Chapter 10 - It's a Blue World

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As Jonathon stalked past the secretaries in the large open office, he decided on one thing. Before the meeting was over, he'd make sure Jenkins knew he'd overstepped his position by scheduling it without asking permission from Jonathon first.

Walking into the conference room, he was surprised at how crowded it was. Not just the heads of each department were there, several higher ups were attending as well.

Seeing him, the ones who were already seated stood while many of them exclaimed, "Johnny!".

"Gentlemen," he said with a nod as he went to the head of the table.

Jenkins was standing next to his father's chair, but stepped back as Jonathon approached. "Johnny! I'm glad you could make it to the meeting!"

"So am I," Jonathon said through his teeth, glaring at the man. "Especially since no one bothered to tell me about it."

"We weren't sure when you'd be back to work," Jenkins replied easily.

Jonathon was momentarily speechless. Did Jenkins think he was too weak after his father's death, or too much of an idiot to know he needed to get back work and take care of the business? Jenkins kept his eyes steadily on Jonathon's. It felt like a challenge, and Jonathon knew now was the time to be decisive.

"We're all busy," he said, taking his father's seat. "It's time to get this started."

"Indeed it is," Jenkins said, sitting on his right. The sound of chairs scraping on the wood floor filled the room as the rest of them followed.

Jenkins clasped his hands on the table in front of him, looking around the room, and Jonathon waited. Let him tip his hand first.

"First, I'd like to say how sorry we all are about your father, Johnny," he said, his eyes finally resting on Jonathon. "He was a great man. He steered this company through the darkest times this country has faced in decades. The business is thriving today because of him, and we're going to miss his leadership."

"Thank you," Jonathon said with a curt nod while others murmured, "Here, here."

"It seems the economy may be starting to turn around," he continued. "With war raging across Europe, demand for iron is likely to remain high." Jenkins shook his head with a grim expression. "But these are still uncertain times. No one can predict if the markets are going to continue to rise. We can't afford to let anything stall or halt production. If we don't meet our orders, we're going to lose out to our competitors."

Jonathon stayed silent, looking at the men seated around the table. Only Kitty's father and a few others would meet his gaze.

"As head of shipping, I can assure each of you that I'll keep my end running smoothly, but there are steps along the way that could break down. Someone needs to oversee the entire operation to make sure each department is able to meet its quotas. If not, the whole operation could run off the rails. Now I propose-"

"You won't need to worry about that," Jonathon said loudly, cutting him off. "I'll be the one making sure that every part of the business is operating at one hundred percent."

Jenkins stared at him with shock, but Jonathon was almost certain it was a show he was putting on for the benefit of the others. "How do you plan to do that?"

"The same way my father did," Jonathon said levelly.

Jenkins spread his hands out. "I don't want to argue with you, Johnny, but you're only nineteen. You're hardly old enough to run a business of this size."

"My age doesn't have anything to do with this!" Jonathon said forcefully, but he could feel his face flush, betraying his embarrassment. "I've been working alongside my father at this mine longer than some of you have been here. There isn't any part of the operation that I don't know like the back of my hand!"

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