After getting everyone's attention, Collin continued and said," I want to hear my dad's and my mom's Last Wills read to me. If you want to stay for this, then keep quiet. That goes for everyone! Mr. Marshall stated there were two reasons for this meeting here today, and we'll stick by that agenda.
"First on the agenda was the reading of my father's and mother's Last Wills and Testaments and I want to hear them. After the reading of the Wills, I want to sit with my dad's private lawyer and discuss family affairs with no one, except for my appointed guardian, Mr. Ken Thomas, in attendance. If you have a problem with that, then you can leave, and do not return. Mr. Marshall, can you do that for me? Please!"
"Yes, Collin, I can and will."
None of the lawyers attending with Mr. Marshall were happy by the way they felt the teenager talked 'down' to them. They looked around at each other for some sign, but decided to relent and get the reading of the Wills out of the way. Frank Hale straightened up and began to say something but a determined look from Mr. Marshall and Mr. Thomas told him he'd be relegated out to the hallway so he put up his hands in 'I give up' defense, then gave a smirky smile, and sat back into his seat.
Andrew Marshall got out James Wilkinson's Last Will and Testament and asked everyone to be quite during its reading. It took Mr. Marshall about a half hour to cover the main portions of James' Last Will and Testament and then he pulled out Charlotte Wilkinson's Last Will and Testament and began to read the main portions of her wishes.
The room had been quiet up until Charlotte's Will was being read. It was then when Collin began to softly cry. Mr. Ken went over to him and gently hugged him while they all listened, until the end. After Mr. Marshal finished reading both Wills, everyone but he, Collin, and Mr. Ken left the room. Collin continued to cry on Mr. Ken's shoulder, for about ten minutes, when he got his notes and began to ask questions from them.
Out in the hall, a lively discussion began between Frank Hale and Bill Jackson. Frank began to badger Bill over his clients' assertions of Dennis Clarke's involvement in the killings and subsequent kidnapping. Frank was talking as how he was going to get Dennis back into control of Wilkinson Enterprises and then how they will sue Mr. Thomas for slander and whatever else they can come up with. Bill remained calm and just politely listened. He was a master of assessing his opponent and found that having a concealed recorder in his suit pocket, to catch every word, was priceless when formulating his attack later.
Back in the conference room, 'Uncle' Andy explained to Collin what it all meant. Essentially, his dad had left everything to his wife and son, in differing proportions, upon his demise, which was spelled out in his Last Will. But, since his wife did not live the required 30 days after her husband, in order to inherit according to Texas law, what was willed to her by her husband, did not convey to her. Thus Collin, being the only living descendant of James and Charlotte Wilkinson, inherited everything.
In the large scheme of things, Collin was given complete and utter control of everything both his mom and dad owned. One caveat, that kept Collin from actually taking control of his dad's empire, was a State Law that said he had to be eighteen before he could do that.
Another interesting thing, 'Uncle Andy' told Collin, was that his inheritance, from his dad, was left to him in the form of a Trust Fund which will be very advantageous to the youth when it comes time for the tax man to rear its tenacious head. That was a good thing, but equally, as good a thing, was that his mom's Last Will also left him substantial holdings in Trust, as well. Now, the lawyers had to determine what, if anything, from Collin's mom's Last Will, would also he considered in Trust that will also substantially reduce Collin's overall tax liability.
One other caveat, which was placed into both Last Will's, was that if Collin had not yet reached his 'majority' he could appoint his own caretaker to sit in his stead. That meant that Frank Hale was full of SHIT and Collin held the cards, as long as the courts went along with whom he chose. It was Collin Wilkinson who now sat in the 'cat bird's seat'!
Ken became extremely happy for the boy as he would soon be a very rich young man. Having had that luxury thrust upon him, just a few short years ago, he knew exactly what Collin would be going through, though. But, Ken had one major concern. What was with the grandmother and why is it she had not yet been found?
"Mister Marshall, what about Collin's fraternal grandmother? I hear he has one but no one has been able to find her. What will happen when and if they do find her?" asked Mr. Ken.
"Mister Thomas, both Wills' specify that she would become Collin's guardian until he reached the age of majority, which in the State of Texas is eighteen. Until she is found, that is if she wants to be found, I would guess that since the courts appointed you his guardian you can make parental like decisions for him. Well, actually for him in his name. I would hope you wouldn't take advantage of him now, would you?
"I can tell from just seeing you two together, these past few hours that is something I don't have to worry about. I can see the special 'love' and bond and trust between you two. Collin had always told me he wished he had an older brother and I think he may have found one in you, Mr. Ken, if I may?
"Mister Ken, I guess I should tell you ... I had you investigated upside down and inside out when they told me Collin was going to live with you. I know you are a very rich man, in your own right, and have a college degree with a primary in business and a secondary in computer science. I also know you speak 10 languages fluently and can hold a relatively understood conversation in five more. You are a very remarkable young man, compared to me that is. I also found out that you're single and haven't dated since graduating, unless you call your New Year's Eve dance a date."
"You see Mr. Thomas; I had to find out everything I could about you, after the FBI came to me and explained what they wanted to do. At first I was dead set against it, and that's when I instigated my own investigation of you. Then the Feds came back and explained to me how well protected the estate was, with all those cameras and hiding places built into the house, and I relented. If we had fought and won to bring Collin back to his estate he would not have had such protections."
"I am sorry that you were injured, in protecting him, and your beautiful home was shattered in places. Wilkinson Enterprises will bare the responsibility and spare no expense in making all the necessary repairs. It is the least we can do for everything you've done for Collin here. I can see how he has 'grown' since he was taken. That, no doubt, was your doing Mr. Ken, I am sure!"
Collin spoke up right then and said, "He took a bullet for me and I will never, ever, forget that 'Uncle' Andy. He also saved me the night of the storm. If he hadn't gotten Doc Rick, to come and treat me, I would have bled to death and Mr. Clarke would have everything he wanted. 'Uncle' Andy, I want Mr. Ken here to be my guardian and run all of dad's companies and everything else for me. You'll do it ... won't you Mr. Ken? Please?"
A very surprised Ken Thomas looked at his 'little bro' and said, "Collin, that is a very big responsibility. I don't know how to run anything that big and I don't know if I'd even make the right decisions."
"'Uncle' Andy can help you, can't you 'Uncle' Andy? Bro, all I need is someone I can trust. I bet that Mr. Hale out there has someone he wants to be the boss, so he can do what he wants. You heard him. He wants Mr. Clarke back running things. I don't want him or Mr. Hale anywhere near Wilkinson Enterprises. And now that you have a business degree this will give you a chance to put it to use. Please ... do it ... for me ... please Bro!"
It was now past lunch time, and the three in the conference room joined up with the six out in the hall, and they all went down to the dining room to eat. Wilkinson Enterprises picked up the tab, which allowed everyone to have a good Texas steak. Lunch went on for almost two hours when you include all the talking that occurred between all the parties. When they were finished eating, everyone returned to the meeting room to finish up the second part of the agenda – deciding where Collin would reside.
Andrew Marshall took control of the afternoon session and went directly into the discussion of what to do about Collin's future residence. Of course, Collin spoke up first and stated he wanted to remain with Mr. Thomas. He explained how Mr. Ken had not only saved his life twice, but most importantly, got his life back on track. Collin went on to explain how Mr. Ken was there for him when he was hurting from his injuries and then when he was grieving for his parents.
The boy also told how he was looking forward for the first time in a long time of going back to school. He told them of the friends he now had and how Mr. Ken had gotten the tutor for him to begin the 10th grade and that he was waiting for the results of the Placement Tests he took just yesterday.
The men from Wilkinson's Enterprises asked a number of questions of Collin and Mr. Thomas, in order to gauge the compatibility of the two and, whether or not, Mr. Thomas had corrupted the boy and would use him to gain control of the lad's inheritance. Some of the questions were very direct concerning Mr. Thomas' financial assets and ambitions.
They even asked about his sexual proclivities and his involvement with Collin in those regards. Most men would have taken issue with anyone who asked personal questions about his finances and sexual orientation but not Mr. Thomas. He knew how he answered, and not what he answered, was what they were actually looking for.
Andrew Marshall had already told him as much that they already knew the answers. They all wanted to see how he conducted himself and that his demeanor was agreeable to their understanding of what they thought was best for Collin. That is everyone, but one. Mr. Frank Hale took exception to practically every answer Mr. Ken had given.
"Mister Thomas," Frank Hale began, "you are asking us to believe that you are somehow independently wealthy but you can show no physical means of that income. Come, come now Mr. Thomas how can someone, who just graduated college, afford to live the lifestyle you do, and throw such extravagant parties? And, how is it that you convinced the Governor, no less, to let you keep such an injured boy in your care and avoid getting CPS involved. Isn't it true that you are attracted to young boys such as Collin and only want him for your sexual gratification? Answer us Mr. Thomas!"
"Forget all this mumbo jumbo and smoke and mirrors and tell us how you got the FBI to charge Dennis Clarke with conspiracy to commit murder and the murders of Collin's parents themselves and the kidnapping of our employer's son? Isn't you who are the one who is behind all of this and intend to use Collin here as your meal ticket to wealth and a part of Wilkinson Enterprises? Come on tell us how you orchestrated it all! Tell us!!!"
"NO!" Collin shouted. "Stop this; you don't know what you are saying! Mr. Ken would never do that stuff to me nor would he kill my parents. He doesn't need their money like Mr. Clarke did. He has his own."
"Oh, does he, now? Have you ever seen his money? Anywhere? And how do you know he didn't set this all up so that you were so conveniently left to swim to his house so he could save you? Huh? Answer me that!" Frank Hale yelled back at the young teen.
All this time, Mr. Thomas sat there knowing that Frank was baiting him with those questions, but it was Collin who took the bait and ran with it and was now crying his head off, from what all Frank Hale had said. Frank had succeeded in doing what he intended to do and that was throw some doubt in the boys head, so that the lad would willingly go back to his old home, where he would be an easier target to eliminate.
Frank Hale sat there with a smirk on his face that only a few people could ever interpret. Ken Thomas was one of those people and so was Bill Jackson and it was going to be up to them to straighten Frank out and get Collin to see Mr. Hale for what he was. What they figured was Frank Hale was an opportunist, who was working for Dennis Clarke, and was somehow involved, after the fact, and it was his job to get Clarke out of jail and Collin into a position where he could have an unfortunate 'accident' as he grieved over the death of his parents.
"Congratulations, Mr. Hale, you did a wonderful job and you were even sitting down while you did it," spoke a very calm Ken Thomas. "You've been baiting me with your asinine questions and insinuations', but it was Collin who took the bait. You had intended to say those words all along, as an accomplished lawyer would, but saying them, directly at Collin, worked even better than you thought they would. ...
"You may be a good lawyer, but I wasn't born yesterday. I saw through your deception and misdirection when it began this morning, when you tried to take control of the meeting. You were never the primary contact, with us, so why would you think we'd even allow you to have such control. That was your first mistake.
"Your second mistake was how you tried to convince Bill and Stewart that Dennis Clarke was totally innocent. And now, your last mistake was that you now have Collin thinking how I could have placed him so close enough to my house, so he wouldn't drown, but yet save him. You forgot that Collin now has friends! Something he didn't have back at his old home and school. Friends don't lie to their friends, especially when it comes to money and sex. Oh, they do when they get to be our age, Mr. Hale, but at fifteen they don't."
Collin was sitting there listening but was mostly thinking, about what Frank Hale had said, about his being so close to the house and all. He wasn't paying real attention as his mind was playing through everything that happened. He recalled how he had to swim and it felt like forever. He then remembered finding the place, they held him at, and it was much further than Mr. Hale was alluding too. And, finally, Mr. Ken, his Big Bro, never once even tried to do anything sexual with him. He distinctly remembered how his Big Bro would try not to touch him, when he helped with his showers, and he didn't even like it when he helped him after he was shot.
Collin also remembered the conversations he had with Ryan and how he had known Bro for almost three years, while he was building the house. Never once did Big Bro ever try to get Ryan alone or do anything sexual with him; his best friend told him. Now, that he had a good handle on those things, in his mind, he began listening much closer and he heard the three things that his Bro said where Hale had made his mistakes. And Collin had to agree with his mentor, Mr. Ken.
"Oh, I've got your number Mr. Thomas. You may have them bamboozled but you'll never get me to think differently," countered Frank.
"How much is Dennis Clarke paying you, Frank? Or is he using the Wilkinson Company money to pay you for his defense? If he is, I am certain that can and will be remedied very soon. Dennis Clarke has nothing he can offer you, Frank. He can only promise things IF he is acquitted. I hope you are already wealthy, Mr. Hale, or you are a very good lawyer, because after you defend him, people will remember that, you know. Corporate work will be very hard to come by," replied Ken.
After that last comment by Mr. Thomas, everyone sat there in silence. It appeared everybody was contemplating everything they had heard and were trying to make some sense of it all. Frank Hale still had that look on his face that he knew something no one else did. He wasn't at all fazed at what was said back at him by Mr. Thomas.
"Mister Hale, I heard everything you said" began Collin, "and I'll make my own decision about my Big Bro, Mr. Ken, and what he just said made sense to me. Remember, I was the one this happened to and I already checked, in my mind, what you said to what I know happened to me. Mr. Ken is already my court appointed guardian, and I intend to stay with him. If you try to take me away, I will fight you in court. I have my own money now and I can control what happens to my dad's companies."
"Speaking of control of Wilkinson Enterprises" Frank Hale began to say, "I have someone that is a perfect fit to run Wilkinson until the boy is old enough. He is ..."
"And he is in jail!" quipped Collin.
With a curt smile, Frank continued to say, "... is Josh Sullivan, the President of one of our subsidiaries, who I know is interested in helping young Collin here."
"I bet you do," stated Collin.
"Now, now Collin," spoke Peter Miller. "We do need to select someone to take over control of your father's many businesses. You are way too young to run them, yourself. You are still in high school, for heaven's sake. We need to choose someone who can lead and make decisions that will further the money making ideals of Wilkinson Enterprises."
"Mister Marshall, what did dad and mom's Last Will's state, or was it the State of Texas that said what I could do in regards to selecting a successor to my father? Didn't they give me that prerogative?" asked Collin.
"Why, yes, Collin, by James' Last Will and the State's interpretation of your parents' wishes, it could be argued that you can select the person or persons to run your father's Enterprises until you become of age. Do you know of someone who would do what you want done in that regards? Do you have someone in mind, Collin?" answered Andrew Marshall.
"Yes, effective immediately, the person I want to be named as the interim Chief Executive Officer, and to sit on every Board within Wilkinson Enterprises and to also act as its Chief Operating Officer is ... Mr. Ken Thomas."
Comments appreciated at Chowhnd@gmail.com