Family & Friends Series

Sandy & Dan

By Ron Robbins,
edited by Frank Perry

2010 All rights reserved

Part Twenty-nine

 

One Year Later

 

Mike Lee and Charles Lattimore were successful in tracking down the persons responsible for the attack on Dan and for the murder of his security guard. The president of WorldCom, Shane O'Sullivan, and Brian Neely, Sandy's ex-Vice-President, were found guilty and are now serving their time in prison.

Sandy had slapped WorldCom with a several-hundred million-dollar lawsuit. He was awarded an additional million dollars to compensate the wife of the murdered security guard. However, WorldCom liability insurance only covered ten-million dollars of the one-hundred twenty million dollars awarded. Eventually, WorldCom settled with Dunnlap Corporation by signing over the company to Sandy. Sandy in turn, folded WorldCom into the joint venture with Murdock & Ryan.

Mike Lee and Charles Lattimore assured Sandy, Dan, Pete, Murdoch and Ryan that the contracts against their lives were dropped and that no further threats were in the offing from the WorldCom bunch. Mike said that the lawsuits left the principals in the case penniless and they could not raise the money required to pay for another attempt against them. They would continue to stay vigilant for any future attacks against the principals and their families.

Dan's injuries had healed and the therapy he received helped to restore his broken arm and ribs to normal and he was able to coach his teams. The cruises on the Danny Boy were a big hit with the boys, so much so that they made two more trips. Sandy and Dan rescheduled the weeklong business/pleasure cruise that was canceled due to the death of Craig Shelby.

The trips were a success and the group decided that they would like to meet every quarter. Dirk Harcourt, of Harcourt Oil, was so impressed with the accommodations aboard the Danny Boy that he leased the ship for two months to call on his oil refineries in South America. He was delighted that he could take his children and their tutors along with him. He vowed after Bret's death that he would never leave his other half and children behind again. He felt the ship was well armed and the security on board was as safe as at as his estate.

Jen and Jim Watson were delighted with the Shelby London home and agreed to keep on the present staff. The boys' trust fund was now in a positive cash flow now that the London home was rented. Not that there was any reason to be concerned since their investment income was more than enough to offset any household expenses for the London property.

 

Dunnlap Manor

Sandy and Dan were relaxing enjoying an after dinner drink in their sitting room. Dan said, "Pete and Penny are very excited about their around the world trip. I think Pete has changed their itinerary at least a dozen times. He discovers new locations to visit then adds them to their stops. I get a kick out of your brother. Every change he makes takes him hours to rearrange his itinerary. By the time he is finished, he finds out that the airfield he wants to land at is on the other side of the mountain and in some cases will take a day by donkey to reach the little town he wanted to see. Then it is back to the drawing board once again. You know I think he enjoys the rescheduling process more than the location itself. After all the laborious job of working selecting the towns he would like to visit, he learns that the airfield cannot accommodate his Gulfstream G550. Penny is not about to land at some primitive airfield in the boonies, even with all the amenities aboard the jet. I happen to know his co-pilot, and he is not about to allow Pete to put the jet down at an airfield that is not a first class airport that will support the G550."

"My brother wants to make this the best possible anniversary experience," Sandy said. "He is trying so hard to make it a memorable trip for himself and Penny. He is forgetting that this should be a leisurely vacation and he needs to take the time to visit a location and not dash on from one location to another. I realize they have not had a second honeymoon like this since the twins were babies. So I know how he feels."

"Pete is such a great guy and he wants to make Penny happy," Dan said, "but he should just keep it simple."

Sandy chuckled, "I hope he has the itinerary finished before his departure date four weeks from today."

"I'm sure Penny will see that he does."

"Has Pete notified his VP of finance and his bank that you are authorized to act in his absence?" asked Dan.

"Pete did that several months ago. Most of the capital equipment will be delivered for the processing plants before he leaves. However, he said if we don't receive the shipment before he leaves, he wants you make the payment with a Dunnlap Industries check."

"He didn't mention that to me, but that is not a problem as far as I'm concerned. After all, we are family and I own 25-percent of Dunnlap Plantations. Tell him I'm charging him interest on the loan and I holding his kids as collateral until he pays me back."

Dan chuckled, "It's only money and you brothers have enough to keep our state running for a few years."

"We are men of modest means and try to keep a roof over our heads."

Dan burst out laughing. "Modest means my foot."

"For a change my mother and sister are planning the anniversary party for Pete & Penny. We are not going to go public with this party, it will be just the family and close business associates. If you could put together a list of the people that you think, Pete & Penny would like to have attend, send it to my mom. I thought I would like to invite the MacDonald Stevens bunch along with Murdoch and Ryan."

"I'll put the list together and give it to your mother. I think Pete and Penny would like the MacDonald Stevens group to attend. We have been through a lot with them and definitely Murdoch and Ryan."

"Well, sweetheart, I'm ready for bed, how about you?"

"I'm always ready," Dan said, smiling.

♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Dan and Sandy were spending their afternoon visiting with the toddlers in the nursery. Dan said, "They are growing up so fast. The next faze will be potty training. Where does the time go? I dropped by the other day while they were eating lunch and I was amazed at how they were able to use their utensils. They were very neat and did not mess up their trays at all. The nanny said they learned very quickly."

Sandy responded, "I feel it's time to have them eat lunch with us when we are all home. I know it is only on the weekends for now. Nevertheless, when the boys are home for vacation, I think they should eat with them. I will try to be home for lunch more often. Yet, I would like our toddlers to eat lunch with me."

"I think that is a great idea," said Dan. "I don't want them to be isolated in the nursery for all their meals. I realize that dinner is out for the present. They are too tired at their age to wait to have dinner at our usual time. I'll have Ludlow order three new highchairs for the dining room."

Sandy said, "We better run this by Margaret before we make a change, although I can't see how it would negatively affect the children. I want our young ones to get used to being a part of our family."

During dinner with the boys that evening, Sandy said, "Daddy Dan & I have decided to have the toddlers join us for lunch every day. We want them to become used to having their meals with the family. How do you boy's feel about that?"

"I think that is a super idea," Lloyd said. "With our activities, we don't have time to play with them every day, so I think they should eat with us."

Jeremy said, "I've been with them when they had their lunch and they are quite civilized when it comes to eating. Of course, the nanny has to cut up their food into bite-sized bits, but they don't mess their tray up or throw food around like I've seen some other children do at their age. I think it would be a great idea."

"Well, Chip," Dan asked, "you haven't said anything. What do you think?"

"I was just wondering where they would be sitting. I'm all for the idea, but how is this going to work?" he replied.

Sandy chuckled, "Always the thoughtful one, Chip. Leave it to you to think this thing through. To tell you the truth we haven't gotten that far as yet. We wanted to run this by you guys first to get your thoughts on the idea."

Dan said, "We are going to give the seating arrangement some thought now that you guys are all for the idea. We'll get together with Margaret and their nanny and come up with a plan."

Jeremy asked, "Dads can we invite some of our friends over for a sleepover some weekend?"

Dan looked a Sandy for his input. Sandy said, "Dad Dan and I will need to talk this over, but why don't you guys draw up a list of the guys you want to invite, and we'll discuss the idea and let you know. Let me say, I don't think that we want to have all of you guys having a sleepover on the same night. If we agree to a sleepover, it would have to be one age group at a time. You can draw straws to see who is going to go first. I feel it would be too disruptive for all of you to have the sleepover on the same night. It worked out fine on the Danny Boy, because we had plenty of room and the people to watch over you. But we are somewhat limited here at the manor house. We will let you know by the time you get home from school tomorrow."

Dunnlap Corporate Office

 

Flo Ward rang Sandy on the interoffice phone. "Mr. Dunnlap, I have Jim Watson on line two. Do you wish to speak to him?"

"Yes, Flo, I'll talk to him," Sandy said.

"Hello, Jim, how are things in London?"

"Business is just fine and we love our new home. However, I think you may have a problem. I received a letter addressed to the trustee of the Craig Shelby estate from a solicitor here in London. What do you want me to do with letter?"

"Please open it and read it to me," Sandy said.

Jim read, 'This letter is to advise you that we represent the family of Craig Shelby and wish to inform you that the family is seeking custody of the sons of Craig Shelby and for their rightful share of his estate.'

"It goes on for several more paragraphs with a lot of lawyer speak and ends with,"

'Please contact us at your earliest convenience so that we my resolve this matter.'"

Sandy said, "I wish I could say that this comes as a surprise, but it doesn't. I don't understand what took them so long to react. In any event, please email me a copy of the document, including the face of the envelope. I need to send copies to my mother. Her firm is handling the boys' estate and was working together with Craig's law firm in London. I would like you to Air Express that original letter to my mother's law firm and she can contact the solicitors directly. I don't know if you know this, but Craig couldn't stand his family after the way they treated his wife and his sons. I know the family caused him a lot of grief and disowned him years ago."

"Craig was a great guy," Jim said. "He told me about his family. I'm sure that his family is only out for the money. I don't think they care a tinker's damn about my sons."

"You've got that right. Well, thanks again, I appreciate you getting to me on this letter. If anything else turns up, let me know."

Moments later...

"Mother, I just hung up on a call from Jim Watson, my VP for Europe. He received a letter from Craig's family seeking custody of my sons and their share of Craig's estate. I've instructed Jim to Air the letter to you ASAP. He is also emailing me a copy of the letter. As soon as I receive it I will copy you."

"Well, Son, we expected something like this from the Shelbys a long time ago. Don't worry about that bunch of jackals. We are on firm ground in both the US and the UK. Craig hired one of the top legal eagles in the UK and they know their business. My firm has also made sure that this adoption of your sons and your trusteeship is solid. We have approval from the State Department as well as the Attorney General's office. Therefore, the Shelbys are in for a surprise. Don't worry about this at all, Son, I'll handle this and keep you posted. Don't think for a minute that I would let anyone take away my darling grandsons. I'll keep you posted on any developments."

"Thanks, Mom, Craig was so paranoid about his family taking anything away from his sons. It's comforting to know that my boys will not be cheated out of their inheritance. I'll talk to you later, Mom."

Sandy called Dan and told him about the letter from the Shelbys. "We forgot to discuss the issue about the boys have sleepovers. I promised that we would let them know today."

"I have no objections as long as they don't invite their whole class. I'll work out a schedule with Joe. There are certainly enough things we can do to occupy young boys and teenagers. We have the swimming pool, tennis courts, horseback riding and a soccer and baseball field that we can use if they are up to playing. I am not worried about our boys. Your mom knows her stuff. Those jerks are barking up the wrong tree."

"Okay, sweetheart, I'll talk to you when I get home."

♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Dan, Sandy and the boys were sitting in the dining room having lunch with Pete, Penny and their children.

Dan said, "That was a great Bon Voyage party the family gave yesterday, it was great chatting with the Gourmet group again. Sorry we could not stay longer but we wanted to see that the boys went to bed at their usual time or they would have had a tough time getting up early this morning."

"I wish we were in our beds at the usual time," Penny said. "Nevertheless, we really enjoyed visiting with our guests even though it was after ten o'clock when the last of the family left."

Pete said, "I understand their wanting to spend as much time as they could with us, since we will be away for over two months."

Penny said, "I wish we could take the kids with us, but I know they will be well cared for with Sandy and you, Dan. We will miss them very much. This will be the first time we've been separated from them in more than eleven years. The most they have been away from both of us was a long weekend with you guys."

"Look," Sandy said, "you will be seeing and talking with them over the video phones, so it won't be too bad."

"That's true," Penny said, "but it is not the same as being there."

Pete said, "Well, guys, it's time for your mother and I to leave. You all can ride down with us to our plane and wave us off."

The two large vans took everyone down to where the plane was parked. They all got out of the vans and the kids hugged their parents once again. Pete told Sandy that he would try to call every Friday at his office. If their schedule changed, it would be sooner. He told the children they would call every Saturday on the video phone to talk to them. Angie, the flight attendant, greeted them as they boarded the plane. The co-pilot and one of the security guards had already completed the preflight check. Pete took the left hand pilot's seat and started the engines. The plane slowly moved off the apron and headed to the runway. A few minutes later the plane headed toward the ocean.

Sandy, Dan and the children headed to the parking area and boarded the two helicopters that would take them back to the Dunnlap Mansion where the vans were waiting to take them up to the manor house.

Sandy said, "I'm glad that we moved all of Pete's children's clothing and toys here yesterday. Our children's staff did a great job of arranging the children's sleeping partners. The twins moved into Jeremy's bedroom. My nephew Chip is moving in with Lloyd and Chip, and Kit has her own room."

Dan said, "Let's see how this arrangement works out, if the twins prefer to have their own bedroom we can make the switch. We have plenty of room."

Everything went smoothly for the first month, all the children attended school and the Kit was in the Day Care school at the Dunnlap Academy. The twins liked sharing the room with Jeremy, and the other children were content with their sleeping arrangement.

Sandy chuckled and said, "Margaret told me that Kit visits the nursery play room every afternoon to play with our toddlers. Margaret said she acts like a little mother hen and the three toddlers love her. She amuses them for hours. She even asked if she could eat dinner with them every day. What do you think of that idea, Dan?"

"I think it's time to have our young children eat dinner with us. With Kit's help, I think we can handle the little ones."

Sandy said, "I agree. It is hard to believe that our babies are growing up so soon. Do you realize they will be three years old this year? Where does the time go?"

"I don't know, but overall it has been a wonderful three years."

"I agree, sweetheart. School closes for the summer in two weeks, how do you feel about taking a two week vacation and take the children on a cruse?"

Dan nodded his head in agreement, "I think that is a great idea. I'll ask the kids if they would like to invite a friend along. Why don't we ask Murdoch and Ryan if they would like to join us? I know their kids would.

"I'll make sure that my managers plan for my absence. Of course, they can reach me in an emergency. My assistant, and the Director of Finance, can make sure the employees and the vendors are paid on time while I am away. Since I have streamlined our management team everything runs like a well-oiled machine."

"Pete told me you were doing a fantastic job and he was very pleased with the way you reorganized and streamlined his management team. You saved the company a lot of money."

Dan said, "That is what managers do."

"Maybe I should pull you back to Dunnlap Industries and have you take a look at my organization."

"Have you forgotten that I am on your board-of-directors? It's obvious that you have done a great job of reorganizing your management staff after that fiasco with Brian Neely. You do not need me poking around. Don't meddle with things if everything is running smoothly. Anyway, I have enough on my plate running Pete's company."

♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Sandy was home early on Thursday to join with the boys horseback riding. Dan was not due home from the Plantation until five o'clock. Dan walked into their bedroom suite as Sandy was walking out of the bathroom.

Dan kissed Sandy, "Hi, babe, how was your ride?"

"It was very invigorating. The weather is beautiful this time of year."

"How was your day?"

"Hectic, as usual this time of year, they are harvesting the spring crops and the processing plants are rushing to keep up with the pickers. Thank God, everything is running smoothly."

"That is why I decided to stay out of the produce and meat business. Just too many things can go wrong. Nature can cause you all kinds of problems that you have no control over. I'll stick to the software and hardware business, thank you very much. I spoke to Murdoch this morning and he said they would be delighted to join us next week on our cruise. It is a good time to take a vacation. He checked with Ryan and confirmed it this afternoon."

Dan said, "I cleared everything with the Captain, Margaret, and our chef. The boys told me that they would rather spend the time with Murdoch and Ryan's children and invite their other friends another time."

"That will work out much better in the long run. This way we won't have to clear everything with their parents and staff and the boys will be able to spend more time with Murdoch and Ryan's children."

Dan said, "I agree, lover. I am looking forward to this vacation. I think our babies will enjoy the trip more this time."

Friday evening Dan was in the nursery playroom playing with the babies. Sandy walked in and sat in the nurse's chair. "Hi, Sandy, you look like you had a hard day?"

Sandy sighed, "It wasn't such a hard day as it was a troubling one. I have not heard from Pete or Penny today. I have this nagging feeling that something has happened to Pete. They always report in by midday. Its been bothering me all day. I became so worried that I called the FAA to see if there were any reports of a downed aircraft close to Brazil. There were no reports of any aircraft missing in that whole area. If we don't hear by tomorrow, I will look up Pete's flight plan and try to contact his last known destination. I know he could have changed the flight plan, but he or his copilot would have refiled. You know what a stickler Pete is about details. If they have not called the children by noon tomorrow, I'm definitely going to have Mike Lee check this out. He has connections all over South America."

"I hope nothing has happened to Pete or Penny. It could be he is having a problem with his satellite communications connections. If he is in the boonies, he is not going to be able do anything about it. Yet, I think it is not a bad idea to get Mike Lee's thoughts on the matter. Why don't you call him and see what he can find out. If something is wrong it is better to know what the problem is and stop worrying needlessly."

"Thanks, baby, I think your right, I will use our suite to make the call."

Jeremy walked into the nursery playroom a few minutes later. "Hi, Dad, I think I am scheduled for this time."

Dan laughed, "You know I didn't look at the schedule. But I think the little ones will enjoy being with you as well. I see you are dressed for dinner, was your plan to help escort your brothers and sister down to dinner?"

"Yes, if I am not busy with something else, I like to come up here and spend some time with the little people. I get a big kick out of them. They are so cute when they try to talk. Sometimes they become so frustrated, and make all kinds of faces. They don't understand why you don't understand their babbling. I feel sorry for them, because they try so hard to be understood. Oddly enough, they don't let if bother them. They attention just as quickly turns to something else."

Dan said, "Thank goodness for that. I took classes in parenting early on and I learned that that is the way their developing brain works. We were told that if they decide they want something, or they are trying to do something that is bad for them, you are encouraged to distract them and suggest something else. Their attention span is short lived. By distracting them with something else, they forget what they wanted to do."

"That is interesting, Dad. I will remember that. Ludlow said that dinner will be served in twenty minutes. Did you want to bring the children down now?"

"Yes, why don't we, they can play in the family room until Ludlow calls us to dinner."

After dinner, Sandy and the boys adjourned to the family room to watch TV. Sandy said, "We are all set for our cruise on the Danny Boy next week. Murdoch, Ryan and their children will be flying in on Sunday morning. I thought we would fly in Saturday afternoon and sleep on board the ship. We won't have to rush ourselves and can sleep in on Sunday before Murdoch and the gang arrives."

Jeremy said, "That's the way to go Dad. It should be fun to watch the sunset Saturday night from the ship."

Lloyd said, "The sunset is so beautiful and the sun is humongous." All the boys shook their heads in agreement.

At nine o'clock Dan said, "Jeremy you and the twins can stay up until ten. The rest of you, come on, get ready for bed."

"Okay, Dad, we will turn the TV off at ten andgo to bed."

Sandy said, "Good night boys, we will tuck you in later."

Sandy and Dan followed the children up stairs and made sure they brushed their teeth and tucked them into bed. Sandy helped Kit in bed and kissed her on the forehead. "Good night sweetheart." Sandy turned off the bedside light and turned on the night light in her bathroom. He closed the door to the hall and left.

Sandy walked down the hall towards the boys' room as Dan closed the hall door. They walked on down to their suite.

They were sitting in the lounge when Dan said, "What did Mike Lee say?"

"He was concerned that Pete hadn't checked in. He was going to broadcast the information on Pete's flight plan to his network in South America and check out his last jump off location. Mike said that it is not unusual to experience poor satellite communication in South America. Mike's firm has their own satellite in orbit. His company had a Japanese firm put it in orbit two years ago."

"Good lord, I can't even guess what that cost him. You can bet MacDonald-Stevens paid for that."

Sandy said, "That is a wise investment for Mac's companies. They are all over the globe. It makes good business sense. This way no one can intercept their data. You've got to hand it to Mac for being a simple farm boy, as he often claims."

Dan laughed, "If Mac is a simple farm boy, than I'm the King of England. I wish I had half his brains."

Sandy said, "God there would be no living with you then. I don't want a genius, I want a lover, and I like you just the way you are, handsome and smart."

"Flattery will get you everywhere, thank you lover."

Sandy said, "It's ten thirty, the three boys should be in bed by now. I am going down to tuck them in. Be back in a few minutes."

♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

After a restless night's sleep Sandy woke up at five, untangled himself gently from Dan, and slid out of bed without waking him. He showered, shaved, and dressed casually, released the security alarm and headed down to his office. At six o'clock, he went into the kitchen and poured coffee into his thermos placed it on a small silver tray along with his mug, and walked back to his office. He began reading and answering his email.

Dan walked into his office at seven, kissed Sandy and said, "Why didn't you wake me?"

"I didn't think you wanted to get up at five. You need your rest."

"Are you still thinking about Pete?"

"Dan, I know something serious has happened to Pete and his plane. I felt it all day yesterday and it was very strong last night. That is why I had such a restless night. I haven't had this feeling since we were in college. Pete went camping with a couple of his college friends and had a bad fall. He was taken to the hospital with a severe head injury. He was in a coma for two days after that. I experienced this same depressed feeling when that happened. Something had happened that affected his brain. We are identical twins and always had this kind of telepathy. Our brains can communicate with each other. It was always that way. As we grew older, it was not as strong. but nevertheless it was still there."

"You think Pete is dead?"

"I can't deny that is what I am feeling. God, I hope I am wrong, but I can't dismiss how I feel."

"Maybe, Pete has fallen and injured his head again. Isn't that possible?"

"Yes, that is possible. Yet, if that happened, don't you think that Penny or the crew would have let us know by now?"

"I would hope so, but, try and put this out of your mind for now. We don't know if anything has happened as all. Mike Lee is on the job. God knows he is the best at this. So try and put this out of your mind."

"What if Pete and Penny don't call us this afternoon, what do we tell the children?"

"Tell them the truth, you don't know why. Do not upset them with the feelings you are experiencing."

"Tell them you have people checking on this and it could be that the satellite could be down in their area."

"That is how we'll play it then, Dan. That is just another reason why I love you so much. You always come up with a rational approach to a problem."

Dan said, "Thanks, sweetheart. I hear the troops heading for the morning room. We had better head in there before they eat us out of house and home. I don't know where they put it. You know, I don't remember eating as much as these boys can put away.

"Thank god, these guys are healthy and well developed. They do more in one day than Pete or I did in a week."

"You're right now that I think about it."

♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

The twins walked into Sandy's office after lunch, Pete said, "Uncle Sandy, Its after one-o'clock and Mom and Dad haven't called, do you think something has happened to them. You told us earlier that they didn't call you yesterday either."

"I honestly don't know boys. I have Mike Lee investigating this for us. I'm sure he will find out what is causing the delay. I am just as concerned as you are. Let's be patient a little longer and learn what Mike has to report."

"Okay, Uncle Sandy." The boys left and Sandy made a call to Mike Lee. "Hello, Mike, sorry to bother you again, but my two nephews are concerned about not hearing from their parents."

"I was just about to call you, Sandy. I'm afraid I have bad news for you. Pete's plane crash landed in the side of a mountain in Brazil. The authorities didn't report the crash until after they reached the site and were able to identify the aircraft and search for any survivors. I'm sorry to report that there were no survivors. The coroner released the bodies at the site. The forensic team has removed the bodies to the morgue. They found six bodies in the wreckage, four men and two women. From the luggage and papers recovered from the aircraft, they have identified the passengers. They will positively identify all the victims based on their dental records and pictures of each victim. If you would like, I will assign one of my men in Brazil to work with the authorities' to release the bodies. He will have a local undertaker take charge of the bodies and prepare them for the flight back to Georgia. My guy is going to need pictures and dental records and fingerprints for each of the deceased."

My God, Mike, I cannot believe they were all killed. Do they have any idea what happened to cause the plane to crash?"

"They think the crash was caused due to sever thunderstorms in the area at the time. They will not know the exact cause until the investigators study the wreck and examine the data in the black box. These investigations usually take months."

"Go ahead and let your man work with the government to release the bodies. I will have Kirk Mooney, Pete's Chief of Security, contact you and see that you have all the documents you will need for all the passengers. When we have all the clearances for the bodies, I'll send Kirk over on my Boeing 737 to pick-up the bodies. You are absolutely certain that my brother and Penny are dead?"

"Yes, Sandy, my people don't make mistakes."

"How long will it take to release the bodies?"

"After we receive the dental and fingerprint records, maybe three days tops."

"I'll need to notify the media, do we know date of the crash?"

"The plane crashed two days ago."

\"Thanks, Mike, I know this is not pleasant for you. You worked with Pete a great deal."

"It is never easy when a good friend is killed, Sandy. I know it is harder for you and Dan and your family. I know how close you all were."

"I call Kirk Mooney right away. He can call you directly and work out the arrangements."

"I think that would be best, Sandy. Please let me know if I can be of any further help."

"All hell is going to break out around here for the next few days. Would you please let Mac and Drew know what has happened? Ask Mac to let some of the other members of our group know."

"I'll take care of that, Sandy. I'll talk to you again when I have anything new to report."

Sandy called Dan on his cell phone. "Hi, baby, can you break away and meet me in my office?"

"I'll be there in a minute." Dan was playing soccer with the boys. He walked over to Joe and told him he would be back later. He jogged to the house and walked into Sandy's office. The tears ran down Sandy's cheek he told him about the crash. Dan walked over and took Sandy in his arms, "Let it out, sweetheart?"

"Mike Lee called a few minutes ago to tell me that Pete, Penny and all the passengers were killed. They crashed into a mountain."

"Oh my God, I can't believe this." Dan released Sandy to close the door. We don't want anyone to over hear this. What do you want me to do, Sandy?"

"You need to contact Kirk Mooney, your security chief, to have him get pictures, dental records, and fingerprints for all six passengers and send copies to Mike Lee. I am sure he has fingerprints on everyone. It's going to take a little time to get dental records, but it shouldn't take that long. Kirk will need to coordinate this with Mike Lee. Mike is having one his operatives get the releases to fly the bodies back here. I'll be sending him over to Brazil to bring the bodies back."

"The next thing is to call the folks and let them know. I'll let Mom and Dad break the news to the rest of the family. I think you should let your mom know also. We need to put our heads together and decide when we should notify the news media. Maybe you should work through your PR department and let them come up with the release. You may want to have all the inquiries forwarded to them as well. Have Pete's butler forward all calls to the PR department. The same goes for all the calls that come through your switchboard. I hate to say this but we'll need to get to the news media before UPI puts it on the wire from Brazil. We need to break the news to the children. My first thought was to hold off until tomorrow, but the twins are worried."

"After you announce this to your business managers, I think you will need to call the butler and let him tell the staff at the Plantation."

"While you are handling that I'll call Murdoch and Ryan to let them know we may have to push our vacation plans back. I'll ask Mom to send me a copy of Peter and Penny's Will. They told me a while back that they wanted us to be guardians to the children. But, I don't know what arrangements he made about his business."

"I think you should call your folks right away with the sad news. While you are doing that, I get on the horn with Kirk and my PR department. You stay here and make your calls, I go up to our suite to make my calls." Dan hugged Sandy again and kissed him. "Don't worry everything will work out okay."

Sandy finished all his calls and called Joe on his cell phone. "Joe will you keep the boys occupied for a couple more hours. Dan and I will be tied up with business."

"No problem, boss, after we finish up this game, I take them over to the swimming pool for some games. They'll need to cool down."

"Thanks, Joe," He called Margaret on her cell phone and asked her to keep Kit busy for a couple of hours. He left his office and walked up to their suite. Dan was still on the telephone with his PR people. He sat down on the couch and waited.

Dan finished his call, and walked over to the sofa and sat next to Sandy. "How did your folks take the news, Sandy?"

"As you would have expected, they were shocked and they both broke down and cried. After they calmed down, I asked Mom about Peter and Penny's Will. It was as he told me they had made us the children's guardians. They left the company to me in trust for the children, with the stipulation that we would manage it until the children became of age, or we sold the company with the proceeds going to their trust fund. Mom said she will have the will probated ASAP, she does not see any problem since I own 25-percent of Pete's corporation and it's all in the family. When we formed Pete's corporation, there was a stipulation that if either of the owners died, the company would revert to the survivor. We will convene a board meeting next week and make you President of Dunnlap Plantations and I will become Chairman. How did you make out?"

"Thanks, Sandy, I'll do my best for you and the children. I called all the department heads, and told them about Pete and Penny. I spent the rest of the time with my PR department. The announcement will break tomorrow. I thought it would be better if all the employees thought about it on Sunday. I told the managers that I would hold a meeting on Monday morning to answer any of their questions. I also told them that we would close on the day of the funeral. Again, we won't know that date until the bodies are back here in Georgia. We should call your mother and ask her to recommend a law firm to handle the claims against the insurance company. I'm sure the families of the other four passengers will sue the company. Your Mom will need to look at the liability policy the company carried also."

"Dan, I think this would be the best time to let the children know about Pete and Penny. I realize that this is going to be difficult for them, and they may wake up in the middle of the night with bad dreams, but I don't think waiting any longer is the answer either."

"I agree Sandy, I'll call Joe and have him round up the boys and meet us in the family room. I'll ask Margaret to bring Kit down as well."

Jeremy walked into Sandy & Dan's suite and said, "Dads the guys are all waiting in the family room for you. Joe said you had something important to tell us."

"That's right, son, let's go down to the family room." Sandy, Dan and Jeremy walked into the family room together. All the children were watching a Disney movie on the large screen TV. Sandy said, "Please turn off the TV for a few minutes, and gather around, I have something important to tell you."

"Mike Lee, our security investigator notified me a little while ago, that my brother's plane crashed into a mountain and everyone on board was killed. There was no easy way to break this news to you. But I want you, his children, not to worry what will happen to you. Your mother and father appointed Dan and I your guardians. So from now on you will be living here with me and Dan."

Every child was shocked, the twins hugged each other and cried. Seeing the older brother break into tears all the children began to cry. Kit and Stewart ran crying to Dan and Sandy. Dan sat Kit on his lap and wrapped his arms around her, while Sandy did the same for Stewart. Sandy called the twins over to them and had them sit between he and Dan. They each wrapped an arm around one of the boys. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. Margaret, walked over to console Sandy's three sons and handed everyone tissues to wipe their eyes and blow there noses. A few minutes later the crying stopped. Sandy asked, "Does anyone have any questions?"

Pete, Jr. said, "Does this mean that we will not be going back home to the Plantation to live?"

"You will not be going back to the Plantation to live. You will all be living here at Dunnlap manor from now on," Sandy said.

"But why can't we go back home to live?" Sandy Jr. asked.

"Because, it is not a good idea to live there anymore, because it would be too traumatic for you to stay there without your parents." Sandy said. "The Plantation Manor will always be your home and some day one or all of you may wish to live there again. However, for the present, you will be grieving at the loss of your parents and you will need the strength to get on with your life. Aunt Gloria will be here tomorrow to talk to you and help you to adjust to the loss of you parents. We love you and want you to live here where we can take care of you and make sure that you are safe. All three of my sons know what it is like to lose their parents and can sympathize with you on your loss. They have been through this and have adjusted to the tragic loss. I'm sure you can discuss your problems with them."

After the tears dried up, Dan said, "Would you guys like to watch the movie you were watching, or would you rather play some game?"

Jeremy said, "I don't feel like playing any game right now, can we turn on the DVD again and continue watching the move?"

"You sure can, son, go ahead and start the movie."

Sandy said, "Margaret, I don't want to leave the children at the moment. I have not had time to tell Ludlow about the accident, would you mind explaining to him what happened and ask him to pass this on to the staff?"

"I'll be glad to, Mr. Dunnlap." Margaret left to find Ludlow.

Ludlow walked into the family room and walked over to Sandy. "Master Sandy, Mr. Lee is on the telephone will you take the call?"

"Yes, Ludlow, I'll take it in my office."

"Hello, Mike, what have you learned?"

"Some friends in the State Department came through for us. The Brazilian authorities have agreed to release the bodies to your funeral director tonight. "Kirk Mooney, your director of security can pick-up the bodies tomorrow morning. Contact your funeral director in Dunnlap and have him meet your plane on the return leg. Kirk can find out from the families of the other four members of the staff how they wish to handle their funerals arrangements. When do you plan to have the funeral for Pete and Penny?"

"I think we will have the viewing Tuesday and Wednesday and the burial on Thursday morning. I don't want to drag this out, it will be too much on the family and the children. We need closure."

"I agree, Sandy, I don't envy you at all. I realize that Pete was a important business leader and there will a lot of people who will want to pay their respects. I'll let Mac know the dates and he in turn can contact our friends."

"Thanks, Mike, I appreciate that."

Sandy's next call was to Murdoch, "Hi, Murdoch, I wanted to let you know that the funeral for Pete and Penny will be on Thursday morning with the reception following at the Manor house. The viewing will be Tuesday and Wednesday. Dan and I will probably leave after the reception with the children and spend a week cruising on the Dan Boy. We would like to invite you, Ryan and the children to join us. We feel that this will take the children's mind off the funeral."

"I'll clear this with Ryan, but I feel that it will be all right with him. We would like to get away for a week."

"That's good, let me know."

Sandy's next call was to the Dunnlap Funeral Home. He arranged the schedule with the director for the funerals. They were the same people that handled Craig's funeral. He told them they did a great job with Craig and that he would like the same type of funeral for his brother and sister-in-law. He would stop by on Monday to select the caskets and order the flower arrangements. He told them in lieu of flowers, he asked that any donations be made to the Peter & Penny Dunnlap Homeless Children's Charitable Foundation."

His next to last call was to his Mother and Father. "Mom, the funeral viewing will be on Tuesday and Wednesday. The burial service will be Thursday morning with the reception following at the Manor house." They chatted a bit longer about the details of the insurance and the Will.

Sandy's last call was to the Public Relations VP. He briefed him on the funeral arrangements, and asked that he contact the funeral director and write the obit that would appear in the newspaper and issue a press release to the media." After making all the calls, he returned to the family room.

Sandy sat next to Dan and said, "I see some of our little people have fallen asleep. Let me ring Ludlow and have him help us carry some of our sleeping angels to bed. You take Kit and I'll take Chip. Ludlow has his pick. We can come down and take the other two."

Sandy, Dan and Ludlow undressed the little ones and put them to bed. They went down and took the other two sleeping boys up to bed. Sandy said, "Boys, as soon as this movie is over, I want you to turn the TV off and head up to bed, we all have a busy day tomorrow and I want you all to get a good night's sleep. Dan and I will stop by to tuck you in for the night."

Jeremy said, "I'll turn the TV off Dad, this show should be over soon."

After carrying the twins up and putting them in bed, Sandy and Dan walked down the hall to their suite. Sandy told Dan of his conversations with Mike, and of the other calls.

Dan said, "This is why you were gone so long. I thought something important came up. Well, I glad you were able to make all the funeral arrangements. I assume the caskets will be closed for the viewing?"

"That has not been decided yet. The funeral director said he could not make that decision until after he is able to view the bodies. If the heads are not too badly damaged, he said he would call in a forensic reconstruction expert to repair any cosmetic damage. He will let me know Monday."

Dan said, "I hope they can work their magic. I think it would be better for the family and the children if they have closure. You remember how disappointed Lloyd and Chip were when they could not see their father in the casket."

"I forgot about that, I remember how they reacted. However, there was no way I would allow them to see their father's body after he died. They would have a difficult time recognizing him. His head looked like that of a skeleton. Poor Craig had lost so much weight. I'll tell you, sweetheart, we've had a lot of traumatic issues in the last three years, enough to last us a lifetime. I've lost a part of my me with Pete's death we were more than just brothers, we were soul brothers. I know it will take a long time to get over his loss. You, my love make me whole, you are my soul mate and I do not think I would want to go on living if I lost you. I almost lost it when you were in that accident. I never want to go through that nightmare again. Pete was lucky in a way, his partner died with him. Neither one had to go on without the other."

"On the other hand, we have been blessed with our children and now we have Pete's children to raise. We have each other and the money to see that we never have to worry about the future. As I mentioned before this happened, our future should be devoted to raising our children from now on. We will hire the right people to manage our corporations. We will become caretakers of the businesses that our children will take over when they are ready."

Five Years Later

Sandy and Dan were aboard the Danny Boy, lounging on the rear deck of their private quarters. Sandy said, "I'm glad we could all be together for this cruise on the Danny Boy before the boys leave for college next month. I know I am going to miss them. The younger children are already questioning why their older brothers have to go to school in Atlanta."

Dan said, "I know, they have been asking me the same question. I tried to explain the reason why their brothers and cousins had to move to Atlanta. I think it is more of a psychological reaction than anything else. Kit and Chip asked me if they would ever come back again. They were recalling the trip their parents took and never returned. I assured them that the boys would only be an hour away and would be home on weekends most of the time. I suppose they won't believe it until the boys return after they are squared away in Atlanta."

Sandy said, "I told the boys that they need to take special care to assure the younger ones that they love them and that they were only going to school in another city. I am glad that we were able to find a large home in a one of the new sub developments in Buckhead. Ryan told me that he and Murdoch were pleased that we were able to find a large home in a gated community big enough to accommodate the five boys together."

Dan said, "Yes, we were lucky to find such a beautiful home on a three acre lot for only one-and a half million. And the renovation, security system, and fencing only added another $200-thousand. Ryan and Murdoch said they still had many friends in Atlanta and they would arrange to assemble a staff to take care of the boys. We have decided to ask Kirk Mooney and Chet Williams our respective security directors to select the men from their own staff to handle the security detail in the Atlanta house. The expenses for the house, and the boys, will be split between us. I have already set up a special account to handle the expenses."

Sandy said, "I've already set up expense accounts for each boy. I've also explained that they will not be taking their own cars to Atlanta. Murdoch and I agreed to purchase two specially built SUV's with drivers to take them to and from college and anywhere else they need to go. I've told them that any of their friends would be screened for their own protection. I did point out that were all targets and we did not want to loose any of them."

"Our boys are a find group of young men," Dan said, "and we have trained them to be considerate and careful. I know that Murdoch's sons, Sean and Duncan, are also above average and cautious young men. They know what their dads went through in the past."

Sandy smiled, "I know, sweetheart, but no matter how old they are, they are still our boys and I am saddened that they will be leaving the nest. I love them all so much, yet I know they must move on and find their own niche in the world."

"I feel the same way, Sandy. Be thankful that we have six more children to care for in the nest. I know they will keep us hopping for the next ten years or more. By then maybe our older boys will bless us with grandchildren."

Sandy pulled Dan closer and kissed him. "God has been good to us. We have had a wonderful life together, my love, and I know we will have many more happy years ahead of us."

"I agree, sweetheart, I never thought I could be this happy."

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The End

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Dear loyal readers, I am sorry it has take me so long to complete this story, but Sandy & Dan had much to tell me, so much so, I didn't want to end their story. I also wish to thank my talented and patient editor, Frank Perry, for taking the time from his busy schedule to correct my writing errors. Try as I may after reading my work, repeatedly, I still missed so many errors. Thank goodness, that Frank spotted them and did a fine job of editing.

I have other stories in the works, but I don't plan to publish them until the stories are complete. I don't want to ever again, publish a story until I have written the final chapter.

Again, thank you for your patience and your kind words about my stories.

As always,

Ron Robbins

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