Family & Friends Series


By Ron Robbins,
edited by Frank Perry

2007 All rights reserved

Part 17


The next morning Mac was up early and had Lloyd trim his hair. He dressed casually, but elegantly, for his presentation. Drew was up and dressed by the time Mac walked into the dining room for breakfast.

Drew said, "My, how handsome we look today. Do you have an important date, sweetheart?"

"Yes, baby, and I'm a little nervous," Mac said. "Can you believe that? This is the most important presentation that I will ever make, and I want it to be a success."

Drew smiled, "You have been laboring over this project for months. I can understand your anxiety," Drew said. "You know I will give your plan a fair hearing. Anyway, I appreciate the effort you're taking to make this presentation for me. Try to relax."

The chopper was right on time and they took off on schedule. Drew greeted every one in the group and sat down with the other invited guests. Mac opened the proceedings by explaining the overall plan. He introduced his team and turned the presentation over to Chip Buchner.

Chip explained in detail how each part of the plan would work, and the benefits to the corporation in both cost savings and tax incentives. He went on to explain the reason why their Health Services Plan was able to offer a client top quality health care at cheaper rates than any competing plan currently on the market.

Jen explained how the children's day care facilities were to be set up. She explained how they were to train their staff. They would be using the government tax incentives for the on-the-job training programs. The government would not only pay them for training their employees, but would pay their salaries while they were being trained.

Scott made his presentation on how the Adult Day Care, clinics and nursing home facilities would function. Finally, Rob Johnson covered the legal and tax cost savings. He covered all the areas where the corporation could deduct for these services. He went into some detail on how the employee/employer contributions would be made and money that will be made in the training program. Enough tax savings would be generated to save the corporations at least a quarter of the cost, not to mention the additional savings on medical insurance costs.

Chip took the floor, one more time, to point out that they already had the approval of the insurance industry, the federal, state and local governments for their program, and could expect their full cooperation for this program. Chip said, "Finally, ladies and gentlemen, we would like you to see our video presentation that will give you a more graphic understanding of how the program will work. After the screening, we will open the floor to discussion and will be happy to answer any questions you may have."

The screening was followed by a nice round of applause. Drew rose and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I am very impressed with your presentation. You have convinced me that this is a excellent plan, and I invite you make the same presentation to my Executive Committee, and to my division Presidents in New York. Mac, you can draw up the contract to institute the program with the GW Stevens Company. I think you can start the program immediately with the Plastics Group. You can arrange to make a presentation to the executives and the employees on the same day. I assume you have a separate presentation for each of them?"

"Yes, sir," Mac said. "Chip will organize that as soon as he returns to New York."

"I will call the president of the plastic group and tell him that you will be contacting him to set up a presentation date," Drew said. "I think it would be a good idea to have all the employees complete an audience response survey."

Scott joined Drew for lunch, while Mac joined his Health group for lunch to plan their next move.

"I understand from Mike that you bought 16 villas last week," Scott said.

"I wanted to get in on the ground floor," Drew said. "Mac is only building a limited number of villas and I know they will sell like hot cakes. He's only selling to a select group of customers."

"You must know someone," Scott said. "I told Mike I wanted to buy one of the larger units for Noel as a wedding present. Noel is not to know anything about it until it's built and furnished. I only have one small problem at this time. I cannot touch my estate until after my divorce is finalized. Would you ask Mac to defer the up-front cash payment until after our villa is built? After the divorce papers are signed, I can give him a check for the unit. I won't have time to talk to him in private before I leave.

"I miss Noel so much," Scott said. "I'm flying in to Charleston for the weekend to meet his family and to check on his surgery."

"Don't worry about the money, the villa is yours," Drew said. "Mac will handle that for you. How do you like working for Mac?"

"He is a super person and has the most relaxed style of working. He immediately makes you feel at ease and then systematically begins the training process. He works with his laptop computer and a large TV monitor for his teaching tool. From there he took me through the basics of the Health group and where my group fit. He outlined my responsibilities and the structure and function of my group in detail. By the time he was finished with his training session, I knew everything I had to know and felt confident in doing the job."

"In all the sessions I've had with him, I never once felt overwhelmed or nervous about getting involved in a new career. He has the ability to simplify the most complex tasks, making them clear. He was right on target about his staff, they are the most intelligent, energetic, helpful group I have ever worked with, and they are sincere in their desire to succeed. It's a very stimulating place to work. Even your good old buddy, Noel, is Mac's champion now.

"They have become good friends," Scott said. "Noel is a changed person. He's excited with his new division and acts like a great burden has been lifted from his shoulders. Mac was right, that job had become a burden to him. He is putting that talented mind of his to good use once again."

"That is good news," Drew said. "How is your divorce coming along?"

"Linda and her Mother are back in town. She will be checking into the hospital next Monday," Scott said. "Her obstetrician is going to induce labor."

"Now all I need is to have Noel back home again," Scott said. "You and Mac have been a big help, we can't thank you enough. You are wonderful people. I hope we can all get away together on that trip next month."

"Noel told me that Leanne's doctors give her less than four months to live," Drew said. "How are he and the boys taking this so far?"

"Noel and Jason felt this was coming almost from the beginning," Scott said. "Eric is another story; he has not accepted it yet, and probably won't until Leanne dies. Noel and the boys have been seeing a shrink since the beginning, so at least it's out in the open. Noel is leaving with the boys the day after Leanne's funeral. We'll keep you posted on everything."

"Please give Noel and Leanne my best wishes. Mac and I will be stopping in Charleston on our way back to New York."

"He could use a friend right now," Scott said. "I know he will appreciate a visit from you and Mac. Ah, here comes my leader now."

"Sorry, I got side tracked before I had the chance to congratulate you on that great presentation you made," Mac said. "I know you only had a week to prepare, but it shouldn't surprise me really, after all, you are a Scotsman."

"I hope you two are not hatching some sinister plot to spring on me," Mac said. "You both look like the cat that swallowed the canary."

Scott laughed, "You have a very suspicious mind for a Scotsman," Scott said. "As a matter of fact I was telling Drew what a great guy you are, in spite of your suspicious mind."

"Thank you for your kind words, Dr. MacGregor," Mac said. "I understand you are spending the weekend in Charleston with his majesty? Please tell him we miss him and will stop by on our way back to New York."

"Will do," Scott said.

"Your group has decided to return to New York today to work on their presentation for the GW Stevens Plastic group," Mac said. "They will be leaving as soon as they pack their bags. I've arranged for our pilot to drop you at Charleston on the way. What do you say, Dr. MacGregor?"

"Thanks, Mac, that's wonderful," Scott said. "See you in New York."

Mac sat with Drew. "Well, Mister Wonderful, you've made a lot of people happy today, including yours truly," Mac said. "How does it feel?"

"It feels good," Drew said. "You did it, Mac, and I'm very proud of you, and absolutely delighted that you are my lover. Without a doubt, this project is the most creative and complex new concept I've seen in a long time. How in the world did you pull it together so quickly? What surprised me more than anything else was getting the government approval so fast. I could see your stamp on this project. God, you do have a remarkable brain. It was a very professional presentation from start to finish. Who's idea was it to fly back right away?"

"Theirs, I wanted them to take a few days to recharge their batteries before they jumped into the next phase. However, they said they couldn't relax as they were too close to their goal. They are anxious to get things rolling," Mac said. "They all know how important this project is, and now that we have our first client, they're not going to rest until the centers are up and running. I used Doug's dad to get the ball rolling in Washington," Mac said. "It was amazing how many doors your name opened, my love. Would you like to take a little stroll around this hotel?"

"You lead," Drew said. "I'll follow you anywhere."

Mac called Mike over, "Would you mind giving us a quick tour of the hotel?"

"My pleasure," Mike said. He explained some of the history of the hotel and pointed out some of the unusual antiques that had been around for years and some of the famous people that had been guests of the hotel over the years. He finished the tour on the top floor and out onto the small observation tower.

"Thanks, Mike," Mac said. "I know you have your hands full seeing that our visitors get off alright. Before you leave, I want you to know Drew was very pleased with the presentation. I could not have done it without you and the rest of the team, your tireless effort made this project a great success."

"Thank you both for giving me the chance to use my talent," Mike said as he was leaving, "Doug is standing by to drive you to the airport when you're ready to leave."

After Mike left them, Mac asked, "I would like to buy this hotel and use some of the rooms to house prospective buyers looking at Paradise Island real estate. We can offer them suites at a reduced rate. We can offer special rates to our contractors or the many sub-contractors who will be working on Paradise. The realtor told me that the hotel is usually booked six months in advance year around. I think that some of the large suites can be divided into single rooms. I feel that we can add twenty-four standard rooms. It shouldn't take too much to bring the place up to our standards."

"How much are they asking?" Drew said.

"One million-three," Mac said. "The property includes those other large villas down the road and the hill this property sits on goes right down to the water."

"Why is it going for so little?" Drew asked.

"It's going to need major renovation to put it in first class condition," Mac said. "My engineers figure a million should do it. The owners don't want to spend the money; they want to retire."

"Even if we have to spend another two million, it's still a good buy," Drew said. "Buy it, now is there anything else on your mind, sweetheart? I would like to get you alone to give you a big hug and a kiss for the great job you've done."

Mac pulled Drew into his arms and kissed him tenderly on the lips. "You see how easy that was?" Mac said. "All you had to do was ask. Now if you've stopped playing games here, we can get back to our beach and into some heavy petting and things."

"I think we should find Doug and go home," Drew said.

On the ride to the airport, Mac said, "Doug, I want you to call the realtor and offer one-million-two for the hotel. Also, see if you can hire the present manager to run the hotel. Call David Chang and ask him to send a team to do an audit of the hotel. If everything checks out, he is to take over the account. Ask David to contact our lawyers and let them handle the contract with the owners. And, Doug, Mr. Stevens and I want you to know that we are very pleased with the great job you're doing," Mac said. "Keep this up and you will be moving up quickly."

Doug smiled and thanked them both.

Riley was waiting at the airport when they arrived. "Riley, are you checked out on the small corporate jet?" Mac asked.

"Yes, sir, I also found a pilot for you to interview," Riley said. "He's really good."

"Great," Mac said. "Doug, I want you and Mike to interview him ASAP and let me know your comments."

"Riley, I want you to fly Mr. Stevens and me back to New York in two weeks with a stopover in Charleston for a few days," Mac said. "If you see any weather problems building ,we'll move our schedule up or back, depending on the weather conditions. While you're in New York I want you and the co-pilot to be rated to fly our Boeing Business Jet. You can both fly the Gulfstream back to Paradise Island."

"Yes, sir," Riley said. He landed on the helicopter pad and took off after he discharged Mac and Drew.

As soon as they landed, they changed for the beach.

They stripped and made love. As they were lying next to each other, Drew said, "You were reading my thoughts again about our flight to Charleston, weren't you, dear?"

"Yes, dear, you were projecting some strong signals just as we were leaving the airport," Mac said. "I knew that you wanted to spend a few days with Noel and his family. I know you feel bad about Leanne, and I think Noel could use some moral support about now."

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The weeks passed quickly for them. They spent five intense hours of every morning working. Mac completed the rough draft of the proposal for Karl and received back his suggestions. He tied up all the loose ends and emailed the entire proposal for the final contract. Mac spoke to Karl and Philip every week. It was in one of their earlier conversations that Mac broached the subject of buying out Philip's business. Since Philip did not bring up the subject again, Mac thought the issue was dead. So Mac was surprised when he received a call from Philip saying he wanted to talk to him about a buyout. They talked for several hours.

Mac hung up and found Drew on the patio. "Well, it's all settled. Philip is selling me his company," Mac said. "This is a real sweetheart of a deal. Philip is selling me the company, if I will agree to four major concessions. One, that I keep all his employees; two, that I pay him a salary of ten thousand a month while he's alive, and perpetual care for his grave when he dies. The company continues to guard Karl, and finally, that I set aside a million dollars for a scholarship fund in his name for students who want to study criminal law. He said that he was very pleased that I am forming a division with Karl. They think of us as their closest friends. Philip asked me to draw up a contract so we can finalize it when he and Karl visit us next month."

"I don't believe this," Drew said. "Philip's business is worth millions; he is being very generous. I like the thought of no cash up front. It's a shame that so many good people are being cut down in the prime of their lives."

Mac said, "My thoughts are to promote Mike and send him over to Paris after the contract is signed next month, and Doug Chatham will take Mike's place.

"I'm sorry, I'm encroaching on our vacation," Mac said. "I'll try to hold it down to a minimum."

"Don't be silly," Drew said. "Business is business; we're both in this together."

Mac said, "Are you ready for our evening stroll around the beach? I want to get an early start in the morning, so it's early to bed for us tonight." They took a leisurely stroll along the beach, returned to the villa and made love.

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦

Mac was typing on the computer when Drew popped his head into the study. Drew said, "Good morning, sweetheart. Are you ready for breakfast?"

Mac stood up and stretched, then walked over and took Drew into his arms to give him his morning kiss. "I hated to leave you so early this morning, but I had to answer the load of emails that have piled up. Now I can enjoy the rest of the day."

Drew chuckled, "Good! Now let me go, you hunk, or we will have serious problems."

"And you told me you had junior under control," Mac let out a dirty laugh and said, "Looks to me that junior wants out. So much for your firm resolve." Mac kissed him again and released him. They both walked out on the patio to eat breakfast.

"Let's go sailing today," Mac said. "Lloyd can pack a lunch and we can take off. What do you say, Drew?"

"Sounds like a winner to me," Drew said. "I'll check the weather reports before we leave."

Mac found Lloyd in the kitchen and had him pack a lunch with a couple of bottles of wine. Mac grabbed the cooler and packed it with fruit juice and ice then headed for the dressing room. After changing into shorts, polo shirt and deck shoes, he headed out to load the Land Rover.

Drew arrived as Mac closed the tailgate. "It's supposed to be a nice day for sailing; the report calls for scattered afternoon showers," Drew said. "That is the usual type weather report for this area. I'll check again later. Anyway, I'm not too concerned with this yacht; it's fully equipped with the latest electronic gear."

They parked next to the boat shed and unloaded their gear into the small speedboat, then headed to the mooring float. After transferring the gear to the yacht and securing the speedboat, Drew let Mac sail the yacht out of the sheltered cove. Mac was turning out to be a good sailor; all he needed was more time behind the wheel.

A half hour later, they were completely alone in the ocean. "You can set her on auto pilot now, and strip," Drew said. He rubbed sunscreen lotion on Mac and then himself. Mac sat behind the wheel again and took over manual control. He pulled Drew close to him, wrapped his arm around Drew's waist and kissed him on the cheek.

"Mike told me that Doug is overwhelmed by you and your influence," Mac said. "Doug's Dad put you right up there on a higher pedestal then the President. Naturally, Doug is careful not to make any mistake around you. After I learned about Doug's ancestry, I understood why Doug and Mike would never be lovers. Doug has been so brainwashed by his family prejudices that he would never feel comfortable living with Mike. Doug would never be questioned if he lived with a male roommate, as long as he came from their social background. Naturally, the thought of Doug being a homosexual would never enter their minds. You're family has always been liberal thinkers and have open minds about gay people. They happen to be exceptional in that way; very few families are like that. Doug's family is ultra conservative. Mike would never be accepted socially in that family, because he is half-Chinese.

"It's so nice sitting next to you, holding you like this," Mac said.

Drew sat on Mac's lap and kissed him on either side of the neck and mouth forcing his tongue deep into Mac's mouth. Mac responded with sounds of pleasure. "Honey, I want to feel you deep inside me when I come, you have me on the edge right now. Can we anchor and make love?"

"Let me check the charts and check the depth in this area," Drew said. "We should be able to drop anchor in twenty minutes. Would you like a glass of white wine?"

"Sounds great," Mac said.

A half hour later they were in the king size bed in the main cabin locked together making love. After a while, their breathing returned to normal and they lay side by side cooling down after the intense sex just experienced.

"You have awakened the basic animal instincts that have lain dormant in me," Drew said. "With you, my love, I've absolutely no inhibitions. It makes no difference to me what role I assume in our lovemaking, it's always beautiful and satisfying. You're wonderful and an extremely exciting man. You are my best friend and the most passionate person I have ever known. Never change, or stop loving me."

"How could I ever stop loving you?" Mac said. "I'm only responding in kind to the deep affection you have showered on me. You know your body turns me on, Drew; the scent of your body and the sweet taste of your mouth drives me into a frenzy of desire. We were made for each other and I will always enjoy making love to you. The wine has made me sleepy, let's take a little nap."

They slept for over two hours and could have slept longer had they not been awakened by the rain pelting the deck above. The wind was driving the rain against the portholes. Drew jumped up and ran up on deck to check their position and the anchor, then secured all the hatches as Mac secured everything below.

"You can't predict the weather in the tropics. I checked the radar, and the weather bands indicate scattered showers. We should be all right in an hour. Then we can set sail for home. Let's have our lunch."

They had a leisurely lunch and re-packed the lunch basket. It was still raining hard on deck so they headed for the lounge. Mac sat down, pulling Drew close to him and discussed their future. They decided to continue to enjoy their days of freedom like this and still take the children with them wherever they went. Drew told Mac of his plans to relocate to the Retreat and build an office complex to house both headquarters' offices. They both agreed to add another small building for the children that would be a school and a day care center. Naturally, their governess and teachers would travel with them when they traveled. The children would have their own teachers, year round, but would attend the public schools when they were at the Retreat.

"I think we should proceed with your plan to locate surrogate mothers for our children as soon as possible," Drew said. "Since Lenore Hart has agrees to marry you, I think the wedding plans should go forward as soon as possible. We can have a big wedding in her hometown in New Jersey. We can fly here for the honeymoon, Ramon can join us, and we can all stay here.

"I'll speak to Lenore when we return. I need to draw up the premarital agreement as soon as we return to New York," Mac said. "It's going to be a hellish few months for us when we get back there. The only saving grace is that we will be facing this together. We've accomplished a lot during this vacation though," Mac said. "We have formed two more corporations, added another property to our growing list of investments, and have made a good start on our island. I'll have Noel put together the tax incentives to satisfy our corporate clients."

"As much as I would like to lay here in your arms, I think we should set sail for home before the next squall hits," Drew said.

"You're the skipper," Mac said. "I think I'll put on a pair of shorts before we go up on deck." Mac sailed the yacht back to Paradise Island and tied her to the mooring dock. The wind had picked up once again and the sky turned a dark gray. The water was choppy and the boats were bobbing up and down. Drew secured the boat with extra line and rechecked all the hatches before loading the speedboat with their gear. They got back to their boat house, secured the speedboat to the hoist and lifted the boat out of the water. They locked the boat shed and made for the Land Rover. As they pulled away from the boat shed, it started to pour. The rain was so heavy that Mac had to slow down to a crawl so that the windshield wipers could keep up with the heavy rain. Finally, they made it to the villa without further incident.

Mac said, "It's good you decided to leave when we did. Looks like were in for a nasty storm. I'm glad we're home safe and sound."

Mac spent the next day finalizing Karl's contract. He also finished the employment package for Riley Brown and the new pilot. Mike called to let him know that they think they found a candidate for Doug's opening. "Doug screened him by telephone and is having him fly in tonight for a second interview," Mike said. "His name is Peter Schneider and he wants out of the CIA. If he looks good, will you have time to interview him tomorrow?"

"I'll make the time," Mac said. "Have Doug email Peter's paperwork, if you want me to interview him tomorrow."

Mac and Drew were sipping their cocktails on the deck, when Mac's cell phone rang. The call was from Mike advising that he was emailing Pete Schneider's paperwork.

"Give me the run down on Peter Schneider," Mac said.

"We trained together at Langley and we worked together on several assignments in Germany and South America," Mike said. "He's a good agent, not your gung-ho type. He takes it slow and easy, methodic and solid. He is resigning from the agency because his wife is fed up with him being away so much of the time," Mike said. "She wants him to stick around home and help raise the children. I've met his wife on several occasions. She is a little spoiled, but in a nice way. She comes from an upper middle class family and is Daddy's little girl."

"Pete is a lawyer and a linguist, it's all in his resume," Mike said. "I hate to say this, Mac, but he is a stronger candidate for my job than Doug."

"Thanks for the information on Pete," Mac said.

They were having breakfast the next morning when Doug called and talked to Mac for a half hour about Pete Schneider. Mac agreed to meet Pete at the office complex in an hour.

He was reviewing Pete Schneider's dossier in his office when the front doorbell rang.

Mac unlocked the front door and let Pete in.

"I'm Pete Schneider. I have an appointment with Mr. MacDonald," Pete said. "Would you let him know I'm here?"

Mac smiled as he extended his hand to Pete. "I'm Duncan MacDonald, come with me," Mac said.

Pete followed Mac into his office. The office was an exact replica of his office in Manhattan.

"This is a great office and tastefully furnished, Mr. MacDonald," Pete said. "Sorry I mistook you for someone else, the way Mike and Doug spoke about you, I was expecting an older man."

Mac smiled, "I'm glad you like my office. It was a struggle to get it this way." Mac led Pete over to the lounge area. "Both Mike and Doug have given you high marks and after reviewing your resume I'm inclined to agree with them," Mac said. "Before we proceed with this interview, you should know that you will be required to take my tests, as well as a physical and mental examination. Do you have any objections?"

"I'll take any tests you require, Mr. MacDonald," Pete said. "I don't have a problem with that."

"Fine, I only have a few questions for you, Mr. Schneider," Mac said. "I'm sure Doug has given you a description of the job."

Pete nodded in agreement.

"My main concern is how you feel working for Doug Chatham," Mac said. "It's obvious that you have a lot more experience than Doug, and that concerns me. You could allow his years of inexperience to interfere with your performance. To put it bluntly, Pete, can you take orders from a guy who is several years younger then you? I'm promoting Doug because he is qualified for the position, and has proven to me that he is capable of doing the job. I refuse to discriminate against a man because of his age. I have made my decision based strictly on his abilities and his proven record of accomplishment. My impression is that you may think you're overqualified to become Doug's assistant, and that could cause problems in the future. If that is the case, I cannot hire you for this job. Now why don't you convince me otherwise?"

"I understand your concerns, Mr. MacDonald. If I were in your position I would feel the same way," Pete replied. "You have a company to run and you don't need dissension in the ranks. No job is without its unique problems, Mr. MacDonald, and I do not have a hang up about taking orders from a younger person. My main concern is getting the job done, and if Doug is my supervisor, I'll take my orders from him. I realize this is a promotion for Doug and I will give him my full support. Doug has explained the position and what he expects from me. This is the position I'm looking for and I like what I hear about the company."

Mac was reading Pete's mind and was satisfied that he was being candid with him. "Mike had told me the reason why you're leaving the agency," Mac said. "I can't guarantee that you will be home every night, or that you won't be away for weeks at a time. Your assignments will dictate that. If Doug is on a special assignment, you will be expected to take over for him. You must understand that up front, Pete. If your wife is not happy with your present situation, how will she go along with the possibility of your being away again with this position?"

"We discussed this probability in some detail last night," Pete told him. "We both know that the future with this company shows great promise, and in time will require less travel. My wife said she has no objections and would go along with the travel."

"Do you know why Mike left the service?"

"Yes, I'd known for sometime that Mike was gay," Pete said. "I warned him before this happened, that he should get out before they found out. I personally never felt threatened by homosexuals; besides, Mike is a super person and a good friend. I'm happy he has found a good job with your company."

Mac went on to explain the company's policies, and what he felt were the company's five-year objectives. "Before we conclude this interview," Mac said. "Do you have any questions you would like to ask me?"

"How old are you?"

Mac smiled, "Twenty-eight. Do you have a problem with that, Mr. Schneider?"

"Please call me Pete, Mr. MacDonald," Pete said. "I've a small problem, I'm a little jealous of you and what you've done in two years time. The way Mike and Doug spoke about you, I expected to be talking to a seasoned gray haired executive. It was obvious they admired you. It takes a big man to command that kind of respect from two hard nosed men like them."

"First rule: when we are alone you'll call me Mac. Secondly, get this age thing out of your mind once and for all," Mac said. "You're only as old as you think you are. Anyway, you don't look your age either. Have Doug help you select a new wardrobe and get your hair styled. You dress like an old man. Like it or not, Pete, I'm going to give it to you straight. You are not further along in your career because you never pushed yourself, nor used your God given talents to the fullest. You are an intelligent man and you are going to start using your brains working for me. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get on with your life, starting today. From now on, you're to think only in the terms of how you can do the job better.

"Stop chiding yourself for the time you wasted at the agency. It really was not wasted time, because you were grooming yourself for a career with my company. You are to enroll in college and get a degree in International Marketing. Furthermore, you are to read every newspaper and trade publication on the European and South American markets. Finally, you will be supportive of Doug. Forget the institutional thinking of the agency. Be positive as you approach your new career; you've been short changing yourself too long. This conversation will remain between us. I plan to make you one of the top executives in my international group, but you are going to have to work your butt off to prove yourself, and believe me, you'll love every minute of it. What is your present salary?"

"Forty-eight thousand plus benefits"

"Do you still feel you want to work for me?" Mac inquired.

"Now, more than ever," Pete told him.

"You are on the payroll as of today," Mac said. "I'll put the package together for you by tomorrow morning. I am starting you at fifty-five thousand dollars, plus a five thousand sign-on bonus. Our dress policy is very strict; I was dead serious when I commented on your wardrobe. You and Doug get started on that ASAP. If you have any trouble with the agency, let me know and we'll put the pressure on them to release you. When can you start?"

"I've already resigned from the agency, and they have accepted my resignation. There are some minor details they want me to clean up before they will sign off on my vacation pay, but that's it."

"Call your boss and tell them you are taking some sick leave," Mac said. "You'll need the time to take all your tests and to take care of the things we've discussed. You are to start working with Doug today. We are flying back to New York next week, with a stop over in Charleston for a day. This will give you more time to get to know the job. Never forget that I'm your boss. Doug is your supervisor. If I give you an assignment, you will follow my orders without question. Drew Stevens is the only one that can countermand my orders; he is the Chairman of the company. However, it will never come to that. If Doug is not available, and you have an emergency situation, the chain is me, Drew, or Mike.

Come with me, I want to show you one of the projects you will be supervising."

Mac took him into the next room and showed him his plans for the island. Then they drove around the airport and the future high-rise condominium area, and finished back at the office. "Well, Pete, what do you think of our little island?"

"It's going to be beautiful. It should be Paradise when it's finished," Pete said. "It should be a hideaway for the rich. You have thought of everything. No press, and media over-flights can't get in here."

"This is not a place for the famous, just the rich," Mac said. "Our owners will be screened very carefully. We never advertise, we sell by word of mouth. If anyone asks, these villas are all sold. Doug will show you the ropes; he has been in on it from the beginning. I'll be meeting with him this afternoon and we will decide which projects you will be taking over. Doug is assuming all of Mike's duties as head of my security. I think that about covers it for now, Pete. Do you have any questions for me?"

"No, sir, except to say thank you for hiring me," Pete said. "Moreover, I want you to know that I will help Doug like I would my kid brother."

Mac ordered the chopper to take Pete back to the main island. They walked over to the pad and watched the bird land. They shook hands and Mac returned to his office to call Doug with the news. "Great. I thought you might reject him because he wouldn't fit into our life style," Doug said.

"You know that never entered my mind. My only concern was his compatibility with you," Mac said. "I was concerned he would resent taking orders from a younger man. However, he is on the payroll as of today and he has agreed to stay over until we return to New York. Work out the details on getting him tested and a new wardrobe ASAP. He dresses like a government pencil pusher. You decide which projects you want him to handle and we will discuss it later today. Make sure he knows the do's and don'ts list. Ask Barbara to air the employment package to you together with his computer. I will give him his access codes. See if you can get a local lab to do his blood work up and physical right away. Do you think he will pass the test?"

"I hope so, don't think bad thoughts," Doug said. "He was confident that everything will be OK, he claims he checked out fine a month ago when he took the agency medical exam."

Mac chuckled, "Alright, my man, I'll talk to you later."

Mac locked the office and took off for home. He found Drew sitting very quietly in the den.

"What happened, Are you alright?"

"I just got off the telephone with Scott," Drew replied. "He said if I wanted to see Leanne while she was still able to talk, I had better get there right away. Scott said it's down to a matter of weeks now. Scott hated to leave Noel alone, but he had to be in New York to settle things with Linda. He said Noel needs a friend now, he is taking this very hard."

"Excuse me a minute," Mac said. He picked up the phone and placed a call to Mike. "We have an emergency in Charleston and will be leaving as soon as we're packed. You're going to have to handle everything here, Mike. Doug and Pete can accompany us. See if you can get us out of here in an hour. Please have Riley pick us up when everything is ready."

"Sweetheart, you don't have to go, I know you have a lot of loose ends to clean up," Drew said.

"Look, baby, I know you would feel uncomfortable not being there," Mac said. "Noel is a good friend and he needs us now. My place is by your side. Do you think I'd let you go alone? I'm happy with you anywhere, my love. You're too upset to talk to Noel. You make sure Lloyd packs the right clothes while I call Noel." He took Drew in his arms and held him.

"I love you so much, Mac."

Mac made the call to Noel and asked him to recommend a good hotel for him and his team. Noel insisted that they stay with him as he had plenty of room and he would work everything out. He said he would meet them at the airport. "I'll have the pilot notify you when we're an hour from Charleston," Mac said. "See you in a few hours."

An hour and a half later, they were in the company jet on their way to Charleston. Mac and Drew were in their own private compartment.

"In all the rush I'd forgotten to tell you I hired Pete Schneider," Mac said. "I want to give you the background on him before I call him in to meet you. Mac briefed him on the conversation he had with Pete and of his reservations about him. Nevertheless he felt he would work out. "If you'd rather just relax and not meet him until some other time, we can wait."

"No, this is an ideal time, it will keep my mind occupied," Drew said. "If you want to talk to Doug in private, I'll go forward and talk to Pete in the main cabin."

"I do have a few loose ends to go over with Doug while you are talking to Pete."

Mac and Drew walked forward. Mac made the introductions, and then took Doug back to the private compartment to discuss the island. "Have the architects and the lawyers handle the paperwork on the villas that Drew and I are buying," Mac said. "I'll authorize the bank to issue the certified check for the purchase price. If you and Pete want to return to the island after you put your security people in place, take the jet and go. I will know how long we'll be staying after we talk to Noel. Have Pete get his tests in Charleston and forward the results to New York. I have already left a voice mail for Barbara; she will redirect the computer and forms to Noel. Have you had time to work out a schedule for Pete?"

"Here's the schedule I've worked out thus far."

"This is fine, Doug," Mac said. "Has he mentioned our meeting to you?"

Doug chuckled, "Oh, yes! You really shook him up. He told me you don't pull any punches," Doug said. "He thought you were the only one who has ever told him the truth, and that you were sincere in your offer to help. You've made another convert to the cause."

"I sure hope so, I intend to keep after him, Doug, because he has a lot on the ball and he needs to be jump-started every once in a while," Mac said. "I want him to send me a monthly report on his progress, he knows what I want. It's important that Pete sign the employee agreement today and email a copy to Barbara. I'll hold on to the original for now. I'll have his package ready tomorrow. You're doing a good job, Doug, and I am raising your salary starting today. Who gets the credit for recruiting Pete?"

"Mike and I both came up with Pete's name through different sources. Why do you ask?"

"Then you both will split the finder's fee," Mac said. "Do you want the check to go into your stock plan or as a bonus check?"

"In the stock plan, please. Thanks, boss, for the raise."

"My pleasure, Doug," Mac said. "Keep up the good work; let's walk up front and chat with Riley for a few minutes."

"Sorry for the short notice, Riley, but it couldn't be helped," Mac said. "Doug may be flying back to the Island tomorrow; he'll let you know later today. Please call Noel Erickson an hour out from Charleston. He has made all the reservations and will be meeting us at the airport. I believe he is listed in your company roster."

Mac returned to his private compartment and began typing the employment contract on his computer. Drew returned a little later. He walked up behind Mac, put his arms around him and kissed him on the cheek.

"That's for nothing," Drew said. "I'll leave you alone for now."

"Thanks, baby, I'll only be a little while," Mac said. "I'm finishing up Pete's employment contract."

Mac completed the contract and emailed the salary figures to the payroll department as well as the bonus information for the checks for Mike and Doug. He increased Doug salary to 60 thousand.

He disconnected his computer and sat on the lounge next to Drew. "Are you feeling better, sweetheart?"

"Yes, you really are a wonderful mate, and I appreciate your giving up your vacation for me," Drew said.

Mac smiled, "I was getting antsy, anyway," Mac said. "The only thing I'll miss is having sex with you anytime the mood struck us. I must confess you are one hot piece of ass. How about a quickie before we land?"

Drew laughed, "You are really becoming a horny sex machine. All my training is paying off, thank goodness."

"And you thought I was sexually challenged?" Mac said. "Why wouldn't I be horny? The monster didn't have his usual workout today. Mac reached over and rubbed Drew's crotch, "Look at you! Junior looks like he's ready for some action."

"You do turn me on baby," Drew said. "You leave junior alone; we don't have time to play now. You can have anything you want after dinner tonight."

"I'm going to hold you to that promise," Mac said.

"I like Pete Schneider," Drew said, "He's older than your current crop. His language skills will be useful in the future."

"Pete will work out just fine as soon as I've reprogrammed him to think for himself," Mac said. "I'm anxious to meet his wife; she definitely wears the pants in that family. I want to see if she is supportive of his career. He must be able to travel and to relocate, in the beginning anyway. It may sound hard nosed, but I need people that are willing to make the sacrifice. We had to pay our dues, and Pete or anyone else who wants to move up the ladder has to do the same."

"I think you're being fair, and it's nothing less than you should expect from your employees," Drew agreed. "They must be willing to work hard if they expect to be promoted up the corporate ladder. Anyway that's what they agreed to when they joined the firm. Try not to get caught up in their personal lives, unless it interferes with their job performance, or they ask for your help.

"Look, my love, you never wavered in the workload you carried when I was away," Drew said. "I told you from the day we married that you didn't have to work at all. We are both wealthy, so don't waste your time justifying yourself to anyone. Now, I know what you are going to say about our money, and about a free ride, because you Scotsmen are very touchy about earning your own way. If it makes you happy building the corporation of the century, fine. I'm willing to do anything you want, within certain limits, and you already know what they are. Anyway, I'm having fun watching you. But, my love, the fact remains that you are still my other half and you are a wealthy man."

Charleston, SC Airport

Noel waved to them as they walked through the general aviation terminal. Drew hugged him and introduced Doug and Pete.

"I've hired one of those mini-buses for the occasion," Noel said. "I thought that the stretch limo would be too conspicuous."

"Mr. Erickson, if you'd like we can accompany you and the boss to your place and come back to pick up our pilot and crew later."

"That won't be necessary, Doug," Noel said. "We'll wait for you, and all ride back to my estate together. I have plenty of space on the estate and you will all have your privacy. I have hired extra help to take care of your needs. You take your time and take care of your men."

"Mr. Erickson, do you have your own security team on the premises?" Doug asked.

"Please call me Noel, and yes, my security people are in place. I plan to have you and your people stay in our guest cottages on our estate. I have already told airport security to put the plane in a hangar and put a security team on it."

"You are very efficient," Doug smiled. "I admire you high powered executives."

"Don't worry about us, Doug, we will sit in the van and talk while you do your thing. Come on out to the van and meet two of my security team. They can guard us while you do your thing. We're parked in front of the terminal." Noel led the way.

"Ask your driver to stretch his legs while we chat," Mac said, then when Noel returned, "Now, tell us how we can help. We'll spend the rest of the week with you, and longer if you need us."

"It's been a nightmare," Noel said. "We had no idea that the cancer would spread so fast. Leanne has lost so much weight; she is nothing but skin and bones. Don't be shocked when you see her, Drew. Her doctors don't give her much more time."

"Scott had a chance to talk to Leanne when he was here," Noel said. "She and the boys warmed up to Scott immediately, you know what a charmer he is. Leanne was relieved when she learned that he would be living with me. He even took the boys hiking in the woods one day and got to know the boys better. Now they are on good terms with their Uncle Scott. He's got them all excited about moving to New York and with all the things they plan to do together, like going on overnight camping trips and spending weekends sailing, teaching them how to use a rifle, and let's not forget the hunting and fishing. Scott is so taken with the idea of having two boys to raise that he is beside himself. He wants to teach the boys everything his Dad taught him. He has given the boys something to look forward to and it has helped them."

"I would like to take them horseback riding tomorrow, if that's alright with you, Noel," Mac said. "It will give me a chance to talk to them and get them away from the house."

"Thanks, Mac, that would be a big help," Noel said. "Where's your shadow, Mike?"

"Mike had some loose ends to take care of on the island," Mac said. "Doug is my shadow from now on. He has replaced Mike, and Pete Schneider is taking over Doug's responsibilities. You may be working with Pete in the future; he is a specialist in International law and a linguist to boot."

Doug and his men arrived and piled into the van. They took off to Noel's estate.

Noel dropped the men off at the guest quarters and told Doug that his head of security would be in touch.

Noel showed Mac and Drew to their suite and said he would be in the den after they freshened up.

When they joined Noel a little later, he and the boys were watching one of the new science fiction shows on the large TV screen. Noel turned off the set and introduced the boys to Uncle Drew and Uncle Mac.

Mac said, "How would you boys like to show me around your estate before dinner?"

"Sure, let's go," Jason said, as he led Mac and Eric out the back entrance.

Jason led them toward the stables, "This brick path winds around the grounds and to the other buildings on the estate," Jason said. "If you were to continue, the path would end up at Grandfather's manor. The path is really a single lane road that Gramps had built years ago. He didn't like the idea of driving two miles of county roads to visit. This way he is five minutes away. The brick changes to black top at the end of our property line. My Mother thought the brick looked nicer on our property."

They reached the stables and Mac counted six good riding horses. "Who rides these fine animals?" Mac asked.

"We used to ride every afternoon until Mom got sick," Eric said. "We've only ridden a couple of times since then."

"Your Dad said I could explore the country side tomorrow," Mac said. "Would you two like to be my guides? We could take along a picnic lunch and make a day of it. What do you say?"

"That would be great, Uncle Mac," Jason said.

"My Dad told us you had a hard life when you were a kid," Jason said. "He said you grew up on a large horse farm in Kentucky and lost everything by the time you went to college. Is that true, Uncle Mac?"

"Yes, the sad truth is my family did lose everything," Mac said. "What hurt the family the most was losing that farm. It killed my Dad, and my Mom suffered a stroke at my Dad's funeral. She has been an invalid ever since. Fortunately, I had a wonderful caring family who were there for me when I needed them the most. It's a terrible feeling to be all alone when tragedy strikes. Tragedy strikes us all, and it's something we are never prepared for. You're learning that now, at your young age. Nothing is permanent in this life and we must learn to accept the sorrows life has in store for us. Your courage in dealing with this burden will hasten the healing. I chose to fight back and carve out a good life for myself, yet I still miss my Dad and I always will."

"My Dad said you were one of the few people he has ever meet that was completely in tune with God and nature," Jason said. "Dad said he trusted you and we could always turn to you if we needed help."

"I'm happy to know that your Dad feels that way," Mac said. "I hope you will take his advice. I've shared my experience with you because I know the sadness you're feeling now. I'll always be there for you if you ever need my help, always remember that. Sometimes talking about your grief helps to ease the pain a little."

"Thank you, Uncle Mac," Jason said. "We should be getting back now."

After dinner, Noel took Mac up to visit Leanne. "She is very weak but she asked that you stop by after dinner," Noel said.

"If you don't object, I want to have a private visit with Leanne," Mac said.

Noel took him into the large bedroom suite and introduced Leanne's private nurse. He asked her to leave the room while Mac was with Leanne.

Mac sat down next to Leanne. He took her thin frail hand in his and probed her brain until she opened her eyes. Mac was using his telepathic powers to communicate with her. "Good evening, Leanne, I'm Mac, Drew's partner. We haven't met before, but I have heard a lot of wonderful things about you from Noel. You don't have to speak because we can communicate without talking. I had a nice long chat with your sons this afternoon and they send their love." Mac went on to tell her of their plans for tomorrow.

"This is so unusual to communicate this way, yet it feels perfectly natural to me," Leanne said. "I find it an effort to speak lately and the effort wears me out. Noel has told me about you and the effect you have on people, including him. I have never seen Noel this enthused about any project in years. It was very kind of you to take the time to spend with me and my family. I'm so tired, Mac. The cancer has won and I am too weak to fight any longer. I feel that my time in this life is down to a matter of days now. I have made my peace with God and have said my goodbyes to my loved ones. I'm not afraid anymore and I am ready to die."

"You are a strong woman and a wonderful wife and Mother," Mac said. "I wish I had known you before this and had something profound to say that would ease the suffering you are going through. I believe God has a good reason for taking you now and it will all become clear when you are in his kingdom. I believe in him and I have no fear of dying. I don't know if that is any comfort to you, but those are my feelings. I promise you that I will remain close to Noel and the boys and make sure they are behaving themselves. Your medication is starting to take hold again, so I will say goodbye, until we meet again on the other side."

Leanne smiled, "Thank you, and goodbye, Mac, you have helped," Leanne said. "Please watch over my family." Leanne drifted back to sleep. He released her hand and left. He found Noel in his study.

"I will take a portable telephone with me tomorrow, just in case," Mac said. "I suggest the boys visit their Mother tonight and that you make arrangements to have the maid pack the boys' winter wardrobe. Have your security people deliver it to our plane while they are with me tomorrow. Call Scott and tell him you will be returning to Scarborough Manor after the funeral early next week."

"What did Leanne say?" Noel asked.

Mac told him of their conversation, "Leanne is leaving us tomorrow," he said. "You should notify the funeral director to be on standby. Drew and I will stay with you until after the funeral service and we can all fly back to New York together. You must get away from here; you have been living with this too long."

"Thanks, Mac, I'll round up the boys and make our evening visit with Leanne," Noel said. "I appreciate everything you and Drew are doing for us. You'll never know what a relief it is to have you both here. How can I ever thank you?"

"That's what friends are for," Mac said. "I'm going to turn in early; will you ask the boys to meet me in the kitchen around seven tomorrow morning?"

Mac returned to his bedroom and called Doug on the house telephone. He told Doug of his plans to spend the day with the boys. "There are three extra horses in the barn and I plan to leave around seven. Ask Pete to meet me in the sitting room in a few minutes." Mac took the contracts he had printed earlier. "I should only be a half hour at the most, Drew," Mac said.

When Mac returned Drew was already in bed reading. Mac emailed the signed copy to the personnel department and filed the rest in his briefcase. Now Pete was officially his employee. He locked the bedroom door and went into the dressing room to take his shower. He was naked when he got into bed and lay next to Drew.

Drew turned off the lights and put his arms around Mac. "You've had a busy day, sweetheart," Drew said. "Are you tired?"

"Never that tired, baby."

After they made love, Mac gave him a complete rundown of his day's events and his conversations with Leanne and Noel. "Make sure they call me tomorrow when it happens," Mac said. "I don't want the boys to see her being moved."

Leanne's funeral service was held the following Tuesday and she was laid to rest in the family mausoleum in Charleston. After the reception at Noel's estate, they all boarded the corporate jet for their flight to New York.

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To be continued
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