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This is something of an anti-Valentine's Day story. It's my take on Amanda and Dean's breakup, and a bit different from the others out there.
I've always thought Dean was something of a doofus. Bookends as a gift?!? And his mother!!! The less said there, the better. Anyhow, we do know that some time after 'I Am Not Now … Nor Have I Ever Been … A Spy' Dean and Amanda broke up. Here's my take on that. It's a bit AU—it stretches the timeline to have their breakup around the middle of February. Dean seemed to be not very socially adept. Lee, while rude and inconsiderate, does have a clue about social interaction. And he is very protective of Amanda. So here it is, and my take is somewhat different from the other versions I've read. Variety makes more spice to life.
Cupid Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Sunday evening, just before Valentine's Day 1984
Amanda was in her kitchen, finishing up the dinner dishes. The boys were in the family room watching TV, and Dottie was reading her latest romance novel. The phone rang, and Dottie jumped to answer it.
"Hello?" she paused to listen. "Oh sure, Dean, she's right here. She's been waiting for your call." Dottie smiled at Amanda as she passed the phone to her daughter.
Amanda sighed inwardly. Dean. He was probably going to ask her out for Valentine's Day. She dried her hands on the dish towel, and took the phone from her mother.
"Hi Dean," she said more brightly than she felt.
"Hi sweetheart. Having a good weekend?"
Amanda thought back to her weekend. Saturday—housecleaning and driving the boys to friends houses. Saturday evening—popcorn and a movie with her mother. Sunday—they had gone to the Smithsonian for a family outing. Pretty normal and boring.
"It was nice, Dean," she replied.
"Did you miss me?" he asked with a smile in his voice.
"Oh well, I had mother and the boys to keep me company." She hated to lie, so she just avoided a direct answer. Lately it had been easy to forget about Dean for days on end.
"So are you busy tomorrow night?" he asked.
"Tomorrow night?!?" Amanda was confused. She quickly checked the calendar hanging on the side of the refrigerator—no she didn't have the date wrong—Monday was the 13th February 13th, and Tuesday was Valentine's Day, February 14th. "Well, the boys will have homework…"
"I wondered if you wanted to go out with me and celebrate Valentine's Day a day early?"
"Early, oh…" Amanda was somewhat taken aback.
He explained, "Tuesday everything will be crowded and they always jack up the prices. Friday and Saturday will be just as bad. So I thought tomorrow would be good for us to go out. Just us two."
"Well, that's certainly practical, Dean…" Amanda was less than enthusiastic.
"Yeah. And mother expects me to take her out Tuesday, so I'm busy anyhow," his added explanation didn't help.
Amanda tried to see the bright side of things, "Your mother. Of course. She's important, too."
He dug himself in further, "Amanda, if we were married it would be different—I'd be going out with you on Valentine's Day and mother would get another night."
"Well, I see how it would make a difference…" 'He's really trying,' she thought. 'He's just a bit awkward in these situations.' She made excuses for him. Again.
"So, shall I pick you up at 6:30?" he continued as if he hadn't heard her hesitation.
'Might as well give him the benefit of the doubt,' she thought. "That will be nice. Where are we going—what should I wear?"
"We're going out to a restaurant—Manny's Steak House." He named a nice moderately priced place in their area.
"That sounds nice. I'll be ready at 6:30."
"See you tomorrow night, Amanda. I love you." He finished hopefully.
"See you tomorrow night, Dean," she replied softly. Amanda hung up the phone. She realized she was being unfair to Dean—but she couldn't lie to him. She just didn't feel that spark—the magic she associated with romantic love.
"Are you going out with Dean on Valentine's Day, Amanda?" Dottie asked her daughter.
"Um, no mother. Tomorrow night instead." She replied.
"Oh" Dottie was somewhat taken aback. But she continued hopefully, "But he is taking you out—that's what counts."
"I suppose," Amanda replied neutrally. Then she changed the subject. "Fellas, it's getting late. Why don't you get your pajamas on and then you can watch a little more TV before you go to bed."
Phillip, ever the opportunist replied, "Can we wait until the next commercial, mom? We don't want to miss any of the program."
Amanda saw through his attempt, but agreed anyhow, "OK. Next commercial, you guys go upstairs to wash up and change, got it?"
Jamie, the temporizing one agreed, "OK mom, we got it."
"Amanda," Dottie spoke in a tone that let her daughter know her diversion hadn't worked.
"What mother?" Amanda asked innocently.
"Are you disappointed Dean isn't taking you out on Valentine's Day?" She was just concerned for her daughter's happiness.
"Oh well," Amanda temporized, "he says he's busy and it costs more then so tomorrow will be fine, I guess."
"That's good. Of course—when you two are married it will be different. He'll be here every night and you won't have to plan to spend time together." Dottie was ever hopeful.
'Mother!" Amanda said in an exasperated tone. "I think you're rushing things…"
"Well, what are you waiting for? Dean loves you—he loves the boys—are you dragging your feet, missy? Because if you are—a man like Dean doesn't come along every day."
Amanda was becoming tired of this argument, "I know, mother. But I have to do this in my own time. Please?"
"Of course," Dottie hugged her daughter. "I just want my baby to be happily married to a good man. And Dean is a good man."
"Thank you, mother." Amanda turned to the boys, "OK fellas, the commercial is on, Go upstairs and get ready for bed."
Phillip and Jamie jumped up and raced upstairs, anxious to get dressed for bed before the commercials ended. 'Dean is a good man,' Amanda thought. 'He's just not the man for me.'
Monday, Amanda went into the Agency to work. Billy had a load of tapes for her to transcribe, so she would be busy all day. She noticed the women in the steno pool seemed to be on the lookout more than usual. 'Looking for Scarecrow most likely,' Amanda chuckled to herself. 'Little do they know Lee doesn't do Valentine's Day.' She remembered how they had chatted after the Magda Petrak case.
"So Lee, what do you have planned for Valentine's Day next week?" She had asked by way of conversation.
"Nothing," he replied.
"What? Nothing? What about all your girlfriends?" Amanda was puzzled.
"That's just it, Amanda. A guy like me has to be very careful not to give any one woman ideas about a more-than-casual relationship. And going out on Valentine's Day gives out signals that I don't want to give out. So I'll be staying home most of that week." He was decisive.
"But Valentine's Day is Tuesday. Why can't you go out on the other days?"
He explained carefully, "When Valentine's Day is midweek, the danger zone is widened. Sunday or Monday would be OK I suppose—but Tuesday through Saturday—Valentine's Day through the weekend—well, women get ideas."
"You sure don't want to give any woman ideas," she replied sarcastically.
"No, I don't," Lee said with finality.
Amanda wondered if he had heard her sarcasm, or just ignored it. She had been dismayed that Lee was so—zealous—at guarding his swinging bachelor image. 'He can commit to one woman—he and Eva were almost married. How can one failed relationship turn a man so against commitment? There has to be more to it—another woman in his past—or more? His parents died when he was little and he grew up with his uncle the colonel all over the world on Air Force bases.'
"So what plans do you have, Amanda?"
She was startled out of her reverie. "Um, none so far. I have to make sure the boys have valentines for their classes—the kids exchange valentines in school…"
"I meant are you going out with Doug?" Lee asked her with a smirk.
"Dean" she answered patiently, "his name is Dean. I don't know. He hasn't asked me."
"Yet." Lee finished for her.
"He will. I don't know why you keep that guy around, anyhow." This was old territory, but he seemed to never tire of it.
"I really don't think it's any of your business, Lee." She replied primly, just like always.
"I'm just worried that you might make a mistake, that's all." He continued as if she hadn't rebuffed him.
"Well, I appreciate your concern, but I am managing my own life fine, thank you." She hoped the conversation would end there. She thought about her situation and Lee's. 'Boy, talk about being a hypocrite. Mother and Dean are all but pushing me into marriage—but I'm just not ready. Being divorced is different from having one bad relationship. Joe and I were married for ten years. That's a long time. And I have the boys to consider, too. Face it, Amanda, you don't love Dean. Marrying him would be too … convenient. It's the predictable thing—your life would certainly be secure and cozy. And boring.'
"Suit yourself, Amanda," Lee said, "but you could do better."
"I'll take that as a compliment, so thank you."
The conversation had veered off onto more neutral topics after that. Getting back to the present, Amanda noticed a different buzz had come over the bullpen. She looked up—sure enough—Lee had just walked into the room. He sat down at his desk and started flipping through the folders deposited there.
Francine came up to his desk and they exchanged a few words—then they both laughed. Amanda observed them and thought, 'They're probably having a laugh at the expense of the steno pool.' She shook her head. 'Two people determined to avoid emotional commitment at any cost.' She turned back to her work. 'And how am I so different? Well, I do love my boys, and mother. But I don't love Dean. I'm fond of him. He's a sweet, nice guy. He loves me, and the boys and mother. He's got a good stable job. But that's not enough to build a lasting marriage. I've failed once at marriage—I don't want to set myself up for another failure. Face it, Amanda—you just can't marry Dean. But what am I gonna do about it? I can't just dump him.'
She was startled out of her thoughts by Lee's greeting. "Lee. Hi. How are you today?"
"Fine. Hey—could you go over my notes here and help me make some sense of them?"
"By that I assume you mean you want me to type up your latest report, right?"
"Yeah," he smiled in relief. "Thanks for understanding. You're a lifesaver, Amanda. Francine and I have to go check out a security setup. Then we'll probably have lunch. I'll be back later in the afternoon, if you need me to clarify anything." He dropped a file and a notebook on her desk and gave her his 'I can get her to do it for me' smile.
"I'm leaving early, so if you're not back by 4, you're out of luck." She replied.
"You'll do fine—I know you will. Thanks, see you later." He waved as he breezed out with Francine.
She fumed at his cavalier actions. 'Good old Amanda—I can dump my work on her and she'll do it for me.' She sighed in resignation. 'Hopefully it won't take too long. And since I help him out on many of his assignments, I can fill in the blanks pretty easily.'
Lee never returned that day. Amanda put his finished report with his notes on his desk in the corner and straightened up her desk before she left a little after 4pm. She planned to stop at the grocery store on the way home. Fortunately, Dottie was making dinner that night. So she had time to shop, ride herd on the boys and get ready for her date with Dean.
At 6:15 she was dressed and ready. She wore a new pink sweater, a knee-length black skirt and medium heels. Her hair was up and she wore the perfume Dean had told her he liked. She kissed the boys and hugged her mother. At 6:30 precisely, the doorbell rang.
"Hi Dean." She greeted him and they kissed briefly.
"Hi Amanda, shall we go?" He turned to go to the car.
"Mother, boys, I'm going. See you later!"
"Bye mom." "Have a good time, dear." They replied.
Lee had decided to make the most of his 'dateless' week by catching up with a few old friends. He and Rich Anderson, a fellow Marine in 'Nam, went out to Manny's Steak House, to catch up on old times Monday evening.
Rich was talking, "… so then we lobbed a couple grenades into the cave. They went off and from the smoke we discovered the back entrance. Of course it was also crawling with VC so that was another clue!" Both men laughed heartily.
"You get any of them?" Lee asked after the laughter wound down.
"Nah—they all survived. A few were cut up a bit—but nobody died. We rounded them up and took them to a camp."
They drank more beer, and their steaks arrived.
"So Lee, you settle down yet?" Rich asked.
"Nah, I like to play the field. Variety is the spice of life, and all that."
"You gotta slow down eventually, man. You're what? 34?"
"Hey, I'm only 33. You're the old man here, buddy!"
"Yeah, a whole year older. Seriously, I've never been happier since I got married. We're expecting our second in June."
"I'm glad for you. But my lifestyle just doesn't lend itself to marriage and a family. I travel a lot. Usually on short notice. I never really know where I'll be at any time. It's easier and better for me if I just keep it light and casual." Lee explained.
"I thought you met someone in Italy a few years back. You said something about getting married back then."
"That was a big mistake, Rich, believe me. When it ended, I was unhappy, but now I know it was a lucky break for me. That marriage would have ended in murder—I know it." Lee spoke in a dark tone.
"She had a temper, huh?" Rich smiled knowingly.
"You don't know the half of it, man." Lee replied shortly. Just then Lee spotted the couple at the door. It was Amanda and her weather guy. 'That jerk—he couldn't even take her out on Valentine's Day. I hope she dumps him real soon.'
Amanda and Dean were ushered to a table at the back of the restaurant near the kitchen. She hadn't spotted Lee.
Amanda sat and the waiter suggested cocktails.
"Amanda, do you want some wine?" Dean asked.
"Sure, Dean—I'd like some, but only one glass. It's a weeknight and I have to work tomorrow."
Dean ordered them two glasses of red wine. Once their wine had arrived, he took a sip and gathered his thoughts. "Amanda, about your work…"
"What about my work, Dean?"
"Well…I just wonder if you shouldn't be at home—taking care of your boys."
"Dean!" She was indignant. "How am I supposed to support those boys? I have to work. We lived on savings and mother helped out last year—but Joe's child support doesn't cover all the bills. So I have to work."
He changed the subject. "You were in that car wreck last month."
"I'm all better now. The amnesia was temporary."
"You missed lunch with my mother." He sounded petulant.
She sighed. "Dean, I was in an accident—I couldn't remember. My mother was there, so at least your mother got to know her."
The waiter appeared to take their orders. "Yeah. Look, maybe we should order, OK?"
They ordered and an uncomfortable silence fell over the table.
"Amanda," "Dean," They spoke simultaneously.
Amanda smiled at her date. "You go ahead, Dean."
"Uh, yeah." He looked uncomfortable.
"Dean, are you OK? You aren't your usual self this evening." Amanda was concerned and took his hand.
He slowly pulled his hand away and responded. "Amanda—mother, my mother and I had a long talk last night, after I called you."
"Oh? What about?" She was interested.
"About … you."
"Look, you're really sweet and I do care for you but lately … you don't seem that interested in me anymore."
"Dean, I've been so busy…" Amanda felt guilty. She had been busy, with Lee and the Agency.
Dean forged ahead, "Amanda, I don't think it's going to work out. Us, I mean." She looked at him in shock. He continued, "I mean, I did—I do love you and your boys and even your mother but well—mother, my mother thinks it's better if I move on. After all—I asked you to marry me months ago and you haven't said yes," Amanda gave him a look, and he nodded, "or no either. Just 'give me time'."
"I know, but I'm only divorced a little over a year…" Amanda tried to be calm.
"Yes. But I've given you time. Months. I think if you did want to marry me, you would have said yes by now."
"I see." Amanda looked down at her hands in her lap.
"So I guess—I hope we can still be friends…"
"Oh Dean, I'm so sorry—"
He cut off her apology. "Amanda don't."
"It isn't working. We have to face that. So it's just best if we go our separate ways."
Amanda was upset. He wasn't even listening to her. He just plowed ahead with his agenda. "Well, you've obviously made up your mind," she said tartly.
Anything else she might have said was interrupted by the waiter delivering their dinners. Dean tucked into his steak. Amanda just picked at hers as she thought, 'He dumped me. I was so worried how I could let him down gently, and he dumped me! I was gonna apologize for not being able to make things work out—but he seems to think I was gonna ask him to take me back. As if I ever would…' She watched Dean enjoying his meal. 'How can he just eat like that? My stomach is upset. I won't be able to eat a bite.' She picked further at her food. 'I should be relieved it's over—but—it hurts. He dumped me. Dean's mother thinks he should move on. He lets his mother make these decisions for him? I guess I'm lucky because I don't want to live my life according to how Dean's mother thinks things should be.' She was angry now. 'Fine. It's over. Done. This is the last time I'll go out with Dean. He was sweet and safe but I guess he didn't love me enough to do what he wanted—he let his mother decide for him.' She savagely cut at her steak and took a bite. 'That's not fair—he probably already made up his mind and his mother is just a convenient excuse. Well—whatever. It's over. Really over. I should be relieved, but right now I'm just hurt and angry. Maybe I'll be relieved tomorrow.' She had been cutting and chewing her steak while she was thinking, and she found she had finished it. 'I guess I was hungry after all.'
They had finished their dinners. An uneasy silence fell between them. Neither was willing to take up their previous conversation or meet the other's eye. The waiter came and took their plates and inquired if they wanted dessert. Dean looked hopeful. Amanda was decisive, "No thank you," she said to the waiter. When he had left, she looked Dean in the eye, "I think it would be best if you took me home now, Dean."
He nodded sheepishly. "OK, Amanda. If that's what you want." He paid the bill, helped her into her coat and they left the restaurant.
Lee had been watching Amanda and her weather guy in the back corner—at a lousy table. They talked but neither seemed to be enjoying themselves. Until their steaks came. Then Dale attacked his steak like it was his last meal. Amanda was just picking at hers. She looked to be deep in thought. Then she started cutting up her steak and eating it in a way that made Lee glad he wasn't sitting across from her. 'I don't know what that guy said, but she's not happy.' She was chewing her steak in an aggressive, angry way. 'That guy better watch out. Amanda's about to give him what for. Maybe she'll finally dump that loser. She could do so much better…'
"Hey Lee, see someone you like over there?" Rich was smiling at his buddy.
"You're awfully interested in that couple in the corner. She one of your girlfriends?"
"Amanda?!? No way, Rich. She's a—colleague. I'm just surprised to see her here, that's all."
"Well, she's a looker, I'll give you that. Great legs." Rich nodded appreciatively.
"Hey! I thought you were happily married?"
"I sure am. But I'm not blind." Rich continued his appraisal of Amanda.
"Let's get another pitcher, OK?"
Rich chuckled at Lee's diversion. "Sure, buddy. Whatever you say."
They renewed their reminiscences but Lee kept an eye on Amanda and her date. He watched as they finished their dinners—sat silent and avoiding each others eyes—saw the waiter approach and leave—and then saw them get up and leave the restaurant.
Lee and Rich talked for another hour. Then Rich had to leave. "It's been great man, but I gotta get home to the missus and little Greggy. Don't be a stranger, Lee."
They shook hands, "Yeah, it's been great Rich. Take care, and say hello to the family for me."
Lee went to his Porsche and drove straight to Maplewood Drive. 'Just gotta check she got home OK,' he rationalized to himself. He parked a block away and cut through the neighbors' property to get to Amanda's back yard.
He saw the lights were on in the family room, and someone was there. Amanda and Dottie were sitting on the couch in the family room, in robes and slippers, drinking from mugs. 'They probably made hot chocolate. With marshmallows.' He made sure he was well hidden in the shadows, but also that he was close enough to lip read their conversation.
"Amanda, are you all right dear?" Dottie looked concerned for her daughter.
Amanda sighed and looked resigned. "Oh mother, I guess so. It was just so … unexpected. He sounded so happy when he asked me out—but tonight was—well—just uncomfortable."
Dottie was indignant, "I think he's a cad to break up with you on Valentine's Day."
"Mother, Valentine's Day is tomorrow."
Dottie was worked up, and a little thing like a fact was not going to put her off her rant, "Yes, but this was your Valentine's dinner date. He couldn't wait a week?"
Amanda looked tired. "It doesn't matter. Anyhow—it's over. I won't be seeing Dean any more."
Dottie hugged her daughter. "Oh darling! You're young and attractive—there are many wonderful men out there."
She nodded slowly. "Yeah, you're right. I guess I'm still dealing with the divorce—and going back to work—and the boys—and little league—and the PTA—I guess I have a pretty busy life, mother."
"Of course you do—but that doesn't mean you don't have time to date. You should get out—date around a bit. You never really dated a lot of different guys in college—you and Joe found each other—and goodness knows you didn't date much at all before you hooked up with Dean. So live a little—have some fun! Every date does not have to lead to a lasting commitment."
Amanda nodded sagely, "No it doesn't, but I think I need to go a bit slowly here. I have to think of the boys—what kind of example will I be for them? I'll date—but carefully. A couple of fathers in the PTA have hinted around about dating—maybe I'll try one of them. After all, if they're in the PTA, they have children so they'll understand about Phillip and Jamie."
Dottie was bright and encouraging, "That's the spirit." They sat quietly for a moment, then Dottie looked guilty. "Amanda, I have a confession."
"I didn't like Dean's mother very much. She was so … uptight! There, I've said it. She was uptight and stiff as a board."
"Oh mother!" Amanda hugged Dottie. "I love you. Thank you for cheering me up. Dean is a nice guy—but he isn't the nice guy for me. And truthfully—there was no spark—no passion there for me."
"Oh Amanda, I didn't know! I'm so sorry, dear. You deserve passion—don't settle for anything less. All I want is for my baby to be happy—and passion is very important!"
"Yeah, I think so too, mother." Amanda smiled to herself. Then she took her mother's empty mug with her own and went to the sink to rinse them out.
Dottie kissed Amanda, and went upstairs. Amanda stayed at the sink after the mugs were washed and set out to dry—staring out the window, thinking.
Lee watched her thinking from his place in the shadows. 'She'll be OK. Well, well, well. Old boring dumped Amanda. What a dork. No class—no finesse—no clue. He's out of her life. Good riddance.' He snuck back to his car. 'So Amanda thinks passion is important! You wouldn't guess it from the way she dresses. Or acts. Maybe there're some hidden qualities to her after all.' He drove off into the night.