Saboteur Tag - Home Sweet Home
**15 Sweet Home Way

Rockville, Maryland 5 weeks later 1:32PM, Sunday Afternoon**

Amanda sighed and smiled as Lee parked the Wagoneer in front of the five- bedroom colonial home she and her husband had visited twice over the last several days. She looked out her window and tilted her head to see up to the second story and dormered roofline. The house was just as beautiful as she remembered, though she somehow expected her reaction to change since the last time they were here. If anything, she felt more and more at home each time they came to Sweet Home Way.

"Whooaa!" Phillip said loudly from the backseat. "Check it out! This place is huge!"

Lee put the vehicle in park and leaned his hand on the steering wheel, turning to look back on Phillip, Jamie and Dotty. "Big enough that you each get your own rooms," he said, and Amanda heard the pride in his voice. Their conversation of the night before, when he confided in her that he finally felt like a contributing part of the family because he had found a home they could call their own, came back to her and she knew how much it meant to Lee to have the boys like the house.

"Cool! That means I don't have to keep tripping on your stuff, dork head!" Phillip said, elbowing Jamie.

"Yah, and I don't have to smell your dirty socks anymore!"

"Boys . . . " Amanda started.

"Sorry, mom," they said simultaneously in apology.

"Oh, Lee, this place is just beautiful!" Dotty said with a gasp, pressing her hand to her chest and then flipped it into the air dramatically.

"Can we check it out?" Jamie asked excitedly.

"Sure thing, Champ," Lee said and opened his door.

Amanda smiled as Lee came around to open her door, offering his hand as she slipped out of her seat. She looked up at him, the brilliance of his smile - the kind that reached all the way to his hazel eyes - warming her skin. Lee squeezed her hand and lifted it to his lips for a quick kiss, winking at her.

He immediately moved back to also assist Dotty from the back seat. As they moved toward the front door, another car pulled into the half-circle driveway and Amanda recognized the driver as their real estate agent, Angie. The blonde woman stepped toward them, waving in greeting.

"Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Stetson! Oh, I'm so happy to see you've brought the whole family!" she called as she approached them.

Amanda pushed her hands into the front pocket of her jeans and smiled at the perky woman who had already met them more than once as they agonized over the purchase of a new home. Angie had been patient and helpful, and had helped them find a place they absolutely fell in love with.

"Hi, Angie," Lee said, putting one arm around Amanda's shoulder and extending the other to the woman. After they shook hands, Lee rested his hand on Jamie's shoulder. "Angie, this is our son, Jamie. And the tall one there is Phillip. And this is Amanda's mother, Dotty."

Angie nodded to the boys, smiling widely, and shook Dotty's hand. After several minutes of chitchat on the wide front porch of the house, Angie moved to unlock the front door. Amanda's breath caught in her throat when they stepped into the foyer, just as it did every time they came here. A warm feeling flowed over, like water in a river. It was like coming home after a hard day at work or a long vacation.

"Can we check it out upstairs?" Jamie asked.

"Sure. Go ahead," Amanda answered. "But, no running."

Her request fell on deaf ears as the two teenagers tore up the rounded staircase to the second level. Lee laughed beside her, and Amanda felt the rumble in his chest against her arm as he held her close. He had been hovering around her for days, never straying very far, ever since she made some inconsequential remark about feeling like she might be getting the flu. Now that they lived as a family, Lee took on the responsibilities and privileges with full vigor.

"Well, your boys seem to like it," Angie said with a laugh.

"Which way is the kitchen?" Dotty asked, her voice echoing through the empty house. "I always say you can judge a home by its kitchen. Doesn't need to be too big, but you don't want it too small, either. I never wanted to say anything, Amanda, but I always thought our kitchen was too small."

Amanda pointed to the left. "It's right down that hall, Mother. I think you'll find it's just right."

With a flourish of her hand, Dotty West moved away from them, her heels clicking on the hardwood floors, talking to herself about new wallpaper and light fixtures as she went. Amanda smiled and chuckled. Ever since she and Lee told her mother they were considering a new house, it was all Dotty could talk about. Everything from packing to cleaning out the attic and getting rid of anything they didn't need to picking up copies of Victorian Homes and Gardens and Bed and Bath magazines. She was almost more excited than the boys.

"Should I understand you've come to a decision about the house?" Angie asked, her penciled eyebrows arching.

Amanda looked up at Lee, and couldn't help but smile at the wide grin that spread across her husband's face. Deep dimples poked at his cheeks and his hazel eyes seemed to sparkle. He looked down at her, and she nodded once for him.

"We have, Angie. We want the house."

"Oh, that is wonderful! I can have the papers drawn up by the end of the day and couriered to your house. Would you like for me to begin showing the Arlington house right away?"

"No," Amanda said quickly, immediately pulling back with a deep breath. "No, um, let's wait until we've moved out. If that's okay."

"Sure thing! When would you like to close?"

"As soon as possible," they said together.

"Wonderful! I'm just going to go out to my car and call my office, get the proverbial ball rolling, as they say. Feel free to walk through the house again."

Angie left them and Amanda stepped away from Lee, turning in a slow circle in the center of the foyer, looking up at the beautiful crown molding and high-polished wainscoting. She could move into this house, not change a single thing, and be perfectly happy.

"What are you thinking, pretty lady?" Lee asked.

She turned to look at him, and still found herself charmed by the wide smile on his face. He had been happier in the last five weeks than Amanda could ever remember seeing him. He had been right. He told her the night they came clean with their family that everything would work out. Never could she have imagined then that his words would ring so true now.

**"I promise you, Amanda Stetson, I will make this okay. We will make it through this."**

"I was just thinking about how wonderful you are," she said, her voice cracking with the words.

"You want to go check out the upstairs again?" he said with a wink. "Check out our bedroom one more time?"

Amanda walked toward him, reaching her hand out as she closed the space. They linked fingers and walked up the stairs. They could hear Phillip and Jamie fighting over who would get what bedroom. Two of the five bedrooms had attached bathrooms, and they already told the boys the second was for their grandmother. That left three rooms for two boys, and they decided to let the boys fight it out. Together they moved to the far end of the hall, to the large bedroom that faced out over the front yard.

She walked to one of the large front windows and looked down to the sandstone pebble driveway where their car was parked. The front yard was beautiful and the house sat several hundred feet from the road, but the back yard seemed fathomless in comparison to their little cottage in Arlington. Lee stepped up behind her, resting his hands on her shoulders and his lips against her hair.

"Are you happy?" he asked.

To answer his question, Amanda turned to face him and wrapped her arms around his neck. Their lips met and she put every ounce of happiness into the kiss. Lee's groan vibrated against her mouth and he pulled her closer.

"Oh, there you are! I nearly got lost in this place looking for you!" Dotty proclaimed as she came into the room. She had to be ecstatic over the house, because her hands flipped in the air as she spoke, punctuating each word, and her blonde curls bobbed. "Amanda, Lee, this house is absolutely beautiful! I don't know how much the two of you get paid for whatever it is you do, because I'm still not quite sure of that yet, but this is just beautiful!"

Amanda let the kiss break and slowly lowered herself down off her toes. She decided weeks ago that living with her husband and her mother meant she didn't have to hide her affections anymore. If she wanted to kiss Lee, she kissed Lee. And never again would she have to hide. It felt wonderful.

"I'm glad you like it, Dotty. Did you find your room?"

"If you mean that gigantic room at the other end of the hall, yes I did. And I think the boys are close to resolving their battle of wills."

"Good," Amanda said, leaning her head against lee's chest and taking a deep breath. Her limbs felt heavy and if there had been a bed in the room, she would willingly climb into it. "Angie is going to see how quickly we can close on the house and move it."

"Hey, are you okay?" Lee asked as he kissed her hair.

"Oh, sure. I'm fine. Just tired."

Her mother walked across the room and stood in front of Amanda, tipping her head back to look at her through the bottom of her glasses. Amanda pulled back, shocked, when her mother took hold of her chin and turned her face side to side, glaring at her.

"Mother! What are you doing?"

Dotty smiled, stepped back, and crossed her arms over her body. She looked from Amanda to Lee and back to Amanda, an all-knowing grin on her face. Amanda watched, shocked and confused, as her mother reached up and gently patted Lee on the cheek before turning on her heels and heading out of the room.

"You may want to help the boys pick out their rooms," she said as she walked.

Amanda chuckled, tilted her head up toward her husband, and shrugged. Lee arched his eyebrows and shrugged back. Dotty had them both confused.

"Ok, Mother, I'll bite. What are you thinking and why should we pick out the boy's rooms?"

Dotty stopped at the doorway and looked back at them. "Because you'll want the room next door as the nursery."

Amanda gasped and looked up at Lee. With a yelp, he swept her up and spun her around the empty floor, pulling her into a deep kiss before setting her feet on the floor again.

The End . . .for now