Castle Roland


by Ken Barber


Chapter 1

Posted: N/A


I woke up Thursday morning to an overcast sky, typical to Seattle. The house I live in is the house I grew up in and is old but well maintained. I inherited it from my parents when they passed away five years ago

I could hear the automatic coffee maker kick on as I turned on the shower and prepared for another day at the office. After my shower, I headed to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. As I poured my coffee I noticed a voicemail on my IPhone, the display showed a 201 area code and said Norfolk VA. I didn't know anyone in Virginia I was aware of but I listened to it anyway. The message was from an attorney and he said he needed me to return his call urgently. I figured I would just call later from my office. I was sure it was work related and was annoyed they had called my personal cell phone. The drive to the office was typical and when I arrived, my 'Hot New Intern', Carl, was waiting in the Lobby for me.

"Mr. Ryan, Mr. Shuller asked me to bring you to his office as soon as you arrived."

Damn this guy was smoking; with dark curly hair, blue eyes, and under his shirt and tie you could tell he had a body to die for.

"Carl, how many times do I have to tell you to call me Dale? Any idea what John wants?" I replied heading to the elevator.

"Sorry Dale," he smirked slightly, which made my heart flutter. "I really don't know, but he has a couple of guys, I have never seen before, in his office with him."

"Ok well, let's go find out, and then, if you don't have anything pressing, I will show you how the new client software is going to make everyone's life so much easier."

"Great Dale, there isn't anything on my schedule I can't clear out for you." He actually winked at me. Damn this kid knows what he is doing. As we waited on the elevator, all I could think about was ripping those pants off him and seeing what kind of underwear he wore. The kid had an amazing ass. Kid; that's funny he is twenty two years old, only four years younger than me; and I am sure he is interested, but its work and he is an intern so I have to control myself.

We got off the elevator on the twelfth floor. In the corporate lobby, Karen, the receptionist, smiled and stated, "Well today is going to be a good day. First thing in the morning, and I get a visit by the two hottest guys in the building."

I laughed and gave her a kiss on the cheek and asked, "They're in the old man's office?"

"No in the executive lounge; they are waiting on you so just head in."

The phone was ringing and she answered it so I couldn't ask her what the hell was going on. We never used the executive lounge unless we were entertaining some really heavy hitter clients.

The firm I work for is the largest law firm in Seattle and we had satellite offices in Portland and Sacramento. I am Director of Communications for Shuller, Temp, and Weis. After Graduating from Berkley, with Honors, I was approached by John Shuller, who offered me the job. I have known John my whole life; he was my dad's best friend and handled all the family legal affairs. My office has two divisions PR and IT. Weird arrangement, but my major was IT with a minor in PR so it worked ok. I was happy with my Job; my life that's another story.

My parents died in a boating accident five years ago; my mom and dad were the most amazing parents in the world. They readily accepted me being gay when I came out to them right after graduating High School. They hated my partner Scott, I knew it, but they would never admit it. My dad was an architect and did really well. My education was paid for and now that they are gone, I am comfortable financially. They did tell me I was adopted when I was old enough to understand what that meant. I never knew who my biological parents were. When my parents were killed, I couldn't handle it and suffered from major depression. Scott, my partner, lasted about six months before he left me. Scott wasn't supportive in the best of our years but I loved him and it hurt even more when he left. I eventually started to deal with my depression, but, with the help of a great therapist I got myself back on my feet.

Carl and I walked into the lounge and I stopped at the door. The room was filled with all three Executive Partners, as well as six other people I didn't know. The thing that was really odd was there were two people in US Naval uniforms and one person in a military like uniform I didn't recognize. I immediately collected myself and entered the room. John spotted me and stood up.

"Ah here he is, Dale good morning"

"Morning John, what's going on here?" I said as I set my brief case down and looked around.

The fact everyone stopped talking and was looking at me, unsettled me.

John swept his hand around the room "Dale let me introduce you to everyone. You know Mel and Wally."

I nodded, "Good Morning Mr. Temp, Mr. Weis". They both greeted me warmly.

"This is Steve Marshal." I reached across the table to shake his hand and it dawned on me Steve Marshal was the guy that left me a voicemail.

"Good Morning Mr. Marshal, I am sorry I didn't return your call, I promise I was going to. You didn't have come all the way out here just to talk to me." I tried to remain neutral as my corporate meeting facade was coming out. I was always the one that kept everyone from getting too stressed.

John chuckled and continued, "Dale this is Charles Macintosh, CEO of International Nautical Security."

"Mr. Macintosh, it's a pleasure to meet you, I have heard a lot about INS. Great Company and If I recall right I have some INS stock in my portfolio."

He smiled warmly. "Yes you do Dale and please call me Charlie."

Let me introduce the rest of my people so poor John doesn't have to try to pretend he remembers everyone's name. "Everyone laughed." This is Mike Clark our Chief Operation Officer, Assistant Admiral John Warren our Fleet Commander, and this is Vice Admiral Wilson and Captain Racely, United States Navy. The Admiral and Captain are here to observe and their role will be discussed later."

John put his hand on my elbow. "Dale, sit down so we can get started".

I sat down and was starting to get really nervous so I cracked a Joke. "So should I call an Attorney?"

Charlie was the only one that really laughed. "I think you have that one covered Dale?" his laugh and smile put me at ease, a little.

John took a deep breath and then sighed. "Dale, you know your mother and father meant the world to me and you know I handled all of their legal affairs." I nodded and was going to ask what the hell this was all about but decided to let John have his say. "Dale I also represented your parents in your adoption and Mr. Marshal Represented your biological father." I cut him off.

"Now hold on just a second John, Mr. Marshal, I buried my parents five years ago and I never knew who my biological father was nor do I care to know. If he sent you to try to arrange a meeting and get reacquainted with me, I am not interested, no if's and's or but's. End of conversation." I stood up to leave and John caught my arm.

"Dale that's not what is going on here. Your biological father died Tuesday morning," John pulled me back into my seat. "Hear me out Dale, your mother and father were very good friends with your biological parents. Your biological dad grew up with your father. He was a young naval officer with a promising career. Your biological mother was a beautiful young woman and while her husband was on deployment she was in a car accident. She was in the beginning of her ninth month of pregnancy. She didn't make it, but they were able to save the baby. That's you Dale. Lt Commander Olsen was rushed back from his deployment to grieve the loss of his young wife and figure out how to raise a child by himself. Your parents were right by his side. After a short while, he realized with his career he could not raise a child. So, it was either give up his career or give up his child. Your mom and dad convinced him to let them adopt you. Your mom was not capable of having children. This was their only chance. Over the years, Mr. Olsen checked on you periodically but it was too hard for him so he and your parents agreed he was not going to be a part of your life at all. It was hard for your parents at first too, and they agreed with him. He honored that agreement until Tuesday morning when he died of a massive heart attack during his morning jog."

"John this is a lot for me to process. Why are you telling me this and what the hell does it have to do with INS and the US Navy?" I turned and saw Carl, the intern, sitting in a chair against the wall. His eyes showed a huge amount of compassion. "Carl can you fix me a coffee please."

"Absolutely Mr. Ryan." he jumped up, went over to the bar, and started to fix the Coffee.

John looked at Mr. Marshal and nodded.

"Dale, may I call you Dale?"

"Sure Mr. Marshal."

"Steve, call me Steve. Your biological father was Kevin Olsen, founder and controlling partner of INS." All I could do was sit and stare in shock. "Dale, he left his entire fortune and his controlling share of INS to you. You are now the Owner and President of INS." I didn't know what to say, nor do, so just sat there and stared at him.

Vice Admiral Wilson looked at me. "Mr. Ryan, I know this is very difficult for you but the Navy and the Federal Government need to know what you plan to do. You see, we just signed a contract with INS to provide convoy escorts for some of our supply shipments. If you plan to sell the company, we will walk away from the contract; if the company continues to run uninterrupted, we will honor the contract."

Charlie stood up and said, "Dale, let me try to explain everything."

I don't know why but I trusted this guy so I nodded for him to continue

"As of right now, Dale here is the President of INS. Therefore, I think we should apprise him of the status of the company. Are you ok with me giving you a brief synopsis Dale?"

I think I was in shock I just mumbled, "Sure."

"Okay, Dale you own 75% of the stock for INS, I own 20% and the rest was sold privately to key investors. Your Dad, Mr. Ryan, was one of those key investors and owned 1%, Mr. Shuller owns a 1/2%. I guess technically you own 76% now. You can sell your entire holding with INS, or you can run the company. But, before you make a decision, I would like to tell you that INS, as it stands now, is a fourteen billion dollar company. However; all the assets are tied up to fill this Navy contract. Up until recently, we provided security personnel to companies that shipped goods around the globe. Our personnel protected their vessels from pirates, criminal syndicates, corrupt military and navy officials and general thieves. We provided a number of things to protect their assets and personnel while on board their ship. Recently, through the acquisition of some older British Royal Navy Vessels, we began providing escort services to larger ships, super tankers and, cargo ships and the like. We also have a division that helps our clients' clear customs around the world through cargo tracking. Two years ago, the US Navy approached us about providing escort services to some of their supply ships. This will allow them to move supplies faster and safer around the world. In order to fill this contract, we had to double the size of our fleet. The late Mr. Olsen and I agreed and took out a loan that allowed us to build or purchase the additional ships, including to supply and crew them. With your controlling share of the company, within two years, due to the contract and growth of the company, you will be a multi-billionaire."

"And, what happens if I don't keep the company?" I asked him.

"Well, our charter is very special, we are essentially the largest private navy in the world and we have some very strict regulations on us. First, no one person can control more than 75% of the company. No matter what, you will have to sell or give away your extra 1%. However, if you sell the rest, the Navy has a clause in their contract that allows them to withdraw for security purposes. They can't risk someone unknown having control of the fleet that is protecting their supply ships. Now, I will tell you honestly, if you do sell and the Navy withdraws, the company will go under. The massive amount of money we put out for these new ships and crews was all done on credit. We won't be able to meet our obligations."

My eyes opened at this, "Charlie how many people does INS employ?"

"About fifteen thousand worldwide, and just over eleven thousand are American; most have served in the US Military"

I looked at my bosses. "Gentlemen, I am sorry but I have to tender my resignation with Shuller, Temp, and Weis. This is a lot to deal with, but I cannot take this risk of putting fifteen thousand people out of work. So, I guess that means I am the President of INS now."

Charlie held up a hand "Before you take the reins Dale, you have to sell off your other 1%. Everyone here in this room, except the Navy Guys, owns a piece of the company. Well, except your assistant Carl. All of them have signed an agreement that forbids them from purchasing anymore of the company from anyone else."

"So, I have to find someone with an extra $1.4 mill just sitting around to sell that off too?"

Mr. Marshal spoke up this time. "Well, technically you can sell it for any amount. It is a private corporation and this would be a private sale. Only your shares would be changing hands, it would not affect the value at all."

"Hmm, how long to draw up the paperwork for the sale?" I asked everyone.

Steve smiled. "We took the liberty of drawing up the paperwork and all you have to do is tell us who and the amount, then the shareholders here have to agree on it."

I laughed aloud. "Put the name Carl Everett on the sale, and the amount is twenty dollars." Carl, who had been sitting in the corner quietly, dropped his coffee and swore. "Shit, I mean damn, I mean fuck, oh my god I am so sorry." Everyone in the room, including the two Navy guys, was laughing.

I looked around the room. "Does everyone agree to this transaction?" A chorus of yeses sounded.

"Does anyone disagree to this transaction?" No one responded.

I looked at Carl and winked, "Carl, give me twenty bucks, I just made you a millionaire."

Carl stood up, came over, and whispered in my ear. I shook my head and laughed. I reached for my wallet, pulled a twenty, and out laid it on the paperwork. "You owe me twenty dollars Carl."

Everyone in the room busted up laughing again. Carl was even cuter when he blushed. "Mr. Ryan I don't know what to say. Thank you so much," with that, he started to tear up.

I patted him on the shoulder and told him to sit next to me.

"Okay everyone; I have no idea what it is going to take to run INS, so I would like to propose we make Charles Mackintosh the Acting President and CEO for the period of one year. At the end of the year, the presidency returns to my control. During that year, for the first six months, I will be a deputy Chief Operations Officer and then spend the last six months as Deputy CEO"

Assistant Admiral John Wilson stood, "I will second that motion. That's a brilliant plan son; you are going to do just fine."

Charlie took over the meeting after my recommendation. "All in favor say yes." A chorus of yeses; all oppose say no." No one spoke. "Okay, so the motion carries six yes and one abstention."

I looked puzzled. "Who abstained?"

"Well Carl didn't respond, so that counts as an abstention." He said with a smirk.

Carl looked up. "What, O.M.G. I am so sorry. Yes, my vote is yes."

Charlie laughed. "Ok we will change the record to show Carl Everett voted in favor." He looked at the two Navy Guys. "Admiral, does that satisfy the concerns of the US Navy?"

The Admiral Smiled and said, "Yes it does. You know he is so much like his father; my apologies Mr. Ryan, your biological father."

Charlie had a smile on his face "Yes, he really is Teddy. So, we are going to spend the weekend in Seattle to get young Mr. Ryan ready to relocate to Norfolk. So, I can have the jet take you guys back and then come back to get us, if that will work for you Teddy?"

"Perfect Charlie, we need to get back and get a lot of flunkies to settle down because they are losing their minds right now." With that, he grabbed his hat, walked over to me, and shook my hand. "I look forward to working with you Mr. Ryan. I notice you're not married, you know I have a daughter your age; perhaps I can have you over for dinner some night and you could meet her." With that, he left. I was sitting there with a look of shock on my face. Oh crap, these people didn't know I was gay. Fuck, fuck, this could be ugly.

Everyone was smiling, as I thought to myself, 'fuck just lay it out there and get their reactions.'

"Umm, Okay, see there is one thing you all should know, and for me it's not like a big deal, but for some of you it might be and I think we should get it out in the beginning. That way, if there are any problems we can figure out solutions......" Charlie interrupted me.

"Dale we have done a very thorough background check on you, and we know you’re gay. So does the Admiral, his daughter is too, that's why he wanted you to meet her."

I had to have had a complete look of shock on my face. "Oh, okay," was all I could manage.

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