Murdoch walked into Ryan's den after breakfast the following week. "What's up? You don't look too happy," Murdoch said.
"I've just got off the telephone with Stewart Kline. He said my father has
agreed to give me conditional custody of my
Murdoch whistled, "What does he mean by conditional custody?"
"The way Stewart explained it to me was that I will have full custody of the children until they reach majority, or until such time as my father is released from incarceration."
"Well, that should be okay," Murdoch said. "I don't know how it's going to work out taking a teenager into the house. I have a feeling that there is no love lost between you and the Spencers. I'm sure his mind has been poisoned against you. Why would Dale even consider the idea of living under your roof?"
"According to my father, he does not have a choice. Dale is a minor and all the adults in his family are in jail. I asked Stewart if the boy could be placed in a private school until his is ready for college."
"According to the court, the legal guardian has to be appointed, then the guardian can decide to take him into his home or send him off to a private boarding school. The alternative is for him to become a ward of the State and he would be placed into a foster home."
"What do you plan to do, Ryan?"
"One thing for sure is that I'm not going to let my father dictate his terms to me. He is still the same arrogant SOB, he always been. He hasn't learned anything from all that has happened. Sure, he is still my father, but he has lost all the respect I ever had for him. I agree with you that Dale is going to be a pain in the ass as long as he is under my roof. I can also understand where he is coming from. Under the same circumstances, I would probably feel the same anger against the person responsible for putting my family in jail. Be that as it may, I still feel obligated to take them all in, but under my terms. I instructed Stewart to inform my father that I have decided not to take his children unless I have full and complete custody. They are to sign over all parental rights to me. He is not in any position to make demands on me. As far as I'm concerned they can all become wards of the State, including Dale."
"Wow, I feel sorry for those children," Murdoch said, "you realize that they will be split up and sent to different foster homes, don't you."
"Don't worry Murdoch, that's not going to happen. I still love those kids. This mess is not their fault, they are innocent. I'm not going to suffer the sins of the parents on them. My father will not allow that to happen to his children."
"I've instructed Stewart to play hard ball on this issue until my father
comes around. We'll need to discuss the arrangements of adding four more
children and a teenager to our little family. The young ones will not be a
problem; it's the older children that I'm concerned about. I think we will need
to discuss this problem with the psychiatrist you've hired for Sean before we
"I totally agree, Ryan. Let me contact Dr. Rodgers and make an appointment for us to see him."
"Thank you, Murdoch, we'll need to do that as soon as possible. After we get his advice, we will have a better idea of how many staff people we will need to take care for the children. Maybe we will need a male nanny to supervise the boys. There are your three boys, plus my father's three. The girls should be easy to handle, an 11 year old and two three year olds. I don't know Dale that well. I only saw him on the holidays and occasionally when he was invited to join us for the summer in France. I have the feeling that Sean will end up stewarding the two sets of twins. He has such an easy way with the younger siblings."
"What is it going to be like when our babies arrive?" Murdoch asked.
"The more the merrier I always say," Ryan said. I think we should seriously
start to think about opening up the
Murdoch chuckled, "We're going to need a crash course and a lot of patience, but I know we'll become good parents. I had better start the ball rolling and make that appointment with Dr. Rogers."
"Mr. McDonald, the doctor will see you now," the nurse said, "his office is down the hall, the first door on your right." Murdoch and Ryan walked down the hall and into Dr. Rogers' office.
"Good morning, Murdoch."
"Good morning, Dr. Rogers, I would like to introduce Ryan Spencer, my partner."
"It a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Spencer, I've heard so much about you."
"I hope it was all good, Doctor, and please call me Ryan."
"Now, gentlemen, how can I help you?" Dr. Rogers asked.
Murdoch explained the issue of adding five young children to the household. The doctor listened and waited to comment until both Murdoch and Ryan explained the situation they found themselves in, and the potential problems they saw in merging the two groups of children.
"I see you have given this a lot of thought and can understand your concern about the problem you may have with Dale, your father's teenaged brother-in-law. I agree that your father's children will be resentful of you and may be somewhat hostile to you in the beginning, but you must be prepared for that from the onset. Definitely Dale's mindset is one of resentment toward you. I have no doubt of that at all. My advice is once they have been settled in; you should take them aside and explain the truth in very simple terms, exactly what happened and why they are your wards. Try not to delve into all the issues. Try to explain in simple terms that they will understand and can relate to. Of course, the older children will have more questions. Again, try to answer them honestly without malice toward their parents. I think it would be a good idea if we have a group session with them once a week and individual sessions as needed. As far as their nanny is concerned, I can't answer that. You will need to interview her and see if she bears any grudge against you. A Nanny develops a strong attachment to the children they care for, more than to the parents. She may or may not be a problem. You'll need to interview her to determine that. If you have any concerns, I will be happy to interview her for you. When do you expect to bring these children into your home?"
"That is still up in the air," Ryan said. He explained the situation with his father and the issue with the children.
"You two have a lot on your plate, don't you?" Dr. Rogers said. "I'm willing to help you in any way I can, so please feel free to call me when you know where you stand."
"Thank you, doctor, we will be calling on you as soon as this is settled. You've been a big help," Ryan said.
Ryan and Murdoch left the office and drove back to the Manor. "Murdoch, are you absolutely comfortable bringing those children into our home?"
"To be perfectly honest, I am a little concerned about the resentment these children will feel towards us. As you said, we won't have too many problems with the younger children. It's the older children that may cause problems. I am more that willing to try to make this work, but if they are disagreeable and hateful to the other children, then I will not be so understanding. We can't allow them, or anyone else to ruin our happiness. That does not mean that we will turn them over to the State. There are private schools that we can send them to, if that becomes necessary. I agree with what you have said before, that these children are innocent and had no control over the events that placed them in this situation."
"Thanks, Murdoch, I agree that I will not allow our happiness and those of
our other children to be disrupted. When we get home, let's have a chat with
Annie about hiring a male Nanny for the boys. I feel that would be better for
Sean and the other boys, even if my
"I agree, Ryan. As much as we would both like to spend more time with the boys, we just don't have the time. The boys will relate much better to a male Nanny. He can cart them around to the sports programs they will be participating in. I just think that will be better. If we can find a qualified person for the childhood development position, I think that the children will be better off. I do feel that such a person will give the right direction and supervision for Annie and the Nannies to follow."
"As much as I hate it, we must sit down with my lawyers, bankers, and business managers to tackle this takeover of my father's companies. I cannot postpone it any longer. At the same time, I'll work out this situation with the lawyers about the children. I want that settled."
After arriving at the Manor, Ryan and Murdoch discussed the conclusions that
the Doctor put forth with Annie and the Nanny. He also mentioned his idea of
Saturday morning Murdoch and Ryan drove the children into Atlanta to show them the city and to do some shopping. They had decided to leave Bridget at home with Helen. Her little legs could not stand all the walking they would be doing that day. Ryan had made reservations for the five to them to have lunch at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead. Normally, they were booked weeks in advance. Ryan was a valued customer for many years and the manager always found room for him. After a pleasant lunch, they all walked over to the trendy Phipps Plaza to do a little shopping and they headed for Saks Fifth Avenue. Ryan went directly to the store manager's office. The secretary greeted Ryan and slipped into the managers' office. She returned a few minutes later and ushered Ryan and his little group into the Manager's spacious office.
"Mr. Spencer, it's always a pleasure to see you," the Manager said. "How may I serve you?"
"It was good of you to see us on such short notice," Ryan said. "I would like to introduce my partner, Murdoch McDonald, and his nephews, Sean, James and Charles." The manager greeted each person in turn. "We have just returned from Scotland and we need to select a complete wardrobe for each of the boys. I think that Murdoch and I will need to look at some casual wear as well. I would appreciate your assigning one of your fine fashion coordinators to guide us in our selections."
The Manager picked up the telephone and pushed one of the many buttons on the phone. "Mr. Kent, if you are free would you step into my office? I have some customers that needs your assistance."
A few minutes later the Manager's telephone rang, and he picked up the receiver, "Please send Mr. Kent in."
"Ah, Mr. Kent," the manager said, "this is Mr. Spencer and Mr. McDonald and his family. They would like to outfit the boys with a new wardrobe. Do you think you can manage that?"
"Mr. Spencer and Mr. McDonald, would you please follow me," Mr. Kent said. "I think we should start with the young men's department first. What exactly did you have in mind for the boys, Mr. McDonald?"
"I think we better start from the basics and move up to the formal attire," Murdoch said. "We expect the boys to attend a number of formal functions, and I want a varity of suits to wear for those occasions. I think you should concentrate on a well rounded selection of dress and casual wear. Please make sure they have some summer weight clothing since we will be spending some time in the Caribbean as well."
"Yes, sir, I think we should begin with the selection of suits first. Once the tailor takes their measurements, we can make the necessary alterations. Then we can move on to the casual wear."
That sounds like a good plan," Murdoch said. "Sean, why don't we start with you while the salesman pulls out some selections for your brothers?"
Two hours later the boys were finished with their outfitting. They headed to the parking deck loaded down with packages. Murdoch said, "We need to return next week boys to try on your suits again to make sure everything fits."
"Thank you for all the wonderful outfits you bought for us, Uncle Murdoch. I don't know when we will have the chance to wear all those clothes. I don't think I have had this many clothes since I was a toddler."
"You and your brothers will have many opportunities to wear many of the clothes that we bought today. Your Uncle Ryan is a very important business man and there are many occasions when he will be entertaining at the Manor House. I want you to look your best when you meet these people."
"You want us to be present when these important people come to visit you, Uncle Ryan?" Sean asked.
"Of course, Sean, you are more important than any people that come to visit; you and your brothers are my family now, beside which, I've grown to love you all and I'm very proud of my new family."
Sean's eyes began to tear, and his voice was a little husky when he said, "Thank you, Uncle Ryan, we all love you very much."
Ryan reached back and patted Sean on the cheek, "I hope those are tears of happiness, I would hate to think I made you sad?"
Sean smiled, "Sometimes all that has happened to us is overwhelming. It is so difficult to realize that our lives have changed for the better after our long struggle to stay afloat. I'm just sorry my Dad isn't here to enjoy this with us."
The boys were still on a high and had an animated discussion about the day's events on the trip home. They discussed their new wardrobes and were happy and content with the day's outing.
The Corporate Boardroom of the Templeton Corporation, Atlanta Ga.
Seated around the large table in the boardroom were the Trust Fund Administrator, George Grant, Lawyer, Grant, Moore & Ashland (Ryan's Trustee); Mary Lewis, Publication Relations Director; Stewart Kline, Attorney, Belden, Bell, Cartwright, Horowitz, Kline and McCormick, New York, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and London; Neil Backbone, Wealth Management Consultant; Allen Appleton, Stock Market Consultant and Anaylist; Dwight Hummel, CPA & Financial Consultant; Charles Lattimore, Lattimore & Associates, Detective & Security Agency; and Murdoch. Seated at the head of the table was Ryan.
"Gentlemen," Ryan said, "thank you all for taking the time to be here today. There are some extremely important matters to take care of today that will affect the future of Templeton and ACT Corporation. I've tried to keep you appraised of the developments regarding my father's involvement in having me kidnapped and my step-mother's attempt to brain wash me before I could take over my family's business. Some of you may not know that we had reason to believe, before his actions, that my step-mother and her family had conspired and put the wheels in motion to have me committed and to eventually try and take over some of my assets. Stewart Kline, Charles Lattimore, and Murdoch McDonald were at my side from the very beginning and were responsible for my escape from the sanatorium where I was being held. I've been a guest and under the protection of Murdoch McDonald at his estate in Scotland. We felt that was the safest place for me until the guilty parties are under lock and key."
"After a thorough investigation of our corporate books, we have discovered that Spencer Industries has been stealing from Oakdale Farms for many years. We plan to make that public as soon as we know the exact amount of dollars involved in the scam. Once Stewart has all he needs he will take them to court. My plan is to take over Spencer Industries and split up the company. Since I own 25-percent of the stock in the company; I have demanded an audit of their books. That is also in the works. I want to create a subtle rumor campaign to drive the stock down. We need to coordinate this so we get the maximum effect from our efforts. Alex Appleton has been buying up Spencer stock over the past two months now, and I want to sell my shares before we begin our campaign. We do have another option which we should consider. I may be able to make a deal with my father to purchase his stock, but as you know, the other stockholders must be made aware of the transaction. I don't feel that would be a smart move. I would much rather buy the stock when it hits bottom. Now people let me hear your comments."
After a two hour discussion, the committee all agreed that Ryan's basic plan was a sound one, and planned to meet again the following week after each member had time to refine the plan. Ryan asked Stewart Kline and Murdoch to join him in his office.
"Please make yourselves comfortable, gentlemen", Ryan said, as they sat in the lounge area of his office. "Stewart, Murdoch and I have discussed the issue of my step-siblings and my father's teenaged brother-in-law and I wanted to share our thoughts with you. We feel that the children are innocent of any wrong doing and we feel that they should not suffer for their parent's crimes. For that reason, we have decided to take the children under our wing once my father agrees to our terms. We are having the house renovated to accommodate the influx of five additional charges. My staff has already begun a search to find a male nanny to supervise the boys, in addition to the nanny and tutors we have already engaged for Murdoch's new family. Murdoch and I have retained the services of a qualified child psychologist to evaluate all the children and to set up regular sessions to help the children to adjust to their new surroundings. But, again it's imperative that the court award me full custody of the children placed in my care, including my father's brother-in-law."
"Your plan is well thought out, as usual, Ryan." Stewart said, "I agree that you must have complete control over these children. I would like you to prepare a list of the staff you have hired for these children and the physicians you have on retainer to care for the children. It would also be good to have the resumes of the nannies and any support people assigned to the children. In addition, you should submit the resumes of the teaching staff you are hiring to home school the children, if that is the route you plan to use. You may wish to consider sending them to your local schools. I know you have quite a large contingent of employees living on your estate. Perhaps you may wish to consider integrating your kids with theirs. It only a suggestion, but you know most kids need other friends to play with outside the family. You don't want to isolate them from children their own age."
"I don't want my father to know I'm buying his company until the agreement has worked out with the children. One thing should have nothing to do with the other. My father's fate is in the hands of the District Attorney right now. However, I want to expedite the audit of the Spencer's books so we can proceed with the civil suit to recoup the money that they embezzled before I purchase the company. I'm keeping Lattimore's people on full time until this whole matter is over. My mother-in-law's family is not going to let this go without a fight. They are evil, vindictive people and would like to get even with me in any way they can."
"I'd do the same if they were after me," Stewart said.
"Thank you, Stewart; Murdoch and I have been working this out for several weeks now and feel that we can resolve this for our family. In case you didn't know, Murdoch and I have found four surrogate ladies to bear our children. So in several months down the road, we will be adding at least four more children to our family."
"God, talk about an instant family," Stewart said, "it's good you guys have a fortune between you, you'll need it the handle all these kids."
"The ownership of the Templeton Corporation must be turned over to a blood relative. I must pass the control to my offspring. This does not prevent me from distributing my own fortune to any beneficiary I chose, so long as I don't include any control in the Templeton trust. This is why I need to continue the blood line. My step-brothers and sisters will be taken care of from my father's estate. I will not rely on his money to support the children. Dale Rollins will be the recipient of the Rollins Trust fund. If there is nothing left after the penalties, I'm sure my father will set up a Trust fund for him. If not, I will."
"I can see you have thought everything out," Stewart said. "Have you had this drawn up yet?"
"I have completed the finishing touches on the documents and will email it to you this afternoon," Ryan said. "I would like you to put one of your legal-eagles on this and prepare it for my signature as soon as possible. My trustees have already made the changes in the Templeton Trust. One of the children that I sired will eventually end up with the control of the Templeton Trust, the other offspring will have a vote as well, but as always, upon the death of any of the children, their stock will revert back to the trust, to be controlled in the future by their children. When the last of the parents retire, their stock reverts back to the Trust and the process starts all over again. This process has been the secret of the successful growth of the Templeton Trust through the generations. The corporation had continued to grow stronger with each succeeding generation up until now. The wealth of the Walton family and Bill Gates, although considerable, as measured by today's standard, yet, their combined wealth is nothing compared to the vast wealth of the Templeton holdings. I am not at liberty to divulge our holdings, but I can assure you that it would shock you out of your mind if you were to see the portfolio. I know I was impressed. The more I delved into the holdings the more I was amazed. Whereas the Walton's and Gates business have specialized in a specific segment of business, Templeton ownership is spread over many areas within the business community; from agriculture, chemicals, petrochemicals, finance, medical, manufacturing, utilities, electronics, aviation and tourism, to mention some of their vast empire. It would be impossible for an outsider to track the stock in Templeton since they use dummy firms with cut outs. We can exert a great deal of pressure on corporations that are not performing as well as they should, and also we have our auditors constantly monitoring our larger public investment to make sure they don't fall into the mess like Enron and AOL. It has long been our policy not to invest into a reseller business like Enron or AOL that had little if any physical assets to fall back on."
"I can see why you want to sire your own children," Stewart said. "Can your father salvage anything after this mess is over?"
"I'm not sure he will come out of this whole. It will depend how far he can distance himself from the Rollins family. I'm sure he will hire the best legal talent available. Who knows if he had a direct hand in this? It could be simply that the Rollins family saw an opening and jumped in. We know for certain that the Rollins were the only people that met with the good doctor and the detective agency. All I know is my father made the threat directly to me and he was dead serious of what he would do if I was not married before my twenty-fifth birthday."
"I know this must be difficult for you, Ryan," Stewart said, "but are you sure that you will continue to be firm with your father? After all he is your father and your only living relative?"
"My father and I have not been really close since my mother died. I remember the good times we had together. He did try his best to be a father, but his business came first. There was little time left for me. True, we went for fishing trips every year, and I spent the holidays with him. But Annie has been my family since my mother died. I lived on the plantation and went to private school. After my father married again, we drifted even further apart. There had always been friction between Vera and me from the onset of their marriage. It was not because I had any resentment against her for marrying my dad. She could never replace my mother. To me, she was the woman my father married. It was Vera that resented me. It was mainly because I owned the Oakdale Plantation and lived in the Templeton Mansion alone. She wanted my father to take control of the Plantation so they could take charge and use the place to entertain her friends. My father told her in a nice way that he had no control over the Templeton estate and that I was the rightful owner, even though I was a minor. So to keep Vera happy, he bought her a beautiful mansion on West Paces Ferry Road in Atlanta. But, she never gave up her long-term goal of getting her hands on the Templeton estate."
"Of course, my father never told her he had no say regarding the Templeton estate other than as a guest, by my invitation. I had a blowup with her on that score. Well, gentlemen, I think that about covers the agenda I had. Does anyone have anything to add?"
Stewart and Murdoch shook their heads. They shook hands and left.
The telephone rang in Ryan's private office in Atlanta. "Hello, Stewart, how goes the battle?"
"Have you read the Wall Street Journal this morning?" Stewart asked.
"No, not yet, what did I miss?"
"The news is out about Spencer Industries, and the whole mess, and about the alleged conspiracy regarding Templeton," Stewart said. "My feeling is that when you began selling large blocks of Spencer stock, someone started to do some digging. Once the media smells a story, they won't stop until the carcass is picked clean."
"That explains the reason my press agent has been giving me urgent messages," Ryan said. "They must have found out through my stock broker that I was selling my Spencer stock. I told my agent to keep giving them a 'No comment' statement."
"Good, the more we stall them, the more anxious they get," Stewart said. "Your attorney, the one that's handling your father's case, said your father wants to meet with you again; he said it's urgent. I think the pressure is getting to him. I'll let you know what he wants. He is meeting with your Dad's lawyer this afternoon."
"I received a call from Price Woodward today requesting a meeting with me at my earliest convenience. I'm not ready to meet with him until I speak to Lattimore. Price is a-good-old-boy whose considers himself a mover and shaker in this town. He and my father grew up together and are fraternity brothers. Price and some of his other cronies, belong to a little click. There are about six in all who are close, and all either own, or control, several large corporations. Most of them inherited their businesses from their fathers. I met them all at one time or another either at the club, on fishing trips, or when I was playing football at Georgia State. My father always liked to show off at my expense."
"In any event, I couldn't stand Price Woodward. He was a big-mouthed braggart and womanizer, who took pleasure in putting people down. I remember the stories he would tell about how he tried to bed every attractive girl working in his office. He told us that he had to pay off a few of his conquests, but he felt it was worth it. I plan to have Lattimore dig into this to see what he can find. I have a feeling that he and his buddies are going to put pressure on me to get my father off. I know how Price thinks; he knows how to play dirty. I'll have to look through my portfolio to see if Templeton holds any stock or notes in his company. I know Oakdale Farms supplies his firm with a number of our agriculture products. I'm sure you know that Oakdale Farms is a small segment of the Templeton conglomerate."
"I think you have that under control," Stewart said. "If you need any advice, don't hesitate to call. I'll get back to you after I learn what your father wants."