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I don't know if at 45 I can really be considered a dirty old man; I'm sure some of you will think that I am. You see I'm dating and infatuated with a woman; well maybe a girl of 22 is a better description. The difference in our ages is more than the years she's been alive. I've met a lot of young women who wanted to jump on my band wagon and have resisted the temptation of getting into a relationship with any of them.
If a woman of 30 or younger paid special attention to me or "hit" on me I would decline and say "I've got wrinkles older than you". Most of the time it had the desired effect; I turned them down but made them laugh. That line, more than once, allowed me to reject their advances without embarrassing them or myself.
The reason that I was a "target" for some, hell a lot of young women and older women too, isn't because I'm one of the world's sexist men. I'm not even in the top 10,000 and I'm being generous with that rating; no the reason women find me so attractive that they just have to get to "know" me more intimately is my money.
I have no illusions about their reasons for getting close to me. As a realist I don't believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy but I do believe that money and power are aphrodisiacs. Some women and even men are drawn to someone with a 4A Dun and Bradstreet rating like a cat is drawn to cat nip; they just can't help themselves.
My name is Jason Borne, no not that one, and I'm a self made rich dude. My company "Positive Solutions Inc." is rated as being worth over 10 million dollars and since I own it that's considered my net worth also. However that rating doesn't take into account the money that I've invested quietly in other companies and industries. Let's just say that I'm more than comfortable, actually let's tell the truth and say I'm stinking rich.
In spite of being the owner, CEO, CFO, COO, President, and I would be Chairman of the Board if we had a board, I still put in 10 to 12 hours a day. I come into the office around 6 AM and leave around 6 PM; of course I usually take a two hour lunch to go to the gym or do my running. I only work 4 days a week, giving myself three day weekends unless we have a dead line to meet and my people need my help. It's good to be king.
I have to hit the gym and run on a regular basis or I'll turn into the Pillsbury Dough Boy. The men of my family tend to balloon up in weight when they reach 40 or so. I wasn't going to let that happen to me, ergo the gym and running. I'm around 6 feet and have managed to keep my weight at a respectable 185.
Having said before that I'm not one of the sexist men alive, I will say you wouldn't be ashamed to be seen with me either; I clean up pretty good. I have dark hair, with only a few grey ones, and my blue eyes tell of my Black Irish heritage. The only detriment to my looks is a thin scar running from the corner of my right eye down to my jaw line.
I would like to tell you that the scar was the result of something exciting or adventurous but it happened when a CRT exploded in my face. But all and all not a bad package; add in my substantial bank account and I'm irresistible to some women.
After high school I spent ten years in the service of my country. For once unexpectedly the Army got it right and based on my test results assigned me to an IT division. I found a hidden talent for computers and actually enjoyed my first three years so much, I reuped for four years. My last tour was for three years and I still enjoyed the work and friendships; but not enough to reup for another three or four years.
I came back home to St. Louis and lucked into a job with a fledgling systems analysis company and took some classes at night to increase my knowledge of computers. Five years later two friends and I founded Positive Solutions Inc. and we were off and running. About ten years later we were making a lot, I mean a lot, of money; my two partners wanted to sell the company and take the money and run. I put together a package and was able to buy them out. Now PSI was my empire to rule.
My wife to be, Julie Landers, and I met in one of those night classes and hit it off. She had auburn hair and corn flower blue eyes. At close to 5' 10 she was lithe and graceful like a dancer; I was hooked after our first date. After dating for two and a half months, we moved in together; we got married the same month that Positive Solutions was conceived. The marriage ended in divorce and was mostly my fault; hell, it was all my fault. My two partners and I became so engrossed in founding and making a go of our company that I didn't pay enough attention to my other job; the job of being a husband, lover, and companion for Julie.
She tried several times to make me understand that she wanted more out of a husband and marriage than seeing me for a total of two or three hours a day. I would leave for work after a morning cup of coffee with her, came home to diner, and then spend the rest of the evening working in my home office. Julie would come into the office to kiss me good night; sometimes I would join her but a lot of the times I just kept working. She was usually asleep by the time I came to bed. Most of the time I worked over the weekend also.
Every time Julie would suggest or bring to my attention or complain that I needed to devote more time to her and our marriage, I would agree and things would get better for a few days. Then I'd go right back to being a workaholic. She put up with this behavior for eight years, two months, and fourteen days; then she filed for divorce.
I talked to her at her attorney's office before signing the divorce documents. Of course I tried to get her to change her mind but she said she was afraid that I was never going to change. She told me that she loved me but needed more than the six to ten hours a week that I spent with her.
Julie's demands were very reasonable; she wanted her car free and clear, she wanted a lease on a new apartment paid for one year, and she wanted one hundred thousand dollars cash. Half of our personal checking and savings accounts was substantially more than that and I offered to split those accounts with her; in fact I offered to give her all of those accounts. She refused and also turned down my offer of fifty percent of my third of the company.
I agreed to her terms and if a divorce can be friendly, ours was. Julie hugged and kissed me one last time and walked out of my life; I would miss her. She was a special lady but we just met at different points of our lives. Every year on her birthday I send her a card; the first card after the divorce I included a check for 50 thousand dollars. She put up with me working and excluding her for eight years while I built my company; I felt she deserved some of the rewards.
Julie returned the check with a note thanking me for the card writing that the check wasn't necessary. After that I just sent a card.
Positive Solutions Inc., or PSI, is an Information Technology company. We do everything and anything connected to or with computers. We do system analysis, create and apply software, and build entire IT systems and networks for the business world. We are very good at what we do.
The first time I met Kathleen Gallagher my company was in negations to purchase Doan Ltd., the company that she worked for. They were a competitor and I wanted them out of my way. She was one of the "suits" sitting opposite my team and me; she was introduced as the personal assistant to the Mr. Doan, owner of the company.
Kathleen reminded me of an Irish spring time; young and fresh. She was very attractive with her deep auburn hair and striking green eyes that can bore a hole through you like a laser. I guess I have a fetish for women with classic Irish looks. At 5' 9 she is tall and carried herself erect not trying to down play her height; in fact at each of our meeting she wore 3 inch heels which showed off her long legs nicely.
She was all business at these meetings; not flirting or flipping her hair and only smiled to be polite. The questions Kathleen asked and the points she brought up made me think that that "personal assistant" title didn't tell the whole story. She was sharp and to the point with no kidding around and she wasn't very diplomatic or tactful.
My team was getting a little frustrated but determinedly pushed on, trying to reach a settlement. We had already managed to get control of 40 percent of the voting stock and hoped to gain total control without spending more money on more stock. The hostile takeover that we were attempting with Doan Ltd. was the main reason I'd never taken PSI public.
I hadn't said much beyond good morning and had been listening to the back and forth between the two sides. Finally I'd had enough and stepped in. I asked my people to leave the table and to wait for me outside. Turning to Mr. Doan I said, "Let's get the bottom of all this. What do we need to do to make this work?"
"I'm sorry; I didn't get your name. Are you authorized to negotiate for PSI?" He asked; a little puzzled at my late entry into the process.
"Yes, I guess you could say I'm authorized. My name is Jason Borne; I own PSI."
For the first time I saw Kathleen react, she was surprised but hid it well. "Oh, I'm sorry; I didn't know," Doan said.
"From the discussions this morning it seems the main sticking point is that you are trying to protect your employees. I won't lie to you, there will be some people let go. However if they're good people I'll keep them on or find them jobs in other sections of PSI. I'll see that the ones we can't place will get a very good severance package. I'll put that in writing if necessary. So do we have a deal?"
At his nod, I called my team back in, told them what to do and left them to finish up. On the way back to my office I kept thinking about Kathleen and those eyes of hers. You know it wouldn't hurt if you got involved in the change of ownership and spent some time at the newest division of PSI, I thought. Being a realist I knew that the extra interest I had in Doan Inc. was because of Kathleen.
Now some of you will think poor guy, he's lonely, feeling old, and wants to relive his youth. In rebuttal let me say that I don't feel old, that's one of the reasons for my work out regiment. Obviously I'm not poor and as George Bernard Shaw said, "Youth is wasted on the young"; I've been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. To be blunt about it I wouldn't relive my youth on a bet. That leaves being lonely; there's a difference between being lonely and choosing to be alone.
I've had plenty of playmates before I got filthy stinking rich as well as afterwards. There haven't been any "serious" relationships because I haven't wanted any. At first I was too busy building my company and later I begin to worry about whether women wanted me or my money. No problem I let them use me until I got tired or bored with them; most of the time I let them down easy. I never once told anyone that I loved them or made promises that I didn't keep; that's a point of honor to me.
For the next two weeks I spent as much time at the new division as possible and since I was the owner and boss of PSI the amount of time I spent at Doan's offices was entirely up to me. After the first two days, I asked Kathleen if she would like to go to lunch; she declined saying she had a lot of work to do and was going to eat at her desk. Three days later, I invited her to lunch and again she declined citing the same excuse.
After ten days I invited her to dinner and was once again shot down. One of the problems of being comfortable or wealthy or stinking rich is that you expect people to do what you want them to; it's an occupational hazard. I wasn't used to people telling me no or even no thank you. One additional problem I had was that PSI was now the owner of Doan Inc and since I owed PSI, I was technically Kathleen's boss. If I wasn't careful I could get involved in a sexual harassment situation.
My last scheduled day at Doan was a Thursday; I walked into Kathleen's office, closed the door, and sat down in front of her desk. "Look Miss Gallagher, Kathleen, I would like to invite you to dinner one last time. If you say no, I won't bother you again. I'm asking as Jason Borne an admirer, not as Jason Borne owner of Doan Inc and your boss."
"Why me Mr. Borne?" She used my first name at my raised eyebrow and continued. "I'm sure you've got women falling all over you Jason. Why put the hard sell on me?"
"I admire your work, your business sense, and you no nonsense approach to your job," I answered. Then in response to her disbelieving look I said, "In truth I do admire and respect your skills and work ethic and actually I find you intelligent, knowledgeable, and very attractive; I would rather have dinner with you than some bimbo that will agree with anything I say."
While staring at the floor Kathleen made me wait a few seconds and then agreed to have dinner with me the next evening. I think I surprised her when I picked her up in my vintage 69 Mustang Mach I, instead of a limo. She was also surprised at my choice of restaurants; I took her to Angelo's, a little mom & pop Italian place. Angelo's is on The Hill, a conclave of Italian families, restaurants, and businesses on the west side of St. Louis.
During dinner we got to know each other better; that's what a date is for isn't it. She's earned a degree in business administration and was going to school at night to get an MBA. I found that Kathleen was a dichotomy; a woman with several sides to her personality. She was ambitious yet wasn't ruled by that ambition, she enjoyed her work but didn't live for her job; she was an astute business woman on one hand and a free spirited girl enjoying life on the other hand. In a word I found her delightful.
Kathleen expressed an interest in my story too so I gave her song and verse of my life; from going into the Army after high school and discovering that I liked working with computers and having a hidden talent for them. I described how PSI was born, my divorce and why, the buyout of the two other founding partners, and where I'd taken the company since then. It was sort of a Horatio Alger story in real life.
Drinking a glass of wine after dinner she giggled and said, "This is not at all what I expected from the great Mr. Borne."
"How so Kathleen and aren't we pass the Mr. Borne bit?"
Kathleen nodded with a smile and said, "I thought you would try and impress me with a fine five star restaurant and a limo and special treatment. Instead you took me to a place that serves really good food and has a nice home like atmosphere. You didn't try to show off; you just took me to a nice place. Not what I thought I would get when I agreed to go out with you."
"The owners are friends and I feel comfortable here, plus the food is great. Are you disappointed Kathleen; we can go someplace more fashionable next time."
"No, I'm not disappointed. This place is perfect. By the way my friends call me Kathy."
"Not me, I won't call you that," I replied.
"Don't you want to be my friend?" She teased.
"Yes I would like to be your friend. As I said before, you're intelligent, dedicated, and beautiful and that's too much of a handful for a Kathy. Kathleen is an appropriate name for a fine Irish lass like yourself, so that's what you'll always be to me, Kathleen."
I took her back to her place; she lived in basement apartment in an older two story brick home. I walked her to her door, and kissed her cheek as I said good night. "You can pick the place next time Kathleen. I'll call you."
Waiting until Monday I called her at her office and asked her if she wanted to do something during the day Friday. She reminded me that she was working but suggested Saturday instead and I agreed. I told her to dress casually, suggesting jeans as we would be in the country.
I surprised Kathleen again; I took her horseback riding. As far as I'm concerned if you're going off road you should use a Hummer or an ATV; as you can tell I'm not a big fan of horses. But Kathleen had told me she loved horses and rode every chance she got; so there we were at a stable. The horse guy, I think he's called a wrangler, asked about our level of riding skill. Kathleen was considered an accomplished rider; I'm more of a sit on the horse and try not to fall off type.
The horse they put me on had three speeds; slow, slower, and slowest. No matter what I did he walked at the same speed. Kathleen was on a spirited animal that like to run and prance but she controlled him very well. There were three wranglers for the twelve or so people in the group; one rode at the rear to keep the horses going, one rode in the middle to help the less than experienced riders like me. And one rode at the front with the accomplished riders; Kathleen was up front on her hyper active horse along with one of the wranglers.
In my mind I thought the "cowboy" was paying way too much attention to her but there wasn't much I could do about it except watch. They would disappear over a hill or down a different trail for a few minutes but weren't gone very long. Every time they went out of sight I tried to make my horse go faster but he paid no attention to my antics, nor would he turn off the trail.
I had surprised Kathleen that day by taking her horseback riding but I got a surprise myself. I was surprised to find out that I was jealous of the time that Kathleen and the cowboy spent together. On the way back I found myself thinking about buying the stable and firing that jerk water cowboy that had been messing with my Kathleen. Did I really say my Kathleen?
After our ride, I took Kathleen to a little diner on the outskirts of the city. It was a half hour drive and I probably didn't say more than a two dozen words during the trip. I liked listening to Kathleen talk about how much she enjoyed riding a good horse, the scenery, and how much fun she'd had. I also began rethink my reasons for wanting to be around Kathleen.
Our next evening out I picked her up in the limo and took her to a five star restaurant on top of one of the tallest buildings in the city; the view from our table was stunning. When Kathleen answered her door and saw the limo she started to giggle and said, "Too late, you can't impress me now. I know what you really like to do; you want little out of the way places and love to horseback ride." She teased me about the horses because after the ride she asked me how I liked my horse; I told her 'medium rare' was about right but I thought he would make a better candidate for the glue factory.
We had a couple more weekend adventures; I took her fishing at a trout farm because she mentioned her mother used to take her fishing when she was much younger. Another time we went to a NASCAR race, you know those guys that drive fast and turn left. We had pit passes but actually watched the race on TV an owner's box and only paid close attention when the cars come into the pits during the race.
I called her one Monday asking her to dinner the next night, but she declined my invitation. "Jason I have classes tomorrow night, but could we meet for lunch today? We need to talk."
Oh hell; the dreaded "we need to talk" bit. That phrase strikes fear into the hearts of every man, husband, boyfriend, or significant other in the world. Those worlds seldom bring good news.
We agreed to meet at a nearby café at 11:30. It was already 10 so I didn't have long to sit and stew about the "we have to talk" line. I walked into the café and Kathleen was sitting in a booth near the back. She was lovely as always but I could tell that she was nervous.
As I sat down across from her I said with a smile, "Alright Miss Gallagher, you called this meeting. What's on your mind?"
She smiled a little and then got serious again. "I've enjoyed out time together very much, Jason. You've taken me to wonderful, glamorous places and treated me like a princess. We've gone to other places that I enjoy and you only went to please me. I want to thank you for all the wonderful times that we've had together."
"I hear a silent but in there Kathleen. But what?" I knew what was coming, I was about to get dumped.
"But, I don't have a romantic interest in you Jason. The age difference is part of it but mainly I don't want to get involved in a relationship just now. I have goals I want to accomplish, I want to be more than a personal assistant to some CEO; I want to be a CEO someday." She stopped to take a drink of water and continued.
"You've been very good to me and I appreciate it but I don't want to mislead you. I never knew my father and you're a, well if not a father figure, at least a favorite uncle figure. You're just what I dreamed my father would be like. I'm sorry I should have told you how I felt sooner but I was having a good time and I guess I got a little selfish." Kathleen stopped talking, glanced at me to see my reaction, and then looked down at the table.
Yep, I was being dumped. On the other hand I'd just received the nicest compliment ever. The lack of romantic feelings on her part strangely didn't bother me too much. I had once thought to myself that if I was some young girl's father I wouldn't think much of an older man squiring my daughter around and trying to get her into bed.
Maybe that's why I'd never pushed Kathleen for anything more than a kiss on the cheek saying good night. Hell, maybe that's the real reason I turned down all the come-ons from those young women. Maybe I wasn't a dirty old man after all. The more I thought about it the more flattered I was; imagine being a father figure or even a favorite uncle to an amazing young woman like Kathleen.
"Kathleen, look at me," I ordered. She raised her head and I continued, "Thank you, that's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. I would like to continue our adventures as friends or even as your adopted uncle. I've very fond of you and don't want to lose your friendship... "What do you think young one?"
"I'd like that Uncle Jason," she replied with a laugh. Then the smile left her face and a look of ... well fear replaced it. "Oh my God, my mother just walked in. I told her what I was going to tell you; she said she was worried about your reaction. I'm sorry Jason I didn't expect her to join us."
I stood and turned to meet Kathleen's mother. Mother? I don't think so. Maybe an older sister; this couldn't be the mother.
"Mom, this is Jason; the man I told you about. Jason this is my mother Gillian Gallagher," Kathleen introduced us.
"Hello Mrs. Gallagher, I'm Jason Borne. It's nice to meet you." I stood to greet her and put my hand out.
Gillian looked at me intently for a few seconds. Ignoring my offered hand, she sat down next to her daughter and continued to inspect me.
Feeling her stare I smiled and said, "Kathleen has just informed me that I'm not suitable as a boyfriend, but the job of adopted uncle is open. I've made an application for that position." I was trying to be funny to ease the tension that had descended on the table.
"That's nice Mr. Borne, but don't think it's a backdoor way to get my daughter into bed," she said, looking at me suspiciously.
"Mom!" Kathleen said. Her face turned red with embarrassment.
"I know all about you Mr. Borne. You're rich and used to getting what you want and right now you want Kathleen in your bed. Shame on you, your old enough to be her father! Men like you impress young woman by taking them to fancy places and driving around in fancy cars or buying them expensive gifts. Maybe in your case you'll offer her a great promotion at work; after all you do own the company."
"Mrs. Gallagher with all due respect," I said returning her angry look, "You don't know a damn thing. If I was what you described I probably would have used all those things to seduce Kathleen. But if you had gotten to know me before you chopped my head off you'll find that I'm not a liar or a schemer.
I'm flattered and touched that Kathleen thinks of me as a friend. I've no intentions of harming that friendship by being a dirty old man." I was totally pissed off at her accusation.
"I'm sorry you don't like me but Kathleen does and that's good enough for me. If she decides to continue going on our adventures that's great and that's what we'll do. But make no mistake; it will be Kathleen's decision, not yours. And if you don't like it, you can go to hell."
I turned to Kathleen and said, "I think I'd better go. Call me if you need me. Good bye Mrs. Gallagher." I walked away with dignity; actually I stomped away in a rage.
Maybe the reason I was so angry was that Mrs. Gallagher had me pegged; she understood what I wanted when I first started seeing Kathleen. But something had changed, now I really liked the girl; not as a possible bed partner but because she was a fascinating young woman. I really enjoyed listening to her express her ideas and ideals, her goals and dreams and somewhere along the way I began to want to be her mentor, her teacher, her friend, and hell yes even her adopted uncle.
I didn't expect to hear from Kathleen that afternoon but the next morning she was sitting in the outer office when I got to work at 6 AM.
"I'm so sorry Jason. Mom had no right to jump all over you like that."
I smiled at her got us both a cup of coffee and led her to the sitting area in my office. "Remember during one of our talks I told you that I believed everyone is responsible for their actions?" She nodded and I said, "The key word in that statement is their actions, not the actions of others. You don't owe me an apology."
"But Mom didn't..."
"That's on your mother, not you. Lighten up little one, everything's fine. Now go to work before I dock your pay," I said as I patted her on the shoulder and walked her to the door. Kathleen nodded, smiled, and went back to her office.
Sometime around 7, I heard a knock on my office door. Must be the morning for early visitors, I thought. "Ya, come in." Gillian Gallagher came into my office. I felt the anger from yesterday start to boil up again.
"May I talk to you, Mr. Borne?" I didn't say anything but nodded at her.
"I came to apologize, Mr. Borne. I shouldn't have gone off on you like I did."
"No you shouldn't have, at least not until you got to know me a little better."
She blushed and started to say something more but I held up my hand to stop her.
"Have a seat Mrs. Gallagher. Would you like some coffee? I make it myself; as good as my secretary is she can't make coffee worth a damn." I got the coffee and sat down across from her in front of my desk.
As I poured the coffee, I took a closer look at Mrs. Gallagher. She was a more mature version of Kathleen; I could see where Kathleen had gotten her auburn hair, green eyes, and good looks. Mrs. Gallagher was about the same height as her daughter with a more mature figure.
Mrs. Gallagher continued, "I just didn't want my stupidity yesterday to affect Kathy's job. It's not her fault that her mother is a crazy person. But Kathy is all I have and I'm sometimes over protective where she's concerned."
"So you're here because you're worried about her job, not because of what you said. If I was the type of man that you think I am, her job would be in jeopardy; lucky for all three of us that I'm not that type of guy. She would be very hard to replace. Relax; the only way Kathleen will leave the company is if she resigns."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean..."
"Look Mrs. Gallagher, true confession time. When I first met Kathleen, my intentions were exactly what you thought." She started to respond but I held up my hand to stop her and continued. "But after a couple of dates and getting to know her, I realized that I didn't want to be the dirty old man that you accused me of being. I wanted to be her friend, her mentor, and help her if I can."
She leaned back in her chair and looked at me. I could tell that she was puzzled by my confession.
"Kathleen is a remarkable young woman. She's formidable in her business dealings and yet she's one of the sweetest people I've ever met. Her co-workers jump when she suggests things but they all think very highly of her and would do almost anything for her. I want to spend more time with her and since I refuse to be a lecher I guess my role will be that of an adopted uncle."
"You're not at all what I thought you were or what I expected Mr. Borne."
"After ripping each other a new one yesterday don't you think you could call me Jason? Every time someone calls me "Mr. Borne" I think of that guy in that movie."
My comment eased the tension and got the smile I wanted. "Maybe you're right Jason; I'm Gillian."
"I remember," I replied. "It's a little early for lunch but could I interest you in breakfast? That little café where we met makes a mean omelet. I'd like to discuss some ideas I have concerning your daughter and my 'niece'."