*Continued right after Questions and Answers--the usual disclaimers apply--hopefully someone out there reads and enjoys this story, anyway -let me know:) *

Vacation

Monday August 26, 2002

1:30 AM

"Did Jenna get back to sleep?" Amanda sat up in the bed as Lee entered the bedroom.

"Finally." Lee  took off his robe and got slowly back into bed. "Half-an-hour to calm her down and another half-hour to get her back to sleep—with the lights on, of course."

"Think she'll sleep all the way through this time?" Amanda said.

Lee ran both hands through his hair. "Who knows?" he said. "All I know is that I'm sick of this."

Amanda took his hand in hers. "Dr. Pfaff did say that it would take some time."

"That's what he said after the first kidnapping," Lee said. "Only this time it's much worse."

"I know," Amanda said.

"Amanda, I just want to have my daughter back." Lee's voice caught slightly as he spoke. Amanda squeezed his hand. "The way she used to be before all this mess started. I want her to be able to laugh and smile—be able to relax and be a teenager again. She shouldn't have to be so afraid all the time."

"Lee I want that too," Amanda said. "But I don't think it'll happen overnight."

"No of course not," Lee said, "but there might be something we can do."

"What?" Amanda said.

Lee paused. "I think we should get away from it all," he said. "At least for a little bit. Here she's surrounded by too many reminders of what happened."

"You mean a vacation?"

"Why not?" Lee said. "We've got at least a couple of weeks before school starts, and Dr. Pfaff did say that a change of scenery might work wonders-for all of us. I was thinking maybe somewhere in Europe-Jenna does have her passport and she's never been. "

"Francine would definitely give us the time off," Amanda said. "She's seen what Jenna's been going through firsthand."

"So?"

Lee's hazel eyes looked pleadingly into her own, reminding Amanda of their first meeting at the train station so many years ago.

"What do you think?" he said.

"Well we'll need to talk to Jenna first," Amanda said. Then she smiled. "Let's do it."

11:00 AM

"A vacation?" Jenna said.

"Do you like that idea?" Dad said. "Your mom and I thought it would be fun-a nice little break before the school year starts. How about it?"

"I like it," Jenna said slowly. "But isn't it kind of sudden?"

"Sure," Dad said. "But there's nothing wrong with being spontaneous every once in a while, is there?"

"Well no," Jenna said. "It's just-" she tried to think of the right words.

"Sweetheart, what's wrong?" Mom said.

"Nothing's wrong," Jenna said, looking at the concern in her parents' faces and feeling more than a little responsible—all the stuff she'd been going through lately hadn't been easy on them. "It's just—this doesn't have anything to do with –you know—spy stuff. Does it?"

"Jenna look at me," Dad said. "After what happened last time we would not put you in the middle of that situation again. All this would be is a vacation. Nothing more, I promise."

"Okay," Jenna said. "Where would we go?"

"Well we were hoping you'd tell us," Amanda said. "Where would you like to go?"

"You can go anywhere you want, munchkin," Dad said. "It's up to you."

Jenna paused, thinking back to the discussion she'd had with Francine three nights ago.

"I think I'd like to go to England," she said, "to see Aunt Emily and everything around London. Would that be okay?"

"That would be just fine," Dad said. "I'll call Emily and see what can be arranged."

2:30 PM

"Emily I know this is short notice," Lee said. He was in the kitchen, the cordless held to his ear. "But Amanda and I thought that a vacation would be good for everyone, especially Jenna."

"Lee you know that I'd love to have you and Amanda and Jenna over," Emily said. "You're like my family—it won't be any trouble at all. How is Jenna, by the way?"

"Not too good," Lee said, keeping his voice low. As far as he knew Amanda and Jenna were upstairs packing but he didn't want to risk being overheard. "She's very withdrawn, and with all the nightmares she hasn't been getting too much rest lately."

"I can imagine, poor dear," Emily said. "Well in that case this trip should be just the thing for her—she'll have so much to do that she won't have time to think about being frightened."

"That's what I'm hoping," Lee said. "I just have to ask, though—you're not involved in anything at the moment, are you?"

"Involved?" Emily repeated. "Lee I'm 79 years old—for the most part I'm retired—the only work I do for MI-6 is strictly on a consultation basis."

"I understand," Lee said. "There's one other thing you should know-we've told Jenna what we actually do for a living and she also knows about you. So don't be surprised if she corners you and asks you a ton of questions."

Emily laughed. "I'll be more than pleased to answer whatever I can," she said. "And I'll look forward to seeing all of you on Wednesday."

TBC