A winter snowstorm was raging outside the manor house, piling more snow on top of yesterday's record accumulation. Freezing arctic winds were whipping the snow into massive drifts. The weather bureau reported that this was one of the worst storms on record to hit the Northeast in years.
Drew Stevens was peering out at nature's fury through one of the large picture windows, enjoying the comfort of his spacious den. Classical music was playing softly in the background and the gas logs burning in the fireplace made the room look and feel warm and inviting.
The mansion was located in the mountains of upstate New York. He arrived yesterday, just before the big storm hit. The weather bureau had been predicating severe snowstorms for the past week, yet, the storms never materialized.
This magnificent mansion and the surrounding land are known as the Retreat. Drew had always considered this old mansion to be his home. The happiest days of his childhood years were spent here at the Retreat. This was the place where his family spent time in the spring and fall seasons and most of the summer. This was where his grandfather, and father, had introduced him to the pleasures of country living. Drew learned the fine art of fishing in the clear mountain streams, hunting deer in the fall, and became an expert equestrian.
Those earlier years were kinder and gentler times. Now, the Retreat was his; his refuge from the pressures of a hectic life in New York City.
Drew was the grandson of George W. Stevens, the founder of the GW Stevens Company. Andrew Stevens, Jr., his father, died several years ago from a hereditary disease that attacked the male side of their family. The disease struck his father in his early thirties. When his father realized his illness was symptomatic, he spent his remaining years teaching Drew how to run the family business because he was the last surviving male heir. His early years were so structured that he had little time for the normal life style that most teenagers his age enjoyed. Yet, he never shrank from his responsibilities, nor did he ever regret the sacrifices he made.
Drew suffered a great loss when his father died. He loved him deeply and mourned his passing for many years after his death. He had not only lost a father, but a friend and confidant as well. When he reached his twenty-eighth birthday, he became president of the company, the youngest Stevens ever to assume that office. Five years after taking over the reins of the company, he had doubled it's size and became a billionaire in the process.
Now, at thirty-three, Drew was the Chairman and CEO of the GW Stevens Company, one of the largest privately held conglomerates in the United States. In the New York social circles, he was considered one of the world's most eligible bachelors. In addition to being wealthy, some consider him as handsome and sophisticated. He was also a devotee of physical fitness and kept in shape over the years, looking the same now as he did when he graduated from Princeton.
His grandfather had purchased the land for the Retreat many years ago. The family remained in residence in Manhattan most of the year spending only the summers at the Retreat. The men of the family spent long weekends in the fall and early spring at the Retreat for hunting and fishing. The winters were too harsh for even the men of the family to visit, though a skeleton staff maintained the house all year long. In those days, the long drive between the City and the mountains was dangerous over the two lane roads.
The winding roads that meandered through small towns and villages took what seemed forever by car. Today, the trip made by helicopter, takes less than an hour. Whereas, the trip by automobile could take the better part of a day.
After his father's illness became chronic, the family visits ceased. The mansion and buildings were boarded up and left in the hands of a caretaker. Drew was the only member of the family that continued to use the Retreat. It came as no surprise to the family when his father deeded him the Retreat shortly before he died. Drew's mother and sisters had no interest in the Retreat, and no desire to be stuck in the mountains cut off from all their friends and the social whirl of New York City. They preferred to spend their time in Manhattan, or at their summer home in the Hampton's, or in Paris, or at their villa on the French Riviera.
Drew spent a small fortune renovating the Retreat. He added new guest villas and townhouses to accommodate his guests and executive staff. He adhered to the original architectural style when adding any new buildings. Again, no expense was spared when it came to the renovation. The latest state-of-the-art electronic and mechanical equipment was incorporated in the new structures. In many ways, the Retreat was better equipped for emergencies then his penthouse in Manhattan.
The spacious public rooms were magnificent, with priceless antique furniture, fine art, and oriental rugs. The flooring was a mixture of imported marble and aged hardwoods. The rugs and wall coverings were all designed to blend and flow into a visually pleasing intermingling of warmth and color. Each room was carefully studied before selecting the furnishings and the overall decor and color for each room. He knew exactly what he wanted in his home, and the results were beyond compare. This mansion equaled the grand estates of Europe.
The Retreat was a town unto itself. There were enough supplies in the warehouse to feed the entire staff and guests for three months without ever relying on any outside sources. In addition to the guest villas, town homes and staff quarters, the complex housed its own medical emergency clinic, underground parking facilities, sports pavilion and electric generating plant, water treatment and sewage plants. There was a helicopter-landing pad large enough to accommodate two large helicopters at one time. The aircraft hangers could hold four aircraft. A cable car was installed to connect the Retreat to Stevens Glen in the valley below. In addition, a man-made lake doubled as a fresh water reservoir that fed the sprinkler system in case of a fire.
Luke, his German shepherd, began whining again bringing him back from his daydreaming. "What's the matter, Luke, something out there bothering you?" Drew said. "You've been restless all night. This was not the first time you've walked to the window to peer out at the blizzard and whined. Luke, you can't see anything out there, old boy. Walk back and lay down in front of crackling fire."
Drew had finally finished the last entry on the computer and sent the e-mail to the mainframe computer at his Manhattan headquarters.
Luke jumped up, went to the window again, and started whining. Drew smiled, "Come on, boy, you're not going to be happy until you go outside and sniff around."
He took the elevator to the lower level and pulled on his snowsuit and boots for their trek in the snow. He pulled out his cell phone and rang Running Wolf Nelson, RW for short, his chief of security. "RW, I'm taking Luke out for a walk."
He had been following close behind Luke, on his erratic course, when Luke stopped and started barking at something on the path just ahead. Drew cautiously moved closer to Luke to see why he was barking.
At first, he was wary that it could be a wounded animal. They could be dangerous. The driving snow made it almost impossible to see what it was. However, whatever it was, it was not responding to Luke's barking. Drew knelt down next to Luke cautiously and brushed away the acclimated snow. It was the body of a man. He felt for a pulse, for any sign of life. He was relieved when he felt a pulse. At least the man was still alive. He immediately summoned RW. "I've found a body in the snow. Can you come and help me move the man into the clinic?"
In the meantime, he removed most of the snow while waiting for RW to arrive with the sled and the heavy blankets. They carefully loaded the man onto the sled and headed for the underground entrance to the manor complex.
It was rough going pulling the sled through the unpacked snow. Once inside, they lifted the sled onto one of the electric cars and took the underground tunnel to the clinic. Drew waited outside while RW hunted up a Gurney. It was a struggle moving the guy onto the Gurney; he was a big man and a dead weight. Once in the examining room, they removed his damp clothes. RW had to cut away his pants and a boot. After RW made a quick examination of the man, he concluded that the guy had a broken leg. In addition, he had a sizable lump behind his left ear. RW covered him with a sheet and warmed thermal blankets. He took a complete series of x-rays with the portable x-ray equipment.
"Look at the size of this guy," RW said. "He's well more than six feet long. This Gurney is seven feet long. I'm willing to bet he's more than two hundred pounds. It's no wonder we had trouble lifting him."
He hooked him up to the electronic monitoring equipment, and scanned the x-rays into his portable laptop. He placed an emergency call to Dr. Gordon, their internist and told him what they found.
"Looks like your medical training had paid off, RW," Dr. Gordon said. "Can you email the X-rays to me as we talk?"
"No problem, they're on their way," RW said. "I think the leg is broken and he may have a slight concussion along with lacerations on his left side."
"Start an IV on him. I'll bring along an antibiotic from the pharmacy and will insert a catheter when I get there. I'll be at the cable lift in thirty minutes. I'm going to bring along an orthopedic man to take care of that leg."
RW started the IV. "I'm off to pick up the doctors, Drew," RW said. "Would you mind giving him a sponge bath and shave the broken leg from the hip to the knee as best you can without moving it? It will save us some time when the doctors arrive."
"No problem," Drew said. "I think I'll go through his clothes for any identification." He found a wallet in his pants pocket. The wallet contained 75-dollars in cash, two gas credit cards, an AAA card, a Yale University Identification card, car insurance card and a Kentucky driver's license registered to Duncan MacDonald. The photo on the license matched the man lying on the Gurney.
Drew went about his task. He couldn't help but admire the handsome Duncan MacDonald. He had a well-developed upper body that tapered to a narrow waist. His hips and his long muscular legs were perfectly proportioned. Not only did he have a fine body, but a handsome face as well with light-brown curly hair and a classic profile. He had a series of nasty purple bruises on his ribs, leg and neck. Drew smiled as he washed the genital area and admired the large perfectly shaped penis and testicles. Even flaccid his circumcised penis appeared to be five inches long and two inches in diameter. Drew shaved the broken leg from the ankle up to the hip. There was very little hair on his body and he had excellent skin tone without a blemish of any kind. Drew covered him with a clean sheet and a warmed thermal blanket.
Dr. Gordon and the orthopedic surgeon arrived and examined Duncan. "He'll need a plate and a wire wrap to repair that fractured femur," the surgeon said. "We'll have to give him a spinal anesthetic. Drew, do you feel up to helping us?" Dr. Gordon asked.
"Be glad to. What do you want me to do?"
"Let me know if he starts to come around during the operation. He's restrained, but I don't want him to panic if wakes up. He's a big strapping guy and he could be a problem. If he does come around, his throat will be dry. You can use that squeeze bottle to give him a sip of water, if he asks. I'm going to prepare a hypo with a strong pain killer, just in case. If he comes around, try to keep him talking and find out how he fell. I'll let you know when you can release the tranquilizer into his IV."
Two hours into the operation, Duncan opened his eyes, and he looked startled. "Don't be afraid you're in safe hands," Drew said. "My name is Drew, and you are in my surgery getting your broken leg repaired. You've had a bad fall. It's important that you do not to move. Do you think you can do that?"
Duncan whispered, "Yes. Do you think I could have something to drink?"
Drew let him have a several sips, then asked, "Are you Duncan MacDonald?"
"Yes, but everyone calls me Mac."
"Is there someone you would like us to notify about your accident?"
"My college roommate, Rod Johnson," Mac said. He gave Drew the telephone number to his apartment in New Haven, Connecticut.
Dr. Gordon said, "Well, Mac, how does your head feel?"
"I have a pounding headache, a throbbing ache behind my left ear and my left side feels as if I have been hit by a truck."
"Try lifting your head a little."
Mac tried and grimaced with pain, "It feels like I have a bad Hangover."
"Let me give you a quick rundown on your condition," Dr. Gordon said. "You have a slight concussion and a good sized hematoma behind your left ear. You have a badly bruised rib cage. As far as I can tell, your most serious injury is to this leg. Not only is it broken, but you've torn the muscle tissue as well. It's going to take a while for the leg to heal properly. I'll give you some medication to ease the pain, but you will still feel some discomfort for some time. You'll be in a wheelchair until you are able to use a walker. Right now, I want you to stay awake for a little longer; do you think you can manage that?"
"Can you tell us how you happened to fall?" Drew asked.
"I'm a senior at Yale University and was up here using my friend's cabin to study for my exams." The tears were forming in his eyes, "Drew, the pain is really getting to me, and I can't talk any more."
"Give him the shot, Drew," the doctor said.
A few minutes later, the pain eased up. "That feels much better, thanks," Mac said. "As I was saying, I had a week off from school and decided to get away from all the distractions at the apartment I share with my roommate, Rod Johnson. He offered to let me use his folk's cabin up here. He did warn me that this was in snow country, but I decided to take the risk. I love the mountains, but had I known the cabin was so far from the main road, I might have given it a second thought. It wasn't until I got here that I learned that the cabin was completely electric. The cabin did have a fireplace and a couple of kerosene space heaters for emergency use."
"After that heavy snow storm hit two days ago, the electricity went off and never came back on. Much to my dismay, both the kerosene heaters were low on fuel and the firewood was in short supply. I figured there was just enough fuel to last one more day. My first thought was to see how far I could travel by car. That wasn't very far. My car slid off the road, and into a snowdrift, about a hundred yards down from the house. My only choice was to walk out, or freeze to death. There was enough firewood and fuel oil to last the night. I decided to eat a hot meal get a good night sleep, pack whatever food I could carry and set out at first light this morning."
"I started out early this morning and kept walking until I slipped and tumbled down that ledge. That the last thing I remember." Mac's voice started to fade as the medication took effect. Finally, his eyelids closed.
"Mac has fallen asleep," Drew said.
"We must be getting back to town, Drew," Dr. Gordon said. "Mac should sleep for a good twelve hours. By that time, I'll have a staff nurse sent here to take over."
RW took the two doctors to the lift. After RW returned, he and Drew moved Mac into one of the large villas. Drew asked Kim, his house manager, to take the first watch, he would take the second shift and RW would take over the following morning.
"I'm exhausted, Kim, I think I will hit the sack," Drew said. "Wake me at two o'clock, to relieve you."
"Boss, you don't have to cover the next shift, I'll have one of the staff take over."
"No, they have enough work to do with this storm. I want to do this," Drew said.
Drew returned to the villa shortly after two to relieve Kim. "How is our patient doing?" Drew asked.
"Just a few moans and groans when he tries to turn, other then that, he's fine. He talks a lot in his sleep. He finished the last bag of antibiotic and I started the IV again. He won't need any more medication until RW's shift. His kidneys are functioning normally."
"Thanks Kim, I'll see you later." He made myself comfortable on the lounge chair. He was reading two disturbing divisional reports. There was a serious theft problem within the Plastic divisions, but they couldn't ferret out who was responsible. He hired an outside private investigating firm, and an auditing firm, to find out who was responsible, but they were unable to track down the culprits. Drew felt they needed to investigate the problem internally. They need to find who was behind this scheme before it becomes more serious.
He turned when he heard Mac call his name.
Drew smiled, "How are you feeling? It looks like you're stuck with me until RW takes over later this morning. Would you like some water?"
Drew gave him a drink of ice water and looked down at Luke lying next to the bed. "I see you made a friend of my dog, Luke. You must be okay if he stays by your side like this." Drew went on to explain how Luke was the one responsible for finding Mac in the snowdrift.
"Are you sure there isn't someone else you would like me to contact other than Rod Johnson?" Drew asked.
"Not really, my family live in Kentucky and I don't want to upset them. There is not much they can do anyway. Do you think I could have something to eat? I have not eaten since breakfast and I'm starved."
Drew laughed, "I'll bet you are, let me run over to the kitchen and fix you some eggs and toast, how does that sound?"
"Terrific," Mac said.
Drew returned a little later with the breakfast tray. Mac had fallen asleep again. He placed the tray on the end of the king size bed. He felt Mac's forehead and it was warm to the touch, but not hot.
Mac opened his eyes and smiled.
"If you've lost your appetite, we can forget the eggs, you've been through a lot today and need sleep, more than food."
"No, please, I'm still hungry."
Drew helped Mac to sit up and propped up the pillows behind his back. "I don't think you're ready to feed yourself, so let me feed you." Mac ate slowly and finished the whole meal.
"I guess you were hungry, may I get you anything else?"
"I would really like a cup of tea, if it's no trouble?"
"No problem, I just happen to have a thermos full, how do you like it?"
"Lemon, no sugar, please; I really appreciate everything you're doing for me, Drew."
As he continued pouring the tea, he commented, "Kim told me you were talking in your sleep. I know you've taken a beating, but is there something troubling you that you would like to talk about? Sometimes its easier to share a problem with a complete stranger, and I'm a good listener."
"You're not a stranger to me, Drew, that's one of the problems. I've seen you in a dream before tonight. I thought I was still dreaming when I woke up and saw you staring down at me in surgery. You probably think I'm a nut case, but I can assure you that I'm not crazy. I don't know why God sent me here, but that's the way it is. I wish I could shed more light on this dream, but I can't. Right now, my only concern is this broken leg. I can't afford to lose any time from my classes at Yale, or my job. I hope my student medical insurance will cover these medical expenses?"
I sat next to Mac and held the cup as he drank his tea. "You can forget about any medical expenses, and my insurance will cover everything. Don't worry about Yale either, I'll make a few calls tomorrow and take care of that. You are my houseguest and will remain so until the doctor says you're fit to carry on your normal duties. I want you to stop worrying about your job, Yale, and your medical bills, and concentrate on getting better. And another thing, I don't think you're crazy, I believe your dream. I'm certainly not afraid of you. We can talk about this again, but for now, try and get some more sleep."
When RW arrived at six-thirty I took him into the sitting room and told him of my conversation with Mac. "I want to know everything there is to know about him. I have a good feeling about him and it's something I can't explain. I find it uncanny, to say the very least."
RW chuckled, "Don't tell me you have a thing for this guy, boss? He sure is a handsome young stud, for a pale face."
Drew smiled, "He is a hunk, I'll admit that, but there is something about him that I find intriguing beyond his good looks."
"I'm surprised you didn't flip out. This is definitely out of character for you, Drew. Of course for an Indian like me, it's normal, but for a serious guy like you, it's mind boggling."
Drew chuckled, "Check him out carefully, RW. Send someone to look at that cabin and bring his personal things back here. Check with Rod Johnson and find out when Mac is due back at Yale. While he's here, take his fingerprints and do a complete securities profile on him. Also, have the doctor do a complete work-up on him including a psychological profile. Who knows, he just may be a nut job."
"You've got it, boss."
"I've checked with the weather bureau," Drew said, "this storm is moving away from us and we should have clear skies by this afternoon. If that's the case, I'm heading back to Manhattan this afternoon. I would like you to stick around here for a few days until you've checked Mac out. Looks like I'll be making a run to the Capitol again. If Mac checks out okay, he's to say here until I've made up my mind about him. Take good care of him RW. I'm heading back to bed."
Later that afternoon RW joined Drew in the library. RW said, "The initial reports are back on Mac. He has a clean record. Dr. Gordon was by earlier to check him out and said he is doing fine. I've hired a medical team to take care of him. Dr. Gordon said his urine screens check out negative, but it will be a week yet before the blood work up and hair follicle tests are back from the lab. In spite of his leg he should be able to move around in a week. Doc said he's in excellent physical condition."
"I talked to his roommate, Rod Johnson, this morning. Rod is all shook up. He feels he's partially to blame for what happened to Mac. He should have warned him about the electricity. Mac is his best friend and he wanted to know if there is anything he can do to help. According to Rod, Mac is a super guy. Everyone I talked to so far agrees. The same goes for his teachers. Mac is an A-plus student, Dean's list, committed, and well liked. He would be number one in his class if he didn't have to support himself, according to one of his professors."
"Rod did say that Mac had to leave school two years ago. His dad had a stroke and needed Mac's help to run the farm. Strong, close knit family. His father had a second stroke and died, the family lost everything. Mac's mother made him return to Yale to finish his education. It seems his tuition was already put aside and there was really no reason for him to stick around. The family all pulled together and loaned Mac the money for his living expenses at Yale."
"His employer is disappointed that he won't be returning to work next week. He said he is his best waiter. Mac started with him as a kitchen helper and within three months time he was promoted to a waiter. The owner told me that Mac is a hard worker. He wanted him to take over as night manager, but Mac turned him down. He said he makes more money on tips, as a waiter.
"Rod said you can set your watch by the guy. He's up every day at five o'clock for his workout at the gym, has a hearty breakfast and studies until his first class. Then some more study, off to work, and then back home to crack the books. He has little time for socializing. Rod did mention he had a girlfriend, by the name of Lenore Hart. She is also in his study group. It seems that Lenore is a tough-minded little rich girl from Bedminster, NJ. In case you didn't know, that is where the wealthy, horsy set like to do their thing. We've not had time to check her out yet. Mac lives by the golden rule, according to Rod, and from all reports, he practices what he preaches.
"My men checked out the cabin. They gathered up his books, and notes and clothes. I took the liberty of making copies of the employment applications he filled out for three other companies. We were able to make use of the applications to check out his references that included his hometown friends. Everything he told you checks out so far. That's as much as I have now. All his personal effects are in your den."
"That's a thorough report on such short notice, you've done well," Drew said. "At least we know he is not a threat to us. I'll have Kim move his personal effects to the villa."
Drew always felt a dynamic power of pure energy emanating from New York City when he fly over Manhattan. He couldn't help but marvel at the sheer numbers of tall buildings that stretch out mile after mile, from river to river, as far as the eye can see. There was a vitality and excitement to the city that never sleeps. You could feel that surge of positive ions charging you. He could never become jaded about this magnificent city. A limousine was waiting at the helicopter landing.
"Good evening, Robert," Drew said. "I see you didn't let the snow stop you?"
"No sir, everything is just fine, sir. David Chang has been trying to reach you, Mr. Stevens." Drew reached David on his cell phone and asked to meet him at the Penthouse for dinner.
The penthouse was atop the GW Stevens' office building on Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan. Robert drove down the underground parking ramp into Drew's private entrance. Robert pushed the garage door opener on the visor and a large overhead steel door opened at the end of the ramp, revealing another large private parking area. To one side was a glassed-in, private lobby area, tastefully decorated in Italian marble and mahogany paneling. The security guard was waiting outside the lobby to open the car door for Drew.
"Good evening, Mr. Stevens, nice to have you back home."
Drew grabbed his briefcase and walked through the lobby into his private elevator. Mary, the housekeeper, was waiting in the foyer as he stepped off the elevator.
"It's good to have you home again, Mr. Stevens; I thought you would be enjoying the snow at the Retreat?"
"Believe me, I wanted to, Mary. The Retreat looked like a winter wonderland, so beautiful covered in a blanket of snow. It looked like a Currier & Ives watercolor. Frankly, I didn't want to leave. David Chang will be joining me for dinner this evening. Officially, I'm still out of town if anyone calls. One last thing, please add Duncan MacDonald, or Mac, as he prefers to be called to the approved list. He is staying at the Retreat for now. Let's plan on getting together tomorrow morning after breakfast."
"Yes, sir, I've put the eyes-only material in your safe and your regular correspondence on your desk in the library."
David Chang was the son of John Chang, VP of Finance. He was also a close friend. David started working for the firm fresh out of UCLA. He was single, good looking and a swinger. Like his father, David was exceptionally bright and aggressive. He, like Drew, received his MBA from Harvard. David had two minor hang-ups, women and gambling. He was the Director of the Internal Audit Group, for Drew's company. He was the one who discovered the losses at the International Chemical Group and reported it to his father, who in turn reported it to Drew. Drew wanted to handle the investigation internally, because it could affect his offshore joint ventures. He had discussed the problem with John Chang and RW before deciding to take David into his confidence.
David strode into the library and said, "A penny for your thoughts, Drew?"
Drew stood and shook hands, "I really appreciate your giving up your evening on such short notice. Let's head to the living room and have a drink."
They sat in the living room sipping their drinks. "Have you uncovered anything more on the International Chemical group?" Drew asked.
"Nothing, yet," David said. "Whoever is behind this is very clever at covering their tracks, but, the paper trail will get them in the end. We should conduct another audit, this time we'll do a cross check on every invoice, delivery slip, and check. I suggest that we hire an outside consulting firm to survey the high-temperature plastic market, to see what the competition is doing."
Drew outlined his new plan to David. "I want to plant an undercover man at International Chemicals to spy on the operation. Oddly enough, a young man just dropped into my lap and I think he would be ideal for the assignment. He is a law student who will be graduating from law school in June. He will be a perfect fit for our executive training program. Your job will be to steer him in the right direction. His name is Duncan McDonald, or Mac. You know from experience how our training program works, David. I don't feel he will raise any undue suspicions at International Chemical."
Drew questioned David on his feelings about sharing an apartment with Mac until this project was over.
"Look, I don't have a problem with showing Mac the ropes, or sharing an apartment, as long as you don't expect me to baby-sit him on the weekends?"
"I wouldn't expect you to do that, this is only a temporary assignment and should be over in a matter of months."
Mary and Drew were having coffee in the dining room the next morning discussing his schedule.
"Charles King will be joining me for lunch today. I'll be checking into the clinic for my usual tests on Thursday. I should be back in the office on Monday and for the rest of next week. Next Friday evening I'll be flying to Washington, D.C. for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, ask RW to take photographs, voice prints, and finger prints of Mac for our computer security system."
He finished his meeting with Mary and headed to the gym for a morning workout. By ten, he was back working at his desk. Drew called his secretary, "Barbara, I'll be in the office after lunch. Only Charles knows that I'm back, and I want to keep it that way."
"Yes sir," Barbara said.
Over lunch, Drew explained the details of the plans he had discussed with David, with Charles. Charles liked the plan, but warned of the legal implications if they uncovered any incriminating evidence. Charles felt there would be a certain amount of risk, because of the high stakes involved. He asked to be kept in the loop, and that he take part in the strategic planning from a legal standpoint.
"Have you had this Mac fellow checked out?" Charles asked. "Are you sure he's not going to sue you?"
"I'm having him checked out," Drew said. "Anyway, Charles, on what grounds could he sue me. He was trespassing on my property?"
"He doesn't need grounds," Charles said. "You know what a hungry lawyer could do with a case like that? Anyway, you told me this guy's a lawyer, didn't you? If you are going ahead with your plan, I'd make damn sure about him first. Let me check him out at Yale. Keeping him at the Retreat is a good idea; you can keep an eye on him until you're satisfied he's your man."
"He is not in any condition to return to Yale, at least for a couple of months. According to the doctor, he is going to need months of physical therapy before he will be able to walk on his leg again. I thought I would hire a tutor to work with him to help him prepare for his finals. Will you ask about that when you talk to your old buddies at Yale?"
"I'll see what I can find out," Charles said.
Charles called later that evening. "Everything is squared away at Yale. Mac's teachers will be sending him his class work. I've not had time to talk to the Dean of the Law School, but I plan to do so and will keep you posted."
"Thanks, Charles; I will let Mac know the good news. The guy is in a stew over missing so much time."
Drew placed a call to Mac. "How are you doing?" Drew asked.
"Hanging in there," Mac said.
"I spoke to Charles King, my brother-in-law, and he greased the wheels for you at Yale. So stop worry about missing your classes. Your teachers will be sending you your class work every week from now on. Is there anything you need?"
"No, everything is cool. I really appreciate your getting back to me. You're a man of your word. When will I see you again?"
"I'm hoping to be back in a couple of weeks, why do you ask?"
"No special reason."
"We'll talk again when I return, Mac. Take care of yourself."
Drew returned Charles King's call after returning from his trip to Washington. "Sorry I could not get back to you sooner, Charles. I just got back into the office an hour ago. What were you able to find out about Mac?"
"Bob Zeissler, my old friend at Yale, told me that your Duncan MacDonald is an outstanding student and a fine young man to boot. Bob thinks the guy is incredible when it comes to the law, plus the fact that he is extremely intelligent. Looks like you lucked out again."
Charles related his conversation with Bob Zeissler. "Bob felt Mac would be a natural for corporate law, and suggested that we grab him before someone else does. He also gave me the name of a young professor, by the name of George Webster, who is an excellent tutor. Bob said he'd run this by George and have him call you at the Retreat if he is interested."
"Many thanks, Charles; you have done your usual efficient job."
"That's what families are for, Drew."
Drew then called RW at the Retreat. "RW, I'm heading for the Retreat and I want you and John Chang to join me for dinner. I'll see you soon."
RW was waiting in the den when Drew arrived. "John has graciously accepted your kind offer of dinner this evening. I've assembled all the information that we have on Mr. Duncan MacDonald and it's on your desk. Mac is able to move around quite well with his walker. He is still in some pain, but you'd never know it; he's the strong silent type, our Mac. The guy never takes his nose out of those law books of his. When he is not studying, he's sleeping."
"I've made progress on our corporate problem which I want to discuss with you and John over dinner," Drew said. "I plan to visit Mac as soon as I read his reports. Let's plan on eating dinner at six, this will allow us time to review our options."
Drew picked up the telephone and dialed Mac's villa and left a message for Mac. He began to read all the field reports on Mac, he was particularly interested in the section regarding his early life. It read like a Thornton Wilder play-- his childhood, high school, and his family life. The telephone rang and he answered, it was Mac.
"Hi, Drew, it's good to hear from you again."
"I understand you are well enough to receive visitors," Drew said. "Would it be all right if I dropped by for a short visit in a few minutes?"
"I'd be honored, drop in any time," Mac replied.
Mac was in his wheelchair in the sitting room when Drew walked into the villa. "You look a lot better then the last time I saw you," Drew said. "How do you feel?"
"Alive and well, thanks to you. Everyone has been just great. This is some beautiful place you have here, Drew. Kim took me a tour of the grounds. Everything is just perfect. I would never have dreamed that a beautiful estate like this existed in these mountains. Have you come here tonight to tell me that it's time for me to move on?"
Drew smiled, "No, you're a keeper."
"Well, in that case, won't you have a seat, Mr. Stevens? I haven't had too many visitors lately. Do you mind telling me why you would want to keep a farm boy like me around?"
"I have my reasons; I have some ideas that I would like to discuss with you tomorrow, if you're free."
"Drew, all kidding aside, as much as I would like to remain in this lap of luxury, I cannot afford to stay here much longer. I need to get back to college. I can't allow this broken leg to keep me from graduating from Law School."
Drew smiled, "One thing you must learn as long as you are with me, Mac, is to listen and learn, and more importantly, do as I say. I've told you over a month ago not to worry about Yale, or anything else while you're here, and that's what you will do. You'll find that life can be quite pleasant that way. I'd like to stay and visit longer, but I'm pressed for time at the moment. If you feel up to it, I would like you to spend the next few days with me. I want to get to know you better."
Mac smiled, "Yes, sir, I'll be ready any time you say. I hope you don't mind the wheelchair, it's my only mode of transportation."
"That's fine, we can have breakfast together tomorrow morning, unless you have other plans."
Mac smiled, "I'll be happy to rearrange my busy schedule for you. Thanks, Drew, for dropping by."
"You're welcome, until tomorrow, then."
Dinner was always a pleasant time for John, RW, and Drew, as they had so many experiences to share that time went by quickly. It's not often that they could spend time together because their schedules and obligations always interfered with their friendship. Drew gave them the rundown on his conversations with David and Charles.
"Now, my friends, I understand you've both had a chance to talk to Mac. I would like your feedback."
"I like him," John said. "He is a serious young man, extremely intelligent, with a sophisticated sense of humor. Naturally, he lacks experience in the corporate environment, yet, I feel that will not be a problem for him, not with that quick mind of his. My observation is that Mac is an achiever and will excel in any task you give him."
"And what do you have to say, RW?"
"I have to agree with John, except, I'd go one step further on his mental abilities. He is beyond intelligent. He borders on genius, believe me. Behind that soft spoken, laid-back way of his, lurks the mind of a genius. He has a mind like a steel trap and never forgets a thing he is told. He is an extraordinary young man. I was surprised to learn of his unique gifts, even for a pale face," RW winked at John. "I don't think he is fully aware of the awesome power he possesses. You've found yourself a good man. One more thing, you have nothing to fear from him, Drew, he believes that you and he were ordained to meet, so take it from there."
"Do you think he might have a screw loose?" Drew asked.
"Not at all, I happen to believe him," RW said. "Don't get nervous if he tells of his premonitions."
"I won't," Drew said. "Thank you both for your honest opinions. All you have told me confirms my initial impressions of him, but I must confess I'm a little apprehensive about his premonitions. I'll be the first to admit that I had this eerie feeling about him from the beginning. Yet, somehow, he comes across so natural and sincere. I plan to talk to Mac tomorrow. Well, gentlemen, I've had it for today; I'll see you for lunch tomorrow."
Drew woke up at seven and called Mac. "I'm about to shower, why don't you join me in the dining room in thirty minutes for breakfast. Ask Kim to show you the way when you're ready."
After they finished breakfast, Drew took him into his den. There was a fire burning in the huge fireplace. "Would you feel more comfortable if you sat in one of the lounge chairs by the fireplace? I can call the orderly to help you, if you wish?"
"If you don't mind helping me, I think I can manage without him," Mac said.
Drew locked the wheelchair and handed Mac his walker.
Mac settled himself in the lounge chair while Drew pushed the large ottoman in front of the chair for Mac to straighten out his leg.
"Do you need a pillow, or anything?"
"This is fine, thanks."
"Have you zeroed in on any job prospects so far?" Drew asked.
"I've circulated my resume' to the most important law firms and have had interviews with the ones that responded, but I don't expect to hear back from them until after my test scores are in. It's the same old story; they want to see where you stand in the ranking before making their final decision. They have the pick of the top candidates. To tell the truth, I didn't get that warm fuzzy feeling with any of the firms I interviewed with."
"I understand you have been asking questions about me?" Drew said.
"Of course, that is what lawyers do, besides I have an inquiring mind."
"Did you learn anything?"
"Only that you own this castle and run the family candy store in New York, not much more than that."
"Have you formed any opinions so far?"
"As a matter of fact, I have. Nevertheless, it only confirmed my original impression of you. You're a warm sensitive man that genuinely cares about the welfare of his people. You've proven that to me. I can't think of anyone else who would have helped me the way you have."
"What would you say if I offer you a job and let you live here until you graduated from Yale?"
"You've got to be kidding! Why would you do that, you know nothing about me?"
"You'd be surprised what I know about you. I have a special project in mind that I feel you can handle, if you are interested?"
"Of course I'm interested. I have no qualms about working for you. Tell me what the job is all about?"
"You don't have to give me your answer right away; I would like you to think about it before you give me your answer. The job is not without some element of risk."
"Before you go any further, I think you should listen to what I have to say," Mac said. "Maybe you'll change your mind about hiring me."
"I was serious about my premonition about you. In fact, my feelings are even stronger today. Our meeting was preordained and I have no choice but to accept God's will. I was hopelessly lost in that storm and was convinced I was about to die on this mountaintop. Just before I fell, I knelt in the snow to make my peace with God. I was resigned to the fact that I was not going to make it."
"Before I fell, I had this vision. I saw your face as plain as I do right now. When I woke up in the clinic, I saw your face exactly as it was in my vision. In some odd way, we were meant to meet for whatever reason. I feel our lives will never be the same again, that they are woven together in patterns that even I don't completely understand. It was unnerving at the time, but since then, more has been revealed to me, making it easier to accept. I promise to share this with you when I know more. I'm giving you the opportunity to reconsider your offer."
"I appreciate your sharing your dream with me, Mac. I have no doubt that you believe what you saw was real. But, I must confess, I've felt the same uneasiness myself, that night. Maybe that will explain the chain of events that happened that night, including Luke's unusual behavior. There was absolutely no way he could have known you were there. Why do I have the feeling that there is more to this premonition than you are willing to telling me?"
"Please don't ask me to tell you now. I promise you, when I have it sorted out in my own mind, I will tell you."
"That fine. For the present, I want you to keep this between us. My offer to you still stands, Mac. It's comforting to know that God is on our side. It may also explain why I've felt that I had nothing to fear from you. Let me assure you that I'm not in the habit of making rash decisions, but in your case, I had made up my mind about you the morning you woke up in my villa."
"For the past four weeks, I've had my people investigate your background and the results have been favorable. I want you on my team. Let me tell you about the job first, so you have a better understanding of what you will be up against. As long as you are employed, you will take your orders from me. This particular assignment is of a confidential nature. You could classify this job as industrial espionage. The information you may uncover could put people behind bars, if you are successful. I cannot stress how important this job is to me and to the corporation. Now Mac, I want to ask you again, based on what I have just told you, are you still willing to take on this job?"
"I'm flattered that you would even consider me for this position. But, I have no experience in intelligence gathering, nor do I have any practical experience in the corporate environment whatsoever. Are you sure I'm the man for this job?"
Drew smiled, "Don't worry; I know what I'm doing. I've taken your lack of experience into account and I'm confident you will do well. It's odd that you should turn up just as I was about to start looking for a young intern to handle this job. It's nice you happened to drop in, so to speak."
"I do want the job," Mac said. "I assure you that you won't be disappointed in me. I'm a fast learner."
"I know you'll do a good job, Mac. Why don't you call Rod and let him know that you're working for me and will be living here until you're well enough to return to Yale. While you're here, I want you to spend most of your time cracking the books. I also want you to write a paper about the Stevens Company. This will be a good way to learning about my company. I suggest you contact your former employer at the restaurant and let them know you won't be returning."
"Do you think it would be okay if I ask Rod to send my books and clothes?" Mac asked. "I have nothing to wear, other than the few things Kim has given me."
"No, that won't be necessary; I'll have Kim see to your wardrobe. If there is anything you need from the apartment, let Kim know and he'll handle everything. You can straighten out your things at the apartment later. Since you are a lease holder, I suggest you continue to pay your share of the rent."
"Now, let's discuss your compensation package. You've been on my payroll since last week. You are fully covered as far as your medical insurance goes. Your salary will be $80,000 dollars a year with a full benefit package; that will include a company car. I've taken the liberty of adding your mother to your company paid medical insurance policy."
"I've also taken steps to have your mother moved to one of the better nursing homes in Manhattan. This will allow you to visit her as often as you like. The company will pay all moving expenses for both of you. In addition to your salary, you will receive a sign-on bonus of $10,000.00. We do this so our new lawyers can purchase a proper wardrobe. I believe that 'clothes make the man' and I want all my executives to look and act as successful executives. We can discuss the details over the next few days. I've had my secretary open a bank account in your name and have had your checks deposited in that account. Your two most important priorities are to get well and to study for that exam. I expect you to do your best and graduate in the top 10-percent of your class."
"I've made arrangements to hire Professor George Webster as your tutor. Charles King tracked him down for us. I will be talking to the Professor today to arrange for him to start working with you next week. I don't think you will be missing too much in class work for the next several months anyway. You can discuss all this with Professor Webster next week."
"You'll find reference books in my library where you'll also find a complete history of the company. You can request anything you need from any source you care to use. The company will provide you with a laptop computer. Please make it a habit to check your computer E-mail several times a day for messages."
"There's a lot of ground I must cover with you, Mac. You are just going to have to listen and learn. We will arrange our schedule over the next several months to make sure you are trained for your new position. I plan to spend a lot more time with you in the coming months. I'm allowing you complete access to the Retreat. When you're able to walk again, have Kim take you on the complete tour of the house and grounds."
"Any questions so far, Mac?"
"I'm in a state of shock at the moment, and I can't believe my ears. Give me a minute to let this sink in. You've caught me completely off guard, Drew. This is like a dream come true. For the first time in my life, I'm at a loss for words. No one, except for my parents, has ever been this generous. You can't possibly realize how happy you have made me. The salary package is great, much more then I expected. You'll never know the disappointment I've felt not being able to spend more time with my mother. It is a comfort to know that she will be in a nursing home close by, where I can visit her more often. It's more than I ever hoped for."
Mac took several deep breaths and smiled as he wiped the tears from his eyes. He cleared his throat, "I'm sorry for getting teary-eyed, but all this is so overwhelming, Drew. I gratefully accept everything you have offered." Mac smiled, "don't worry, you haven't hired a wimp. I'm not one to show my feelings so openly. I can only attribute it to the stress I've been under for the last few weeks."
"I've been tormented with the fear that I would not graduate from Yale. My only thoughts have been about school, and how I was going to keep my job with this broken leg. You have no idea the burden you have lifted off my shoulders, God, you're wonderful, Drew."
"Thank you," Drew said. "You appear to be handling that walker quite well now. How does the leg feel?"
"Like hell, but thanks for asking. It's not the break that is giving me the pain. It's the damaged ligaments and muscles that are causing the problems now. I only take the painkillers at night. If I take them during the day, I find it difficult to concentrate. It has taken almost a week to learn how to block out the pain to my leg, yet still concentrate on my studies, so something good has come out of all this."
"Am I to understand that you can control the sensation of pain in your leg?"
"If I allow my mind to wander too much, the pain will return. That only happens if I become over tired, or stressed out."
"Do you feel strong enough to spend the next two days with me?"
"You bet; try and keep me away. I can get around very well with the wheelchair and the walker."
"I would like you to work with RW this morning. He will brief you on our security system. After RW is finished with you, you can get together with John Chang on our computer system and learn the codes you'll need to access our secured programs. You must learn the system before you can access our sensitive programs. After you finished with them, we can spend more time together."
"On Monday, I will be leaving for an extended business trip and will be away for several weeks, perhaps even longer. I'll leave you my private number in case you need to reach me. What did doctor Gordon say about your condition?"
"He wants me to take it easy for the next few weeks. I'm to stay off the leg if it starts to swell and try to keep it elevated as much as possible. The physical therapist works with me every day to get me back in shape."
"You do exactly as your doctor's say and don't try to push yourself. Let me have Kim show you the way to RW's office. I have a few calls to make. I'll see you in the dining room for lunch."
Kim arrived a few minutes later to wheel Mac to the elevator, and Drew began his calls.
"Good morning, Professor, Drew Stevens here. Charles King spoke very highly of you. I'm pleased you have agreed to take on Mac MacDonald as a private pupil. I would like to know if he can graduate at the top of his class."
"Well, I must say, it a goal worth shooting for. Mac is an above average student and if he works hard for the next six months. I'm sure he can do it, Mr. Stevens."
"That's what I wanted to hear, Professor. I know you have tutored other students for the finals, but now I want you to work exclusively with Mac. I will pay you 250-dollars a day plus expenses. If you find it necessary to work with him seven days a week, go right ahead, that will be fine with me. As an incentive, I plan to make this assignment interesting for you. If Mac graduates third in his class, you will received a bonus of $5000 dollars. If he comes in second, its $10,000 dollars and for first place $15,000 dollars. It is my wish to see him graduate first in his class. I'm authorizing you to hire as many additional people as necessary to accomplish that task. I ask that you not discuss this bonus arrangement with Mac, or anyone else; this will be our little secret."
"Mac and I have our job cut out for us. Your bonus offer is very generous and I going to give all the help I can to see that Mac is prepared for his exams. Now, with the extra help you just offered me, I think it is maybe possible for him to do much better. Let's see where we are a month from now. I don't want him to burn out either. If he paces himself right, he can do it."
"You can work with my estate manager, Kim, regarding your flights to and from New Haven. Talk to John Chang, my VP of Finance, for any matter concerning your invoices or other financial arrangements."
"Thank you for everything, Mr. Stevens, I'll make sure we are squared away at Yale."
"I will keep in touch to verify everything is running smoothly, Professor," and Drew ended his call.
Mac and Drew spent the next two days discussing every imaginable topic under the sun: the economy, religion, politics, law, business and the future. By the time, Drew had left on Monday, they had learned quite a lot about each other. He found that he was completely relaxed after their weekend together.
They were having breakfast together early Monday morning. "I've enjoyed spending this weekend with you, Mac. It's the first time in many moons that I've had such a relaxing weekend. I'm amazed at your awareness and the depth of knowledge you have of business and world affairs. I don't know how you manage to keep up on so many issues with your busy schedule."
"Before I forget, I've instructed Kim to work with you on your wardrobe. He will take care of everything. If you wish to keep peace in the family, you will follow his orders. Kim knows exactly how I want to see you dressed from now on. If you have any questions, or a problem about anything, I expect you come to me and discuss it. Do you think you can handle that?"
"Yes, sir," Mac said.