Ryan walked into the family room. "Hi, gang, how did your day go?" Ryan asked.
Sean and Murdoch were playing a new computer game on of one of the large TV screens. "You've got to help me out, Ryan," Murdoch said. "Sean is beating the pants off me."
Sean giggled, "Uncle Ryan is worse than you at this game. Maybe James can work with you."
"Thanks, Sean," Ryan said. "Now I know who my friends are." Ryan mussed Sean hair. "Do you think you can play a game by yourself for a little while, Tiger? I need to discuss a project with your uncle."
"No problem, Uncle Ryan."
"We'll be in the library if you get bored."
Murdoch followed Ryan into the library. "What's up, Ryan?"
Ryan related his conversation with Stewart. "Lattimore is digging for any dirt on Price Woodward and the other six cronies. After dinner I'll need to spend some time on the Templeton computer to see what there is in there on Woodward and his gang. Again, my father wants to meet with me, according to my lawyer. I've sent a letter to the Spencer board of directors notifying them that my accounting firm will be conducting an audit of the Spencer Corporation books. I received a call from their VP of Finance saying that he would meet with our auditors on Wednesday."
"That should take several weeks," Murdoch said.
"I doubt that," Ryan said. "My accounting firm has pulled an expert team to take care of this assignment. They are all specialists that know their stuff. They also know what I'm looking for, so it should move along quite well."
"I've decided to legally change my name to Templeton," Ryan said. "How do you feel about that?"
"I think it's a good idea," Murdoch said. "It's ironic when you think about it. Your father was so worried about the scandal you would cause if people found out you were gay. He was so concerned that you would not only drag the family's good name in the mud, but it would hurt the business. Yet, he is the one that accomplished that on his own. The fact that you are gay is pale by comparison. Look, Sweetheart, I don't think this would the best time to make the change. At least wait until after you take over control of Spencer Industries."
"Maybe you're right on that score, it may create more problems than I need right now."
Annie tapped on the door frame and said, "The children have washed their hands and are ready for dinner. Do you wish to wait a bit or are you ready to eat?"
"Thanks, Annie, we will be right there," Ryan said.
The four children were seated at the table when Murdoch and Ryan walked in and took their places at the table. "Good evening, children," Ryan said. "I'm glad that you could join us for dinner. Murdoch will you do the honors and say grace?"
After offering grace, Murdoch said, "My, you all look very smart tonight. How do you like your new clothes?"
The children giggled and Sean answered, "We all have been trying on different clothes, we wanted to look smart for dinner tonight. It was easy before, we only had a few choices, now it takes a bit of thought to choose the right costume, although Helen and Annie were a big help in suggesting the right combination."
"Well," Ryan said, "I think the effort was worth it, you look like the perfect lady and gentlemen." The children smiled and thanked Ryan for the compliment.
"I think this is a good time to share with you some of the changes your Uncle Murdoch and I have decided upon in order to make things more comfortable for you. We are hiring a male nanny for you boys, or as they now call him, a personal trainer. He will be there to see that you get to school, and drive you to any of your after school activities. He will see that you are properly turned out for school, and to teach you how to swim and coach you on any new games, such as tennis, and teach your brothers how to ride a horse. He will also be there to help you with your homework if you need his help."
"We will be building you a new family room with all the games you would like. Your Uncle plans to have a barbecue next Saturday, as a welcoming party, so you can meet some of the children whose families live on the plantation. The plantation manager, and Annie, will work out the details. It should be fun and you can meet some new friends. Now if you meet some people that you would like to make friends with, make sure to write their names down and give the to Uncle Murdoch. We will make sure they are invited here as your guest."
"Wow," said Sean, "that's great. Will we be going to school with some of these children?"
"That is up to your Uncle Murdoch," Ryan said.
"Sean, I have not had a chance to look into the Public Schools here. Uncle Ryan knows more about the school system in this area. We will have to explore both the private and public schools and make that decision this week. I know you're anxious to get back to school," Murdoch said, with a chuckle."
"You know, I am looking forward to school, in a way," said Sean. "I'm curious about what the schools are like in America. It will also give us a chance to meet more children our age."
The dessert dishes were taken away. "Well, did everyone have enough to eat?" Ryan asked.
James and Charles piped up, "Everything was delicious, and we're stuffed."
"Everything was first class, Uncle Ryan," Sean said. "I couldn't eat another bite.
"Since you children are finished eating, you may be excused to go off and play for a while," Murdoch said.
The children left and headed off to the family room. "The children are so polite and well behaved," Ryan said. "Your cousin did a proper job of raising them."
"He sure did, I really enjoy having them around."
"Well, I hope you don't mind, Sweetheart, but I have a couple of hours ahead of me down in the vaults," Ryan said.
"Go ahead," Murdoch said. "I'll take my laptop and spend some time in the family room with the kids until their bedtime. Try not to work be too late, Babe."
Once in the sub-basement, Ryan went through the tedious process to enter the secured vault to access the Templeton archives. When he gained entry, Ryan booted the main computer and began his search. He referred to the list that he had compiled of his father's closest cronies. The leader, Price Woodard of Woodard Agriculture Products Corp., then Ted Baker of Baker Food Products Industries, Zeb Wilson of Wilson Brothers Insurance, Beau Dorsey of Rapid Truck Transfer Industries., Dean Buford of Buford Warehouse & Storage, and Ned Lawrence of Southeast Farmers Equipment Co. Ryan smiled as his computer displayed the information he gathered from his Oakdale Farms, ART Corporation and the other Templeton Industries files. He began printing out the data that he needed. "Gotcha, you bunch of losers," Ryan said. He gathered the sheaf of printouts and closed down the computer, then locked up the vaults and returned to the second floor.
Murdoch was seated in their sitting room with his notebook on his lap. "Have any luck, Sweetheart?" Murdoch asked.
Ryan smiled, "Yes, Baby. You won't believe the information I found on those gentlemen. Most are so dependent on Templeton Industries that I could make them all bleed. I estimate that well over 60 percent of their incomes come from one of the Templeton companies. Templeton is holding loans on at least two of their companies. Also, we are holding performance bonds on all of them. In fact, we have our own people sitting on three of their boards of directors. So if Price Woodard has the mistaken idea that he can pressure me, he has another think coming."
"That's great news, Sweetheart," Murdoch said. "Its looks like your luck is changing for the better; I'd say it's about time."
Ryan smiled and kissed Murdoch on the cheek, "It does feel good to know that I can make things happen for the better. God bless my mother, and her keen mind, and for all the Templetons that put that power in my hands. Now I can move ahead with our plans to take over Spencer Industries and merge it into our two companies. Murdoch, I desperately hope that everything turns out all right with the surrogate mothers we have chosen. I will rest a lot easier knowing that we have sired the heirs to our companies. I keep worrying that they won't turn over the babies after they are born."
"There is always a danger, Ryan, but the possibility of that happening is extremely slim. Look, our people have been absolutely thorough in their research. These women are not interested in parenting these babies, even if they wanted to. All are career oriented and have no desire to raise a child. They will never even see the babies after they are born. The babies are immediately removed from the hospital and placed in a special holding sanatorium until the necessary tests have been taken by our pediatricians. The mothers are well compensated for their efforts and will have a two month paid vacation anywhere in the world. The lawyers will have all the documents and birth certificates legalized. The ladies sign over all parental rights to the babies."
"I know, Sweetheart, but with all I been through with my father, you can't blame me for being anxious."
"We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow, Baby, let's hit the sack," Murdoch said.
Ryan took the folders and the CD and placed them in his briefcase, and followed Murdoch to the bedroom.
Ryan was working in his study the next morning. He made a call to John Goodall of Lattimore & Associates. "John, Ryan here. Were your people able to run down a profile on the six clowns I gave you?"
"As a matter of fact, my secretary is preparing to e-mail the information to you as we speak. They are all living close to their paycheck. The only one living beyond his means and milking his company is Price Woodward. He keeps drawing large amounts from the company. There is nothing illegal about what he is doing, yet he is borrowing money to pay his accounts payable. The interest will catch up with him if he continues. Were you able to dig up any additional information on the gentlemen in question?"
"I sure did," Ryan said. "They are all into Templeton for a lot. We can call the tune on that lot. If I want, I can force old Price out of business tomorrow. However, I don't intend to take that route. Templeton would be the big looser if we took over his company with all its debts. What I do plan is to force him to put his house in order; cut back on his spending and pay off his loans. His company is not worth the effort. He is small potatoes as far as I am concerned. In any event, I have the ammunition I need to get him off my back."
"That's great, do you need anything else?"
"No, thanks, you've done a great job knocking this out so fast."
Ryan dialed his secretary, Beth Chambers, at headquarters. "Good morning, Beth, I won't be in the office today. I would like you to see if Price Woodward can meet me at my office at 10 am on Wednesday. You can e-mail me with the information."
Ryan spent the rest of the day pouring over financial statements and answering emails from executives. He received several calls from his stock broker and from his law firm.
Tuesday, Ryan and Murdoch spent most of the day reviewing the joint venture between Macdonald Industries and Templeton, and the transferring of the Spencer Industries overseas divisions. Murdoch spent several hours each day in his office suite on his overseas operations. The changes he was making were finally starting to take shape and he could see the light at the end of the tunnel. His managers and employees could see the benefits in the consolidation. Now that Murdoch took control, much of the negative speculation floating at all levels throughout the company had disappeared. After dining with the children they all retired to the family room.
"All the arrangements for the barbecue party this Saturday are set," Ryan said. "The families will be arriving just before lunch. We've hired the social director from the Junior High school to organize the activities for the children. She has hired some entertainers to amuse them. Also, we will be having pony rides for the younger children. It should be fun. Annie and Helen have hired some extra staff to help with the kids. "
"It sounds like your overseer and Annie have done a fine job in organizing this in such a short time," Murdoch said.
"Annie has had a lot of experience over the years in planning events like these. I'd be lost without her," Ryan said. "I'll be leaving for Atlanta after breakfast tomorrow morning. I have a ten o'clock meeting with the big mouth. Of course the meeting will be recorded; you may get a kick out of seeing it later on."
"Mr. Woodward is here for his appointment, Mr. Templeton," Beth announced
"Thank you, Beth; please have him wait. I'm still tied up in my meeting with Bruce James."
"It seems that Mr. Woodward has arrived on time for our meeting. I think we will keep him waiting for ten minutes," Ryan said. "I'm sure he will be surprised when he sees you leaving my office. I don't think Price has any idea that I'm now running ART, Templeton and Oakdale Farms. I'm going to have some fun with him before I puncture his balloon."
"I wish I could stay to watch that windbag squirm," Bruce said.
"I'll give you a blow-by-blow description later," Ryan said. "I think you will have less of a problem with his behavior at future board meetings once he realizes who you are. I appreciate your taking the time to be here this morning to play my little game with Price."
"It's my pleasure," Bruce said. "Any time spent to make that big mouth squirm is worth it."
Bruce opened the office door and walked into the reception room where Price was waiting. "Well, hello, Price, good to see you." He continued over to the elevators before Price had a chance to stop him.
"Mr. Woodward, Mr. Spencer will see you now," Beth said. Woodward stood and walked into Ryan's office.
"Won't you have a seat, Price?" Ryan said.
"Do you mind me asking what Bruce James, is doing here? He sits on my board of directors," Price said.
"What is this important matter that was so urgent?" Ryan asked.
"It is about your father," Price said. "I visited your father in jail last week and he is very annoyed that you have refused to see him. He also asked me to speak to you about dropping the charges against him. You should not be treating him like that after all he has done for you."
"Why are you wasting my time on matters that are out of my control?" Ryan asked. "Don't you read the newspapers? If you did, you would know that kidnapping is a Federal crime."
"Why, you ungrateful kid, you have no right to be disrespectful to me, or your father. You know some of your father's good friends don't take kindly to the way you're treating your father, and they are saying that they could hurt Oakdale Farms, me included."
"I'm really not concerned what you or your friends do; it will not hurt Oakdale Farms or me. Let me ask you a question Price. What would you think of a person that ordered you kidnapped and had you thrown into a Sanitarium for the express purpose of destroying your mind. Don't you feel that that person is dangerous and should be behind bars?"
"I don't believe that your father was responsible for that. Maybe he just wanted to make you realize that you were making a mess of your life and heading down the wrong path. He told me all about his concern about this homosexual nonsense. I can understand why he wanted you to be cured and prevent any scandal to the family."
"Well, I can see that you are just as stupid as my father. So why don't you run back to my father and tell him that he is full of shit, and I would not help him even if I could. His fate is in the hands of the Federal, State and City Governments. They have enough evidence on my father and his in-laws to prosecute them for their crimes."
"This is no way to treat your father."
"You have some nerve coming in to my office and chiding me about what I owe my father. It is so typical of you and your ilk. I'm the harmed party in all this, and my father and my in-laws are getting what they deserve. I'll tell you something else, Mister Big Mouth; I've never liked you and have very little use for your friends. I know you all for a bunch of losers, who my father calls his buddies. I have it within my power to destroy each and every one of you. I have enough on you to ruin you, your family, and your business.
You asked what Bruce James was doing here? Not that it is any of your business, but I will tell you this, Bruce in my VP, he works for me. I am the sole owner of ART, Templeton, Oakdale Farms and many other corporations that you have never heard of. I've also instructed Bruce to conduct a complete audit of your company. I've also instructed Oakdale and ART to rescind your open line of credit. From now on, you're on a cash only basis. When I'm satisfied that you are on a sound footing, and are paying off your debts, I will change it back to the way it was. The only reason I'm extending your loans is because I don't want to lose the investment I already have in your firm. This meeting is over Price, I have more important business to conduct. One more thing, don't call me again. If you have any business to discuss, I suggest you talk to Bruce James."
Price Woodward stared at Ryan too shocked to move. When he spoke, it was in a subdued voice, "I don't think your father knows you at all. This will absolutely blow his mind. You're father once mentioned Templeton as being a small agricultural operation that's worth under $125 million dollars. I understood that ART was a financial and investment operation. Who and what is ART Corporation."
"Templeton Corporation, Templeton Industries own ART as well as Oakdale Farms, Templeton Plantations and Manor House Industries. Templeton is a privately held diversified corporation. ART Corporation stands for Annabel and Ryan Templeton. Each company controls a specific niche in industry; banking and finance, agriculture and chemistry, real estate, to mention some of the areas I am involved in. Since I was a teenager, I spent my summers working at some of the larger operations of Templeton. Of course, I had no idea of my empire until last year, when I came into my inheritance. Oakdale Farms is approximately grossing one-half a billion a year and is small compared to my overall holdings."
"I really don't know what role my father played in this kidnapping. I can only say that he did threaten me with what could happen unless I met his demands by my twenty-fifth birthday. My in-laws would not have gone ahead without my father's knowledge. One of his main concerns about this whole mess was how my conduct would cause a scandal and would affect our family name and hurt his business. It is really laughable now when you realize the scandal he has created himself. This mess he has created is not going to go away so fast. This will drag on in the courts for years. He and his wife's family will be convicted and end up in jail. I'll tell you this; my father stopped being my Dad after my Mother died. Sure, he invited me on trips, and had me to his home for holidays, but I was raised by my housekeeper and staff. He was too busy to attend my graduations, and so many of the functions that other parents would attend. He only became interested in me when I was the star of the football team. Vera Rollins, and her family, are a bunch of vicious thieves. I plan to destroy them all. After they have been convicted on the Federal charges, I plan to sue them in civil court. So you can understand why I feel the way I do about my father."
"I'm sorry this turned out to be such a mess," Price said. "I won't bother you again and I will put my house in order. I can't afford to loose my business." Price stood and left.
"Ryan, Stewart Kline is holding on line one for you," Beth said.
"Thanks, Beth, I'll take the call."
"Stewart, what's new?" Ryan asked.
"Do you have time to see me this morning?"
"Sure, I'll be in my office the rest of the day."
"Good, I'll be there in ten minutes."
"Beth, Stewart Kline is on his way over. Please show him in when he arrives."
Stewart walked into Ryan's office and closed the door behind him. "I hope you come bearing good tidings," Ryan said.
Stewart smiled as he sat and opened his briefcase, removed a thick file, and handed it to Ryan. "You are now the legal guardian of your stepbrothers and stepsisters and your young uncle, with no strings attached."
Ryan chuckled. "When did all this take place?" he asked.
"Yesterday afternoon; your father agreed to your terms and signed the papers. My partner took the papers to court today and the judge made it legal."
"Wow, that was fast; I thought this would drag on for months yet," Ryan said. "I will have to move sooner than I expected."
"Don't panic," Stewart said. "You have time to make the arrangements for them to relocate to Thornton Manor. They are alright where they are for now. I have a letter signed by your father and Vera instructing the Nanny that the children are to be turned over to you. When do you want me to deliver the letter?"
"Why don't we wait until tomorrow morning? I'll call and make an appointment for us to meet with her and the children. Stewart, if you are too busy, have one of your assistants accompany me. I'll talk with the Nanny first and let her read the letter, and then discuss new arrangements."
"That sounds like a good idea; I'll have my assistant standing by. What time did you want to do this?"
"Let's shoot for 9 am tomorrow. He can meet me here at 8:45 and we'll drive over together. I'll confirm the time with you after I talk to the Nanny."
"Good," Stewart said. "Look I've must run, talk to you later." Stewart left and closed the door.
Ryan dialed his father's home. "Mary, this is Ryan Spencer. I would like to visit with you and the children tomorrow morning at 9 am, did you have anything planned?"
"No, that a good time," Mary said.
"Good, my lawyer and I would like to talk to you first before I speak to the children," Ryan said.
"Is this about the child custody, Mr. Spencer?"
"Yes it is, Mary," Ryan said. "There is no reason for keeping this news from you now. I've been informed by my father's lawyers that I've been granted legal custody of my brothers and sisters as well as Vera's brother. When we meet with you tomorrow morning, my lawyer will deliver a letter to you given to him by my father, and also one from Vera. I would also like to know if you are willing to remain with the children when I relocate them to my estate in south Georgia. I don't expect your answer tomorrow. But I would like you to think about it. And if you are interested, I will have my HR people send you an employment application. In any event, I would like you and the children to join us for the weekend. We are having a welcoming barbecue party for my nieces and nephews from Scotland. It is designed for the children, and should be great fun."
"Thank you for sharing this news with me. I'm very fond of the children, and I've been with them for some time now. My family lives in NW Atlanta, but I'm with the children during the week. I used to have every other weekend off. But since the Spencer's have been in jail, I have been with them every day with an occasional morning off. The children are well behaved but have been troubled since their parents have been taken away from them."
"That is one of the other matters I want to discuss with you. I plan to have the children visit our child psychologist next week. I'm sure this has caused them some discomfort, and I want to nip any problem in the bud. I sure he will want to talk to you about any problems that you've noticed since their parents have been gone. I'm sure you will be a big help with that."
"That's a good idea, I'm sure it will help them."
"Well, I won't keep you any longer, Mary. Thank you for your time, and I'll see you tomorrow."
Ryan's next call was to Alex Savage of Stonewall & Savage Engineering. "Hi Alex, it's been a while since we did lunch, or dinner, for that matter. I don't suppose you are free for lunch or dinner this week?"
"Hey, Ryan, it good to hear from you again. I called you several times and left messages on your answering machine. We were very concerned about your well being. Annie told us that you were fine and recovering in Scotland. Sandy and I were shocked that you were kidnapped, by of all people, your father. As much as I would like to get together for lunch or dinner with you this week, it is just impossible with my schedule. I have a deadline on several large proposals that must go out this week. Why in the world did you select Scotland?"
"That's quite story, and it's something I can't talk about on the telephone. Listen, it was just a spur of the moment thing, I didn't expect you to drop everything in the works. Been there, done that. The main purpose of my call was to have your company do some renovation work on the second floor of the Manor House. Your firm is the only one that I trust to make changes in this old home."
"That's not a problem, what is your time frame."
"Murdoch has adopted his brother's four children. And I am assuming
guardianship of my
"God, the last time we spoke, you and Murdoch were in the talking stages of starting a family. You two are a riot; you jump right in with two feet and come up nine kids and four babies to boot. I'll have two of my creative people out to your place tomorrow."
"Thanks, Alex, you are a prince among men. We are having a barbeque on Saturday for our kids to introduce them to all the children of my employees. We would like to have you, Sandy and the kids join us, if you're not tied up for this weekend. I'll even send my new Gulfstream jet to pick you up at Charley-Brown Airport. Don't worry about your children they will be well taken care of. I have Annie and three Nannies, two females, and a male for the boys, who is now referred to as a personal trainer. What do you say?"
"I don't think we have anything planned for the weekend, but before I say yes; let me talk to my better half to make sure. Maybe my architect will have something on paper by then that we can discuss. I suppose you want this completed ASAP?"
"It would be nice, but I'm willing to have a little discomfort if your craftsmen need the time to do their best. I hope you can make it, we would like to fill you in on all that has happened in our lives since the last time we saw you."
"I'm fairly sure we can make it, I'll let you know later today."
Ryan's next call was to Doctor Rogers' office to make an appointment for an evaluation of the Spencer children. The appointment was made for Wednesday at 3 pm.
"Ryan," Beth said, "Charles Lattimore would like to speak to you. Do you wish me to put the call through?"
"Yes, thank you, Beth."
"Good afternoon, Charles, how may I help you?
"There have been some interesting developments regarding the AAA detective agency. As you know I have a tail on Rudy Jankowsky, Seymour Helms's partner. He has been making regular visits at the Jail to see Sy. Under ordinary circumstances it would mean nothing if it weren't for the fact that a check in the amount of $100,000 was deposited in the company account shortly after Rudy's last visit to Sy. The check was from Catherine Rollins. My agent noticed a couple of new detectives were hired by AAA. He followed one to the Charley Brown Airport to the same area that the private Jets are parked. Guess whose aircraft his was interested in investigating?"
"Might it be my new Gulfstream?" Ryan asked.
"Bingo", Charles said. "We found out that he was nosing around asking about all your aircraft. Said he was a private pilot and would like to work for your organization. I've already notified your chief pilot and all the security people to check everything twice."
"This is not good news, Charles. From now on until the threat is behind us, I want all my aircraft to be kept on the plantation until needed. I would like you to assign one of your people in the aircraft whenever it leaves on a flight. If it is on the ground it is to be guarded. I think you should share this information with your friends at the Bureau and also at the DA's office."
"Good thinking, Ryan, I'll handle everything at my end. You may want to pass this information on to your Chief Pilot."
"I will, and thanks, Charles."
Ryan walked into the family room after arriving from Atlanta. "Hi, everyone, I'm home," Ryan said. The three boys were seriously engrossed in a computer game while Bridget was busy coloring.
"Hey, Ryan, how was your day?"
"Interesting, please join me in my office, I need to unload some heavy stuff," Ryan said.
"Sure, let me tell Sean where we're off to. I'll call Helen and have her keep an eye on the children."
Murdoch joined Ryan in his office. "What's up, Babe? You look drained."
Ryan told him about the Spencer children, his calls to Alex Savage and the latest bad news from Charles Lattimore.
"Christ, Ryan, I don't like the sound of this new threat one bit. Do you think we should fly back to Scotland?"
"It's a possibility, but I need to settle the children in and make the necessary renovation on the house. Now we must make school arrangements for nine children. I want them to feel secure with us and have a decent normal life. You know you need to make arrangements to have McDonald Hall renovated as well. "I've spoken to the Chief Pilot and to John Goodall to work out the security issues and to keep the aircraft on the plantation. Unless it's absolutely necessary, I plan to conduct all of my business out of this office. At least until things cool down."
"Good, I'll feel much better knowing that you are safe at home," Murdoch said.
"I will have to make a trip into Atlanta tomorrow morning and again on Wednesday, but that's it for now," Ryan said. "I think I'll run upstairs to shower and change. I won't be long."
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