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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: January 28, 2020      Views: 37

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 BOB CULLEN 
IN PRINT 




 ABOUT
BOB CULLEN 
Rob Cullen has been writing for around thirty five years. To date he's completed eight novels, with two published.

The Ultimate Betrayal was published in 2014 by G and J Publishing and is still available through Kindle, Smashwords and - more...

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The beginning
"Betrayal From Within" by bob cullen

ONE

June 10, 2011

PJ strolled through the Boardroom door as he'd done hundreds of times before. All conversation ceased. Eyes that had always welcomed with warmth now looked away. The reaction didn't surprise. PJ interpreted their reaction as guilt and betrayal. His fate had been determined.
Confrontation was inevitable. As one, they had rallied against him, seduced by history's oldest mistresses, the twin sisters greed and gold along with their ugly aunt, lust for power. Even his brother Andrew sided with the enemy. That didn't surprise. As brothers they'd not been close in years. As friends they simply avoided each other. Andrew's sole interest remained Andrew, a man intent on locating the easy buck. Andrew's eyes widened on hearing the price offered by Helen, it was too attractive to refuse. In Andrew's eyes, opportunity took precedence over commitment to family. His first priority was self. Loyalty became the first casualty.

No one offered a greeting. PJ immediately knew he was in hostile territory. An unarmed Indian alone on the prairie surrounded by gun-toting cowboys had more friends. Relationships and trust built and established on the basis of years of proven and profitable performance now discarded all on yet-to-be proven allegations amid a series of unrealistic and unachievable promises.

Memories too had been cast aside. What to do? Should he simply stride to the Chairman's seat at the top of the table, carefree and casual? Should he present facts and figures and mount an argument based on logic? Would they listen? He doubted it. Or should he simply walk away? Recollection of the portrait of his Grandfather hanging on the wall behind him ruled out that possibility. The old man had started with nothing and built an empire, an empire that had already survived one family betrayal. PJ stood to defend Grandfather's legacy.

PJ stared at the twelfth director's chair. Normally unoccupied, today it seated an expensively dressed middle-aged stranger, a stranger sharing his surname, Murphy. Though never introduced, PJ knew the occupant's identity. She was the one director he knew nothing about - well, no recent knowledge.

Prior to opening the boardroom door, PJ heard one voice rise above all others. Two factors identified her, an American accent and a feminine tone. Both advised PJ of the enemy's presence and her undoubted agenda. Fresh From the Farm, the company rebuilt from the ashes of betrayal was effectively at war, again. The enemy, the daughter of Grandfather's brother, Michael, the man who had single-handedly defrauded and bankrupted the parent Company, Murphy's Meats near on seven decades earlier.

PJ reflected on what he'd read and learned from his grandmother on the previous battle and the disastrous consequences that followed. It was, he sensed, a case of history repeating. Today it was the same combatants, the same family, two generations removed and motivated by the same greed and hatred. He heard the voice from inside the boardroom.

"I am more Murphy than either PJ or Andrew and that qualifies me to be the one and only genuine contender for the leadership of Fresh From the Farm. I will lead the Company to new heights." Applause broke out. Polite at first, then it grew more enthusiastic. "We'll broaden our markets and grow our profit." Another burst of applause. It halted the instant PJ opened the door. His facial expression, more than any word he could employ, indicated his anger.

"Ladies and gentlemen, don't let me intrude on the celebration. It appears to be a happy occasion. Do continue," said PJ on glancing around to face each of the eleven directors. No one held his gaze, all eyes maintained contact with the person seated at the top of the table.

"Do you mind if I sit here?" asked PJ prior to seating himself on the normally vacant twelfth board
Director's seat. "I take it that applause indicates your ascension to the Chairperson's role Helen?"
Silence greeted his aside. "Congratulations."

"It's my doing," responded Helen not in the least bit it seemed intimidated by PJ's comment. "Just a bit of light-hearted fun, sorry if it offends."

"Excuse my cynicism, Helen, but I have two questions. First, could I ask the reason for your attendance at this meeting? Is it in any way connected to the takeover bid you've launched? And secondly, are you aware of a counter offer just tabled in London this morning, at a price some forty pence above what you offered?"

"You can't afford it?" challenged Helen.

"It's not a case of my affording it my dear lady, I've accepted it. And might I say the offer I've accepted is on the table till noon. If anyone's interested I'd suggest they contact their broker. The buyer already has my 43% so he only needs another 7.1% for overall control. So I'd suggest you be quick." PJ stood and walked to the door refusing to answer any of the half dozen questions directed at him. Pandemonium broke loose.

"Sit down everyone," Helen screamed. No one obeyed. Six directors were attempting calls on their mobiles. "The bastard's bluffing." Once more she called for order. Three board members ignored her call and filed out the door behind PJ, all texting desperate sell messages into their mobiles. Loyalty answered to one master, the Dollar. PJ ignored the chaos and kept walking. He was enjoying this moment. He'd have control well before noon.

***

Outside the building a horde of reporters and cameras awaited. They surrounded PJ the instant he walked clear of the door. A score of microphones were thrust toward his face. Four questions emerged simultaneously.

"One at a time guys," he answered.

"We've heard rumours suggesting a takeover coup within Fresh From the Farm. Can you advise if there is any truth in the rumour, PJ? And who is the prospective buyer?" asked Channel Five's Business analyst. She'd posed the exact questions the unidentified caller had suggested she ask.

"Last evening I learned of an American bid, launched by my cousin, Helen Murphy. As you know, Helen is the daughter of my Uncle Michael who migrated to the US in the late 1930's."

"What can you tell us about Michael, PJ?" A press reporter asked.

"I think that question would be better directed to Helen?"

"PJ, there's another whisper circulating that suggests you are considering an offer for your stake in Fresh From the Farm. Would you care to respond to that?" A young blonde reporter posed this question. She'd been handed this question on a slip of paper from someone who'd exited the building moments before PJ.

"All I'll say to that is I hope your information is reliable. I have in the past hour accepted an offer for my entire holding of 43% which means my buyer is now within 8% of establishing a controlling interest in Fresh From the Farm."

"You didn't identify the buyer," the same reporter asked.

"As you are aware, all takeover bids are subject to market approval so I have no doubt the details will be advised within the next twenty four hours."

"What are your plans now, PJ?"

"A holiday sounds good."

***

Five Directors remained in the boardroom, Helen, Andrew, her mouthpiece beside her and two directors sitting opposite Helen. They watched the goings on outside on a TV mounted on the boardroom wall. PJ could be seen walking away from the camera and heading back towards the boardroom. As he walked through the door, Helen screamed. "This is all your doing, PJ. You'll not get away with it. I've not finished with you, PJ Murphy, not by a longshot."

"Correct me if I'm wrong, sweet cousin, but you did launch the first shots here?"

"The only shots that interest me, PJ are the final shots and let me warn you, I intend to be the one holding that gun."

"I feel on that dignified, and might I add recorded and threatening note, now make my way out of the boardroom for the last time. I sincerely wish you Helen and Fresh From the Farm every success in the future." He headed for the door.

"You can't walk out on me."

"Be happy, cousin, you've won." He opened the door and turned one final time. "This time." He pulled the door shut. A triumphant smile lit up his face.

Once in the safety of his car, PJ transmitted two text messages, neither extended beyond twenty words. Yet each delivered a specific instruction, an instruction that converted his plan to reality.

The first call found a stockbroker in Auckland, New Zealand. PJ arranged the purchase of an expanding meat processing company. The second located a banker in Sydney. The banker funded the purchase. Both the banker and the broker pocketed a one million dollar fee for their services.

Author Notes
This is a rewrite, based primarily of critiques received back in November.
This manuscript is presently about one third complete. I'm not sure where it's headed but here's hoping.
Hope you find it interesting.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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