New York City – Present day 2017
Jeffrey stared out of the large window down to the swimming pool. A sad smile appeared on his face and he turned away. His eyes landed on a framed photo on the desk beside him and he picked it up. “He’s still mourning, Mona, and I’ve got no idea on what to do to help him.” He sighed as he pressed the photo against his chest. “I miss you so much.” He placed the photo back and walked around the large desk to take his seat. Several documents needed his attention, but he pushed it all to the side. Jeffrey leaned back and closed his eyes.
Wild Coast, South Africa – 27 years ago
“You really shouldn’t color your hair so much. You’ll cause permanent damage to it and you’ll damage the environment as well.” He didn’t mean the words as a reprimand, but stated it as a fact.
The young woman turned and Jeffrey swallowed hard. Although her eyes were dry, they were filled with sorrow. He couldn’t help and reached out to her. He kept his movements slow and smiled when she didn’t flinch away. “Let’s sit down.” He guided her with his hand to a pair of sun loungers that stood behind them. He waited for her to sit down first before he took a seat himself. “Are you all right?” He asked in concern.
She looked at him for a long time. “Less than 0.06 percent of the world’s population has the ability to show their emotions in a way no other living being is capable of.” She tilted her head. “Do you know how?” She inquired in a silvery voice.
Jeffrey shook his head. “No.”
She touched her hair and brought a strand forward and wrapped it around her index finger before letting it go and it settled on the side of her face.
He frowned. He had no idea what she meant. Jeffrey wanted to speak up when she beat him to it.
“I will never harm the environment with hair colors, our planet is sacred, we should hold it in high regard. Without it, there’s no life, without life, there is no us.” She raised her eyes and held his gaze. Never before had he seen such a color. For the first time, he understood what people meant when they said someone had jade colored eyes.
She continued talking as he remained quiet.
“Three and a half million people.” She shrugged. “Not many, in fact too few.” She played with her hair. “Of course, it’s so rare, most people are not aware of it; of us.” She lowered her eyes. “The moment they do become aware, things change and not always for the better.” She sighed. “At least it’s better now, not quite right, but it’s getting there.” She snorted and although it was something a young lady should never do, she managed to do it with style. It still made her blush. “Sorry, that was rude.”
“You’re forgiven,” Jeffrey found his voice. He smiled as she giggled softly.
“You care about the environment.” She stated it with conviction. It seemed like for now she was not going to tell him how less than 0.06 percent of the world’s population projected their emotions.
“As you said, without earth, we will not survive.” He repeated her own words and looked around. “There are so many natural materials out there that we can use, but we ignore them, instead we concentrate on things like plastic, that’s not degradable, that will cause damage to every aspect of our environment and not only in the short run but more specifically in the long run.” He turned to face her properly. “I mean, why would not use what nature’s given you.” He looked up at the sky. “Like the sun, it is a pure source of power, use it, let it give us electricity or the wind. Both are perfect for our needs, but we want to rely on something like nuclear power to satisfy our own needs.”
She smiled. “I like you.” She rose to her feet. “Thank you.” She stated the simple fact before she turned and walked away.
“Wait!” Jeffrey called out. “What’s your name?” He jogged up to her.
“Mona,” she smiled again and tucked her hair behind her ear again.
Jeffrey returned the smile. “I’m Jeff.”
Mona shook her head. “You’re more a Jeffrey than a Jeff.” She turned and walked away again. Her hips swayed gently as she made her way to the beach.
Jeffrey grinned from ear to ear and then frowned. Her hair, it was no longer gray, but a light pink. He blinked and when he looked again, she had disappeared. For a long time he was rooted to the spot and thought about the girl named Mona.
Jeffrey smiled. For days he looked out for her, but without success. He finally told his father about what he’d seen and the old man explained to him the phenomenon he’d witnessed. He couldn’t believe that he didn’t know about it, but he also knew it didn’t matter. He had to find her, he had to see her again. And he did. Their second meeting lasted throughout the night and by the end of their respective vacations they were madly in love. Up until the day she died, they were still in love.
“Our boy needs to get out of here. He needs to find himself again, but more importantly, he needs to find love.” Jeffrey smiled and reached for the phone on his desk. He had an idea. It was time to get his boy happy again and if he got a son in law out of the deal, which he had a feeling would happen, then all would be well in his life.
Ackles Penthouse: Washington D.C.
“You’re a real ass, Jensen Ross Ackles!”
The vase flew over his head before it shattered into pieces just above his head. Jensen straightened and shrugged. “I told you from the beginning, no strings attached.”
“And now you’re shoving me to the side without a second thought.”
“Don’t make a scene, it’s unbecoming.” Jensen sighed and raised his hand. “That was rude, I do apologize.”
The blond shook her head and with a trembling hand rubbed away the tears that fell from her eyes. “I was so stupid,” her arms crossed over her chest, lifting her breasts higher. “I was duly warned, but I thought I could handle it. You’re not an ass, Jensen, I’m a fool.” She grabbed her stilettos and on barefoot she walked to the door. “I’ll see myself out.” She didn’t look back as she opened the door and stepped out. The door closed with a soft click.
Jensen let the breath out he held. “It’s better this way.” He had no idea if he meant the words for himself, or for the woman who just stepped out of his life. He turned and walked to the ceiling to floor windows and leaned against the pane. He stayed there for a long time and only turned away when his phone chirped. Jensen sighed as the name flashed across the screen. For a moment the thought crossed his mind to ignore the call, but he knew it wouldn’t go down well.
“It’s way too early in the day for you to be up, Danni. Especially on a Sunday.”
“You blew it again.”
“What?” Jensen dragged his hand over his face. “Really? You’re gonna go there, now?”
A soft sigh was the only sound he could hear through the tiny speaker. “I’m sorry.”
“Me too.” Jensen looked at his watch. “I’ve got to go. I’ll talk to you later.”
Danneel laughed. “I’ll phone you, because if I had to wait for you phoning back, I’m in for a very long wait.” She gently cleared her throat. “You know you can talk to me.”
“Danni, you sound like Misha.” Jensen smiled even though she couldn’t see him. “But I do know, and I appreciate it.” His phone buzzed. “I’ve got another incoming call, I’ll talk to you later.” He ended the call not waiting for her to say goodbye. He’ll get chewed out for that when he saw her again. He answered the second call. “If you’re calling me to tell me I’m stupid then you can just stop it right there. I know it.”
“What? Oh, let me guess, you blew it again?” Steve Carlson sighed. “Nothing new there then. But, no, I’m not phoning you to tell you that you’re stupid, you know that already. I just got off the phone with Jim Beaver and we had a very interesting talk. You want to meet for breakfast?”
“I have another meeting set up in forty minutes, want to meet for lunch?” He wondered what Jim Beaver wanted. The old attorney had a few big clients, but he couldn’t think of anything that would interest him talking to Beaver right at that moment.
“No you don’t.”
Jensen sighed. “Just because your husband is sprawled out next to you, doesn’t mean I don’t have meetings to attend to, Steve.”
“He’s not sprawled out next to me, he’s swimming and if he hears you going out without him, he’s going to kill you.”
“And he’ll only know if you snitch on me.” Jensen sighed. “I’m driving to the appointment. They’ve got undercover parking with good security. I’ll be there for about thirty minutes and then I’ll come straight back.”
Steve growled. “Come to us afterwards, I’ll start on lunch. And I will not tell Chris anything.”
Jensen groaned as he heard, Christian’s voice in the background. “Tell me what?” He sighed. “I’ll be at your place in about an hour’s time. Bye.” He shook his head and placed the call out of his mind. He looked for his keys, found them and headed out the door.
New York City – Present day 2017
“Jared?” Jeffrey asked as he stepped out onto the top terrace and took a seat next to his twenty year old son. “You’ve skipped out on breakfast and lunch, are you not hungry?” He swung an arm around the younger man’s shoulders and kept it there.
Jared shook his head and leaned against his father’s shoulder.
“I wish I knew how to help you, son.” Jeffrey squeezed Jared’s shoulder. “I have an idea for you. I think it will do you good, but there’s no pressure on you, understood?” Once again, he got only a nod, but after six months of not hearing any words from Jared, Jeffrey was used to this communication method. “A few months ago, I bragged with some of your new sketches and plans to some business associates of mine. Jim also saw it and that uncle of yours was very impressed. He even took some photos of it. Long story short, based on what he showed around a job offer came your way.” He held up his hands as Jared’s mood changed dramatically to one of utter suspicion. “No pressure, Jared. Just hear me out. Jared’s mood remained unchanged and Jeffrey pushed on. “Ackles industries have an internship position open for an architect. They are aware that you’ve not completed your degree, but are willing to keep you working around your studies until you’ve got your bachelor degree. They are willing to help you with your licensing examination as well and you’ll be employed full time on their staff as an architect after that.” Jeffrey cleared his throat. “You need to get away from here, Jared. You need to start living again, and staying here, it’s not working, you’re fading away before my eyes, boy and it’s killing me. I can’t lose you, you’ve all I’ve got left. Please, think about it, that’s all I ask.”
Jared moved away from his father and got to his feet. His hand travelled to his hair and he tucked at the strands that threatened to hang over his eyes. He could see that his hair was orange and he willed himself to calm down. He knew his dad only had his best intentions in mind. When his hair turned the usual mourning gray, he jammed his hands into his jeans and nodded once before he walked off. He had a lot to think about.
Jeffrey sighed as Jared walked away. He has done what he could, the rest was up to Jared and what Jim could work out. He had to help his son, it was the only way that Jared would start living again. Jeffrey could only hope that Jared didn’t find out the whole truth about the internship, his son would in all likelihood never forgive him if he found out just what Jeffrey had done. He got to his feet and made his way into the large house again. He had some more calls to make.
“Seriously?” Jensen took another bite of his salad while he looked at the contract in his hand again. Jim Beaver had faxed it through to Steve just before Jensen arrived.
Steve hummed and swallowed before he answered. “Yes, for the tenth time, seriously.” He grinned when Jensen rolled his eyes at him.
“What do you think of this?” Jensen looked over at Christian. The man was still angry with him for going to a meeting without him being present, but at least he only glared at Jensen and no longer threatened him with violence.
“I say there’s another motive behind that offer. Don’t take it.” He reached over and grabbed a piece of garlic bread.
“What motive can there possibly be?” Jensen frowned.
“I don’t know, Jensen, but damn it, just how stupid can you be to think that JD Morgan is offering the majority share in his multi-million dollar business to you with a flimsy condition to employ his son for a year and a day? He’s a hardened businessman, and that offer there does not make any business sense, it doesn’t even make common sense.”
Jensen pondered over Christian’s words. “What do we know about the son?”
Steve handed over his tablet to Jensen and explained what he could find out while Jensen scanned through the different photos and articles on the young man. “Jared Tristan Morgan is the only son to billionaire Jeffrey Dean Morgan and his wife Mona Padalecki. He just turned twenty and graduated high school at the age of sixteen. It’s the same year he legally changed his name to Padalecki due to several personal reasons, one of them the fact that he wanted to be his own man. After his graduation, he started with his Bachelor of Architecture degree and he’s in his final year. Take note, this degree takes five years to complete, he’s doing it in three, although from what I understand is that he’s not going to graduate at the end of this summer.” Steve sighed. “His mother passed away six months ago, due to cancer. Since she was diagnosed, he had not attended one class, it’s rumored that he’s taking her passing extremely hard.”
“There’s another reason not to take the offer. The kid doesn’t even have a degree behind his name, how is he going to work for you?”
Steve spoke up before Jensen could. “Look at this.” He took the tablet from Jensen and handed it to his husband. “These are some of his designs he made this past few years. He’s won more than his fair share of accolades for his designs and one of the new satellite offices of Morgan Inc. have been designed by Jared and he played a hands-on role during the whole construction. He’s an asset to any firm and we’ll be stupid not to take him on as an apprentice.”
“And after a year he walks away with all his designs and Jensen’s left with nothing.”
“Not true, Babe. There’s a very specific clause in that contract that states that any design made by Jared remains the property of Ackles Architecture after his departure. He will not be able to claim any design for himself. Jensen has to employ him as an architect and also assist with his licensing exams. Should Jared decide not to stay and work for Jensen, another clause states that for five years after he leaves, he’s not allowed to work for or open his own architect firm within the state of Virginia.”
Christian gaped at the information. “And the kid is agreeing to this?”
“It will be explained to him before he starts working for Jensen.”
Jensen looked at the designs together with Christian. He had to agree he was impressed. “Why me, why my company?”
“Not to sound like I’m imitating you, but, seriously? You took a one-man architecture company and turned it into the top architectural firm in the country, while at the same time you became one of the youngest millionaires in the same period of time. You do realize you appeared on the FORBES list of millionaires under the age of thirty-five, correct?”
Jensen rolled his eyes again. “Gaining the controlling shares in Morgan’s company would really put the company on the map.” He leaned back in his chair. “Jim Beaver is available for questions?”
“He’s willing to fly out and meet you in person.” Steve responded.
“Okay, I’ll talk to him.” Jensen looked at the photo of Jared again. There was something in the young man’s eyes that spoke of a vulnerability, and Jensen couldn’t help but feel protective towards him. He grinned at the purple hair and wondered if it was part of a rebellious stage, or if he was making a statement. It looked weird, but at the same time, it suited Jared. He could only hope that when Jared came to Washington that he would at least be back to his normal hair color, whatever that might be, but with Jared’s coloring, he bet it was a deep chocolate brown. Something fluttered in his stomach, and he wouldn’t help but to hope that the young man would come and work for him. He couldn’t wait to meet him in person.
Jared pulled the sketchpad close, a piece of charcoal already in his hand, another stuck behind his ear. He only concentrated on the paper in front of him as he quickly started drawing the first outlines of what he could see in his mind’s eye. Most artists and architects used a pencil to do the outlines first, Jared hated it. He used charcoal from the beginning to the end. Only when the first sketch was finished would he do it over in pencil and ink. He knew how to use the modern software available, but he would rather use his own hand than work with computerized software. That was what made him stand out from other students. Jared was more in touch with his creations than anyone else. The ideas he came up with were already alive on paper. The fact that he was at the top of his class in every other required and elective module made him even more special. That was until six months ago when his mother died. He’s not been back to a single class and he couldn’t care less. He was supposed to graduate at the end of the summer, but now he wasn’t even sure if he wanted to finish his studies. He had a feeling that it wasn’t only uncle Jim, who had a hand in the offer his father just shared with him. Jeffrey Dean Morgan had a big enough name out there to get something like that presented to Jared on his own. That was one of the reasons Jared changed his last name legally to that of his mother’s maiden name just after he turned sixteen. Both his parents consented to the change as it became difficult for Jared to be seen as his own person with the last name like Morgan. With a billionaire father, not only did the chance of being kidnapped increased significantly but with each achievement reached by Jared, whispers could be heard to say the only reason he got the highest honors was because of whom he was. Now, he was just another ordinary student with a bit more anonymity to shield him from the world out there.
Jared looked down at the pad on his knees and groaned. Once again, the image on paper was not what he wanted to draw. With an angry breath, he tore the page out and crumpled it up. Disgusted with himself, he tossed it away. He was useless if he couldn’t get his mind in the game he would be useless as an apprentice. Maybe he should just quit, but then what would he do? He was never one who had the ability to do nothing, although, if you looked at his performance in the last six months, it seemed like he managed to get that done perfectly. He leaned over and reached for the discarded paper again. He smoothed it out and looked at the face he’d drawn. It was his mom’s face. Although it was drawn in charcoal, he could see the colors in his mind’s eye. Her hair was crow black, her skin creamy white a paper her mouth in a grimace of pain. It was the image stuck in his mind, the last time he saw his mother alive before she died. Six weeks, that’s how long it took for the cancer to travel through her body and take away the one person who understood him the most.
‘Mom,’ the word vibrated through his soul, as he closed his eyes in a valid attempt to stop himself from crying. He was no longer a boy, but a young man, no longer could he hide behind his tears. But, it was so hard. He missed her so much.
For what felt to him like a lifetime, Jared stayed hunkered down as he tried to get his emotions under control. He loathed being one of less than 0.05 percent of the world’s population that showed their emotions in their hair color. When he was little, he loved the way his hair could change color, but then his teenage years crept by and it all changed. The fact that it could be used to recognize him, even made him wear wigs a few years back, as hair products did not work. Finally, he’d managed to reign in his emotions and went so far as to make himself deliberately unhappy, so that his hair was a coal black, but then he found peace, especially through his art and his hair color settled into a dark brown – a normal color hair and it synchronized his balance with nature. That was until his world turned upside down and from there on end he had no control over his emotions, no control over his hair color. It was an ash gray to show that he was grieving, but in an instant it could change and everyone around him would know just how he felt. He hated it. Jared straightened himself out and winched in silence as his muscles complained about his inactivity for the past couple of hours. His dad was right, he had to get away from here. He had to go somewhere new and start over. It could only get better, nothing more could go wrong, right?