|Unknown Depths Part 1
Author: tvgal97 PM
The West-King-Stetson clan are plunged into situations of unknown depths, and discover truths about themselves and each other. Rated T for mild language, violence, and sexual content.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Lee S./Scarecrow & Amanda K. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 27,263 - Reviews: 27 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 11 - Updated: 04-25-12 - Published: 04-17-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8033245
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Greetings everyone! This is my first foray into Fan Fiction, which I just recently discovered and have become hooked on. So I decided to try my hand at it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I welcome your thoughts on the story, so feel free to read and leave reviews.
The characters from the television series Scarecrow and Mrs. King belong to Warner Bros. and Shoot the Moon Productions, which I don't own (but if I did, the DVD's would have been released a lot sooner). No copyright infringement intended. The storyline and original characters are the property of the author, except for references to SMK episodes, including 'Operation Possum'. So now, without further ado…
2:14PM SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24, 1987
"Amanda, Brewer gave me the slip. He's headed your way. Be careful!" Lee spoke quietly into the microphone attached to the black tactical jumpsuit he was wearing.
"Will do," Amanda softly replied from the opposite side of the warehouse. She moved behind a stack of crates. Over her pounding heart, she listened intently for signs of Brewer's approach. She was scared, but she just couldn't let Brewer escape with the Matryoshka List. Too many lives were at stake.
Amanda tensed as she heard footsteps approaching her location. She closed her eyes in silent prayer that Brewer would choose the aisle created by the crates she was hiding behind. She mouthed a 'thank you' as she heard Brewer pause, and then hurry down the aisle. She gripped her pistol tightly to minimize her shaking hands, and repositioned herself so she could quickly move from her hiding place. Amanda held her breath as she saw Brewer move past her. 'It's now or never,' she thought as she emerged from behind the crates and crept up behind him. "Freeze, Brewer," she said with authority, her gun aimed at his back.
Brewer lifted his hands above his head, and then twisted swiftly to the left and behind another stack of crates. "Damn," Amanda muttered. She quickly moved across the aisle, her gun at the ready. She moved to the last crate in the row and crept around the side. She pressed her back to the crate and sidled to the corner. Leaning slightly to the left, she turned her head to peer around the crate. Just then, Brewer took a shot at her. Amanda quickly pulled back as splinters flew from the corner of the wooden box.
Lee's urgent whisper crackled through her earpiece. "Amanda! Are you all right?"
"Yes," she whispered back.
Then Amanda shouted, "You're cornered, Brewer! That's a dead end!" Amanda and Lee had quickly reviewed the crate grid just before they entered the warehouse, which revealed that many of the aisles formed by the crates resulted in dead ends. She wasn't certain that the aisle Brewer had chosen was one of them, but she decided to play the bluff.
"Then I guess we'll have to shoot it out, Mrs. King! Are you up for a duel? My guess is no!"
Amanda winced at the truth of Brewer's statement. Although she was becoming more comfortable with her firearm, she wasn't sure whether she would ever be able to actually pull the trigger. So Amanda knew she needed a distraction. Maybe if she could get him to turn around, she could move in behind him and force him to drop his gun. She frantically looked around for something to use, and noticed a crowbar sitting on top of one of the crates. She looked toward the opening where Brewer had escaped and moved quickly across the aisle to grab the crowbar. Just as quickly, she moved back, and looked up. She made an estimate of where she thought Brewer might be, and then flung the crowbar up and over the crates, hoping it would fall behind him and create the needed diversion. She ran back to the edge of the opening, ready to put the drop on Brewer once she heard the crowbar hit the floor. She heard Brewer utter "OOF!" as she heard iron clang to a stop on the concrete floor. She squatted low, then quickly turned and leaned out. Her arms straightened to take aim.
"Freeze, Brewer!" Amanda said once again.
What she saw amazed her. Brewer was out cold, on his stomach, with the crowbar lying neatly next to him. Amanda stood and slowly approached him, reaching for the handcuffs that were clipped to her utility belt. She secured Brewer's left arm, then his right, behind his back. She checked for a pulse just to make sure he was okay.
"Scarecrow," Amanda spoke into her mike, "I've got Brewer. What's your location?"
"I'm right behind you," Lee said aloud.
Startled, Amanda jumped as she turned to face Lee. "Oh my gosh, Lee! Don't sneak up on me like that!"
"Sorry. Old habits die hard," Lee said with a smile. He looked down at Brewer. "Good job, Amanda! He's out cold. How did you do it?"
"Well, I had the drop on him but he managed to get away. He moved through there," Amanda said, pointing at the opening created by the stacked crates, "so I knew he was hiding behind here. I saw the crowbar and tossed it over the top of the crates to distract him. But it hit him on the head instead!"
Lee chuckled as he shook his head. "Only you, Amanda."
"I haven't had a chance to search him yet. I sure hope he still has the Matryoshka List with him."
Lee replied, "It has to be on him somewhere. We've had him on the run since he took it, and he hasn't had time to hand it off to anyone since he entered the warehouse. But there's only one way to find out."
Amanda and Lee knelt down on either side of Brewer and started their search. "Here it is!" Amanda called out as she pulled two folded sheets of paper from Brewer's back pocket. Brewer began to regain consciousness and started to moan.
"C'mon, Amanda, let's get him up on his feet." Then Lee spoke into his mike. "Francine, Amanda caught Brewer."
Amanda looked at Lee and smiled. "Oh, Lee. WE caught Brewer," she said demurely.
"No, Amanda, you did. Great work!" Amanda saw Lee's face turn quickly from a broad grin to concern. "But I've trained you too well. Before I know it, you're not going to need me to rescue you anymore," Lee said with a mock frown.
Amanda shook her head and moved slowly toward Lee with a teasing smile. "Scarecrow, I hate to tell you, but you're stuck with me. There will never be a day when I DON'T need you," she said as she slid her arms around his waist.
Over their earpieces they heard a very exasperated Francine issue a warning. "Lee, just so you know, your mike is still hot, and you're both making me sick. Are you planning on bringing Brewer out anytime soon, or are you just going to stay in there and chat for the entire world to hear?"
They quickly moved apart as Lee reached to kill his mike. Amanda whispered, "Oh my gosh, Lee! Everyone on the comm just heard us."
"Yeah, I know," Lee sighed. He and Amanda bent over and grabbed Brewer's arms, hoisting him to his wobbly feet. "Come on pal, it's time to figure out who you're working for."
4:45PM SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24, 1987
Former KGB Station Chief Gregory sat at the makeshift desk in his sparse office. "Where in the hell is Brewer? He was supposed to be here over two hours ago."
"I don't know. Perhaps he encountered difficulty in securing the Matryoshka List," Parolow replied.
"I'm paying him handsomely to avoid difficulty. He knows we must have that list. Giving the KGB the names of every Soviet civilian operative working for the United States is our ticket to regaining active status. It will be our restitution for the deception that Scarecrow and Melrose pulled with the Desmond/Towne hostage trade."
The phone rang. Gregory snatched up the receiver and growled, "Go ahead." He listened for a moment, then slammed the receiver back onto the cradle without saying a word.
"Who was that?"
"It was Gavrikov. Brewer has been captured."
"No, by his protégé, Mrs. King. She recovered the list." Gregory turned to face Parolow. "This destroys six months of work, and ruins our chances for redemption within the KGB." Gregory closed his eyes in contemplation. "We must determine the next move. It will not end this way, not when we are so close."
7:37PM SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24, 1987
"…and then Lee found me. We recovered the Matryoshka List, and took Brewer into custody," Amanda said as she and Lee wrapped up their debriefing in Billy Melrose's office.
"Excellent work, Amanda, excellent work. You saved a lot of lives today. If the KGB had gotten their hands on that list, every Soviet civilian worker in the KBG who is also working as an American informant would have been in danger," Billy smiled.
"Thank you, Sir. But it was a group effort."
Lee leaned over and put his hand on Amanda's arm. "Amanda, this operation was all yours. You cultivated a contact while building your own 'family' who told you about the Matryoshka List. You were able to track down the thief who was planning to broker the list, and you single-handedly captured Brewer. The rest of us were just a support team. Take the collar, you deserve it." Amanda looked at Lee and smiled. Their gazes remained locked until Billy cleared his throat. They looked up at Billy; Amanda's face reddened and Lee shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Billy said, "Lee's right, Amanda. You deserve it."
"Thank you, Sir. Since I used to be civilian auxiliary, this one was personal. These people working for the KGB are just like me when I started working here. I'm sure some of them are moms too, just trying to get by."
"Except you never turned around and told our secrets to the other side," Lee added. "But I understand how you feel."
There was a knock at the door. "Come!" Billy shouted. The door opened and Francine Desmond strode confidently into Billy's office. "Did you find out who Brewer is working for?" Lee asked. "If he's KGB, we've never heard of him."
"He has said practically nothing since we brought him back here," Francine sighed. "So we don't know much more than we did. But in gathering intel, we've found a few small pieces of information. We know he's not KGB, nor was he going to give the list directly to the Soviets. Also, we can't find him anywhere in any of the law enforcement databases. This indicates that he's probably a low-profile, high-priced thief who was hired by a third party to steal the list."
"Well, let's keep working him," Lee said. "How long can we keep him here?"
"Since he was caught with sensitive information that we suspect he was going to pass to someone with ties behind the Iron Curtain, we can keep him here for 48 hours with no formal charges. We'll try to pump him for every piece of information we can get. Generally, these low-profile players know a lot of the layers within different organizations. Maybe he'll crack and give us at least a little something we can use. But after our time is up, we have to file charges and start processing him through the court system," Francine said.
"Yeah, and then it gets a lot harder to question him, if we can even make charges stick. We really don't have enough on him," Lee added. "As long as we can delay formal charges, the less INFORMAL we can be with him. Keep working him, Francine. There's something more here, I just know it."
7:15P SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24, 1987
Lee unlocked the door to the Q Bureau, opened it, then stepped aside for Amanda to enter. "Thank you," Amanda said with a smile. Lee entered after her, then closed and locked the door. He turned toward Amanda and took her in his arms. They shared a passionate kiss.
"I am so proud of you, Mrs. Stetson," Lee whispered between kisses.
"Thank you, Mr. Stetson. That means the world to me," Amanda replied.
They held each other for a moment. Lee pulled back and kissed Amanda's forehead. They reluctantly parted. Amanda moved to her desk and sat down, while Lee practically fell onto the couch.
"Lee, surely you aren't still planning to take the boys to the Redskins game tomorrow. We've been up for nearly 36 hours straight tracking down the Matryoshka List. I can tell them you don't feel well, they'll understand."
"No, Amanda! I'm not going to miss this opportunity for anything. I want to spend as much time with Phillip and Jamie as I can. I enjoy it. The more time we spend together, the more comfortable we're becoming with each other."
Amanda smiled. "Sweetheart, you look exhausted, and if you're even half as tired as I am, I know you're worn out. Besides, Phillip and Jamie are already crazy about you. Missing one Sunday won't matter."
Lee rubbed his eyes. "No, a promise is a promise. I want them to know they can count on me to do what I say I'm going to do. A few hours' sleep and I'll be fine."
Amanda smiled. "Well, I know the boys are excited. What time are you planning to pick them up?"
"The game starts at one. But I'd like to share a cup of coffee with my wife before we leave, so why don't I come over around 9:30? I'll bring some doughnuts for the guys. And I'll bring your mom one of those danishes she's so crazy about."
Amanda rose from her desk and moved to the couch. She sat down next to Lee. He put his arm around her and she kissed him. "Sounds like a plan, Sweetheart." They kissed again and snuggled into the couch. Amanda leaned her head on Lee's shoulder.
Lee sighed as he said, "I'm going to miss you tonight."
Amanda said, "I'm going to miss you too. But honestly, I'm so tired I don't think I'd be much company."
"I don't care. I'd just hold you all night long. I sleep so much better when you're with me."
Amanda closed her eyes and softly replied, "I do too."
Just then, the phone rang. Amanda patted Lee's leg then stood and moved back to her desk. She looked down to check which line was ringing before answering, "IFF Film Library, Amanda speaking."
"Amanda!" Dotty West exclaimed. "Where have you been? I haven't heard from you since last night!"
"I'm sorry, Mother. It's just that Lee and I were under a tight deadline and we've been in the editing room for hours. You know how that goes."
"Mmm-hmm," a dubious Dotty replied to her daughter's usual line. "I've left several messages. Don't they have a phone in this 'editing room'?"
"Well, uh, sure Mother, but they usually don't interrupt us until we're done with the film. It takes all our concentration, and just slows down the process if we have to stop then start back up."
Dotty knew she was going to get no further than she usually did with this line of questioning, so she changed the subject. "Joe just dropped the boys off. Is Lee still going to take them to the game tomorrow?"
"We were just talking about that, Mother. We're finished with this project and we are getting ready to shut down for the night." Amanda looked at Lee and smiled. "He's coming by around 9:30 to pick them up." Lee smiled back.
"I'm glad, because Joe said that's all they've talked about today. He took them to buy new Redskins jerseys to wear."
"That's great, Mother. Listen, I've gotta go, but I'll be home in a half hour or so," her smile turning to a frown, sharing the disappointment that was evident on Lee's face at her impending departure. "Do you need me to pick up anything from the store?"
"No, I went earlier today with Mrs. Robinson. Be careful driving home, Amanda. I love you."
"Love you too, Mother. See you in a bit." Amanda hung up the phone. "The boys are so excited about the game tomorrow."
"So am I. Guess you have to go, huh?"
"Yeah," Amanda sighed. "Can't wait to see you tomorrow."
Lee stood and walked to Amanda. He put his arms around her and gave her a big hug. "Me neither."
2:10P SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25, 1987
Francine was tired. Yesterday, she had attempted the heavy-handed approach with Brewer to no avail. In fact, the more she pushed him, the more he clammed up. She knew what the next step was, and she dreaded it. She found Brewer repugnant, and coming on to him to gain information was the last thing she wanted to do. But she had to try something, because they had to get to the bottom of who wanted that list. Brewer was merely the middleman. Billy had ordered her to give it another shot, because Francine was the best at the Agency with this particular interrogation style, which was a one-person "good cop-bad cop" approach. She would rough them up one day, then turn on the flirty charm the next. It rarely failed. She used to relish this game, but as she had gained more experience she had tired of it.
Francine girded herself and slowly opened the door to the interrogation room. She walked in seductively and softly closed the door, then gave Brewer a tantalizing smile coupled with a little wink.
"Hey. You know, I've been thinking about you since last night."
Brewer closed his eyes. "Whatever."
Francine sat on the edge of the table nearest Brewer and leaned forward just enough to show cleavage but leave enough to the imagination. "No, really." She licked her lips. "I just couldn't sleep last night for thinking about how we left things." She reached out to caress Brewer's cheek, but he caught her wrist and jerked it down.
"You know, you're a real piece of work, lady. I know what you're trying to pull, and your lame interrogation techniques aren't going to work on me." He brusquely pushed Francine's hand away. "I told you last night, I know my rights and I'm not talking to you or anyone else in this lousy hellhole. So don't come back in here. And don't send any more of your stupid compatriots with their dumb tests and all that other crap that's designed to trick me into talking. I know it's only a matter of time before you're required to charge me. And I'm not talking to anyone until then!"
Francine stood and glared at Brewer. "Fine," she said, her patience at an end. 'Let Billy deal with this, I'm going home to enjoy the rest of my weekend,' she thought as she walked out and slammed the door.
She turned to the MP guarding the door. "Take him back to his holding cell."
5:56P SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25, 1987
Lee, Phillip and Jamie worked their way through the throngs of football fans leaving RFK Stadium. Lee said, "Say guys, the Redskins sure looked great today, didn't they?"
"Yeah!" The boys said in unison. Jamie added, "It was a close one. The Jets ALMOST beat them!"
Suddenly, someone in the jostling crowd bumped into Phillip, throwing him off balance. He crashed into a quite intoxicated man, who, in turn, stumbled into a trash can.
The drunken man righted himself and glared at Phillip through red, bleary eyes. He pushed Phillip back toward Jamie, then glared at both of them. When Lee saw the man push Phillip, instant anger coursed through him. He said, "Hey pal, it was an accident. You don't push kids around like that."
The drunk looked up at Lee and swaggered toward him. He wagged a chubby index finger at Lee and shouted "Well, you need to keep a leash on your son," accenting the last two words by jabbing his finger into Lee's chest. He left his finger there and pressed. "Maybe I should push you around instead, pretty boy."
Lee knocked the man's hand away from his chest. He wanted to teach him a lesson for touching Phillip, but he thought it best not to make a scene. He turned to Philip and Jamie and said, "Let's go." The man grabbed Lee's arm and pulled him back. "What, are you scared I'm gonna kick your butt in front of your boys? Afraid they'll see you're not a tough guy?"
"Hey, Lance," the belligerent man's friend said, "leave the guy alone. His kid didn't mean to run into you." But his words went unheeded.
Lee shrugged the man's hand off, but he grabbed Lee again and said, "I'm not through with you yet, buddy." He slung Lee around and threw him against the stadium wall, then drew his right arm back to throw a punch. Lee's instincts immediately kicked in and he swiftly ducked. Instead of the drunk's fist meeting Lee's face, it hit the wall instead. The man doubled over in pain, grabbing his right hand. Lee moved toward Phillip and Jamie. "C'mon guys, let's go."
Lee's attacker stood and looked at his bloody hand. "You son of a…!" He yelled as he rushed toward Lee once again. Lee heard him approach and turned around, and without even thinking, executed a perfect jump kick. Lee's left foot grazed his attacker's chin, knocking him off balance and sending him reeling to the ground. He moved toward the man, ready to finish this argument once and for all, and then he remembered Phillip and Jamie. He turned around, hoping they had advanced on through the crowd without him and missed the kick. But they stood just a few feet away, staring slack-jawed at Lee. He started to say something, but was interrupted by a voice behind him. "Sir, you'll need to come with us."
He turned and found himself face to face with two Metro police officers. He glanced over his shoulder at Phillip and Jamie to make sure they were out of earshot. In a low voice, he said, "Officers, I have ID that I will be happy to show you, and explain what just happened, but could we step aside for a moment?" He gestured over toward the outer edge of the walkway.
The police officers looked at each other, and the older of the two nodded his consent. Lee addressed Phillip and Jamie. "Hey fellas, just wait there for a second, I have to talk to the police." The three men moved over to the side.
Phillip and Jamie watched as Lee and the cops moved away. "Wow, that was cool!" Phillip exlaimed. Jamie continued to stare at Lee. Phillip nudged Jaime and added, "Didn't you think so?"
Jamie thoughtfully replied, "Yeah, it was. Wonder where he learned to do that?"
"I hope he doesn't get arrested or something, then we'd have to call Mom. Boy, would she be mad or what?"
The boys continued to watch Lee and the policemen. Lee had his back to them, but they could see one of the officers reach into the breast pocket of Lee's coat and pull something out. The cops looked down at whatever it was, immediate recognition registering on their faces. Phillip and Jamie watched Lee, who was gesturing with his hands as he talked. At one point he looked over and smiled as he gestured toward them. Then Lee shook hands with each of the officers and moved away. The younger officer called after Lee. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Stetson." Lee gave a little wave and continued on toward Phillip and Jamie. The police officers joined the EMT's who had come to assist the drunken man, whose pride was hurt more than anything else.
Lee walked up to Phillip and Jamie and said, "C'mon, let's get home before your mom starts to worry about us." They headed toward the exit.
"Wow, Lee, that was really cool! Where did you learn that move?" Phillip enthused.
"Oh, uh, Phillip, I don't know, I think I…uh...well…it must have been something I remember from some martial arts class I took a few years back. I had to take one when we were going to do a documentary on alternative fitness."
"Can you teach me?" Phillip continued, enthralled.
"Oh, Phillip, I don't think I could really teach anyone, I mean, I don't even know how I remembered it to be honest with you. In fact, let's just keep this among ourselves, okay? No need to worry your mom or grandma." Desperate to change the subject, Lee glanced at Jamie, who was walking along with a very distracted look on his face. "Hey Jamie, you okay?" Lee asked.
"Huh? Oh, yeah, I'm okay. That all just kinda happened so fast, that's all. It startled me, I guess," he said as he studied Lee.
"Well, everything's okay. Don't worry."
"I'm not," Jamie replied. "I'm just thinking."
As they headed toward the car, Phillip and Jamie began reliving the best plays of the game, leaving Lee to his thoughts. He supposed he should be more concerned about the near-fight, but what occupied his thoughts was how angry he had gotten over the man pushing Phillip. The rage he had experienced was equaled only to the anger he felt when someone threatened to hurt Amanda. Then his thoughts turned to how everyone he had encountered over the last ten minutes had referred to Phillip and Jamie as "his sons" or "his boys", even the police officers, whom he did not correct. That was the first time he had been mistaken for the boys' dad, and he had to admit that he loved it. And then it struck him in an instant. These new feelings were there because he loved Phillip and Jamie. Before Amanda entered his life, love was something that normal people got to experience, and he believed he would never be afforded the luxury of normal. But now, everything had changed. He wanted to be a full time husband...and stepdad. And maybe even a real dad. But none of this was ever going to happen while he and Amanda continued to live the lie they had created.
"…it was something, huh Lee?" Hearing his name shook Lee from his reverie.
"I'm sorry, what?"
"That last-second field goal that won the game for the Redskins!" Phillip said impatiently. "Weren't you listening?"
"Oh, uh, yeah, it sure was!" Lee responded. They arrived at the car. "Say, are you guys hungry? How about stopping by Marvelous Marvin's on the way home?"
"Yeah!" "That sounds great!" the boys replied in unison.
7:35PM SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25, 1987
"Hi fellas!" Amanda called as the three most important men in her life spilled into her kitchen. "Did you have a good time at the game?"
"We sure did, Mom!" Jamie answered. "It was a great game," Phillip said, almost at the same time.
Amanda looked at Lee and smiled, a twinkle in her eye. Lee grinned and said, "I hope you didn't go to any trouble making dinner for them. They were starving so we stopped by Marvelous Marvin's."
"I figured as much. Mother and I made a couple of sandwiches and some soup for dinner."
"Hello, Lee," Dotty said as she hurried down the steps. "Have you had enough yet?" she added as she winked at Lee.
"Oh, absolutely not! We had a fantastic time. Can't wait for the next one." Lee put his arms around the boys' shoulders, pulling them into his sides.
"The 'next one'? Awesome!" Phillip said. "Count me in!" Jaime enthusiastically replied.
Amanda raised her hands. "All right fellas, tomorrow is a school day so say goodbye to Lee, and head upstairs. It's time to get settled in for the night."
Phillip extended his hand. "Thanks for a great time, Lee." Lee grasped Phillip's hand, and was surprised by the strength of Phillip's handshake. Phillip leaned in and whispered, "and for showing us some great moves." Lee gave Phillip a warning look. Amanda noticed the exchange but said nothing.
Jamie said, "Thanks Lee. I had a lot of fun."
"You're welcome Jamie. Good luck on Tuesday's math test."
"Good night," Phillip and Jamie called in unison as they bounded up the steps.
"See you guys later," Lee said, smiling.
Dotty watched the scene unfold between the boys and Lee. She also watched Amanda, who was clearly pleased the football outing had gone so well. It was becoming clearer that Amanda felt Lee might just be 'The One.'
With this thought in mind, Dotty decided it was time to make a graceful exit. "Well," she sighed, "I'm going to head upstairs myself and take a long, hot bath." Dotty cast a knowing look toward Amanda, glanced over at Lee and added, conspiratorially, "Emphasis on the 'long'." Turning to Lee, she said, "Goodnight Lee, as always, it's good to see you."
Lee gave Dotty one of his winning smiles. "Nice to see you too, Mrs. West. Enjoy your bath."
Once everyone was safely upstairs, Amanda put her arms around her husband's waist and gazed up into his eyes. "Sounds like you're making some great progress on the stepfather front."
"Yeah, I'm feeling more comfortable with them every time we do something together. I'm really enjoying getting to know them better."
Amanda and Lee looked at each other for a moment, and then leaned in for a tender kiss. They pulled back and looked at each other. Their lips met once again, this time more urgently. They broke apart, realizing where they were, where a kiss like that was likely headed, and what most certainly was NOT going to happen that night. Amanda rested her forehead on Lee's shoulder and sighed. "Lee, I don't know how much longer I can live this way."
"I know, Amanda. This secret marriage is so much more difficult than I ever thought it would be. Sometimes I wonder if we did the right thing by keeping it a mystery." Lee took Amanda's hand and led her over to the couch in the family room. "Let's sit for a minute."
They sat and snuggled together, Lee's arms around Amanda. She rested her head against Lee's chest. He yawned. "I don't know about you, but I'm beat. Thirty-six hour days aren't as easy as they used to be."
Amanda agreed. "What I don't know is how you got yourself up this morning and out the door to pick up the boys for that ballgame. It was all I could do to get out of the bed to see you guys off."
"I wouldn't have missed it for the world. It was a good game and a great day."
They relaxed for awhile, just enjoying each other's company. After a few minutes, Amanda said, "Lee?"
She felt Lee's chest thrum as he issued a sleepy "Hmmm?"
"I don't want you to break any 'need to know' but Phillip whispered something to you before he went upstairs. What was that all about?"
Lee rubbed Amanda's arm with his thumb. "Well, there was a little incident after the game." Lee told her about the near-fight and his encounter with the Metro Police. "They released me on my own recognizance and said they would contact me if the guy decided to press charges, but he probably won't. He was in the wrong, which I'm sure he'll realize when he sobers up. Plus, there were tons of witnesses."
"Wow, Lee, what did the boys say?"
"They asked me a few questions. I hemmed and hawed around, made up some story about martial arts training for a documentary on alternative exercise." Lee paused, unsure how to continue. "But, Amanda..."
"When the man pushed Phillip, I was enraged. Like how I feel when someone tries to hurt you. I wanted so badly to protect him. Then, everyone I encountered, from the drunk man to the cops, thought I was Phillip and Jamie's dad. They just assumed. That's the first time that's ever happened, and I it...well...it made me happy. And proud. Amanda, I meant it when I said I don't know how longer I can do this. I want Phillip and Jaime to know that I'm more than their mom's boyfriend."
"I thought you were worried about their safety," Amanda said.
"I am, Amanda, and the world is a dangerous place, maybe more so than it was four years ago, when you and I first met. But does ignorance about potential danger make them safer, or more vulnerable to attack? If they aren't on guard, they're sitting ducks. I want to protect your mother and sons. The more time I spend with them, the more I care about them, and it's not just because we're married. They've become my family, too." Amanda smiled as she thought about how much Lee had changed over the past couple of years. "If anything happened to them because of me, I would never be able to live with myself."
"Because of us," Amanda corrected. "You know, I've managed to create my own list of enemies. If anything happened, it would be because of us, not just you. You're not alone anymore, Lee."
"And THAT bothers me too," Lee admitted. "If I'd never approached you at the train station, this wouldn't be a problem for them. Or you."
"Lee," Amanda admonished as she swung around to face him. "We've been through this. What if you hadn't? I wouldn't be the person I am today. And the person I am affects Mother and the boys. Look how we've all changed over the years. Mother got up the nerve to learn how to drive, and now she even flies planes! Phillip is growing into a strong young man, and Jamie is so smart. Without the experiences I've had, I would never have been prepared to support or encourage them. So no matter the risk or danger, all of our lives are richer because you and I are together. Which wouldn't have happened either, I might add. Everything happens for a reason."
Lee placed his hand on Amanda's shoulder and pulled her in for a soft kiss. "I love you, Mrs. Stetson." Amanda smiled. They kissed again, then Lee added, "I sure wish I could stay tonight. Every night."
"Me too. What are we gonna do about this?"
"Maybe it's time to tell your family…our family…everything about our lives. I want to be here full-time, but I don't see how it would work if we didn't come clean on what we really do for a living. I mean, how would we explain the crazy calls at all times of the day and night, being gone for hours or days on end at the drop of a hat, and all the other insanity that goes with the intelligence game? Besides that, I'm having more and more trouble keeping track of the lies."
Amanda rolled her eyes. "Welcome to MY world for the last four years!"
Lee laughed softly as he lifted his hand and caressed Amanda's cheek. "Yeah, I know. And I'm sorry. I'm really just beginning to understand how difficult it has been for you to lie to your family all this time. But once I move in, they run the risk of being even more targeted, which was the reason we hid our marriage to begin with. But you know, Amanda, I think we got this one wrong. Your mother and sons deserve to know the risks."
"You remember, I tried to tell Mother a few years ago during Operation Possum, but she didn't believe me."
"Yeah, but that was a different situation and a different time. I think she'll believe you now. Besides, she already knows that something doesn't gel with me."
"What makes you say that?"
Lee shrugged. "She keeps asking me questions like why I couldn't explain to Jamie how an image is transferred to film, and that if I'm such a great filmmaker, why I cut people's heads off in most of the pictures I take."
"Yeah, you're a great spy but a lousy picture-taker. It would give Mother and the boys even more reasons to love you if they found out you're actually good at something." Lee reached over and tickled Amanda's side. She tried to move away, laughing. "You're gonna pay for that, Scarecrow!"
Lee smiled and said, "Is that a promise?"
Just then, they jumped as they heard a loud thud upstairs. Amanda shook her head, stood up, and walked to the steps. "Fellas, what's going on up there?"
It was quiet for a few seconds. Then Jamie called back, "Nothing, Mom, I was picking up my books to put them in my backpack and they slipped out of my hands."
"Okay, then. Get settled in, it's time for bed." Amanda turned and frowned at Lee. "You know, we have to be at the Agency early tomorrow to hand in the preliminary report on Brewer. Mr. Melrose expects it on his desk by 10."
"I know. I guess I'd better head back to the apartment." Lee stood and walked over to Amanda. "But I promise, Amanda, one day very soon we'll be saying goodnight instead of goodbye. We just have to figure out the best way to get out of this mess we've gotten ourselves into. Hopefully everyone will understand why we did what we did."
"You can just use your natural charm on Mother and the boys, Sweetheart. It works on me all the time," Amanda said as she slid her hands up Lee's chest. He wrapped his arms around her waist.
Lee flashed a mischievous grin. "Hey, maybe you could use YOUR charm on Billy tomorrow morning and get him to spring us for the afternoon. I could use some time alone with my wife," Lee said with a suggestive wink.
"Oh, c'mon Lee. You know I'm no good at getting Mr. Melrose to bend the rules. That's your department."
"I think he's starting to catch on to my excuses. So maybe it's time you put in a little practice on that front."
"I can think of other things to practice on," she teased.
"Trust me, Amanda, you don't need any practice," Lee whispered as they shared the night's last kiss.
"Way to go, Meathead," Jamie growled as he pulled himself off the floor, rubbing his left hip. "When are you gonna tell Mom that you tricked her into signing that school release so you could join the wrestling team? I'm ready for you to find another sparring partner."
"Don't you DARE say anything, Dork-face," Phillip shot back. "Besides, I'm gonna tell her soon, I just want to show her that I can take care of myself so she won't flip out so bad. You know, you should learn some of these moves too, especially the hip twist I just pulled on you. I could teach you. It's great self-defense."
"No thanks. I don't want her mad at me, too. You know how she feels about anything that even looks like fighting." Jamie climbed into his bed and lay back onto his pillows. "Hey Phillip, speaking of fighting, can I ask you a question?"
"As long as it's not a dumb one," Phillip teased as he flopped down crosswise on his own bed.
"How did Lee know the kick he used on that guy today?"
"Weren't you listening? He said he learned it when he was making a film."
"Yes, I was listening, and I don't believe him. It was too smooth, like he didn't even think about it. And you know, we've seen someone do that before."
"That guy who was with Mom at the gym when that man tried to grab us. You know, when Dad came back from Africa. I think the guy that was with Mom was Lee. I've been thinking about it since we met him," Jamie said.
Phillip rolled his eyes. "Jamie, that wasn't Lee. That guy was just a man who was helping Dad and the prime minister out, Dad told us that himself."
"But there's more," Jamie continued. "Remember that lame play that Mom was in...well, kinda in...that Grandma made us go see even though Mom was the understudy? Well, when Mom showed up on the stage and the fight broke out, the man who came onstage about the same time as Mom looked an awful lot like the guy at the gym."
Phillip thought about this for a few moments. "You know, Junior, I haven't really thought about it, but now that you mention it, that guy did look like Lee. That's weird. I can see why Mom would have been there when Dad came back home, but to be on that stage with the Lee-looking guy and then ANOTHER fight breaks out…"
"And something else," Jamie continued. "Those movies that Mom brings home from work for us to watch are so boring! Even Mom had trouble staying awake through the one about dung beetles. She and Lee take off all the time to get to the editing room, and they're going to work on THAT dullsville crap? She seems so excited when she leaves the house, and I don't think it's to watch films about tractors and stuff. The whole thing just doesn't add up."
Phillip nodded. "So do you think he's some kind of cop or something? And if he is, why doesn't he just tell us?"
"I don't know. Maybe it's a secret and Mom is just covering for him. Maybe he and Mom met when Dad was in trouble, and now Mom is telling us they met at her work," Jamie said.
"But she acts like Lee is her boss or something. He picks her up for work all the time, so they have to work together. And you know how Mom feels about lying. It's worse than how she feels about fighting."
"Well, maybe Mom doesn't work for a film company either," Jamie said.
Phillip laughed. "What are you saying, that Mom's a cop too? That's a good one, Jamie. That idea alone makes me think that maybe you're way off." Phillip rolled around and turned off the light.
Jamie settled under the covers. "Maybe."
2:35AM MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1987
Amanda turned over for what seemed like the hundredth time and looked at the digital clock on her bedside table. She couldn't relax her thoughts since her talk with Lee earlier that night. Were they really going to reveal the truth?
She and her mother had always been very close and, until Amanda took the package from Lee at the train station, she had always told her mother everything. "Well, almost everything," Amanda said aloud, with a little smile. But the smile faded as she thought about how hurt her mother would be once she learned the truth. It would appear that Amanda didn't trust her.
As for Phillip and Jamie, she just wasn't sure how they would react. What would they think when they found out that their mother, a fervent crusader for honesty, had been telling them half truths and full out lies for years? Lately, Amanda had started to think that keeping her other life a secret from her mother and sons had become less about necessity and protection, and more about cowardice. Everything had become so complicated.
When she first began as part-time civilian auxiliary for the Agency, it had made perfect sense to keep her involvement in this clandestine world hidden from her family. How could she even begin to explain that she, Amanda West, who grew up wanting nothing more than a husband, children, and a comfortable and simple life, had found herself running all over D.C….hell, all over the PLANET…trying to make the world a safer place with a man who was one of the most valuable intelligence operatives in the United States? Her thoughts turned to the one time she had tried to tell her mother the truth. She had found the concept so preposterous that Amanda was quickly dismissed with a wave of a hand and a reminder about Amanda's imaginative childhood.
"Eat your breakfast," Amanda told Phillip and Jamie. She turned to her mother and motioned her toward the family room. Amanda sat her down and kneeled in front of her.
"Mother, I'm a spy," Amanda said with a slight raise of an eyebrow. She braced herself for her mother's response.
"Of course," Dotty replied, in no mood for fanciful stories so early in the morning. She started to stand but Amanda pulled her back down. She decided she had to go further to get her mother to believe her.
"Mother, there's a nuclear bomb in Washington and it's gonna go off unless we find a man named Kruschenko."
"'WE,'" Dotty emphasized sarcastically, "meaning YOU and the other spies that you work with?"
"Yes, Mother, that's right, now listen. I would go with you to Vermont, except that I have. .. "
Dotty started speaking with Amanda. "…vital information that the other spies need in order to find the bomb." Dotty finished with a flourish of her hand, clearly annoyed.
"That's right, Mother." Maybe she was gaining some traction. "Mother, it only comes out under hypnosis."
"Amanda, you did this as a child. You would tell absurd stories when you wanted something. Once, it was a bicycle so that the dragons wouldn't catch you on the way home from school."
Amanda shut her eyes and willed her mother to believe her. "Mother, this isn't like the dragons."
Eventually, Amanda was able to get her mother to take action and she got her family to the train on time. After the nuclear threat was over and her family returned to Arlington, she had started to bring up the subject again but ultimately decided to let it go. If her mother ever thought about the incident, she didn't mention it. But she supposed Lee was right when he'd said that it was a different time and a different situation.
Then there was the matter of her family's safety. In the four years she had been involved with the Agency, it had been rare that anyone in her family had been in any kind of real danger. Even when there was trouble, it had nothing to do with her Agency involvement. But that was when she was still civilian auxiliary. Now she was a full-time agent, and what she had said to Lee earlier was true. She had developed her own list of enemies who might want revenge on her, and just as Lee's adversaries had targeted Amanda in the past, now those seeking revenge on her might target those she loved. Every time Amanda had been in danger because of her affiliation with Lee and the Agency, she knew why it was happening. And even just the initial training the Agency had provided had helped her get out of all those predicaments, with Lee's help. Amanda didn't know how she would react if her mother or sons ended up in a dangerous situation, but wouldn't her family be better off with the same kind of knowledge and some training? Besides, most full-time agents had families. They might not know everything about their loved ones' jobs, but they at least had an idea of what it entailed, and the inherent dangers.
But most of her hesitation to reveal the truth was seated in the fear that it would be difficult to merge "The Three Faces of Amanda", a phrase she had coined after one of her mother's favorite movies. First, there was Amanda King, divorced mother of two and devoted daughter, and the one that most people knew. Then there was "Mrs. King", which, while technically part of her own name, had somehow become a moniker for her "spy" alter ego. Finally, eight months ago, the third facet was born, the one that was the least known but the one who could unite the other two: Mrs. Lee Stetson. Would she be able to merge the three facets of herself into one successful woman who could retain all three parts of her identity? She was unwilling to give up any of what she had become, but what if Mother and the boys didn't accept her profession? What if they didn't embrace Lee as part of their family? What if she became less exciting to Lee once the secrets were revealed, their marriage became public, and these three women merged into one?
Another complication in revealing their mystery marriage was on the work front. While there was no official rule, personal relationships between agent partners were frowned upon. Would she and Lee still be allowed to work together? Sure, Billy seemed to be in support of their relationship, and he might even suspect there was a deeper commitment than they had let on. But Dr. Smyth was another matter. He wore bad tidings like a well-tailored suit, and would most likely make their continued working relationship very difficult, if not impossible. Amanda closed her eyes, trying to clear her mind. Then she broke out in a smile that reflected a rare smugness. There was at least one bright side. She couldn't wait to see the look on Francine's face when the truth came to light.
9:35AM MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1987
"Good morning, Sir!" Amanda enthused with much more gusto than she felt. With details of the Brewer case still wandering around in her mind, let alone the discussion with Lee last night, she didn't get much sleep.
"Good morning, Amanda," Billy smiled from behind his desk. "Have you seen Lee this morning?" he asked, hoping he had intoned enough innocence. For the life of him, Billy couldn't understand why Lee and Amanda weren't being more honest with him about their relationship, which had obviously changed in the past year. As their supervisor, he knew that personal relationships between agent partners were discouraged. But as their good friends, he hoped they would be more forthcoming. He never forced the issue, though. He respected their decision to keep quiet.
"Yes, I have, he's up in the Q Bureau putting the finishing touches on the initial report for the Brewer case. We'll be finished with it by 10, just like you asked. Sir, Lee wanted me to ask-"
Just then, Francine walked into Billy's office, "Well, good morning, Amanda! Did you have a busy Sunday, making popcorn balls or whatever it is you suburbanites do to get ready for Halloween?"
Amanda shook her head slightly and wondered if Francine would ever give up. She chose to ignore the snipe and get straight to business. "Good morning to you too, Francine. I need to get the interrogation summaries for the Brewer report."
"Here you go, what there are of them, anyway," Francine said, handing an anemic folder to Amanda.
"Still not talking, huh?"
"No, and we've tried all sorts of interrogation techniques, short of drugging him. He's good."
Amanda said, "Would it do any good for Lee to try again?"
"No," Billy replied. "I've watched the tapes and he was less communicative with Lee than any of the other interrogators."
Amanda took a deep breath in preparation for her next statement. "Well, Sir, since it seems there's not much left for Lee and me to do on the Brewer case, and since we've finished up the preliminary report, well, we…I mean Lee…um, he wanted to know if there's anything new you want us to start on this afternoon."
'I can't believe Scarecrow put her up to this,' Billy thought as he tried to suppress a smile. "Well, Amanda, since you and Lee did such a great job tracking down Brewer, I thought I'd give you two a little break. There's nothing going on that can't wait until tomorrow. You both must be tired."
Amanda tried to suppress her excitement. "Well, Sir, I appreciate that. I can't speak for Lee (at this, Billy lifted an eyebrow and Francine smirked), but I certainly could use the extra time. I have tons of things around the house that need tending to. You know. Straightening up, cleaning, stuff like that."
Billy nodded and smiled at Amanda's typical over-explanation and said, "I understand, Amanda. Would you please tell Lee that after you two turn in your report, you are both free for the day? "
"I'll try, Sir, but you know how he is about wanting to go ahead and take the next case on the list," Amanda said.
'The old Scarecrow, maybe,' Billy thought. 'Not the New and Improved Lee Stetson. The New Lee takes off all the time he can get.'
"Let him know anyway and tell him it's an order." Billy said with a mirthful furrow of his brow. "I hope you two have a nice afternoon."
"Like I said, can't speak for Lee but I know I will Sir, so much to do around the house and such…"
Billy smiled. "Yes, Amanda. See you later."
Amanda turned back to Francine. "Thanks for these," she said, lifting the folder. "I'll be back down in a few minutes with the completed report."
Amanda exited the closet elevator in the Georgetown Foyer and smiled at Mrs. Marston. The stern receptionist's face softened a little as she nodded at Amanda and glanced upstairs. Amanda smiled and headed up to the Q Bureau.
"Hey, Lee, I've got..." Amanda started.
"What?" Lee quickly barked back. "I can't find the interrogation summaries for this report! Could you help me find them please?"
Amanda leaned back on the side of Lee's desk. "Sure Lee, it will be no problem."
"No problem? Amanda, I've been looking for them since you left to go down to the bullpen and…"
"…get the interrogation summaries," they both said together as Amanda held up the folder.
"Oh, Amanda," Lee said with a sheepish grin, "I'm very sorry. Between this case and yesterday's ballgame, I'm worn out. Things are starting to get a little muddled."
"Well, I hope you're not too tired," Amanda said as she walked over and put her arms around her husband.
"I'm never too tired for this, Mrs. Stetson," Lee whispered as they softly kissed.
"That's good news," Amanda smiled, "because guess what?"
"We have the rest of the day off."
Lee grinned. "Good job, Amanda, I knew you could do it! How about lunch at that new restaurant we've wanted to try, then some dessert…at my place."
Amanda pulled Lee closer and whispered into his ear, "Sounds great, I'm starving!"
2:20PM MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1987
Gregory pulled the dark blue sedan up to the curb just outside of Arlington High School. "We'll wait here. The smaller boy usually greets his older brother just outside the school."
In a few moments, they saw Phillip King emerge from the building just as Jamie King hurried down the sidewalk toward his brother.
"Hey Phillip," Jamie called as he saw Phillip trot out of Arlington High and head down the sidewalk, dribbling a basketball. "You wanna wait up a second?"
"Hurry up, Dweeb! We're supposed to meet Andy and Mike for a game at the park!"
Jamie caught up to Phillip and tried to steal the basketball mid-dribble. Phillip moved quickly and turned counterclockwise, taking the ball with him. "I'm just too fast for you, Junior!" Phillip teased as Jamie darted around to the other side.
"There are the King boys," Gregory commented as they watched Phillip and Jamie's sidewalk antics from the car. "Gavrikov, you grab the one with the basketball. He appears more swift than the other." Parolow rolled his eyes. He grew tired of always playing second fiddle to Gavrikov. Gregory gunned the engine and headed toward the boys.
"Quit calling me Junior, Meathead! You really are-" Jamie stopped mid-sentence as they heard the screech of braking tires right next to them. They looked over to the street where a dark blue car had pulled up to the curb. Two men jumped out. One headed for Phillip and the other toward Jamie. They grabbed them from behind, pinning their arms to their sides. The basketball dropped to the ground around Jamie's feet.
"Hey!" Phillip shouted. "What are you doing? Let me go!" He began to struggle, but his captor's arms tightened around him as he began to move Phillip toward the open car door. Phillip dragged his feet as he tried to spin around and face the much larger man. Jamie, who was not yet as tall as Phillip, was lifted off the ground. "Ow!" Jamie exclaimed. Despite his smaller size, he attempted to fight by kicking backwards, hitting his assailant in the shins with his heels. In spite of his efforts, Jamie was easily thrown into the back seat of the car. Phillip's attacker had a more difficult fight on his hands.
Once Jamie was in the back seat, Parolow moved to help Gavrikov with a rowdy Phillip. "Get out of the way, Parolow! I have him!" Gavrikov, with a final heave, managed to get Phillip wrangled into the car. Phillip kicked at Gavrikov and he lost his balance on the curb. He stepped backward and tripped over Parolow's foot, then fell to the ground. Parolow jumped quickly into the back seat and yelled, "Gavrikov, I have them! Get in the front and let's go before someone calls the police!" Gavrikov quickly picked himself from the sidewalk and dove into the front seat as Gregory roared the sedan's engine and shot off down the street. He took the next right as planned.
"What's going on?" Phillip demanded. "Where are you taking us?"
"Shut up," Gavrikov yelled as Phillip continued to flail against Parolow in the back seat. "Parolow, I told you I had him! Why do you never follow the plan?"
Gregory patiently but firmly said, "Quiet, both of you! I cannot tolerate your bickering! We have the King boys and that's all that matters. The plan worked perfectly and our road to redemption has begun. Mrs. King and the Scarecrow will be desperate to rescue them."
Phillip and Jamie looked at each other, both startled to hear the driver mention Amanda. Jamie looked back at the driver. "How do you know our mom?" Jamie asked.
"You are not allowed to ask questions," Parolow snapped.
"What is Scarecrow?" Phillip inquired.
"I said, NO QUESTIONS!" Parolow barked and grabbed Phillip's arm with both hands as the car pulled up to a red light. Phillip looked at Jamie, motioned with his eyes to the door handle, then back at Jamie. A wide-eyed Jamie gave a slight nod. Phillip began to fight with Parolow again. He threw his upper body toward Parolow, who was still gripping Phillip's forearm. He jammed his arm into Parolow's side, pinning Parolow's hands between them and his captor's body against the car door. He lifted his legs and rammed his feet into the driver's seat, which had been pushed back to allow for Gregory's height. This gave Phillip more leverage, and provided a barrier to the front seat. "Jamie, GO NOW!" Phillip yelled.
Praying that the car didn't have automatic door locks, Jamie grabbed for the handle. He gave it a frantic tug and felt the door give way. He pushed out with all his might and hit the street running.
"Dammit!" Parolow yelled. Gavrikov reached for his door handle, ready to give chase. The light turned green.
"Never mind! Let him go!" Gregory growled. "There are cars all around and someone will report us. We have the one, and that's enough."
"But he knows our names!"
"It's no matter," Gregory said. "Mrs. King will know soon enough who has one of her precious sons anyway."
"Grandma!" Jamie burst through the front door at 4247 Maplewood Drive and frantically slammed the door. He turned the deadbolt lock.
Dotty hurried from the kitchen to the door. She took one look at Jamie's flushed face and exclaimed, "Jamie, what on earth…is something wrong? Where's Phillip?"
"Three men attacked us, Grandma! They pulled up beside us as we walked down the street from Phillip's school. Two men jumped out and grabbed us then pushed us into the car! We stopped at a red light and Phillip started fighting with the one in the back seat with us. I jumped out of the car and ran!"
"Oh my God," Dotty exclaimed as she hugged Jamie close. "Jamie, did you see the men who took you? Did you get any of their names?"
"I sure did! I remember what the car looks like, and I think I can kinda remember their names. They were strange. They called us 'The King Boys' and they mentioned Mom too!"
Dotty exclaimed, "How do they know you? Or your mother?"
"I don't know, Grandma!"
Dotty grabbed the phone and pressed '0'. "Hello, Operator, please connect me with the Arlington Police Department!"
2:20PM MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1987
"That was a great lunch," Lee said as he and Amanda walked into the apartment. "I've wanted to try that new restaurant for a long time."
"Yeah, I really enjoyed it," Amanda agreed as she set her purse on the coffee table. "But I enjoyed the company more."
Lee moved toward Amanda and took her in his arms. "Me too," he said as he lightly kissed Amanda's lips. "So, Mrs. Stetson, How about that dessert? We do have the rest of the day."
"I thought you'd never ask," Amanda sighed.
In one smooth move, Lee swept Amanda off her feet and into his arms. She gasped in surprise, and then started to laugh as she put her arms around Lee's neck. They kissed as he carried her to the bedroom. He set Amanda down next to the bed and began to kiss her neck. She sighed and began to slowly unbutton his shirt. After she completed the last button, she pushed the shirt back slightly to reveal Lee's smooth, muscled chest. She let her hands wander across him, delighting in the goosebumps she felt popping up on Lee's skin. Lee reached over and took the phone off the hook.
"Do you think that's a good idea?" Amanda absentmindedly whispered.
"Yeah, I do. National security is going to have to take a number and get in line."
Lee then opened the bedside table drawer and, in what had become a ritual for them, pulled a crushed velvet box from the drawer. He opened the box and removed Amanda's wedding set. He took her left hand and placed the rings on her finger. He lifted her hand and kissed just above the rings. Likewise, Amanda removed Lee's wedding band from the box and placed the golden circle on his left ring finger. She raised his hand and placed his finger in her mouth, then removed it slowly and seductively. Lee shuddered as Amanda released his hand.
As Lee watched, Amanda began to unbutton her blouse. Once undone, she let it fall open. Lee gently pushed the blouse off Amanda's shoulders and let it fall to the ground in a soft whisper. His eyes caught Amanda's diamond heart, which twinkled at him in spite of the room's dim light. She reached behind her to unclip her bra. Once undone, she eased it from her body as Lee moved in. They began to kiss, more passionately this time, expressing the excitement and anticipation of their afternoon plans.
3:00PM MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1987
Francine removed her earring as she answered the phone. "International Federal Film."
"Oh Ms. Dedmon, thank God it's you who answered. This is Dotty West. There's been an emergency and I need to get hold of Amanda as quickly as possible!"
Francine's instincts immediately kicked in. 'Amanda said she was spending the afternoon around the house. That was hours ago. Why isn't she home?' Francine thought. "Mrs. West, calm down. What's going on?"
"Phillip's been kidnapped! They took Jamie too, but he got away! Three men pulled up in a car and forced them into it! I've called the police but I've got to let Amanda know! I've tried to call her directly but I'm not getting an answer and I thought maybe she was in the editing room or wherever it is that she goes when I can't find her. Whoever took Phillip knew who they were and they mentioned Amanda, too! Could you please tell her to come home as quickly as she can? I'm worried about Phillip, but I'm scared for her safety too!"
Francine grew wide-eyed. "Yes, Mrs. West. I'll find her as quickly as I can."
Francine hung up the phone and hurried into Billy's office. "Billy, I just got a frantic call from Amanda's mother."
Billy smirked. "Francine, when is Mrs. West NOT frantic?"
"Well, this time it sounds justified. Amanda's son Phillip has been kidnapped. The younger son, Jamie, was involved too, but he got away. According to Jamie, their kidnappers knew them, and they mentioned Amanda. Sounds like a professional hit."
"Dammit!" Billy exclaimed as he stood from his desk.
"There's more. Mrs. West called the Arlington police. Shouldn't we tell them to back off before they get involved?"
Billy reached for the phone and punched zero. "Connect me with Captain Rudding at the Arlington Police Department." He looked at Francine while he waited for the call to go through. "What other details were you able to get?"
"Not much, because I didn't want it to appear that I was asking too many questions. But Billy, Mrs. West called here looking for Amanda. Didn't she say she was going to be working around the house all afternoon?"
Billy said, "Yes, yes she did, because she has the afternoon…Hello, Captain Rudding, this is William Melrose, field section chief for the Agency. ID 445797. You received a call a few minutes ago from a Dotty West about a kidnapping. Please call your men off, this is Agency jurisdiction." Billy listened for a few seconds. "Yes, we will be taking it from here. Thank you for your cooperation, Captain." He hung up the phone.
"Francine, if Amanda's not home, then where is she?"
Francine answered, "I don't know. Maybe whoever got Phillip grabbed her too?"
"I'm going to call Lee," Billy said as he reached for the phone. He dialed Lee's car number, which went directly to a message that said the phone was unavailable. He then tried Lee's apartment. "Busy," he said to Francine. He placed the receiver back down. "Francine, get a surveillance team over to Amanda's house. We certainly don't want anyone else taken."
Francine said, "What about a team to start looking for Phillip?"
Billy thought for a moment. "This is going to be tricky. I want to make sure Lee and Amanda are safe first. If either one of them…or both…have been taken, then we're dealing with a whole different set of circumstances. Besides, we won't have a starting point until we can talk to the other boy. And Amanda will need to be there if she can. I'm not taking on Mrs. West alone this time. So keep trying to get hold of Lee. He must be home and on the phone."
3:23PM MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1987
Gavrikov pushed Phillip up the steps and into a dingy room. "Sit down," he growled, pointing at a chair sitting in the middle of the room. Phillip did as he was told. Gregory strode into the room as Gavrikov grabbed the ropes from the small desk that was pushed up against the back wall and began tying Phillip's hands behind his back. "Well, young Mr. King. So sorry we have to meet under such substandard conditions. Hopefully your mother will take swift action and we can make a nice, simple trade. You for the list."
"What kind of list? Like a grocery list or something?"
Gregory moved toward Phillip and bent down so he was face to face with the boy. He looked into his eyes. "You know, it's true what you Americans say. Apples do not fall too far from the tree, I think it is. You are your mother's son. I have seen that look before. The perfect mix of willful defiance, coupled with just enough fear to keep you on guard. "
"How do you know my mom?"
"Oh, I am just one of the many adversaries she and the Scarecrow have made over the years."
"Adversaries? You mean like an enemy?"
Gregory smiled, "Of course, my dear boy. Your mother and Scarecrow, along with Melrose, have crossed me once again. This time, I will come out on top. You see, I know they will do anything I ask to rescue you. So I want the list. It is my way back to Russia and the good graces of the KGB."
"You're Russian?" Phillip asked, wide-eyed? "Like a bad guy Russian?"
"I suppose that depends on which cause you believe in. My comrades think Scarecrow and Mrs. King are the 'bad guys', as you say."
"I'm confused. You still keep talking about my mom, and something or someone called Scarecrow, but I really don't know what you're talking about."
Gregory looked at Phillip for a moment, and then realization dawned on his face. "You don't know, do you? About your mother and her profession?"
Phillip shrugged. "She works for some boring film company."
Gregory laughed. "Oh, dear, this is just priceless! We always thought her housewife routine was merely a cover." He turned to leave. "I will be back in a few moments with a telephone. We are going to call your mother and make arrangements for the list." Gregory closed the door behind him. Phillip heard the lock click into place.
Phillip's mind raced. What was this crazy man talking about? Scarecrow and Mrs. King? What did that even mean? And was Jamie right about their mom? Was she some kind of secret cop or something? Phillip was scared, but determined he wasn't going to wait to discover his fate. Last summer, he had spent 3 weeks at Junior Trailblazers Camp. At night, he and his fellow Trailblazers would practice knot-tying by tying each other up, then would try to identify the knots by feel instead of sight and try to escape. He began exploring the knots in the rope Gavrikov had used to tie him up. It felt like a bowline knot. Luckily, in his wrestling workouts, he had been working on his grip, so his hands had become much stronger and more agile. And before Gavrikov had tied him up, Phillip had flexed his forearms and wrists, so he had a little slack in the rope. He worked the rope around to gain access to the knot and started to work on loosening it.
3:25PM MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1987
Dotty paced back and forth at the front windows. She heard a vehicle approaching and looked hopefully out the window. Her face fell as she saw a cable TV van pull up across the street. 'The Binghams must have all sorts of problems with their cable,' Dotty thought. 'That van seems to be there a lot.'
She turned to Jamie and said, "Why is it taking so long for the police to get here?"
"Maybe you should call them again," Jamie suggested.
"I think you're right," she replied as she moved toward the kitchen. "For what we taxpayers have to shell out, you'd think we'd get better service in an emergency." She picked up the phone and dialed.
"Arlington Police Department, Officer McClain speaking."
Dotty started in, "Officer McClain, this is Dorothea West calling AGAIN. I demand to know why no officers have come to my house yet! My grandson has been kidnapped and this is an EMERGENCY!"
Officer McClain stumbled over his words, "Oh…um…yes ma'am…um…our department has been called off the case."
"CALLED OFF? What do you mean CALLED OFF?" Dotty practically shrieked into the phone.
"Um…yes ma'am…called off. We were informed the case was under the jurisdiction of…uh…another government agency," Officer McClain stammered.
Dotty fumed, "Like the FBI? Then where ARE they?"
"Um…no ma'am, not the FBI, and that's really all the information I have right now," Officer McClain said apologetically.
"Well, let me tell you something! I'm not AT ALL pleased with anything that's gone on this afternoon. My grandson has been kidnapped and taken God knows where, and we've GOT TO FIND HIM! I DEMAND to know what's going on!"
"Mrs. West, I'm sorry but I just don't know anything else. I'm sure you'll be contacted very soon, your situation is being handled by one of the best law enforcement agencies."
"Well, they can't be that good with all the time that's passed and NO ONE has called or come to my house!" Dotty slammed down the phone. "OH! These PEOPLE! No sense, NO SENSE, of urgency! And where in the world is Amanda?"
4:00PM MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1987
"Mmmmm…that was some good dessert…" Amanda sighed as she rolled around and positioned her back against Lee's chest.
"Yes it was, Mrs. Stetson, just perfect," Lee sighed back as he placed his right arm around Amanda and pulled her close.
They had just drifted off to sleep when they heard a knock at the apartment door. Amanda said, "Oh no, who's that?"
"Probably just the doorman with a package or something. He'll leave it," Lee said. They heard the knock again, this time louder and more urgent.
"Gosh. It must be some kind of package," Amanda whispered.
"Ignore it. He'll go away eventually."
They listened for a moment and heard no more sounds. "See?" Lee said. Then they heard the sound of a lock being picked.
They both snapped to attention, and Lee jumped out of the bed. He ran across the room, and took his robe from the hook in the bathroom. He pulled his arms through and tied the robe closed as he hurried back to the bedside table to grab his gun. "Amanda, stay here."
He walked carefully out of the bedroom. Whoever was working on the lock was still at it. Lee quietly pulled the bedroom door shut just as the front door flung open. He quickly raised his pistol just as Francine and Billy peeked around either side of the door frame with their guns at the ready.
"Billy…Francine…what in the hell are you two doing breaking into my apartment?" Lee exclaimed as he lowered his pistol.
Billy holstered his sidearm. "Lee, thank God you're okay," he said as they walked in. Francine pulled the door closed.
"What's going on?" Lee demanded.
"We've been trying to call you for over an hour, Lee. Your line has been busy," Francine said in a most irritated tone. "Who have you been talking to?"
"No one. I took the phone off the hook so I could get some sleep. I was up for two days with the Brewer case, if you remember. And you still haven't told me why you broke into my apartment!" Lee growled as he set his gun down on the sideboard.
"Lee, we need to talk to Amanda. Where is she?" Billy asked.
Amanda heard muffled voices coming from the apartment's living room. First Lee, obviously irritated. Then a deeper voice, familiar in tone. Amanda eased herself out of the bed. She quietly moved to the bathroom and removed her robe from its usual hook. She slid into it and tiptoed to the bedroom door. She pressed her ear against it just in time to hear an annoyed Francine asking Lee about the busy phone. Amanda closed her eyes and grimaced. "Shoot!" she silently mouthed. Then she heard Billy's voice asking her whereabouts.
"Well, clearly she's not here," Lee lied as he raised his arms and gestured around the apartment. "Why do you think I would know where she is?"
Francine said, "Lee, her Wagonneer is parked outside."
Lee hesitated. "Um…well, yeah, I dropped her off at her house earlier because it wouldn't start."
Francine pointed toward the coffee table and countered, "Then why is her purse here?"
Lee ran his left hand through his hair. "Uh…she forgot it, so I'm going to take it by to her later."
Francine replied, "Amanda's not at home, Lee, her mother called the Agency looking for her."
"Well…maybe she went out for awhile or something. Maybe she walked to the school to meet her sons after I dropped her off," Lee said in an unconvincing tone.
"Lee, is there something you want to tell us?" Billy asked.
"Tell you? What would I want to tell you?"
"About this," Billy looked at Lee knowingly as he pointed to his own wedding band.
Lee looked down at his left hand then quickly placed his hand in the robe's pocket. Francine looked from Lee to Billy, then back to Lee, her mouth agape. "Lee Stetson! Are you wearing a ring?"
Billy said, "Francine, that can wait. Right now we need to talk to Amanda. There's been an incident. Her son Phillip has been kidnapped."
Amanda remained at the door, listening to the verbal sparring among the three. Lee was putting up a good bluff, although the part about her walking to school to meet the boys sounded a little lame. Then she heard the words "Phillip" and "kidnapped". She closed her eyes again. She knew their secret had finally been blown. She knew she had no choice. Eyes still closed, she reached for the doorknob.
Lee said, "What? How? When did this happen? And why in the hell am I just now finding out about this?"
"Calm down, Lee. You won't do Amanda any good if you get too upset. She's going to need you, man," Billy reasoned.
"Do we have any information yet?" Lee questioned. Billy and Francine stared through Lee. In fact, they acted as though he wasn't even standing there. "Did you not hear me? Do we have anything yet?" Then Lee understood their silence. He closed his eyes in defeat, then turned around to see a robed, red-faced Amanda standing in the open bedroom doorway.
"Sir, Francine," she said, nodding to each of them but unable to look either in the eye.
Lee walked up to Amanda and took her hands in his. "Amanda, something's happened..." Lee started
"I know, I heard." She gave his hands a squeeze, then released them and moved past Lee to address their visitors. "Sir, what do we know so far?" Amanda asked, her eyes filling with unshed tears. Lee moved to stand beside her.
Billy said, "Not much, Amanda. Your mother called about an hour and a half ago trying to contact you. Evidently Phillip and Jamie were grabbed off the street and forced into a car. Jamie got away and ran home. Mrs. West called the Arlington Police, but I ordered them to stand down, so the Agency has jurisdiction over the case. We have a surveillance team outside your house and we've been looking for you two ever since to let you know what happened. We also wanted to ensure that whoever took Phillip didn't take one or both of you also."
"Has anyone claimed responsibility?" Lee asked.
"Not yet," Francine managed to say, still trying to recover from her state of shock. The Agency rumor mill had Lee and Amanda in all sorts of imagined relationships, but she had largely ignored them, thinking she had the upper hand on the truth. She knew that, in spite of Amanda's claim that she had broken off her budding infatuation with Lee, that the two of them were still close. But she had no idea that Lee and Amanda's relationship had risen to this level. And now, in front of her, she saw Amanda King, of all women, walking out of Lee Stetson's bedroom, wearing a robe. And a wedding ring.
"Then how do we even know this is agency-related?" Amanda asked.
"Because Jamie said they mentioned you," Billy replied. "We think it's someone who wants revenge or information."
"So what are we waiting for? We need to get over to Amanda's and find out what Jamie knows," Lee said.
Billy interjected, "It's my opinion that both of you are too close to this situation to be directly involved in the search for Phillip."
Amanda and Lee looked at each other. Amanda quietly said, "Sir, over the years I've worried that a day like this would come, when my family ended up in a bad situation because of my choices. I wondered how I would react, and what I would do." A single tear escaped from Amanda's eye. "I'm scared to death for my son. But more than anything, I'm so angry. I've done a lot of things in the name of national security. Most things I'm very proud of. A few things I'm not. But the mere fact that there are people who exist in the world that would do something so heartless as to kidnap an innocent boy for whatever kind of gain or advantage they think they can get makes me even more determined and proud of the job I do. Sir, I have to be involved in finding my son and the bastards who took him. I can't sit it out."
Lee put his arm around Amanda and said, "Billy, at least let us go over to the house and question Jamie. He has to be scared, and we might get more information out of him than strangers would. "
Billy thought for a moment. "Okay, but I'm going with you. It could be helpful to have someone neutral on hand." He turned to Francine and said, "Go back to the Agency and check with your contacts. Maybe someone's heard something." He turned back to Lee and Amanda. "We'll wait for you two downstairs." Billy and Francine walked toward the door, and Francine stole a glance over her shoulder at Amanda and Lee. In spite of the crisis at hand, she still couldn't believe what she was seeing.
"We'll be down in a minute, Billy," Lee called after them as Billy pulled the door closed behind him.
Amanda covered her face with her hands and said, "Oh Lee, please tell me this is just a bad dream."
"I wish I could." He took hold of Amanda's wrists and gently pulled her hands away from her face, then eased them down between them. "Hey, Phillip's going to be okay. We're going to find him and bring him home. Now let's go get dressed and head over to talk to your mom and Jamie."
"Oh my gosh, Lee!" Amanda exclaimed as she looked down at their clasped hands. "Our rings! Do you think Billy and Francine noticed?"
"I know they noticed. Billy pointed mine out before you joined us. But we'll have to deal with that later." Lee gave Amanda's hands a squeeze then released them and they hurried to the bedroom to dress.
4:15PM MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1987
Joe King had just arrived home from work when the phone rang. "Carrie, do you mind grabbing that call?"
"Hello?" Carrie said into the receiver. "Oh, yes, he is, Dotty, he just got home. Hang on a second." She placed the phone down on the kitchen counter. She gave her husband a peck on the cheek.
"Welcome home. It's Dotty on the phone. She sounds just short of frantic."
Joe smiled and rolled his eyes. "Thanks, honey." He lifted the phone to his ear. "Hello, Dotty. How are you today?"
"Oh, Joe! You need to get over here right away! Phillip has been kidnapped! The police won't respond and I can't find Amanda!"
Joe's smile quickly faded. "I'll be right over."
Dotty had no sooner hung up from her brief talk with Joe when the phone rang. "Amanda?" Dotty desprately answered.
"No," she heard a man's voice respond, "but I'm assuming from the way you answered the phone, my dear Mrs. West, that the illustrious Mrs. King is not at home."
Dotty's brow wrinkled in confusion. "No, she's not. And I really must keep this phone line open. We are in the middle of an emergency."
"Oh, I know, Mrs. West."
"Who is this?"
"Please tell Mrs. King that Gregory called. We each have something the other wants. She will know to what I am referring." The line went dead.
"Is that Mr. Gregory? Or just Gregory?" Dotty said into the silent phone. She hung up. "I don't know anyone named Gregory. How did he know me?" She stood there a moment. "Hmm. Amanda sure has made some rude friends since she got involved in all this film business."
4:38PM MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1987
An awkward silence hung in the Wagonneer as Amanda, Lee and Billy made the trek from Lee's apartment to Arlington. After a few moments, Billy broke the silence. "I know we're in the middle of a crisis, but once this is over, the three of us need to talk. Just one question, though. How long?"
"Going on 9 months," Lee answered as he navigated through the rush hour traffic.
"Sir, we didn't want to lie to anyone. We just thought our family would be safer if we kept our marriage a secret. I guess today has proven the fault in THAT logic," Amanda said ruefully.
"I know, Amanda. That conversation can wait. But there's one looming that can't, and that's what we are going to tell Mrs. West in about 5 minutes when I show up…again…at her door."
Lee looked at Amanda. She nodded, knowing what he was going to say next. "Billy, Amanda and I have been talking a lot about the predicament we've gotten ourselves into, and about coming clean to everyone about everything that's happened over the last 4 years. If I am going to be a full-time member of Amanda's family…I mean OUR family," he corrected, giving Amanda's hand a squeeze, "then Mrs. West and Amanda's sons have a right to know who I am. Besides, I don't know how we'd explain Phillip's kidnapping without telling a whole pack of lies."
Amanda added, "And quite frankly, Sir, I'm getting tired of lying to them. So I guess what we're asking is permission to be honest with our family."
Billy thought for a moment. "I'm okay with that. I've come to know Mrs. West over the past few months, and she can be trusted with our secret."
Lee pulled the Wagonneer into the driveway and turned off the engine. He looked across at Amanda, put his hand on her shoulder and said, "Are you ready for this?"
"I guess I have to be," she replied.
The three of them got out of the car. Billy gestured an acknowledgement to the agents in the cable TV van across the street as they walked to the front door. Amanda placed her key in the lock and took a deep breath, as if she were preparing to dive into dark water of unknown depths. Billy put his hand on Amanda's arm and said, "Don't worry, Amanda. It will be okay." She gave Billy a small smile. "Thank you, Sir." She turned the handle and opened the door. "Mother!"
TO BE CONTINUED