Chapters 38, 39, & 40 of “A King’s Trust” a novel I am publishing online
Easley pulls something new out of his legal toolbox and Nadine gets away — or does she?
They were seated around the kitchen table in Florencio’s house. Four men. The lawyer, Easley, Lenny King, Florencio, and Florencio’s son, a man so big he occupied one entire end of the table. When Easley arrived, he had pulled a file out of his briefcase and lay it on the counter next to the sink. He opened the file and pulled out a sheaf of papers, took them with him to the table, sat down and was now shuffling through the papers while the others waited. He looked at Lenny and there was a question in his eyes. “Are you sure you want to do this?” Lenny’s reply was unspoken. He indicated by a slight nod for the lawyer to proceed, to get on with it.
He looked again at Lenny then took a sip of the truly excellent coffee that Florencio’s son had put in front of him. He had watched as the son prepared the coffee. The young person had surprisingly deft and subtle hands for such a large man. He had set out cups, not mugs, which was what Easley had expected. The cups were delicate with bright colorful flower designs and they had matching saucers. No doubt they had been selected by Teresa, but, it all still felt appropriate to the occasion. There was something of a respect and formality in how the son addressed each of them as Senor King and Senor Easley as he placed the nice cups and saucers in front of them and poured coffee from a matching carafe.
“As I explained before this is called a Revocable Trust,” said Easley.
Florencio was watching the lawyer carefully and listening intently to his words.
“That means that we are transferring all of Mr. King’s assets as well as those of his son, Dylan, into a second Trust. I know it might sound confusing, but what I’m talking about is creating a legal entity, excuse me, a legal procedure if you will, in which Mr. King and Dylan are no longer the owners of the property. The new Trust is the owner. They can still make decisions on the property as they see fit, but the Trust owns the property and all the rights. They will be, Mr. King and Dylan, in the eyes of the law, merely the Trust’s administrators. Are you with me so far?”
The other men nodded in the affirmative. Easley doubted they understood what he was saying.
“I’m sure Mr. King has explained to you why he wishes to do this.” Again, he glanced in Lenny’s direction. “and I will say that he has consulted me on this and sought my advice before he made this decision. And I have discussed it thoroughly with Dylan. Alone.” And he emphasized the word, “alone.” To them it was obvious he was referring to the fact that Teresa had not been present.
“I have had Dylan and Mr. King, sign this addendum, uh, side document verifying they received independent advice from their lawyer and I have signed it and, as their family attorney, of many decades I might add, my signature verifies that they were not subjected to undue influence of any kind.” He put emphasis on the words, “undue influence” and looked at each man in turn.
“As Mr. King said,” Easley continued, “the next part is what is important.”
He paused before going on.
“In the event something happens to either of them, like if they pass away or become incapacitated, the other becomes sole administrator of the Trust.”
Here he paused once again.
“But in the event, something happens to both, then you, Florencio,” and he pointed at Gardener, “and after you, your son” he turned to one at the end of the table, “become Administrators of the trust. Again, as I’ve explained, you won’t own the property, but you can make decisions on how the property is disposed of, ah . . . for the good of the Trust. You will have complete control. You can sell the shares of the company, vote them how you want. As Administrators of the Trust you are in charge off all its assets, everything that is in the nature of property and has value.”
For the first time Florencio spoke up, “And what exactly does that mean? Mr. King use to own a large business. And had many things. He had houses. He had cars. And it is gone, taken over. I thought he has lost it all. It was been taken away from him.” Florencio talked directly and bluntly without regard to any sensitivity Lenny might have. The lawyer liked that. It made things easier to explain.
“Well, yes, but the rights to the stock, the shares of stock in the business still exists. It was also put in a Trust for his kids and when the Trust went into effect, he lost, well relinquished, I mean, gave up control. But he still had ownership interests, rights to property in and outside that Trust. As does his son, Dylan. In the same way he does. That interest is being transferred from the old Trust to this Trust. The Revocable Trust. All that Revocable Trust means is that they can revoke it, end it. At any time. And it, therefore, gives them the option of taking back ownership of that property, those rights, and they no doubt will after we regain control of the company from Nadine. But in the meantime, it protects the assets, like the stock, from being taken by Nadine and the other brother or anyone else for that matter.”
He paused only a second and then added, “especially if something happens to Mr. King and his son.”
Florencio turned to Lenny. He looked at him a long moment before speaking. “I asked you before, but I want to hear you say it here in front of the lawyer. And I want my son to hear it from your lips. Why are you putting us in this?”
Easley also turned to Lenny and crossed his arms as if to say, “Yeah I want to hear this nonsense one more time too.”
“It’s simple really. I considered everyone else I know. I trust no one else. You came to my aid when I needed it. You and I have spoken many times of our children and our wishes. We understand each other. Your daughter is special, and she is special to my son. This is all for them and their future and, you know, those, the little ones, who will come after.”
Both fathers smiled at that as they had when Teresa, a week earlier, had announced she was pregnant.
Florencio looked at his son. Crouched at the end of the table with both hands flat on its surface as if he was ready to push his great bulk to a standing position and get to work, as if sitting there was idleness and he abhorred idleness. The son nodded at his father and in that moment Easley the lawyer recognized a commitment was being made, a contract had been agreed to, stronger than any paper contract Easley had ever drafted. Father and son were taking an obligation on, the son especially, that this would be done for Teresa and her baby and future babies and, Easley thought to himself, in this family, they would keep their word.
Easley started passing documents to his right where Lenny was seated. Lenny signed them one after the other and slid them along the table to Florencio and pointed where to sign. Florencio did the same thing to his son who signed them and completed the circle by returning the documents to Easley.
It was done. They sat silent a while. Then Easley rose, shook hands with each person and left.
“So, what do you think?” Lenny asked.
“About what? All this legal stuff?”
“The hell with that”, Lenny replied. “What do you really think. What do you really think it will be? Boy or girl?” Florencio laughed out loud. Lenny had not heard him do that before. It was a pleasant sound.
Edmund stepped outside the restaurant, breathed deeply and studied the sunset. It was beautiful. Long time City residents were well aware of the irony that gaseous emissions from a million vehicles clogging the highways in the L. A. basin made for gorgeous sunsets. The smog, gray during the day, at sunset enhanced all the colors of the sky, from puce to green to reds and oranges and yellows of infinite shades. But, though Edmund noticed beauty, in scenery, art, culture, and he was well aware beauty did have a way of intruding at the most unexpected time; he was not one to stay for long buried in the poetry of a moment.
The meeting in the restaurant had gone as he had expected. And now his business was done. Plans were being made and would be expeditiously executed. His client had sat in the booth across from him and had listened quietly as Edmund outlined the difficulties being presented by certain persons, never named, though easily identified by certain descriptive words the client would recognize from previous discussions. The client never directly responded, but he made clear with certain nods and guttural responses the he had understood what he was being asked to do or, more accurately, arrange. Just as he had understood what to do about Willets the last time the lawyer had met with him at this very same restaurant.
The understanding reached, they quickly parted, leaving most of their food to be cleaned up by the wait staff. And now Edmund knew it would get done. Old Lenny King and his retard son would be dealt with. This client never failed in this sort of enterprise. And when that unpleasant business was done Edmund was going to be a lot wealthier for sure. And the client, as expected, would be handsomely rewarded. But besides the new wealth Edmund would also be getting more of what he increasingly craved: Power. Influence. He would soon have his own stake in a large successful company. And if this brief lunch meeting meant that neither Lenny, nor that idiot Dylan, were around to interfere then so much the better. There would soon be no ceiling to where Edmund might climb.
Nadine he could handle. She thought she was clever, she thought she had the leadership skills and strategic and tactical sense to take over a large business concern like King Enterprises. She would soon find she was mistaken, sadly mistaken. Edmund knew just how he would do that. But first things first. Plans were now in motion to eliminate the first impediment. Once that was done, once the dust had settled a bit, once all the legal niceties has been validated, well, he had other clients that needed favors, that had contacts that could neutralize the likes of Nadine and her idiot brother Regan.
“Your keys, Sir.” Without looking directly at or acknowledging the parking attendant, Edmund took the keys to his Porsche, and pressed a twenty in the palm of the boy. He strode around the car, passed another twenty to the boy holding the car door open and eased his long, tall frame down into the sports car. He nodded when the kid closed the door. He started the engine and revved it up a couple of times. Sweet! Holding in the clutch, he smiled with satisfaction at the muscular sound of the powerful engine. He was about to ease the clutch off when in his peripheral vision he picked up what he instinctively knew was Nadine’s form.
He looked and there she was. My god, he thought, what happened to her? She was as bedraggled as a homeless woman. He knew his mouth had fallen opened. She grabbed the handle of the passenger door, jerked it open and sat down, her skirt riding up over dirty and bruised thighs. The other people waiting for their cars as well as the parking attendants were all staring and now a security guard was edging toward them.
“My God, Nadine, what hap . . .”
“Just go! Go now.”
Edmund saw the guard was almost at the car. He popped the clutch and hit the gas and the Porsche jumped forward. He accelerated, and a few seconds later, they were pulling out in traffic.
“Yeah, I know how I look. I barely got away and I need your help. I have to get cleaned up. I can’t go anywhere, much less the police, looking like this. They will never believe me.”
“The police? What the hell are you talking about?”
“The police, yeah. We got to do something. They have Regan. And they have Crabtree. Edmund, she may be dead!”
Edmund jerked the car to the right and entered a strip mall parking lot. He maneuvered around grocery carts and delivery trucks until he got the car into an empty section far away from the entry to the store. He pulled to a stop and turned his body to face her. She appeared even worse now that he had a chance to look her over. And there were tears in her eyes and streaks down through the dirt on her cheeks. Her eyes were red and wild. On the edge of panic and hysteria. She had clearly been in this condition for a while, maybe hours.
He opened up her arms and pulled her over toward him. She was blocked by the gear box but tried to crawl into his arms.
“Listen, Edmund. We don’t have much time. They don’t have much time. We have to go get help.”
He took her by the shoulders and held her away from him so he could look in her eyes.
“And you listen. Whatever the trouble, whatever you’ve gone through, we will figure out what to do, but calling the police is not an option, Nadine. It can’t happen. It would complicate things, events, plans. You know this, Nadine. And it could all very well lead right back to us. And that would not be good. That would be bad. Very bad for us.”
Nadine was shaking her head. “Look, I know what we did with Willets, but that is over. We have to try to save Regan and Crabtree at least. We are completely open, vulnerable, without them. We can’t hold on to anything without those votes, without at least a chance at them and what if they get out without us and we didn’t help. They are not going to be with us then. They are going to hate us.”
Somehow Edmund felt relieved. This was the Nadine he knew. Not someone in a complete panic and wildly trying to ride to the rescue but rather the calculating, manipulative woman he had partnered with. She continued speaking.
“The police are the only ones who can move fast enough to help. I saw the road sign. I know where the place is. I know where they are. If we move fast, we can get the cops there before they have a chance to completely move out.”
“It can’t be the police. What we discussed the last time we talked is going to preclude that. Maybe we can do it ourselves.”
“We can’t. These are soldiers. Real ones. These guys are tough. We can put off the other thing with my father and Dylan. Leave it for later. We get this done and settle down then think it all through again.”
“Nadine,” he said firmly. He squeezed her shoulders and shook her slightly again to get her to be quiet.
“That’s what I’m trying to say. What I’m telling you. That part is already happening.”
“What? No. We just talked. It can’t be happening already.”
“It’s happening. And we want to stay as far as possible away from the police.”
Nadine sat there thinking.
“We need to stop them. It’s not the right time now.”
“It can’t be stopped. Not after this morning.”
Nadine sat and stared for a long time. She was tired. Exhausted. She couldn’t argue anymore. She didn’t want to think anymore. But she had to think. But not like this, not like she was.
“Okay, take me to my apartment. I need to clean up anyway. No. wait. I can’t go there. They will come for me there. We need to go somewhere else. You need to buy me some things. Go to your place. We can do it there.”
Edmund nodded. He started the car, backed up, and after maneuvering around a produce truck with pallets of melons being unloaded by a forklift pulled back on the street and headed for his apartment.
Just a short while ago, only minutes, he had felt on top of it all. In control and powerful. Professionally, financially, admired or feared, but possessed of real status. And about to attain a position where he would be even more powerful, at the peak, the apex, limitless potential. And now? Now he was avoiding thoughts and images that were flooding his mind. Of being disbarred, of imprisonment or worse.
He needed to clear such negative thoughts from his mind and make plans, think clearly. He needed to take action. He needed to figure out what to do. He needed to talk to the Judge. The Ice Queen. Never any panic, never any stress. Not her. Just taking in information from every source, every direction and planning, always planning. But he would talk to her alone. No court hearings and no other attorneys or parties to lawsuits. Just he and she. Certainly, he would not mention Nadine being at his apartment. He didn’t trust how she would react. He didn’t yet know how far this Ice Queen bit could be pushed.
It was a good move going to Edmund’s place. Nadine’s apartment was the first place they looked. Edgar and his friends, all his old Iraq buddies, had just arrived at the building and rushed into the lobby. They were stopped by a security guard.
Unlike most of his profession, this guard was neither a sluggard or a dummy. When he saw the three of them, he not only suspected they were up to no good, he knew he was overmatched and immediately pushed the button on the speaker phone attached to his uniform blouse right below his collar and radioed for his backup security men. They were in a patrol car in the back of the building but would be there in less than three minutes.
To delay and in a bid for time the security man engaged the three in some casual inane conversation. He didn’t want them to think anything was amiss though he noticed how they spread out, positioned themselves in a triangle so he had to keep turning his head to watch all three. He was on alert and wary of their moves and watched where their hands were at all times. He too had spent time in the middle east. He knew military tactics when he saw them.
Edgar recognized how the guard was assessing the situation and guessed he had called for back-up. It meant they were too late. Even if Nadine was here they were never going to get by the guards without the police being called. And if they did, they would get penned down. And they couldn’t let that happen. They needed to get away now. They were facing some serious consequences otherwise. His buddies had gotten carried away with the Crabtree woman. Not the first time they had done something like that, but it had always been in a war zone before. The only law there had been who had the most guns, the most firepower. They didn’t have that advantage here.
Edgar felt ashamed. All the aggression his guys carried around inside had erupted in a manner he hadn’t been ready for. The Crabtree woman had experienced what some women overseas had experienced. Unfortunate. But over there he and his guys had justified their rapes and murders to each other as righteous vengeance for being attacked from all quarters, even by the few locals they had grown to trust. And sometimes they had even done worse to those they thought had betrayed them. But did this have to do with vengeance? Had this woman, this Crabtree lady, had she anything to do with his Father’s death?
And he knew the answer was No. From what Edgar knew, she did a lot of things, mainly directed her ire, her manipulations, at others to advance herself in the corporation, but she had done nothing to Willets. She had even been an ally of his it turned out. But she had made the mistake of being with Regan when his fellow mercenaries arrived. And she had nothing of value to tell them about Nadine’s plans and whereabouts.
It was Regan who gave all that up. He confirmed Nadine had, through that lawyer, arranged for what had happened in the jail to Willets and how he had been murdered afterward not on direct orders but an automatic execution when he hadn’t delivered the goods on Lenny King.
Regan was another one, Edgar had taken no satisfaction from the beating and torture his buddies had inflicted. And he took no pleasure in finally strangling him. But they couldn’t let him go. That would have been suicide, but it was clear he was never a prime mover on the murder of his father. Nadine was far ahead of him in directing the attacks. He had not intervened to stop it. But he had been nothing, done nothing; was nothing without her.
Now Edgar was having second thoughts about it all. He had broken his promise to Mr. King not to act on his own. He had agreed to wait and work with them to set up Nadine first and win back the company and then take her down to nothing and then he could do what he wanted. Instead he had acted. Had broken his promise and now two people were dead, neither of which had any direct link to the murder of his Father and, worse, the ones who did were still free and now dangerous, very dangerous. And to think they had Nadine. He and his guys had her. And that would have been sweet. That would have satisfied him until he could get to the lawyer and after him the ones who had been paid one way or the other. But they had gotten sloppy. They should have known better. One of his friends was in the hospital with the knife wound in the back. Very fittingly Nadine had stabbed him in the back, and now his buddy was fending off questions of who had stabbed him and why.
Edgar realized he should have waited. Now it was too late. They had to leave. He would be an outcast, a soldier without country, without family. He knew there was plenty of work for mercenary’s around the globe. Maybe even for Blackwater again. There were companies who had their ways of helping men they hired who didn’t want to be found disappear. He always knew that’s where he would have to go anyway after getting his vengeance. Out of the country, soldiering for private armies. It was a price he was willing to pay to have revenge for what they had done to his Father. But now he had to pay the price of leaving and Nadine and that Edmund, the lawyer, still lived. And the unnamed ones, the ones who did the actual murder, who took the old man’s eyes, they were still out there somewhere and alive. He had failed. He should have waited.
His friends had realized the same thing about their chances of getting by this one in a million security guards. Just their luck. They turned and walked toward the door. Edgar followed.
“Thanks for your help.” He called over to the Guard who had retreated behind his high wooden desk and probably at that very moment had his hand on the Glock that had been on his hip. “We will catch her another time.” He waved his hand at the guard and without waiting for anything in reply turned and walked quickly after his mates.
For more writing by Phil Cline or to read earlier chapters visit philcline.com