Chapter 10

Later that night, Lee and Amanda sat curled up on the sofa in Lee's apartment. A fire was crackling away, soft music was playing in the background and a bottle of wine stood half-empty on the table.

Amanda nestled her head against Lee's chest and sighed contentedly. "This is so nice. Just the two of us in front of the fire."

"Hmm—this is how I saw my time off being spent, not chasing after bad guys."

"Helping out Marcus was the least we could do. I'm so glad that Susan's agreed to drive into DC with the baby tomorrow for a meeting. Seeing your son for the first time in an Agency holding cell isn't ideal but Marcus is so excited, I don't think he cares."

"You know Amanda, when I picked him up this afternoon and was taking him in, his eyes had no life in them. It was like he'd given up. He'd lost his girl friend, his son, his job...Now, even with a possible sentence hanging over his head, he has something to look forward to."

"The evidence in the post office box will help out his case though, won't it? It proves he was being blackmailed by Riley."

"It will certainly work in his favour, but I don't know if it will be enough. Billy's doing all he can, though."

"Mr. Melrose really cares about his agents doesn't he? "

"As much as this job lets anyone care. Having attachments isn't encouraged."

Amanda sat up and looked at Lee. "So you and me—being here together—it's going to be a problem, isn't it?"

Lee reached up and stroked her face. She closed her eyes for a moment and leaned into his hand, absorbing the warmth and caring the touch conveyed. "Amanda—I love you and I want to spend as much time with you as possible—"

"But at work, we're going to have to keep things quiet aren't we?"

"If they know we care, they'll split us up. 'Objectivity keeps us effective' as Billy would say and around you, I'm not objective anymore."

"Lee, this afternoon at Marcus' house—"

He laid a finger across her lips silencing her. "This afternoon I learned something about myself. The world is quite as black and white as I thought it was. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet but I think I'll be more 'open-minded' because of it. More willing to try and see both sides of a story, less quick to point an accusing finger..."

She smiled up at him but said nothing, sensing he wanted to keep talking. "I also learned how much you mean to me. I knew I loved you but I don't think I really understood how deep it went... Amanda, I really would do anything for you."

"I know you would Lee." She leaned forward and kissed him slowly then stood and held out her hand.

For a moment, Lee sat where he was, staring at her with solemn hazel eyes. "Are you sure this is what you want?"

"Yes, I'm sure. This isn't going to be an easy relationship—having to hide it from everyone and never knowing when something might happen... " She shrugged, not wanting to voice that particular thought. "I don't want to waste a moment of my time with you."

"Then we won't." Lee stood and put his arm around her shoulder and they walked towards the bedroom together. He turned on the bedside lamp, while Amanda drew back the bed sheets. Then Lee took her hands in his and stared deeply into her eyes. "I love you, Amanda King."

"And I love you, Lee Stetson." She reached up and drew his head down. As their lips met, she sighed happily at the feeling of warmth that flooded through her. This was right. This was what she'd been waiting for her whole life.

Tenderly they kissed, drew apart and kissed again, changing the angle, then the pressure. Nibbling, then soothing, capturing one lip between two, gently tugging and releasing. Lee's tongue traced the outline of her lips then probed deeper. Amanda parted her lips farther, welcoming him in. Their tongues danced then took turns exploring until both were gasping for breath.

For a moment they just stood, bodies pressed together from head to toe, absorbing the wonder of the moment they had both waited so long for. Then gentle questing hands began to explore, clothing melted away and they fell to the bed, lost in the joy of discovery. Kissing then caressing, they moved together. Tender touches led to sighs of pleasure and then cries of ecstasy. The two became one, heart and soul, mind and body ,now united for eternity.

As her breathing slowed, Lee stroked her hair from her face, murmuring words of love. She ran her hand over his chest, then looked up at him and smiled. "Mmm...I love you, Lee Stetson...that was perfect."

He gave her a quirky half-smile and ran his hand down the length of her body. "Thanks...I think you're perfect, too."

She felt a blush rising on her face, which she knew was silly but she couldn't help herself. Ducking her head, she responded. "I'm not really, but I'm glad you think so."

He put his finger under her chin and forced her to look at him. "To me you're the most wonderful woman in the world and I love you more than anything." He gave her a quick firm kiss, then lay his head down and gathered her close. "You know, at first I couldn't understand how Marcus seemed to fall in with Riley so easily but, if he loves Susan even half as much as I love you, it easy to see."

Amanda looked at him seriously. "It's not really a comfortable feeling is it? Knowing that you're so completely under the spell of another person...Do you remember when we were holed up in that shelter in the mountains and Riley's men had just found us? You handed me that gun and I didn't want to take it. I didn't want to shoot anyone but it came down to a choice. Saving you or..." She shrugged. "I found out that I really didn't have a choice. There was only one decision I could make, and given the same choice, I'd probably make it again."

Lee nodded in agreement. "That's how I felt today. In a way it was hard because everything I thought I believed in was on the line, but in another way, it was easy. I knew I had to keep you safe, no matter what the cost might be."

Reaching up she traced his lips with her finger. "Real love isn't always easy. It's messy and inconvenient and involves a lot of sacrifice. It isn't all candlelight and roses, you know."

"I've done candlelight and roses before. It can get pretty boring and superficial after a while." Lee leaned over and, as his lips descended on hers, he whispered, " I'd much rather share reality with you."

The End