. When the final papers come through you will be a McDonald. Your new name with be Sean Burns McDonald. When everything is finalized in a couple of weeks, we are going to fly to Uncle Ryan's estate in Georgia to live for a while. My plan is to hire a private tutor for you and a governess for the twins and Bridget. I don't want you to miss any schooling while we're traveling back and forth between Scotland and the United States. Your uncle Ryan and I have businesses to run and we will be traveling quite often throughout the world. Whenever we can, we'll be taking you with us. From now on you and the other children will always be accompanied by security guards at all times. Uncle Ryan and I happen to be very wealthy men and we must be protected at all times, so will you. In time, we will explain about what we do and if you're interested the many businesses we control, some day, Sean you may be running one of our companies, but that is up to you. Now, my bright young man, what do you have to say about all this?"

Sean had a big smile on his face, "It absolutely super, Uncle Murdoch. I can't believe were going to America in two weeks. Dad took me to London once, and that's the only time I've been out of Scotland. What about school, Uncle Murdoch?"

"Well, you'll need to attend a private school, both in Scotland and the Georgia. I want you to be around with boys your own age; however, when we travel, we will have private tutors to teach you. Let Ryan and I kick that around some more, Sean. You see Ryan's brothers and sister may be moving in with us also, we'll need to sort everything out when we get to Georgia. In the meantime, I'll contact your school and have a talk with your principal. I'm sure we can work everything out. We have a lot of decisions to make and a lot to accomplish in the coming weeks and I'm going to need your support in sorting some things out, Sean. We need to close down your cottage and make arrangements to have the animals sold. We'll ask Lloyd Rose, the overseer, to handle that, as well as to work the land."

"I don't know about you guys, but I'm starved, let's break for lunch," Ryan said.

"Good idea. Sean, why don't you round up the kids and we'll meet you in the dining room? Before you go I want you to have this cell phone. I've had it programmed already. You'll find Uncle Ryan's and my cell phone numbers programmed into the touch pad. I've also put in the house number and the number for the security chief as well. If you ever need me, for what ever reason, day or night I want you to call me. Promise me that you will do that."

"I promise, Uncle Murdoch. Which dining room do you want to use?

"The family dining room for today," Murdoch said, as he and Ryan walked down the hall to the small dining room and took their place at the table.

"You handled that well, Murdoch. Sean is hurting right now, and we need to keep an eye on him for the next few weeks. He is a sensitive young man and if he is anything like I was at his age, he will be having nightmares. This has been a terrible shock to him. He and his dad were close. I think he will need counseling in grief management when we get home. I'll help you as much as I can, after all, they are both our responsibility now."

"Here they come now," Murdoch said. "We'll need to talk later, Babe."

After lunch the kids amused themselves in the den while Murdoch and Ryan returned to their office. "Murdoch, how about we hire a governess from Georgia, instead of trying to find one here in Scotland?"

"I have no problem with that. I just thought that an English Nanny would the easier to find."

"The reason why I brought it up is because I think it would be better if the children had a woman from home. Let's face it; we will be living in Georgia more than Great Britain. They are unaware of any of our customs and our language. They need someone they will trust to give the right answers. Not only that, it will be easier to check her background. Plus the fact, we won't have to worry about papers. I just don't think we'll find someone in the short time we have left."

"You're right, I never thought of that."

"Why don't you call Annie and have her contact some agency's right away. She can do the initial screening. You can ask John Goodall, at the Lattimore Agency, to run a background check on whoever Annie thinks would be a good fit. We don't want a granny type woman. How about Mary Poppins?"

Ryan chuckled, "Let me see if she's available."

While Ryan was on the telephone with Annie, Murdoch opened the letter from Tris.

Dear Murdoch,

By now you have learned the contents of my Will. I hope you are not angry with me, and will understand the reasons for asking you to become the guardian of my children. The responsibility of parenting any child is a big one, and one that would become a heavy burden to a man that is not up to the task. Yet, I know such is not the case with you. I have spent many agonizing hours making this decision. But of all the other arrangements that I could have decided on, the most obvious, and the most logical one was always you. I know the genuine feelings you have for my children. You've proven that by the generous trust fund you provided for their future.

Although you never mentioned it, I know that you and Ryan are a couple. I know this because I've had the opportunity to catch you together in unguarded moments when you thought no one was watching. No one would ever suspect that you were a gay couple unless you observed it first hand. You see, your uncle, the last Lord was also gay and had quite a few affairs during his life time. So, I know the signs. It never bothered me and we got along without any problems. It is obvious to me that both you & Ryan have showered your affection on the children. I also know that the children feel the same affection toward you.

I should have shared the results of the last tests I had many months ago. At the time, the doctors told me that my condition was not all that good. However, they did say that I've improved and held out some guarded hope for the future. They told me that with the proper care and medication, I could live for some time and that there were new miracle drugs being developed every day that would allow me to live a normal life once again. I decided the practical thing to do was to make out my will leaving you my most precious possessions, my children.

I want you to know that I was frightened for my family when his Lordship died. I didn't know what was to become of me, or my children, if we were turned out of the cottage. Lloyd was kind enough to allow me to stay at the cottage until you arrived. Then my prayers were answered. Almighty God sent you to my door step with the solution to all my problems. You are a kind and compassionate man and I only regret not having the time to get to know you better. God is giving you back the family you lost so many years ago. Now it is up to you to see that these innocent children grow up to be productive and responsible adults.

I know there will be trying times ahead, because even Angels can try your patience at times. Yet, at the end of the day, when a child hugs you, and tells you they love you, it makes it all worth while. We relive our childhood in our children. Christmas wouldn't be the same without the children. They make it all worthwhile.

You are their only living relative and I know in my heart that they will be safe in your care. You have already proven by your actions how much you care for me and my family. You are a good person with a strong sense of what is right and fair. I want you to instill that in my children and see that they are prepared to face the life that lies ahead of them. Already, you have given them the means to make that possible. Yet, children need more than money to become well adjusted adults; they need love, encouragement, and to feel wanted. Ryan's life is the perfect example of that. He was around the same age as Sean when his mother died. Her love was enough to sustain him through these trying times. He is a remarkable young man, and I feel with his support, you will have the strength you will need to see this through. Ryan has a sixth sense when it comes to people and he understands the special needs of children. Parenting comes to him naturally. He doesn't have to think twice when disciplining the children. He is gentle, yet firm, and the children understand him and mind him without question.

I wish you and Ryan a long and happy life together and that you will be together to welcome your second and third cousins into this world.

I love you both, and pray that you will be happy with your new family. Please tell my children how much I love them and that I deeply regret not being with them.

Again, thank you for the many hours of happiness you have given me, and my sincere thanks for parenting my beautiful children.

Your loving cousin, Tris

Murdoch folded the letter and wiped the tears from his eyes and let out a deep sigh.

Ryan finished up his call and turned to face Murdoch. "What's wrong, Baby?"

Murdoch handed Ryan the letter to read.

After Ryan finished reading the letter, he hugged Murdoch and kissed him on the cheek. "How sad, poor Tris, he was a brave and gentle soul; it's sad that he can't live to see his children as they grow into adulthood. I know we'll all miss him."

"You're right, he was a good man. I must talk to Sean about the funeral arrangements. I've worked everything out with the funeral director. The visitation is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. The Memorial Mass will take place on Friday morning. I plan to have a small buffet luncheon after the funeral at the cottage. Bridget is too young to attend the visitation, or the mass. I plan to ask the twins if they want to see their father for one last time at the funeral home. They are almost six years old, so I'll leave it to them. I feel all three boys should attend the Memorial Mass and make an appearance at the luncheon. I'm sure all their neighbor friends will be there. After the mass on Friday morning, they will be taking the body to the crematory. The funeral director in having Tris' wife's body exhumed. Her remains will be cremated as well. When the ashes are ready we will have a small service at the family crypt. The funeral director has arranged to have a marble shelf and plaque installed under each urn. The urns are beautifully crafted. They are the same as the four I have for my family."

"You've accomplished a lot this morning, Murdoch."

"Well, it really was pretty straight forward. I had a lot of experience with my own family. What do you think about the idea of letting Sean invite some of his chums over to hang out with him for the next few weeks? He needs some guys his own age around him right now. I also think it may be a good idea for him to keep attending school until we leave. I'm hoping that will keep his mind occupied and have less time to dwell on his father's death."

"I agree, Sean is too old to play with his siblings and too young to hang out with us. If he has a close friend, maybe he can stay with Sean for the next week or so."

"Good thinking, I'll talk it over with Sean."

                                 

The funeral went off without a hitch. The funeral director did a great job and the children took it quite well. Of course there were some teary moments during the eulogy at the funeral mass. Murdoch was also pleased to see the large turnout for Tris. He was well liked in the community. It helped Sean a lot to see everyone there for his dad. He jumped at the idea of invited his friends over and invited two close friends to sleep over. Needless to say, there were no objections from the boy's families, they were delighted to have their sons spend time at the Manor House, and to be waited on like royalty. Murdoch and Ryan got quite a kick out of watching Sean with his friends. The staff got a kick watching the boys acting on their best behavior. We all dressed for dinner every night. Of course, I felt that the boys could wear their school uniforms, since they looked very proper in their blue blazers, white shirts, school tie and gray slacks. Ryan and Murdoch made sure they finished their homework before they could watch TV for the evening. They were really good boys and they enjoyed having them around.

Things were progressing at home as well. Ryan was very pleased with the progress that had been made with the case against his father and the Rollins. The trial date was set. In two months the trial would begin. The prosecution's case was set and the defense lawyers were just as anxious to proceed when they learned that the defendants' request for bail was denied.

Murdoch's legal adoption of the children was approved and their dual passports were in hand. Ryan and Murdoch had their little family now and two more in the works. They had found the surrogate mothers for their children, one for each of them. Their sperm had been sent to the States months ago and the insemination process on the prospective mothers was performed. Now, it was up to nature. They both tried to put it out of their minds, but not entirely.

The children were disappointed when the departure for the United States was delayed. Ryan and Murdoch were just as disappointed; however, they could not leave for home until the new changes were finalized with Murdoch's company. They also ran into some minor problems with the joint ventures because of some of the restrictive clauses in Ryan's overseas divisions. Nevertheless, they began to make much better progress when they let it be known that they were thinking of firing the entire executive staff of both of the divisions and running the operations themselves. Once the new boards and executive staff were in place, they both felt comfortable with their new divisions.

Ian was working out better than expected. He was a wonder at trouble shooting and became Murdoch's right hand man. Murdoch could never have accomplished the reorganization of his company without his valuable assistance and first hand knowledge of the executive staff that had been inherited when he took over the firm. Ryan and Ian hit it off from the beginning and all of them worked together as a team with the joint venture scheme. Ryan and Murdoch, as planned, became the vice-chairman of the newly formed corporation that controlled the Rytem Industries and McDonald Industries. Under that was McDonald- Rytem Corporation. Ryan hired Gordon Miller and Stewart Kline as Executive Vice-presidents to oversee the vast ART and Rytem industries. Murdoch appointed Ian Jones as Executive VP of the McDonald group. Their board of directors was composed of the Presidents and Managing Directors of each of their divisions.

Because of the security problems, and with the corporation being based in two countries, they worked out an elaborate electronic communication system that functioned beautifully. It was decided to have three command centers. One was set up at the Templeton Complex at Oakdale Farms, one at the Castle in Scotland and the third was installed in their private 737. They could speak via satellite to all the members of their board throughout the world. This was a secure system and the equipment was outstanding. It cost a small fortune to install and operate, yet was well worth the cost. Ryan and Murdoch could run their world wide businesses from any of the three locations they happened to be at. The system worked so well, that it was later expanded to run all the divisions within the two firms. Yet, the important policy decisions that Ryan and Murdoch made, were still discussed at face-to-face meetings with their inner team. They knew how the people on the scene would react to any new changes. Even with the excellent support staff they had, and the talented managers that were running their divisions, their personal work load as owners was demanding. Keeping a control on the money was an unending task. Murdoch was grateful both of them had had the good sense to get their MBA's or they would have been completely lost. At least they were prepared to deal with, and understand, the financials their advisors were feeding them every day.

Murdoch was fascinated with, and became engrossed in learning the business, the more he learned the more he wanted to know. Ryan was the same way. Fortunately for Ryan, he had a head start in learning the ins and outs of his vast holdings. He had learned a great deal over the years working for Templeton while in school. Murdoch on the other hand, while learning his skills in finance and tax accounting, was still lacking somewhat when he was thrust into the family business.

Ryan and Murdoch both wanted to make sure that the new communication system was up and running at all the sites before they made the move back to Georgia. After many dry runs, the technical staff felt they were ready. The first test came when Ryan and Murdoch were to interview the three governesses that were selected by Annie.

The video system worked fine and they were able to make an offer to Helen Hartman. She was in her early forties, a former nurse, who had received her Masters in child development. She loved children and was unable to have any of her own. Her husband had been killed in an automobile accident two years ago, and she was ready to move on with her life. After her husband died, she sold their home and took a position as a nanny with an English family in New York and stayed with them until they were recalled to England. According to their security director, she had excellent references. They both felt that she was warm, with a friendly, outgoing personality. Annie felt the same way about Helen.

Murdoch and Ryan felt that all the loose ends were taken care of and all the communications systems were working to perfection. They made plans to leave for Georgia that Saturday. That gave Murdoch a week to get the children's school records, and have their toys, games and clothes packed to be ready to load on the jet for their 6 am departure on Saturday.

                           

"This is your Captain speaking, folks. We are flying directly over the City of Atlanta and heading for the Oakdale Plantation. Please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts, we will be landing in approximately 20 minutes."

The flight attendant walked through the cabin checking to make sure all seat belts were securely fastened.

"Uncle Ryan, can we see your estate from here?" Sean asked.

"It will be about ten minutes before you can spot Templeton Manor, Sean. I'll point it out to you as soon as we get close."

"Have you enjoyed your first flight in a jet, Sean?" Murdoch asked.

"I was a little scared at first because I didn't know what to expect. It is kind of like a roller coaster when you first take off, but after we climbed to our cruising altitude it was rather nice. This is really a posh airplane. The seats are very comfortable. Is it true that this is your personal plane, Uncle Murdoch?"

"It is now, Sean. It was commissioned by the late Lord as his own private jet. The Boeing Company built and designed this aircraft for him. He did not get much of a chance to use it before he died. Your Uncle Ryan and I decided to keep it for our own use, now that we have a larger family to carry around."

"Look out of your window, Sean, do you see that cluster of buildings just off to your left? That is the Templeton Manor complex," Ryan said.

"How much acreage do you own, Uncle Ryan?"

"We have been flying over it for the last three minutes, Sean"

"Wow, that's a lot of land."

"Your Uncle Ryan owns tens of thousands of acres, a lot of farm and grazing land, Sean," Murdoch said.

"Gee, I guess you weren't kidding when you told us you could afford to buy us those new clothes," Sean said.

Ryan laughed, "I would never tell you anything that was not the truth. Remember our rule, we will always tell the truth, even though it may not be what you want to hear."

"This is your Captain speaking, we are about to touch down, please remain in your seats with your seatbelts on until we come to a complete stop and the seat belt sign is turned off, thank you".

When the minibus met the aircraft, the passengers and their luggage was loaded into the bus. Everyone took their seats and the bus left for the Templeton Manor. The driver took the service road up to the Manor. The two mile ride from the airfield was cut out through the wooded area just to the south of the Manor House itself. The driver reached the perimeter road that led to the front entrance to the Manor. The children were very quiet as they were led out of the minibus.

"Why so quite?" Ryan asked.

"It is very beautiful, Uncle Ryan," Sean said. "This Plantation is enormous, much larger than McDonald Hall. My brothers are awed by all this grandeur coming as we did from a small cottage on the McDonald laird."

"Thank you, Sean. Templeton Manor has been in my family since the mid eighteen-hundreds. My great, great, great-grandfather built this place long before the Civil War began. This was my home, where I grew up, and the only real home I've ever known. I hope you and your brothers and sister, will be happy living here. Come now, children, let us go in and meet my staff.

Burton, the butler opened the entrance door. "Good afternoon, Master Ryan, it's good to have you home again."

"Thank you, Burton, you remember Mr. McDonald, don't you?"

"Oh yes, sir. Good day to you, Master Murdoch, it's good to have you here again."

"Children, I would like you to meet Burton, my butler. Burton these children are Murdoch's nephews, Sean, and the two twins, Charles and James, and finally his niece, Bridget. This will be their home from now on. Will you and Annie and the rest of the staff please join us in the library?"

"Of course, sir, I'll summon them right away."

"Follow me into the library, children," Ryan said. As the children made themselves comfortable, the staff arrived in the library. Annie ran over to Ryan and hugged him. "I was worried sick over you, my baby. Are you all over that unfortunate kidnapping incident?"

"Yes, Annie, I'm back to my old self. Annie, I would like you and the staff to meet Murdoch's children. This will be their home while we are in the United States." Ryan introduced them to the staff. "I will give you more information later. I want to thank you for your time and hope we can all adjust to having children in the house once again. Sorry I had to pull you away from what you were doing. Annie would you and Helen stay behind, we need to work out the rooms for the children."

"Murdoch would you show the children to the family room," Ryan said. "I just want to work out the room arrangements for now."

"Sure," Murdoch said. "Come along children, I'll take you to the family room." They filed out the door behind Murdoch.

"Helen, it is nice to meet you in person," Ryan said. "Annie, what have you worked out about the rooms for the children?"

"For the present, we thought we would give the suite next to yours to the boys. Since that suite has a sitting room and two separate bedrooms, we thought that would be the best idea."

"I have given the suite across the hall to Helen and Bridget. I've had the furniture moved around in the boys' rooms and have taken the more formal furniture out of that suite as well. It now looks like a typical boy's room. I removed the queen size beds from the boys' bedrooms and replaced them with a set of twin beds for each room. Sean may wish to have a friend sleep over one night. If this meets with your approval, I'll have their clothes sorted out for them."

"That sounds fine, I think that will work. Let's join them in the family room and tell Murdoch what we worked out. If he likes the arrangement, we will take the children up to their rooms so they can unwind and get used to their new quarters."

Annie and Helen followed Ryan to the family room. Ryan explained the room arrangement to Murdoch.

"Annie, Helen, I think your plan is a well thought out arrangement for the children," Murdoch said. "They won't have far to walk to find us in the middle of the night, just in case. I don't foresee any nightmare problems, but these kids have gone through a lot in the last month, so it would not be unreasonable to assume that they may have some bad dreams. I think, in time, they will feel more secure living here and will become adjusted to their surroundings. I plan to hire a psychologist to work with them until they are over the loss of their father."

"That is an excellent idea," Helen said.

"Alright children," Murdoch said, "let's all go up to the second floor and Annie will show you your bedrooms."

                                 
To be continued
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