Chapter 20

Sam sat alone at the table, waiting for his guests to arrive. It had been a few months, and he was really looking forward to seeing them. Then he spied the three walking toward him on the crowded sidewalk. He waved at Kurt, and his friend smiled and waved back, then urged Amanda and Terri to hurry along. The two were so busy looking in the shop windows, huddled together and talking excitedly, Kurt had a hard time getting the ladies' attention. Terri saw Sam, grinned, and poked Amanda. Sam watched with amusement as the group approached his table.

"Hey, you made it!" He gave Kurt a hearty handshake. "You like the hotel?"

"It's terrific," he replied. "I feel bad that we're not paying for that suite. It's too much, really."

"Ah, don't worry about it," Sam said and dismissed it with a gesture. "After your help, Elsa was only too glad to let you use the room for free."

Terri gave Sam a warm hello hug. "Is it really your girlfriend's hotel?"

"Yeah. Only she's not my girlfriend anymore."

"Oh no, Sam!" Terri gasped.

His smile turned into a grin. "She's my fiancee now."

"Congratulations," Amanda said as she gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "I hope you appreciate how good you've got it."

"Oh, believe me, there's nothing like a near-death experience to make you think about life and how you treat the ones you love." Sam sat, raised his arm and signaled the server. After everyone was settled with drinks and the small talk died down, he faced Amanda. With one hand he pulled a large envelope from where it lay beside his elbow and slid it over to her.

"What's this?" She picked it up.

"Remember when I said I promised I would do whatever I could to dissolve our marriage?"

"To tell you the truth, I'd forgotten all about that. Most times I forget we were even married."

"Yeah. I can imagine." He looked embarrassed.

"Sorry, I didn't mean it like that." Amanda turned her attention to the envelope and tapped it with her finger. "What is this?"

"Papers for a no-fault divorce. It's the easiest way to get this done, and you don't even have to show up to court. Just sign them." He looked deeply into her eyes. "Then you'll be free of me, and you two are officially married."

"Thank you, Sam." Her lower lip trembled slightly.

"Hey, it was the least I could do, after what I put you through. I'm sorry, Manda."

She felt his eyes on her and looked up at him. "I forgive you. You know that." Amanda smiled and studied his face. "Hey, I just realized that you let your hair go natural."

"Yeah, there was no longer any point to the dye job. Elsa loves me the way I am." He smiled, but he wasn't looking at Amanda. "Excuse me a minute." He got up and stepped away. The three watched as he met a slightly older woman at the patio edge, kissed her lips, put an arm around her waist, and led her to the table. "Everybody, this is Elsa. Elsa, this is Amanda, her husband Kurt, and Manda's sister Terri."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Elsa," Amanda said politely as she held out her hand to shake Elsa's.

"Thank you, Amanda. When Sammy said you were coming, I was really excited about meeting you." She sat in the chair that Sam vacated, and he sat to her left. Elsa turned to him, placed a hand on his, and asked, "Did you give her the papers, Sammy dear?"

"I did." He waved to the server. "Uno mojito, por favor!"

Amanda found it quite interesting that Sam knew exactly what to order for Elsa. He had no clue what she liked to drink. Ever. She vaguely remembered them sucking down some bad cheap beer under the stars in an overgrown farm field. It was what started their mad drunken dash to the justice of the peace and sent them down a road that neither of them was ready for. Times change, people change. She saw it in the way he angled his body toward Elsa, his right arm leaning on the back of her chair so when she sat back, his hand caressed her shoulder. He'd kept his sunglasses on until Elsa joined them, and then he took them off and laid them beside his phone on the table. Amanda could see the intensity of the love in his eyes when he looked at the other woman. It made her feel cheated because he never looked at her like that.

I refuse to let that green monster spoil this vacation! We're going to have the time of our lives with Sam and Elsa, like we're all a bunch of really good friends! She gave her attention to Kurt, squeezed his hand, and thanked God for what she had. Reality was better than anything she could have imagined with her ex.

Sam's phone rang. He glanced at the screen. "I'll be right back." He stood, answered, "Hey, Roxy!" with a happy tone, and walked away from the table. The conversation was short, and he returned in the middle of the ladies talking about shopping in the area. Poor Kurt looked bored.

"So, what was that about," Elsa asked.

"Roxy wanted to let me know what was up back in Frisco."

"She's okay, right?" Elsa looked at him with eyes that urged him to spill his news.

"Yeah, she's fine. She and her team used Anson's shock and awe tactics as a learning experience. Roxy Communications isn't going to get caught with its pants down any time soon." He grinned. "She asked when we were getting married."

"And you said..."

"Soon as the ink's dry on the divorce papers, baby." He gave her a peck on the lips.

"Is she planning on being here for the wedding?" Elsa got a worried look on her face. As much as the woman professed to be 'just friends' with her Sammy, she couldn't help but feel that Tricia had other ideas.

Sam was amazed sometimes at how well he could read Elsa. When he saw the look on her face, he knew she was more than a little concerned about Roxy ruining their plans. He put an arm around her and leaned closer. "Don't worry. It'll all be over before she can visit. I promise."

They heard a car horn and all heads turned. Jesse drove past in his silver Porsche with the top down and a very beautiful woman sitting in the seat beside him. Sam waved as he drove away, then turned to Elsa with a satisfied smirk. "Okay, baby, pay up." He held out his hand toward Elsa and wiggled his fingers.

"Ohhhh," Elsa grumbled and reached into her purse, pulled out a twenty, and slapped it into his hand.

Sam laughed and deposited the cash into his pants pocket.

"What was that all about," Kurt asked, squinting at Sam.

"After the showdown with Anson, Jesse insisted on coming back to Miami as soon as he was able. So he did, but then there were some complications, and he wound up back in the hospital. There was this nurse who took care of him, and she was hot." He glanced at Elsa when he spoke. She was still irritated. "I was sure Jesse would ask this nurse to go out with him, and Elsa said no way. So she and I had a bet. Well, he just drove by with Nurse Hottie. I win."

"You know, that really isn't proof," Amanda protested.

"They were dressed up, and I know exactly where he's taking her. It's just down the street that way." He jutted his chin southward as he absently pushed his straw around his drink. "Trust me, they're on a date."

"Hey, are we all ready to order? I know I'm starving," Terri said. She kept her eye on the people walking past, and she locked onto a fine looking guy across the street. "Wow." He grinned at her, but he kept walking. He met up with some cute friends and they continued walking away. "This is a great place for people watching. I see why you like it so much, Sam."

"Yeah. Also, it makes a great meeting place for Mike, Fi, Jesse, and me, and they have the best mojitos in town." He held up his glass. "Anyone ready for round two?"

"I am!" Amanda smiled and lifted hers. When they received new drinks, she held hers and clinked it with Sam's. "Thanks, Sam."

"For what?"

"For finally giving me something I've wanted for thirty years. My freedom." She paused. "And for showing us a good time while we're in Miami."

"I second that!" Kurt added his sentiment, and Terri clinked her glass with theirs. "Just don't get us involved in any of your secret spy stuff, and we'll be okay."

"That's a deal! While you're here, I'm on vacation from all that."

"Just keep reminding yourself of that, sweetie," Elsa said as she playfully bumped his shoulder with hers.

"I think I've got just the thing," Kurt said, and he and Sam got into a conversation about off-shore fishing.

The group around the table forgot about time as they got lost in a hot Miami afternoon with good drinks, good food, and new and old friends. Sam couldn't have asked for a better day. His phone rang, and on the screen, Michael's name came up. If this is about a job...

He answered before it went to voice mail. "Yeah, Mike."

"Sam, where are you right now?"

"I'm at Carlito's. Why?"

"I stopped by the hotel and you weren't there. Neither was Elsa."

"She's here. What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I just need a favor. I'm on my way to the airport now. Can you keep an eye on Fi while I'm in DC for a few days?"

"Awww, Mike. We all just got back not too long ago, and you're already globetrotting around for the agency?" He took a sip of his mojito. "Fi's due any day now, you know."

"Yeah, and that's why I'm asking you to watch over her. I have to go up and talk to Card, and Dani is coming along." He paused. "She's moving back to DC, Sam, and that means I'm pretty much on my own again in Miami."

"Oh, you're never alone, Mikey! You've always got me, Fi, and Jesse." Sam grinned.

Michael laughed. "You know what I mean."

"Are we going back to freelancing? Not that I mind that one bit. Dealing with the Feds is like paddling upstream with a waterfall at your back."

"That's why I'm going to talk to Card. I need to know where I stand with the agency. Wish me luck."

"You're gonna need it, brother!" Sam looked up at his audience. "Hey, I've gotta go. Take care, we'll keep an eye on Fi, not like she needs it, but, you know. I'll give you a call if she goes into labor or something. You know she's going to be hot if you're not here when the baby comes."

"I'll see what I can do and try to get this over in one day. Thanks, Sam. I owe you."

"Yeah. One of these days, you're gonna have to pay up, buddy." He chuckled. "Later, Mikey." He hung up the phone, laid it on the table, and said, "I was really hoping he wasn't going to try to get back in with the agency."

"Me too. He has a family to think about now," Elsa said.

"Let's just hope that Card decides he's better off not being part of their team."

A few days later, Sam and Elsa were at the hotel pool when Michael walked up to the side. He steered clear of a puddle of water and stood on the edge looking down as Sam touched the lip right between Michael's spread feet.

He wiped the water away from his face and looked up. "Mikey! You're back!" He squinted at Michael. "That was a quick trip to DC."

"Yeah." Michael surveyed the pool and watched as Fiona sat on the edge of the pool and soaked her feet in the water. She saw him, waved, and got up to meet him.

"So, what happened?"

Fiona stopped next to Michael, put her arms around him and kissed him deeply. "I missed you. I was afraid that Card would steal you away and I'd never see you again."

Michael smiled as he caressed her cheek. "That would never happen, Fi. You're a lot prettier than he is. Besides, I have family here." His hand moved down to her swollen belly, and he was rewarded with movement that made his smile widen. "And friends." He glanced down at Sam. "I'm staying in Miami, and I'll do a job here and there for the agency, but I told Tom where my priorities were."

Sam snorted. "I bet he wasn't happy about that."

"He wasn't. But he offered me Dani's job." He saw the surprise on Sam's face. "I told him I'd think about it. I've got Family Medical Leave to use up first, and then I'd let him know."

"That's a good one, Mike," Sam said with a laugh. "Leave him hanging for awhile. After the way they treated you, the agency deserves a little reverse chain yanking."

Fi looked up at him with wide eyes. "Michael, a job like that..."

"It would keep me around here, and it would be steady work. Just what a responsible family man needs." He held her closer to himself.

"So if you take this, no more freelance stuff, huh," Sam asked.

"Sorry, Sam."

"Well, jeez... I kinda missed that stuff." He glanced around and saw that Elsa was out of the pool talking with Amanda, her attention far from him. "I guess Jesse and I'll have to find a new partner or two. It won't be the same, but... we'll get by." Sam winked, pushed off the side of the pool, and backstroked the length.

"I'm glad you're settling down, Michael. I'll need help with this baby, and not having to worry about where you are or whether your safe will go a long way toward easing my mind." She suddenly sucked in a breath.

"Fi, are you okay?"

"Oh, just a twinge."

"A twinge." He looked at her as if he suspected this wasn't the first one.

"It's nothing, really! Let's just enjoy the day. Go up to Sam and Elsa's, get out of that suit, and put on a bathing suit instead." She grinned. "I brought yours along, just in case."

Michael laughed and put both his arms around her, then kissed her. "Sometimes you really amaze me, Fi."

She slipped him the keycard. "Go on. We'll be waiting."

He nodded, took the key, and walked inside the hotel. Michael contemplated the changes that were about to happen in his life, and truth be told he was more than a little uneasy about them. What kind of spy would he be if he couldn't adapt? But when things got bad, and he knew it was inevitable that there would always be major challenges, he and Fiona could always count on their family and friends to offer shelter in the middle of life's storms.