Dan had finished the guest list for the Gourmet group as the telephone rang. Ludlow answered it and said, "Master Dan, there is a Dr. Ward on line one for you."
"Thank you, Ludlow." Dan picked up the telephone, "This is Dan Dunnlap."
"Hello, Mr. Dunnlap, I'm sorry I was tied up when you telephoned earlier, I am Dr. Ward of Dunnlap Grade school, how may I help you?."
"Thank you for returning my call, Dr. Ward. This is in regard to my nephew, Lloyd Shelby. Lloyd has told me that three boys have been harassing him for some time now and he is afraid of them. His Nanny was able to learn the name of the three boys responsible for his harassment. I don't want Lloyd to be afraid to attend classes because of some bullies."
"I was unaware of any problems in your nephew's class. What are the names of the boys he claims are harassing him? Dan said, "John McNulty is the ring leader with his two buddies, Jim Regan and Paul Hoffman."
Dr. Ward said, "Give me a couple of days to look into this and I will be back to you, Mr. Dunnlap."
"Thank you, Dr. Ward. Lloyd and I will be happy to meet with you to let you hear his side of the story."
"That will be fine, Mr. Dunnlap, but let me make some inquiries first, before I ask you and Lloyd to come in for a visit."
"Of course, Dr. Ward; I'll await your call."
Dan dialed Joe's cell phone and said, "Joe, will you ask Lloyd to see me when he is finished with his swimming lessons? I will be in my office."
Later, Lloyd walked into Dan's office. "You wanted to see me, Uncle Dan?"
"Hi, Tiger, come on in and sit down. I wanted to chat about this harassment that been going on in your class. Before we talk about the guys that are bothering you, I wanted to ask you if these guys are bothering any other students in your class?"
"I know of two other boys that they pick on."
Dan asked, "Are John McNulty, Jim Regan, and Paul Hoffman the boys who have been harassing you?
"Yes, Uncle Dan, those are the guys. How did you find out their names?"
Dan smiled, "It's a small world, son, and I have people that look into this thing for me. Remember, I told you if you experience any problems in school, or anywhere else, you come to me and tell me. I promised your father that I would take care of you and Chip and that is what this is all about. I will get to the bottom of this and I promise you that you won't be bothered by these boys again."
"Thank you, Uncle Dan, I was scared. I tried to talk to Dad about this several times. Now he is in a hospital bed and has an IV stuck in his arm. Nelson told me that he fell and for now he will need to sleep in this special hospital bed so he doesn't fall out if he suddenly wakes up and is disoriented. The doctor is trying out some different medication and hopes that this will improve his condition. Nelson said Dad may have to go to the hospital for special treatment if his condition doesn't improve."
"Your Dad did tell us that this may happen," Dan said, "so we should be prepared for these relapses."
"Dad is here, yet he's not. I wanted to talk to him about John McNulty but he was either asleep, or told me we could discuss it when he felt better. That's why I kept going to his suite to talk to him. Dad is not the same anymore; he would always take the time to talk to me about my problems. I thought the harassing would stop, but it has gotten worse. I didn't want to bother you or Uncle Sandy about it. I finally told Joe and he told me to ignore them, that they would eventually stop but if they got physical I should come to him."
"Joe was right in a way, but people like John get their kicks out of hurting people that can't fight back. There are several things that you and your friends can do to fight back. The first is to let your parents or guardians know what is happening in your life. The second is to form your own group that will stick together and take care of the bullies. The third thing is to learn how to defend yourself against people that may want to hurt you physically. I know you boys have a full schedule already in sports, but I think we will start giving you lessons in karate so you can learn how to defend yourself."
"I would like to learn Karate," Lloyd said smiling, "it looks cool."
Dan chuckled, "It is cool, and I learned it in high school and continued taking it in college. Fortunately, I was never in a situation where I had to use it, but at least I am prepared if I have to defend myself. Well, son, I know you have to tackle your homework, yet I wanted you to know that we will resolve this problem at school."
Lloyd got up and hugged Dan. "Thanks, Uncle Dan, I feel much better knowing that I don't have to be afraid to go to school."
Dan was reviewing his list when Sandy walked into his office and closed the door. He went over and kissed Dan and said, "I saw Lloyd leaving your office, is everything okay?"
Dan smiled, "It's been an eventful afternoon full of twists and turns. Let me give you a highlight of the events of the day." Dan gave him the latest report on Craig, Joe, Lloyd, and finally his conversation with Pete.
Sandy said, "There is a lot more drama here than in my office. I think the next time, I'll send you to the office, and I'll come home. I don't like the sound of the latest news about Craig. That Lloyd is pretty sharp. If Craig doesn't improve I think we should hospitalize him. That may be the best approach. I'm glad that Lloyd has turned to you with his problem. Joe did the right thing; however, I think we should tell all the boys that we want to know immediately if something like this happens to any of our boys again. Joe does a good job supervising the boys, but he is not their guardian. Pete called me before I left the office to thank me for allowing you to spend some time learning his business. You were right; he did not say anything to me because he wanted to find out if you were even interested. He said there was no sense talking to me if you weren't willing to take on the job. As long as you were amenable, he would approach me."
Dan said, "Pete and I had a good working relationship from the get go and I love him like a brother. He has treated me the same from the beginning. If I can help him, I will do so gladly. I'm still working for him on some projects at his office complex so it's business as usual for me."
Sandy said, "I know Pete feels the same about you. I think it is a good that you can step in and pinch-hit for Pete. We never know what life has in store for us. He could have an accident, like we did, that could keep him out of circulation for a while."
Friday evening Dan and Sandy were in the library going over the day's events. Dan said, "Everything is confirmed for the maiden cruise for the family this Thursday. Joe is flying up to Atlanta to pick-up his son later this afternoon. I've invited Joe and Steve to join us for lunch tomorrow. I stopped by Craig's suite to check on him. Nelson said he is not responding to the new medication. The doctor was by this afternoon and wants Craig to check into the hospital Monday morning. He needs to have another brain scan and a few more tests. The doctor is not happy with Craig's condition. Nelson said he has lost over 35 pounds and they are feeding him Ensure and cranberry juice by a Levine tube that Nelson inserted a few days ago."
Sandy shook his head and said, "This does not look good, Sweetheart."
"Depending on the results of Craig's tests," Dan said, "we have no way of knowing how long his confinement will be. If Steve decides he likes Dunnlap, do you think we should ask him if he would like to join us on the maiden cruise on Thursday?"
"I think that would be a good idea. I'm sure he will get along with our boys. Well, babe, I think I'll drop by the nursery and visit our angels."
Dan said, "I'll join you."
After Sandy and Dan were headed to their suite, Dan said, "Joe is flying to Atlanta tomorrow to pick up his son. Don't forget that the boys and I will be having soccer practice tomorrow afternoon after school. We should be home later than usual because I will be coaching the teams tomorrow."
Sandy said, "That's fine with me, I just may stay a little longer at the office. Why don't you give me a call at the office when you're home. I know you and the boys will want to take a shower. I'd appreciate your letting Ludlow know that we will be dining later then usual."
Dan said, "Will do, I know we will be hungry after all that exercise. Speaking of dinner, I think we should head down to the dining room." They walked down the hall to the boy's bonus room."
Sandy said, "Good evening, boys, why don't you wash up and head down to the dining room for dinner."
Sandy and Dan were seated at the dining table sipping their wine as the boys joined them.
After they said grace, Ludlow began serving their soup course. Sandy said, "Joe and his son, Steve, will be joining us for lunch and will spend the day with us. Steve will be moving here to Dunnlap to live with his dad. This will be a new experience for Steve and we want you to make him feel at home. Joe is hopeful that Steve will like Dunnlap and accept the change. Steve's mother is remarrying and moving to Houston, Texas, and Steve is not happy because he will be moving to Dunnlap and leaving his friends and the only home he has known all his life. It should be very trying for the boy."
Jeremy said, "How old is Steve, dad?"
"He is ten years old and from what Joe told me he is a good kid. I'm sure that Uncle Dan and Joe will work out a plan to keep you guys busy. I know we can count on you guys to make Steve feel welcome."
Jeremy said, "We'll do our best, won't we guys?"
Chip and Lloyd agreed. Lloyd said, "Uncle Dan, I'm sorry but I forgot to give you a note that Dr. Ward, our principle asked me to deliver to you."
Dan said, "That's okay. son, you can give me the note after dinner."
Sandy and Dan were in their suite when Lloyd walked in holding the envelope from the principle. Lloyd said, "Here is the letter Dr. Ward asked me to deliver to you, Uncle Dan. I'm sorry I forgot."
"That alright, Lloyd, I'm sure you would have remembered if we didn't have soccer practice today." Dan opened the envelope and read the note. "Dr. Ward would like us to meet her ten o'clock on Monday to address the harassment issue we talked about. Looks like I'll be going to school again Lloyd."
Lloyd smiled, "I would like that, Uncle Dan."
"As much as I would like to, Son, I think I'm a little too big to fit into one of the desks in your classroom. Why don't you run along and play with Chip and Jeremy. I'll be in a little later to read the next chapter of the story."
"Thanks, Uncle Dan," Lloyd gave Dan a hug. Good night, Uncle Sandy."
Sandy asked, "Don't I get a hug?"
Lloyd smiled and walked over to Sandy and gave him a hug. Sandy kissed him on the forehead and left.
Sandy said, "He is a good boy and I'm glad you are going to resolve this bullying issue."
"He is a great kid, and I love him dearly."
Steve and the boys took off to the bonus room after lunch. Dan said, "Did Steve enjoy his horseback riding this morning, Joe?"
Joe said, "He really had a great time. So far, he is impressed with Dunnlap, and our apartment. He thinks your family is cool and can't believe the size of this home. It's bigger than life for most people, let alone for a young boy to grasp. He couldn't keep quiet on the trip home to shower and change for lunch. He was still going on about the boy's bonus room on our return trip. It's been a long time since I've seen him this excited."
"Good," said Dan," I'm glad he is going to fit in. I'll bet he will be very happy living in Dunnlap. He is welcome to hang out with our boys. I'm sure he will fit in with Pete's kids as well."
Joe said, "I really appreciate and thank you both for welcoming Steve into your home. I was worried that Steve would be more difficult in adjusting to Dunnlap. He is used to living it a large city like Atlanta. Dunnlap is not as large and more rural. I personally prefer Dunnlap. It's a beautiful town and everything is so well designed and pleasing to the eye.
"Steve and I will be taking an early flight to Atlanta tomorrow to meet with an Allied Van Lines representative. I'm hoping they will be able to move the furniture to the new condo before my lease on my present apartment expires. In the meantime, Steve can go through and pack up the stuff he wants to take with him. Depending on when the Allied representative can schedule the moving date, I will be able to register Steve in Dunnlap grade school. Now that he has agreed to make the move, I will be able to get the paperwork started to transfer him. He should be able to make the change without too much trouble. He is a smart kid and on the honor role now."
Dan said, "If you need to take some days off just let me know. I sure we can manage the boys."
Joe said, "I really appreciate that, Dan. If it looks like I need to take a day off, I will let you know in advance. Before I forget, you and Lloyd will be meeting with Dr. Ward Monday morning to discuss this harassment issue."
Sandy dialed Mike Lee's cell phone. "Good morning, Mike," Sandy said. "Is everything all set for the cruise next week?"
"Yes, sir, I'm all squared away with the various security chiefs and we've coordinated our game plan. Your Security chief, Chet, did not feel it necessary to add any additional security personnel to the mix since the other guests have their own bodyguards with them. In fact, we asked each team to cut back on their bodyguards for actual cruise. We don't need that many bodyguards for the number of passengers we are carrying. The excess team members will be used to guard their jets and vehicles while they're in Savannah."
"I agree" Sandy said. "I wanted your thoughts about the possibility of piracy? I've read that the incidence of piracy has been increasing throughout the world. I'm concerned that once we put out to sea, we really have very little protection. Since your organization is global, I thought you would be the best person to look into this. I didn't want to discuss this with Chet or Captain Nelson before speaking to you."
"I would be concerned in your place, Sandy. I can't imagine what ransom a pirate could demand if they stopped the Danny Boy. I'll look into this right away. I know a lot of this goes on in South America, and they try to suppress that type of news from the public. The only time news like that gets out is when it's a high profile incident. It is usually when a cruise ship is involved and there are too many witnesses around to keep the news media from getting hold of the story. It would sure hurt the cruise business. I know that when Mac and Drew go on a sailing trip, they are accompanied by an armed security team in a high powered boat for protection. Of course I was new to the job and was not involved with Drew's security at that time. I'm sure RW hired the special security team. I will check with him to find out who he used."
"I'd appreciate that, Mike. I don't know if we can hire a team on such short order for our guest cruise next week. Maybe, you can pull together a special team to take this assignment on. We do have a helicopter on board and a high powered speed launch at our disposal in case we need them. Why don't you have one of your Navy Seal guys look into this and work something out? Maybe you can form a new group in your security organization to handle something like this for your clients. I know that I would use your services when we are at sea. I know that Dirk Harcourt is planning to hire the ship at least twice a year, maybe even more, to visit his refineries in South America. Of course, I don't plan to offer security services as part of the lease package. That will be separate package if they want it. I'm certain that Dirk will definitly go for the package if he plans to have his family along for part of the cruise. You know how he feels about his family's security after what happened to Bret."
Mike said, "I'll run this by Mac to see if he has any input. It may be another service to offer our clients."
"Well, that's a load off my mind. I'd hate to think of any unpleasant incident happening to the Danny Boy with all those high rollers on board. I'm not worried about our cruise with the family next week, we are cruising just off shore and the Coast Guard is close by. In any event, I would like you to shake down the crew and all the security people on handling security at sea. You may wish to have the security guards checked out on the latest assault weapons. You may want to work this out with Captain Nelson. I don't know what weapons he already has on board and if any of the crew are trained in case of emergency, or what drill he has already in place for the passengers' safety in case something like this happens."
Mike said, "Put you mind at rest, Sandy, I'll handle everything and report back to you in a couple of days."
"Thanks, Mike, I feel better already knowing that you are on the job."
Mike chuckled, "We aim to please."
Sandy and Dan were finishing their coffee in the dining room when Joe and the boys walked into the room and sat down. Dan said, "Good morning, everyone. Why don't you help yourself to the breakfast buffet?"
The boys walked over to the sideboard. Each took a plate and began helping themselves to the eggs and bacon and toast. Joe helped Lloyd with his plate because he was too short to reach some of the serving dishes. One by one they returned to the table and folded their hands on their labs. After everyone was seated, Sandy said grace.
Dan said, "Lloyd and I have an appointment with Dr. Ward this morning to talk about the boys that are bullying Lloyd. We spoke about this before, but now that I am going to be talking to Dr. Ward, do you boys have anything to add regarding these incidents?"
Chip said, "I've been keeping an eye on Lloyd whenever I can, Uncle Dan, but other than assemblies and the release bell, I don't see Lloyd during school. He has a different recess and lunch time." The other two boys nodded their heads in agreement. Chip said, "Uncle Pete's children are not in the same group either."
Sandy said, "Remember, boys, we are all family and we must take care of each other. If you see anyone harassing one of your brothers or cousins, check it out and signal your other brothers to do the same. You all must stick together and if possible alert your bodyguards as soon as possible. Your security guards are always close by. I cannot impress on you enough to use the alert device immediately if you see a threat. Notify your security team and they will find you in a matter of minutes. Again, don't let anyone know you are wearing the device or its purpose. Remember it is for your own safety. Your safety is very important to us and that is why we are taking these precautions."
Jeremy asked, "Daddy Sandy, are we still leaving on the cruise ship on Thursday?"
"Yes, son, my jet will be picking up you boys and Uncle Pete's family after school on Thursday and flying to Savannah to board the Danny Boy. My family will also be on the Jet. Uncle Murdoch and Ryan and their children are flying their own aircraft to Savannah. After everyone is on board, we will begin our cruise."
Dan said, "Well, gang, if everyone is finished eating let's head out to helicopter. I don't want to be late for school."
After they landed at the helicopter pad, the SUV and the security team were waiting to drive them to school. Joe and the security team met with Pete's children and drove them to school. Dan said, "Joe, you go on while Lloyd and I walk around a bit until it's time for our meeting with Dr. Ward."
They walked into the academy together. Dan took Lloyd's hand and walked down the hall to Dr. Ward's office. They walked over to the secretary's desk. "Good morning, I'm Dan Dunnlap. We have an appointment with Dr. Ward."
"Yes, Mr. Dunnlap, Dr. Ward is expecting you. Her door is the one to the right. Why don't you go right in?
"Thank you." Dan and Lloyd knocked and opened the door and stepped into the office.
"Good morning, Dr. Ward, I'm Dan Dunnlap and this is my nephew, Lloyd, the lad we spoke about last week."
"It's a pleasure to meet you in person Mr. Dunnlap. Good morning to Lloyd. Why don't you both sit down and we can begin. I'll get right to the point, Mr. Dunnlap. I've looked into the harassment issue and would like to ask Lloyd to tell me when this business began."
Lloyd went on to explain how this all began several weeks ago. He explained that it all started with a few negative remarks about his accent by John McNulty. "Then his two friends joined in, Jimmy Regan and Paul Hoffman. The tormenting escalated from that point on. After a while they would bump into me in the hall, and would trip me up. They never hit me but threatened to do so."
Dr. Ward said, "Why didn't you mention this to your teacher, Lloyd?"
"I didn't want people to think I was a cry baby. Anyway I didn't think that anyone would believe me. Those boys were careful that no one was around when the harassed me. I mentioned this to my nanny, Joe, and he told me to tough it out and to ignore them. They would eventually get tired and finally give up. Joe told me if they hurt me I was to let him know and he would take care of them. But, they were getting me down and I didn't want to go to school anymore."
Dan said, "Lloyd came to me about this. I checked into his story and learned that Lloyd was not the only boy that these bullies have been harassing. These boys are not well liked by their classmates. My feeling is that if their behavior is not checked they will continue down the wrong path."
Dr Ward said, "I happen to agree, Mr. Dunnlap. After you called I did some investigating into this harassment issue and learned that the three boys in question have in fact been picking on the smaller boys in their class. I've learned that their families moved to Dunnlap after their fathers were transferred from a rural town in Alabama. The school system there is not as progressive as Dunnlap Academy. They reason they are in Lloyd's second grade class is because their grades were not high enough to be placed in the third grade. They are older and bigger than some of the second grade students. Because of Lloyd's prior schooling and private teaching his tests showed that he should be in second grade along with some other boys that were advanced like Lloyd. We cannot allow these bullies to pick on the younger boys. This kind of behavior is unacceptable; we cannot let these young boys feel afraid to come to school each day. I have two options in the case; I can expel the three boys, or ask the parents to speak to the boys about their behavior and send them for counseling. They can always send them to Canfield Public school."
Dan said, "I want to be fair with the boys, Dr. Ward. If you can resolve this issue with the parents and the boys, I'm all for it. However, we cannot allow my nephews to be harassed."
"I agree," Dr. Ward said, "and I will meet with the boys and their family this week. I have already spoken to the other boys, and their parents, that have been bullied. So I have enough information in hand to expel the boys if the parents give us any trouble. I will contact you as soon as possible after that meeting."
"Thank you, Dr. Ward. If you have nothing else, I must be running along. Lloyd, I would like you not to mention anything that we discussed at this meeting. Chet Williams has assigned some undercover security guards to keep an eye on you and to make sure you are safe from now on. If you are approached don't hesitate to use your panic button." Dan walked over to Lloyd and hugged him. "Don't worry any more, you'll be fine, son."
Dr. Ward said, "Here is a hall pass and a note to give to your teacher when you return to your class room, Lloyd."
Lloyd said, "Thank you, Dr. Ward." Dan also thanked Dr. Ward and took Lloyd's hand and walked out of the office.
"Thank you, Uncle Dan. I was afraid that Dr. Ward would not believe me. After all, those boys have been here longer than me."
Dan smiled and said, "Look, son, you had nothing to worry about. I thought you were very brave by not letting those bullies get away with harassing you and the other boys in your class. Never be afraid of telling me or Uncle Sandy if you are being picked on in school or anywhere else. We are concerned about your welfare and we'll take care of you and your brother. You run along to your class and I will see you this afternoon at soccer practice. Dan left and met John and Brian outside the front entrance to drive to the Dunnlap Plantation.