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    Justin4Fun
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
This is Book 2 of the "New Reality" Series; reading 'Re-Birth', Book 1, is highly recommended.

Re-Forging - 10. Chapter 10

Once the stress of their lives being in danger had passed, we endured another half hour of interrogation about several things, from the logical to the insane. Brian even had the nerve to ask if we sparkled, which literally caused Tommy to growl. Since Chris already had most of his questions answered, he quietly cleared the table and started cleaning up the kitchen. Scott noticed and went to help him as Tommy and I continued to field the questions. Of course, Josh asked the inevitable: would I show them my fangs?

Rather than dance around it, I simply stood and shifted into vampire form. I let my fangs drop and felt my ears and fingernails growing and coming to a point. My vision shifted slightly as my eyes took on their emerald green glow. The guys were so focused on me that they didn’t notice Scott walk up beside me, also in his vampire form, until he spoke.

“Babe? We need to get going. I still have nine million dollars in checks in my suit jacket. I think we should find another bank or two, and most close at noon on Saturdays.”

With one statement, Scott had everyone’s attention. I wasn’t sure if they had just noticed his vampire form or if they were shocked by the money, but it didn’t matter. Scott was right; we needed to get to a bank or two. Tommy headed for Dad’s room to get dressed while Scott and I tried to sort out a plan for the day. We both shifted back to human form and asked the guys their plans.

Josh had to help David inventory at the shop, and Jake had to work from ten to two. Chris was supposed to help his dad clean out their garage, and Brian said he needed to mow. We had all agreed to meet at the mall at six to eat and catch the Transformers movie when Scott asked everyone about their plans for tomorrow. When he learned that no one had anything planned, he suggested we all head to the farm this evening and spend tomorrow in the pool or the lake. Everyone quickly agreed and either called or texted their parents to confirm, while Scott called James to ensure it was okay.

“Dad said to call Mom first, but he has no problems with it. He’ll come up tomorrow afternoon and suggested you drop by before we leave so you can feed,” Scott said as he dialed Donna’s number. After talking to her, he told us we’d have the house to ourselves; Donna and Mary would visit Matt and Liz in New Haven.

When I heard that, I contacted Billy, mind to mind. ‘Are you not going to be at the farm tonight?’

‘I thought you’d want to be alone with your friends.’

‘I want you to get to know them too, but I’ll leave it up to you. Let me know if you’ll be there or not.’

There was a long pause. I assume Billy was considering his options, as well as possibly talking with Mary. Finally, he sent, ‘I’ll be here. Someone needs to cook for the humans.’

I did my best to send a glare through the connection as I replied, ‘Scott and I are both good cooks, thank you very much.’

‘See you tonight, My Lord.’

Everyone looked at me when I loudly sighed, so I had to explain. I was happy when they all told me that Billy had to be there with us. With our plans settled, the guys jumped in Josh’s truck and headed out. While Scott headed to his house to shower and put on a suit, I did the same at my place. We were leaving my driveway a few minutes later.

Our first stop was another local bank that James had accounts with. I was happy to find that we were appropriately welcomed, ushered into a decent-sized office, and treated quite professionally, even before any mention of dollar amounts. We left there an hour later with four million in a business account with a two-million-dollar line of credit. The next stop was the bank I had used since I was seven. I knew every face in the place and was greeted with smiles all around. Rather than ask for guidance, I walked over and knocked on the door of the Vice-President.

“Good morning, Greg. What brings you in on a Saturday morning?”

“Good morning, Mr. Athey, this is my partner, Scott Warnick. We’d like to open two business accounts this morning. I’d also like to add Scott as my emergency contact and beneficiary in case something were to happen to me.”

“I’m sorry, Greg, but I can’t do any of that without Charlie’s approval. Not until January, that is.”

Scott looked at me and asked, “Didn’t Charlie call here last week?”

I shrugged, and Mr. Athey explained, “I was out of the office last week, Scott. May I ask what I’m missing?”

I handed him the emancipation paperwork, and after glancing over it, he said, “Ah, well, that changes everything, doesn’t it? I haven’t directly handled an account in several years, Greg. Unless you object, I’m going to bring in an account manager to help us.”

When I said it was fine, we were joined by the father of one of the freshmen on the team. After introductions and an explanation from Mr. Athey, we followed Mr. Thompson to his smaller office, opened our accounts, and made the changes to the ones I already had. We were finishing up the paperwork when Mr. Athey stuck his head in the door.

“If you don’t mind my asking, Greg, what are your plans with that money?”

“Most of it will be used to purchase property and a real estate management company, Mr. Athey; why?”

He seemed to think for a moment, then said, “If you’re open to it, I’d like to meet with you next week to discuss options to leverage your money. It might make sense to mortgage the properties. I know your credit is quite good, so we might be able to help you make your money work for you.”

Scott replied, “Our purchases will be more than the five million we gave you, Mr. Athey. We have cash currently spread between you and two of your competitors. That said, I think we’d be open to discussing options.”

Without even reacting to the fact that he’d asked me a question and Scott had replied, he nodded and said, “I’m out of the office on Monday, but you can call and see when our schedules match.”

We stood, and I offered my hand, saying, “We’ll do that. Is there anything you want to see besides property details and profit and loss statements?”

“Any debt that your company has, the names of all the officers, and a business plan would all be helpful but not required.”

Scott now offered his hand and said, “Expect a call mid-week, sir. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.”

When we left the bank, I checked the time and saw that it was still well before noon. I suggested we drop by the real estate office and ask Sally about the farm. Scott agreed, so we called to confirm that she was in and asked Tommy to head in that direction. On the way, I noticed a strip mall with a real estate sign in front of it. After pointing it out to Scott, I noted the agent’s name; Scott was busy making a list of the businesses located there.

A few minutes later, Scott looked at me with a combination of surprise and embarrassment. “Greg, we have a small problem.”

His expression concerned me; Scott didn’t get rattled easily. “Are you going to explain? Or just let me worry?”

With a sigh, Scott explained that other than the money James and Donna had given us as a gift for the vehicles, every penny we had was a loan from James. We had loan agreements with him, documenting each loan's amounts, interest, and terms. Technically, we should have told each bank this fact before using this loaned money as collateral for our lines of credit. He doubted they would have given us that credit had they known all the facts. He said he doubted Mr. Athey’s bank would loan us anything, even using the real estate as collateral, because we were already at a 100% debt-to-asset ratio.

I suddenly felt foolish. “Have we broken any laws?” I asked.

Scott thought for a few minutes, then replied, “Not that I’m aware of, but ethically, we have two options I can think of. Honestly, I think we should talk to James and Charlie, and soon.”

I nodded and called James, asking if he was free that afternoon. When he asked what it was about, I said it might be better in person. He said it would have to be before noon, so I called Sally back and explained that something had come up and we would have to meet with her sometime next week. I then texted Dad to see if he was free for a phone call in roughly thirty minutes. Tommy had been paying attention and was already heading for home; I got Dad’s reply as we were parking. Tommy offered to pack my clothes for the farm, so Scott and I headed over to talk to James.

I called Dad as we walked through the front door. When he answered, I explained that I needed him on speaker while Scott and I talked to James. I switched the call to speaker as we walked into James’ office. Donna appeared and handed us each a warm mug of stag and I grinned at the thought of casually drinking blood while talking with my father.

“Thanks for meeting with us so quickly, James. I’ve got Charlie on the phone, so we don’t have to go over this more than once.” James nodded and pointed to the chairs. “I’ll make this as brief as I can. The money you gave us is all covered under loan documents we each signed, correct?”

I thought I saw the slightest of grins as James nodded. “That’s correct, Greg, with the exception of the money Donna and I gifted the two of you for your vehicles.”

“Gift for vehicles?” Dad asked.

“Side issue, Dad. I’ll explain when you get home. The problem is that we’ve deposited these funds into business accounts at three banks and secured lines of credit for the business using those funds as collateral.”

“From you calling it a problem, I’m guessing you failed to disclose that the funds were tied to a private loan.”

I stupidly nodded, realized he couldn’t see me, and said, “Exactly. Scott said he has two options, but I hoped between you and James, there might be others.”

Scott explained, “I told him we could contact the banks and explain that it was an oversight and suggest they reconsider the lines of credit. My guess is that they’d rescind the credit lines, and it wouldn’t look good for us.”

James nodded as Charlie said, “That’s one option, Scott, and I think you’re overestimating their reaction. They might reduce the amount of the credit lines, but they’ll likely be more forgiving than you expect. What’s the second option you’ve come up with?”

“Honestly, I know of several options that aren’t ethical, so I won’t suggest them. The other ethical and legal option is for James to make a gift of the money. If I have all the details right, he and Donna can gift Greg and me just over twenty-one million dollars in their lifetime without us having to pay taxes on it.”

Now James was definitely grinning as Charlie replied, “You really are sharp, Scott. The exact amount is twenty-one million, three hundred and sixty thousand. That’s a lifetime limit, and it’s adjusted for inflation occasionally. Up to that limit, there are no taxes for anyone involved in the transfer.”

As Charlie was explaining this, I realized why James was grinning. I cleared my throat and said, “You knew this all along, and let us make this mistake as a lesson, didn’t you? You originally offered this as a gift, and I insisted it be loans, and you let me do that.”

James sat back and smiled. “You don’t sound upset.”

“I’m not,” I replied, realizing I really wasn’t. “We asked you to let us make mistakes, and you said you would only step in if we were going to do something insane. This wasn’t insane, just not the best option, so you let us make our mistakes and do it our way. Now that I understand there are tax benefits for you as well, I won’t argue about it being a gift. The question is, how do we do that?”

James pulled out a stack of papers and held them up. “By shredding these papers and filling out a form for the IRS.”

“It’s that simple?”

Charlie said, “Unless either of you filed the papers with the court, yes, it’s that simple.”

“Why would we file them with the court?” Scott asked.

“So there’s a legal record if either side ever disputes it,” I explained. “We signed them at the courthouse simply because we happened to be there. They were never going to be filed; they were just between us,”

James nodded and said, “My advice to both of you is always to have a copy of a contract filed with the court if you can. Some counties will only accept certain types of contracts to prevent overloading their files.”

“Excellent advice, James. Now, if I’m not needed for anything else, I have to head to the hospital.”

I jumped to my feet and almost shouted, “Are you ok? What are you going to the hospital for?”

“I’m fine, Greg. I’ll give you all the details when I get home. For now, all I’ll say is it has nothing at all to do with my health.”

“That’s not very reassuring, Dad, but you’ve never lied to me, so I won’t argue. When are you coming home?”

“Nothing’s changed on that, Greg. You and Scott have the house to yourselves for another two weeks.”

“One last thing, Dad. We’re taking the guys up to James’ farm in Pennsylvania tonight, and we’ll be home Monday. Just letting you know where I’ll be.”

“I appreciate it, son, but you can go up there anytime without checking in with me. I’ll let you know when I'm headed home so you are there. We have a lot to discuss. And no, I’m not saying any more about it. Love you, Greg. You too, Scott; remember your promise.”

I said, “Love you too, Dad.” At that exact moment, Scott said, “I remember, Charlie.”

I disconnected the call and stood; James waved for me to sit. “We’re not quite done, Greg.”

I knew what was coming; well, I thought I did. “We’ll accept the gift, James. I know there’s no point arguing about it.”

James gave a curt nod and pulled out his checkbook. “Good. For gifts this large, I need to be as accurate as possible. According to my ledger, we’ve given Scott eight million one hundred thousand, and we’ve given you seven million five hundred thousand. Do these numbers sound correct?”

Scott pulled out his phone and checked some notes. “Eight one-fifty, Dad. The money for the vehicles counts. You should also count the five hundred you gave me for my sixth birthday.”

James glanced down and nodded. “Thank you, Scott, and that would put Greg at… seven five sixty?”

Scott replied, “Yes, sir.”

James did some calculations and wrote two checks. He handed them to us, saying, “This brings our gifts to each of you to an even ten million. As the IRS makes its changes, expect more in the future. Feel free to argue, Greg, but you won’t win; I’ll just go get Donna.”

“I won’t argue, James, but I don’t feel like I deserve this.”

“You are my son and my son-in-law. How can you deserve any less than all I can give you?”

As we left James’ office, I sent a message to Tommy, mind to mind, to come pick us up. We had almost four million in checks, and I wanted to get them to the bank before they closed. I glanced at my phone and, seeing the time, I called Mr. Athey and explained what I needed to do. He assured me he would personally stay to assist us. We got to the bank before they closed and, after depositing our checks, walked away, each carrying five hundred dollars on the off chance we needed cash for something.

After a call to James, we stopped and used some of that cash to pick up subs for lunch and headed back to Scott’s place. After hanging our suits in Scott’s room, we ate at the kitchen table. James reminded me that I should feed after we ate, so Scott discussed some stocks he was interested in with James while I did that. I participated in the conversation mind-to-mind, though I didn’t argue with anything Scott advised. We decided to put money into several tech stocks and a handful of old faithful stocks with good dividend returns.

When I finished feeding, Scott and I went up to his room to gather a few of his personal things he wanted to take to the farm, then carried them down to the Escalade. We were heading back inside when Chris called to say he was done and asked if we’d pick him up. We decided to get him and then hang out at the mall until everyone else was free so they could follow us. As I was telling James all of this, Brian called with the same request.

On the way to pick up Chris, Tommy said, “Just a reminder, Greg, Lenny will be at the house when we arrive. I mentioned it to James, and he’s arranging for a driver to pick up this vehicle on Sunday.”

“I’ve been wondering about that, Tommy. Will it just be the two of you? Or do you plan to add more?” I asked, imagining myself at school, surrounded by men in black suits.

After giving me a nervous glance in the mirror, he replied, “I would like to have six or eight more to patrol the grounds at the farm. If you return to high school, I’d like to have two patrolling near the houses. As to the actual school, well, Lenny and I will look at it before you go back and decide what to do there.”

“You seriously think I’ll be in danger at school?” I asked. I saw Tommy tensing, so I added, “I’m not arguing, Tommy; I’m just asking. I honestly don’t understand why I even have you and Leonard.”

“To be honest, My Lord, you’re something of a novelty, an unseated Baron. When word gets around, and it will get around, every Baron will see you as a threat. Those who are unscrupulous will think you’ve come along to take their seat and will move against you to prevent that.”

I groaned, but Scott took my hand and calmed me. “You’ll do your best to keep them out of sight?”

“Lenny and I are the only ones that are supposed to be seen, Greg. The others are more effective if they’re invisible, so yes, I’ll do my best.”

“But I’m not going to be driving myself to school. I’m going to have to come up with a story to cover that.” I stated rather than asked.

Tommy replied, “I’ve given that some thought. I could get a job at your school and say that I’m Scott’s uncle, living with him, and the two of you ride to school with me out of convenience.”

We rode in silence for a few minutes as I considered this. “Your being Scott’s live-in uncle might fly, and even the rides to school might work for a while, but after a few weeks of you driving me around town, everyone’s going to know that I’ve got a driver. Then, your job at the school will become suspect.”

Scott slowly said, “I have an idea, but before I say it, have you decided if you’re going to wrestle?”

“Honestly, Scott, I think it’s been decided for me. There’s just no way I can. One mistake, and I might seriously injure or even kill a human opponent; why?”

Scott replied slowly as if he were thinking this through as he said it. “What if we fake an accident, and you spend six months in a leg cast? Since you can’t drive, your insurance covers a driver or maybe a medical assistant. That way, Tommy can be in the school with you.”

I took a deep breath and blew it out forcefully. “Aside from the frustration of spending all that time in a cast I don’t need, that only takes us to February. So… I fake a limp the rest of the year, and Tommy is helping me with my physical therapy?”

Scott shrugged. “Doesn’t sound so unbelievable, does it?”

I let out another sigh and said, “It sounds like my senior year is going to be miserable. I hope we can come up with something better, but I guess it’s an option.”

Scott was going to say more, but we had just stopped in front of Chris’ house, so we paused the conversation and waited as Tommy put the bags in the back. Chris climbed into the front seat beside Tommy, and we were off. At Brian’s, Scott stepped out to allow Chris and Brian to climb into the far back seat, and once again, we were off. We were parking at the mall when Josh called to say he was on his way to pick up his brother. It seems we wouldn’t get to spend any time at the mall. By the time Josh pulled up, Jake was outside with us, waiting. Rather than argue about who rode with whom, we had Jake, Chris, and Brian each flip a coin. Heads would ride with us, tails with Josh. Of course, there was a minuscule chance that all three of them would flip the same, but it solved the problem. With the coin toss done, Jake climbed in with us while Chris and Brian jumped into Josh’s truck.

We were barely out of town when Jake asked me, “When are you going to turn me, Greg?”

I shook my head and said, “I’m not.” The look of pain on his face caused me to add, “Not right now, at least. I hardly know what I’m doing. James said it’s dangerous, and—”

Scott interrupted me. “Greg told me that you want to go to West Point, Jake. Is that still the case?”

Jake gave Scott a suspicious stare and drew out the word... “Yes.”

Scott pressed. “And do they still require all cadets to participate in intramural sports?”

Realizing he’d been trapped, Jake slowly said, “They do.”

I had watched Scott weave his trap, and now I was the one to spring it. I snapped, “And how will you disguise your vampire powers through all that? Don’t you get it, Jake? I can’t fucking wrestle this year because if I do, I might kill someone.”

Jake stared at me for a stunned second, then said, “Surely you can’t be serious!”

Without a pause, I replied, “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.”

Tommy, Jake, and I cracked up, and the tension was broken. Scott sat staring at us a minute, then said, “I don’t get it.”

Jake and I both turned to stare at him. I said, “We’re watching ‘Airplane!’ and soon!”

We spent the next ten minutes doing gags from the movie and then explaining them. We finally gave up when my phone rang. It was Josh saying they needed to stop for gas. After the fuel stop and the obligatory snacks, Chris and Brian rode with us, both sitting in the third-row seats.

We drove the first five minutes in an awkward silence. When he couldn’t stand it any longer, Scott turned to Brian, “Greg tells me that you’re going to the community college after you graduate?”

Looking embarrassed, Brian mumbled, “Yeah.”

Scott quickly backed off. “Sorry, bro. It’s none of my business.”

Brian thought for a moment, then said, “It’s fine, Scott. I know all your stuff; it’s only fair. It’s just frustrating.” Looking at the floor, he went on. “Dad got laid off when the plant closed and then started drinking. Mom works, but it’s not enough. We’ve been living off my college fund; community college is all I can afford.”

“What do you want to do? I mean, is a degree from community college good enough?” Scott asked.

“I wanted to be a Certified Public Accountant. And before you go on about how it’s boring—”

Scott cut him off. “Actually, I love numbers myself, but not in that way. Everyone’s wired differently. I mean, look at Greg and Chris. They both want to study law; who in their right mind does that?”

Brian laughed while Chris and I showed Scott our love with our middle fingers. When the laughter died down, Brian went on. “I had hoped to go to Wharton, but that’s out. Even if I'm not a CPA, I can work in the field.”

Scott looked at me, and we had a brief mind-to-mind conversation. I didn’t think Brian would agree, but I let Scott make the offer. He explained how we were paying the expenses for Chris to attend college and law school. In return, he would join Mike’s law firm and eventually take over as our lawyer. We would keep track of the costs of his education, and when he finally started working for us, twenty percent of his fees would be applied to that amount until it was paid. After explaining this, Scott suggested we could do the same for Brian. We’d pay for him to attend Wharton, and then he could work with my dad and repay his college expenses over time. The idea of this being a loan rather than charity convinced Brian to agree to our proposal.

Copyright © 2023 Justin4Fun; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Scott and Greg may be smart enough to run a business, but still inexperienced enough to make some mistakes.  I like that James allows them to make and learn from mistakes.  I was not surprised that Jake was the first of the friends who had just found out to ask to be turned.  I wonder if getting the answer that it would have to wait, will get him to change his mind about attending West Point.  With the way Greg supports his friends and develops their loyalty, I suspect he will get many more requests to be turned. I appreciate that Brian is being offered the same help from Greg that Chris has already accepted. 

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Here in the UK the threshold before we pay inheritance tax is USD $408,000 (325,000) then the estate is taxed at 40% above this. You can give away your house but you must live another 7 years before it’s free of inheritance tax. Your threshold increases to about $628,000 (£500,000) it’s not much of a threshold but the greedy government keep stalling with the decision to ban inheritance tax. 

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This was a chapter of geat and wonderful things, and many amazing things! Every enjoyable!~

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