Well, after a crazy-busy work life coupled with a nasty bout of writer's block, here's the follow up to my very first fanfic, Unknown Depths. Please read and review, or drop me a line. Like everyone, I love getting feedback (good or constructive).
The characters in Scarecrow and Mrs. King aren't mine, they belong to Warner Bros. Television and Shoot the Moon Productions. No copyright infringement intended. Characters in the story who don't appear in the series belong to me. Etc, etc, etc.
This tale starts two weeks before the end of my previous story.
12:32PM SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1987
Brent Andrews passed a folder across his boss' desk. "She's a perfect candidate for the Bryton Lyon Brotherhood. She's beautiful and refined. Fantastic upbrining. She's known to pull disappearing acts. In fact, it happens so often that no one looks for her for at least a week. Even if her family finds out she's joined the Brotherhood, they'll just think it's one of her whims."
Caleb Bryton opened the folder and reviewed the contents. "Cindy Brown," he said aloud. He read a moment more, then looked up at his second in command. "Her father's high profile concerns me. She's recognizable."
"We've been monitoring her for months," Brent replied. "Cindy Brown is a spoiled brat. Her mother died when Cindy was only four. Senator Brown indulges his daughter with whatever she wants, and this includes her penchant for disappearing. I'm telling you, she's perfect. We already have a buyer, and at a premium. All we need to do is de-program her, and she's ready to go. We can keep her under wraps until then."
Caleb considered this information. "We'll have to deviate from our normal procedure. We won't be able to send her out in public to test her mental state."
Brent smiled. "With enough drugs, we can easily simulate those scenarios."
Caleb frowned and rolled his eyes. "You and your drugs. I hate them. A natural de-programming is so much more effective."
Brent smirked. "And it takes longer. That approach worked when you founded the brotherhood back in the 60's. Technology is different today. We need the money, Caleb. Sooner rather than later. Cindy Brown is perfect."
"When can you get her?"
"Tonight," Brent replied. "She's attending a party hosted by a good friend of hers. The party is in Baltimore instead of DC. She won't know many people. It will be easy to slip her a sedative, and then get her out of the party unnoticed. It's the perfect opportunity to acquire her."
Caleb sighed. "Very well. Make the contact. We'll have everything ready for her arrival."
10:50PM MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1987 (TWO WEEKS LATER)
Amanda King had gathered up her belongings from her desk in the Q Bureau, then hesitated and looked down at the phone. "I should go ahead and call Joe," she said to herself. She was exhausted, and she knew her mother would be ready to go home as soon as she was through with her debriefing and Dr. Kelford finished checking Phillip. Although the kidnapping had left her son uninjured except for some ligature marks on his wrists, she had insisted on him seeing the Agency's doctor. But, she didn't know how long they'd be, and knew that she should let Joe know that Phillip was okay. And tonight, for the first time since their divorce, she dreaded talking with her ex-husband. Sighing, she picked up her desk phone and pressed a series of buttons. She listened while the phone rang.
"Hey, Joe, it's me."
"Amanda! Any word on Phillip?"
"He's okay. We found him and took the three men who took him into custody."
"Oh, thank God. What happened?"
"It was pretty much what we suspected before you left the house. Gregory took Phillip as a bargaining chip for the list I recovered from Brewer, the thief who was working for him. We finally got Brewer to talk and found out where Phillip might be. Lee and Mr. Melrose found Phillip at that location, and took two of the men into custody."
"What about the third man?" Joe asked.
"Well," Amanda said as she considered how to proceed. Even though Joe knew about her profession, she still struggled with telling him about certain aspects of it. "I apprehended the third man," Amanda admitted as she closed her eyes. "I'm so sorry all this happened, Joe."
"Amanda," Joe King said with a relieved sigh. "I had no doubt that this would turn out okay and that you and Lee would get Phillip home safely." He paused. "How are you?"
"A little rattled, but okay. Everybody's okay." Another pause.
"You know, I still worry about you," Joe said hesitantly.
"Yeah, I know," Amanda replied. Eager to change the subject, she asked, "Is Jamie all right?"
"He's okay. He's been in his room since we got here. I tried to talk with him but he said he didn't really want to."
"That's Jamie. He has to think everything through for awhile."
"Do you want me to bring him back over tonight?"
"No, it's late, and we're still at the Agency. Phillip is down at Medical with Lee, just getting checked out. And Mother is still in her debriefing with Mr. Melrose."
"Debriefing? Why is he debriefing Dotty?"
"Long story," Amanda answered, avoiding the particulars of Dotty's involvement with the Matryoshka List operation earlier in the evening. "But about tomorrow. I wanted to see if you were okay with keeping the boys home from school. Their fall breaks start on Wednesday. I hate for them to miss a day of school but they're both doing really well and I don't think it would hurt them. Besides, we need to have a family meeting. I'm sure Phillip will sleep in, so would it work for you to bring Jamie back home around noon? We can all have a little lunch then talk for awhile."
"How about I stop and pick up some sandwiches on the way?"
"That would be great, Joe. See you then. Give Jamie a hug for me and tell him I love him."
"See you tomorrow, Amanda."
Amanda placed the phone back on its cradle and closed her eyes for a moment. Even though he had remarried, she knew that Joe still harbored some feelings for her. And although they avoided the subject, she knew that Joe struggled with her relationship with Lee, and dreaded the day when Joe would find out that she was married. She shook her head and rubbed the bridge of her nose, thinking about the mess that she and Lee had created. She sighed, and then stood to head down to the bullpen to check on her mother's progress with the debriefing.
Amanda entered the bullpen and worked her way toward Billy's office door. The blinds were closed. She paused a moment, then proceeded with her customary knock. Rap…rap-rap-rap.
From the other side of the door, she heard Billy call, "It's open."
Amanda opened the door and stuck her head in. "Hi, have you two finished?"
"We just completed the debriefing. Come on in and have a seat. Anything else you wish to add, Mrs. West?"
"No, Mr. Melrose, just that I appreciate your help with getting Phillip back."
"You're welcome, Mrs. West. Hopefully we can meet again soon, but under better circumstances than we have in the past."
Dotty smiled and said, "Yes, I hope so too."
They all turned when they heard Phillip's voice as he and Lee entered the bullpen. "So, Lee, when are you gonna show me how to do that cool kick you used on that guy yesterday?"
"I'll show you someday soon, Phillip. I promise," Lee said as they entered Billy's office.
Billy asked, "How are your wrists, Phillip?"
"Just some rope burns, no permanent damage," Phillip said as he held up his bandaged wrists.
Francine walked in and said, "Good news and bad news for our friend Gregory. The good news is he won't be deported, so he won't be headed back to Russia to serve time in Lubyanka again. The bad news is that kidnapping is a federal crime, and he no longer has diplomatic immunity. He'll be prosecuted in the United States, and will be in prison for a long time."
"That's great news, Francine," Billy said. He looked at Lee and Amanda and added, "We're through for tonight. Everyone can go home. And I'm not putting you two back on the active duty roster until Thursday."
"Thanks, Billy. We definitely can use the days off."
"Well, then, I guess we'd better go," Amanda said as she stood. She looked at Lee, unsure of what to say or do.
"Uh, Amanda," Lee said, "I'm going to stay behind and finish a couple of things. I'll call you later, okay?"
Amanda smiled. "Okay. Talk to you later." She turned to her mother and Phillip. "C'mon, let's go home."
Goodbyes and thanks were shared around the office. Amanda, Dotty and Phillip headed for the bullpen door as Lee stood at Billy's office window, watching his still-clandestine family walk out the doors and turn right to head toward the closet elevator. Amanda turned and looked back toward Billy's office. Her eyes met Lee's. He grinned and mouthed the words 'I love you'. Amanda broke out in a smile and gave him a little wave. She disappeared behind the wall, but Lee continued to stare for a long moment. His reverie was broken by Billy.
"You're a lucky man, Scarecrow."
Lee chuckled as he said, "Don't I know it?" He stared out the window a moment longer then turned and said, "Uh, Francine, would you—"
"Yeah, yeah, I can take a hint. I'm going to put the final touches on my report then call it a night. But I just want to say…well…congratulations, Lee." The two longtime friends hugged.
"Thanks, Francine. That means a lot."
Francine walked out and shut the door behind her as Billy returned to his desk. Lee took his usual seat on the opposite side. "Thank you, Billy, for helping us get Phillip back. I owe you another one."
"No worries." Billy leaned back in his chair and looked out into the bullpen. "Lee, you know that I've been supportive of your relationship with Amanda for quite awhile. Maybe even before there was a relationship at all. I guess I can understand why you two didn't want to make it public knowledge right away, but I'm a little disappointed that you didn't tell me you were married. I thought we were closer friends than that."
Lee sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "We are friends, Billy. Best friends. And I wanted to tell everyone, shout it from the top of the Washington Monument. I was just afraid."
"Afraid? Of what?"
"Afraid that if anyone knew we were married, something would happen to Amanda. Or her family. Billy, I just couldn't live with myself if something happened to any of them. Phillip and Jamie's kidnapping today was one of my worst nightmares. Luckily it all turned out okay, but what if it hadn't?"
"Keeping your marriage a secret didn't prevent today from happening, Lee. Besides, how long did you two think you could keep this under wraps? You're each due for updated background checks soon. You had to know the committee would find it."
"Maybe. I have friends who can bury that sort of thing, you know," Lee responded with a sly smile.
"Your 'friends' can't bury something deep enough to avoid Mrs. Frampton and her gang." Billy sighed. "On the one hand, I'm upset with both of you. You've created one hell of a mess. On the other, I couldn't be happier." Billy stood and extended his hand across the desk. "Congratulations, Lee. Amanda is a wonderful woman."
Lee stood and shook Billy's hand warmly. "That she is, Billy. Thank you."
They returned to their seats. Billy said, "Now I need to figure out how to proceed with this information."
"What do you mean?"
"You didn't exactly make this easy on me, Lee. You know how Dr. Smyth is. He's going to want an explanation as to why you kept your marriage hidden."
"It's none of Dr. Smyth's business. Or anyone else's, for that matter. I know that it's not encouraged, but there's no official policy that says partners can't be married. We're equals. She doesn't report to me."
"Lee, you know it isn't about that. You just said it yourself a minute ago. When someone you love is in trouble, it's difficult. If one partner is compromised, the other is just as vulnerable. And when you're dealing with as many of the nation's secrets as we do, it has the potential to create a very dangerous situation. That's why it's discouraged. On top of that, you know Dr. Smyth has a suspicious mind. He'll think there's some other reason you hid your marriage. He is liable to launch some kind of investigation under the auspices that anything which affects the workings of this Agency is his business." Billy hesitated before continuing. "You know, one of you could change jobs. Like Janet Miller did when she and Henry married."
"Billy, surely you don't expect Amanda to become a desk jockey in Operations. She just gained full agent status! Besides, Amanda is twice the agent Janet Miller ever was. And before you get any ideas about splitting us up, I'm not letting her out in the field without me. No way. We're a package deal."
Billy looked at Lee for a long moment. "I need to think about this for a little while. So for now, Francine and I are the only ones here at the Agency who need to know this information. I've already talked with Francine, and ordered her to keep it under wraps. You and Amanda have the same order. Understood?"
"I get it. But what Amanda said in the car earlier is true. We're tired of the secrets. We can't live like this. It's not fair to anyone."
"So I'm assuming Amanda's sons and Mrs. West have no idea you two are married."
"No. Amanda and I have only been involved on more than a professional level for a little over a year." At this, Billy smirked. Lee replied, "C'mon Billy. You've known me for years. Do you honestly think I was prepared for this kind of a commitment until recently? And you know that Amanda's not one for casual relationships."
"No, I guess not. How do you plan to let them know? Don't you think it's going to come as a shock?"
"I don't know. I guess we'll just tell them, sort of like we did today."
"We all saw how well THAT went," Billy commented with a roll of his eyes.
Lee ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah, I know. But Billy, deep down I've always wanted a family. And now I have one, and I love all of them, and I'm sick and tired of waiting to get on with my life."
"I know you are. But Lee, you need to tread lightly here. You run the risk of alienating them, especially the younger boy. So just be careful."
"I hear ya," Lee said with a sigh. Then he stood. "Well, I'm going back up to the Q Bureau and finish my notes about today. Then I'm heading back to my apartment and get some sleep. Thanks for the days off, Billy." Lee smiled. "I have a feeling we're gonna need 'em. I think I might be wrapped up in my first 'family meetings' over the next day or two."
"You're welcome. Oh, by the way," Billy added as he reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a large envelope. He handed the package to Lee. "Would you take these to Amanda? They're the pictures she requested from the Baltimore party where Senator Brown's daughter was last seen. I've had Fielder and Jones working on her disappearance since the mess with the Matryoshka List diverted her attention, but I need her back on it full time starting Thursday."
"Awww, Billy!" Lee griped. "Has Amanda been appointed Cindy Brown's new babysitter? She's too good at her job to waste her talents continually hunting down some senator's ditzy, spoiled brat daughter." He paused a moment, then added, sarcastically, "How many times has she 'disappeared'? Ten? Fifteen?"
"Seven," Billy replied. "You know it's just a matter of figuring out what crazy cause she decided to follow this time. And Senator Brown requested Amanda specifically. Cindy likes her, and will respond to her. More than she did with Francine, if you'll remember," Billy added with a wry smile. "Besides," he continued, "helping the senator is a favor to the Vice President. They've been close friends for years."
"Well, I just don't see how it's Agency business, that's all," Lee grumbled as he took the envelope from Billy.
"It is because the higher-ups SAY it is. Now finish your notes and go home. See you Thursday. And good luck on those 'family meetings'."
Lee smiled. "Thanks, Billy. See you in a couple of days."
Billy watched Lee leave the bullpen. He leaned his head back onto his chair and shut his eyes. "How in the world am I going to broach this subject with Dr. Smyth?" he asked himself, shaking his head. "Guess that's why I make the big bucks," he answered himself with a deep sigh.
Amanda glanced over at Dotty, who was in the passenger's seat of the Wagonneer. She had been uncommonly quiet during the ride back to Arlington, and Amanda supposed she could understand why. It had been an epic day. But her mother couldn't have gotten a word in even if she had wanted to. Phillip had been talking nonstop since they got in the car.
"They tied me up with a bowline knot, and it sure was tight. So it took me awhile to untie it. Plus, Gregory kept coming in the room with the phone so I could talk to you, Mom, prove I was still okay and stuff. So that slowed me down too. But then, I got the knot undone just as he came in to tell me that they had grabbed Grandma too and they were gonna send us off to Russia. We heard something downstairs, and it got his attention long enough so I was able to bring him down with a leg sweep. Then I held him down with a tight waist tilt."
"You know, Phillip, we need to talk about this wrestling business. I'm not very happy that you told me I was signing a basketball release for your school instead of one for wrestling. You shouldn't lie to your mother," Amanda admonished.
Under her breath, Dotty muttered, "Well, THAT'S like the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it?"
"MO-THER!" Amanda exclaimed as she shot a sideways glance at Dotty.
"Just pointing out the obvious, Amanda."
Phillip said, "I'm sorry, Mom. But it turned out to be a good thing, huh? Because I got the drop on him! Coach says never hesitate once you commit to a move, so I didn't. And you know what? He's right! I had Gregory and he wasn't getting up anytime soon! Then all of a sudden the door flew open. Lee busted it down with a kick and ran in, gun first! It was so cool, Mom. You shoulda been there. Anyway, Lee thought Gregory had me on the ground and it was really funny when he realized I had HIM!"
"Sweetheart, it was a very dangerous situation. Either you or Lee could have been seriously hurt."
"Nah, Mom, we had it under control."
'WE had it under control,' Amanda thought as she rolled her eyes.
Phillip continued, "So then, I saw the other Russian dude behind Lee and he was swinging a club at Lee's head. I yelled for Lee to look out, and he turned just in time to duck. Then the other guy, you know, Lee's boss—"
"Mr. Melrose." Amanda cut in.
"Yeah, him. Well, he grabbed the club, twisted the guy around, and threw him against the wall! It was awesome!"
"Phillip, don't romanticize what happened today. You were caught in a bad situation. We're all lucky that it turned out as well as it did," Amanda admonished.
"What does 'romanticize' mean?" Phillip asked.
Dotty answered. "She means that you shouldn't make it out to be some grand, fun adventure, like a TV show or something."
"I don't know about that, but it was so cool! Mom, I'm starving. Can we stop by Marvin's before we go home?"
Amanda hadn't even thought about dinner. "Sure, Sweetheart. Mother, are you hungry?"
"No, I'm really not," Dotty replied.
They stopped by Marvin's and Phillip ordered two burgers, an extra large order of fries, and a milkshake. Amanda started to launch her usual protest over the volume of food, but decided to let it go this time. Phillip finished most of it before they arrived home, and in between bites he had further painted Lee's hero status. 'Phillip has Lee wearing a red cape and a giant 'S' on his chest', Amanda thought with a little smile. 'No problems explaining my secret marriage to Phillip. But how will Mother and Jamie take the news?'
The trio arrived back at 4247 Maplewood Drive and entered the house. Phillip turned to Amanda and said, "Mom, I'm really tired all of a sudden. I'm going to bed."
When Phillip ordered at Marvelous Marvin's, Amanda knew it would only be a matter of time before he was out like a light. "Good night, Sweetheart," she said as she hugged her son tightly. "I love you so very, very much." As they hugged, Amanda thought of the restlessness she had sometimes felt the nights she had come home after a particularly tough case. It was most difficult in the middle of the night, when she had no one in which to confide, especially if the trauma resulted in one of her more and more frequent nightmares. It had gotten a little easier since she and Lee had married, but their nights together had been so sporadic she didn't have the luxury of that comfort very often. So she added, "You know, Phillip, I'm just right down the hall if you need to talk about anything. No matter what time it is."
"I know, Mom. Thanks," Phillip answered, sensing her meaning. "Goodnight, Grandma."
"Good night, Phillip. I love you," she replied as she hugged her grandson. Phillip bounded up the steps.
Amanda and Dotty regarded each other for a moment. "Good night, Amanda," Dotty said shortly as she turned and walked up the steps.
Amanda watched after her. "G-good night, Mother," she stammered as she heard Dotty's bedroom door close with a decided thud. Amanda hung her head. She was a little surprised, because she figured she'd be on the receiving end of round two as soon as they returned home. But history had taught her that her mother's hasty exit meant she was angry. 'Great,' she thought. 'It's worse than I thought. She's upset now, but she's going to be livid when she finds out the rest of the story'.
Amanda headed to her bedroom. She showered, and then got into bed waited for Lee to call. The phone rang just after midnight. She grabbed it before the ringing awakened anyone.
"Hi," Lee replied, relieved. "I'm glad you're still up. Are you okay?"
"I'm so tired but I just can't seem to relax. It's been such a crazy day. How about you? Did you finish everything up?"
"Well, I really just wanted to stay behind and talk with Billy for a few minutes. You know, get the lay of the land."
"He's worried about what Dr. Smyth might do. He thinks he might launch some kind of an investigation."
"Oh my gosh."
"Amanda, I don't care if he does."
"I said, I don't care if he does. Let him bring his worst. It doesn't matter what Dr. Smyth or any of the rest of them think. We are an effective team, marriage or no marriage. If they want to fire us because we love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together, then they can just fire us. It's their loss."
"Lee, are you sure you mean that?"
"I am, Amanda. As you know, at first I thought this mystery marriage idea was a great way to be together but still keep everyone safe. But we didn't protect anyone. Today proves that. So now that reason is gone. I'm sick of the secrets. If the Agency wants to keep us, then fine. If they think they can do better, then that's fine too. I love you, Amanda Stetson. You and Phillip and Jamie are more important to me than anything else."
"I love you, too. It means the world to me to hear you say that. But Lee, there's still so much unresolved."
"What do you mean?"
"Mother and the boys have been through a lot today. They learned a lot today. I don't think they're ready to find out we're married."
"So what are you saying, you don't want to tell them? Amanda, we just had this conversation last night. We're tired of living in secret."
"That's true, Sweetheart. But I don't think we've heard the last from them. Mother is still upset. And you know how aloof Jamie was when you first met him? We'll probably have to go through another phase of that. There are so many questions they will want answered to be comfortable with the concept. Then, on top of that, to find out we're married? It's too much."
"You've always accused me of keeping too many secrets. Now look at you," Lee replied, a little hurt.
"No, Lee, I just think we need to take the next part a little slower. We still have a lot—"
"I know, I know. 'A lot to think about'. Amanda, I'm getting really tired of having a lot to think about. This is simple. We love each other. I love Phillip and Jamie. And Dotty. We need to be a family. It's that simple."
"It's not 'that simple'."
"What do you mean?"
"We need to decide how to do this with minimal damage."
"Well, we need to decide soon. No…YOU need to decide soon. I've made my decision. I'm done with it."
Lee pressed the button on the wireless phone, wishing he could have the satisfaction of slamming the headset down on the cradle. He continued to pace around the room. He paused, then strode purposefully over to the bar and poured a glass of scotch. He took a long sip. "It's like she's rejecting me!" he growled as he took another pull of the peaty spirit. He plopped down on the couch, leaned his head back and closed his eyes. He felt the warmth of the scotch begin to relax him, and he almost immediately felt guilty about hanging up on his wife. 'Why did I do that?' he thought. He took another sip, and then set the glass down on the coffee table. 'Amanda and Billy are both right. We can't move fast. I just miss Amanda so much, and I need her. Especially after a long day like today. I was so worried about Phillip, and then Dotty and Amanda. I was worried about my whole family. I'm so proud of all of them, and I want everyone to know they're mine.' He adjusted the throw pillow to the side, and then stretched out on the couch. He closed his eyes, willing the worry, anger, and hurt away. He felt himself relax even more. 'I should call Amanda back' was his last thought before slipping into sleep.
Amanda propped her pillow against the headboard and sat up in her bed. She had tried to go to sleep, to no avail. An hour had passed since Lee's call, and subsequent hang-up. 'Why didn't he call back?' Amanda thought. 'Now everyone is upset with me.' Deep down, she knew everything would work out okay in the end, but the road was going to be very bumpy if they didn't consider each step carefully. She knew Lee so well, and knew why he acted the way he did on the phone. He missed her. He was worried about her. He wanted to be there with her to protect her. They were both exhausted, and over the phone in the middle of the night had not been the time to get into the particulars of their situation.
Deciding that sleep was eluding her for a second night, Amanda arose from the bed, put on her robe, and crept down the hallway. She slowly opened the door to her sons' room. Phillip was sound asleep. Amanda smiled as she thought about how much she loved Phillip, and how proud she was of him. She quietly closed the door and headed for the steps that would take her down to the kitchen. 'Some warm milk will help me relax', she thought.
Dotty West lay in her bed in fitful sleep. She was having a nightmare. A man was practically dragging her down a darkened street, at gunpoint, in a bad part of Washington. She heard a woman's voice, and as they turned around, the man raised his gun to Dotty's head. The woman, somebody named Francine Desmond, was telling the man to let Dotty go.
"Come on, Gavrikov. We already have Gregory and Parolow. We've rescued the boy. You're standing alone now, and you're only making things worse for yourself. Now let Mrs. West go. You know you're trapped."
"Not so," Gavrikov replied. "Mrs. West will be quite valuable on the auction block. Whomever I sell her to will have a direct line to Stetson and King."
In the dream, she suddenly heard Amanda's voice from behind her, but the voice was different than her daughter's usual raspy lilt. Instead, it was icy. Demanding. Commanding. The distorted strangeness of Amanda's voice woke Dotty with a start. She sat up and frantically looked around the room. "Oh, thank God that was just a dream," she said softly then lay back down, relieved. As she shook the sleep from her mind, her eyes widened when she remembered it was not a just a bad dream, but a replay of events that had happened just a few hours ago. Then her mind's floodgates opened. 'Amanda is a spy. Amanda is a spy.' She just couldn't get the thought out of her head. And other questions started spilling in again, and their frantic speed was almost dizzying. When Amanda was suddenly and unexpectedly gone all night or for days, allegedly for location work on some film, was it really because she was being held against her will, like Phillip was today? What kind of mission was she involved in when she was supposedly on vacation in California but ended up almost dying in a Los Angeles hospital from a gunshot wound to the chest? Does she often get involved in gunfights? And if the job was that dangerous, why did she keep doing it, putting herself and her family in harm's way?
Dotty was upset with Amanda and, she had to admit, a little hurt. They had always been close, but Amanda had been so evasive the past few years. At first, Dotty had written this off as her daughter's attempt to have her own life and interests after her divorce from Joe. Then, for an extended period, she was convinced Amanda was having an affair with a married man. But it never seemed to ring true; it would have been so out of character for her daughter. She eventually abandoned that theory. Finally, she wasn't quite sure what was going on, but she knew that there was more to this film company, IFF, than met the eye. She just hadn't been able to figure out what it might be. More questions arose when she met the very handsome and charming Lee Stetson, who had seemed too good to be true. Dotty didn't know any other film people, but she couldn't picture Lee as some kind of director. Now that she knew the truth, the rest of the puzzle was beginning to come together. But this just led to more questions. How did Amanda become involved in such dangerous work? How long had she been working for the government? How long had she known Lee? What really was their relationship? And now that she and the boys knew the truth, what would happen next?
Just then, Dotty heard Amanda's bedroom door quietly open and shut. She heard her daughter almost silently creep down the hallway toward the boys' room. 'Amanda can't sleep either,' Dotty thought. After a moment, she heard soft footsteps move past her door once again, then to the steps. A few seconds later, she heard activity in the kitchen. The clang of a pan being removed from the cabinet next to the stove. The refrigerator door opening and closing. "Warm milk," Dotty said softly, with a smile. Over the past couple of years, she had been so impressed with what a confident, beautiful woman Amanda had become. But at 2 o'clock in the morning, Amanda was still her little girl. Her thoughts turned to how proud she had been of her daughter earlier in the day, when she devised the clever interrogation scenario she came up with in a split second to get that stubborn Brewer man to talk. Lee and Mr. Melrose insisted it wouldn't work, since Amanda had been the one to capture him after he tried to steal a list of names to turn over to the Russians. But it did work, like a charm. Then later, on the street, the confident way Amanda had sneaked up behind her and Gavrikov, putting the muzzle of her gun…Amanda with a gun!...at Gavrikov's head. She vividly recalled Amanda's cold and authoritative tone, so unfamiliar to Dotty.
"King has a direct line to you right now, Gavrikov. Now let my mother go."
Gavrikov had laughed. "Oh, Mrs. King, such a bad bluff! It's known far and wide in the KGB that you threaten, but never shoot."
"That's because no one has ever had a gun to my mother's head," Amanda had said icily. "You will be the one to change my reputation unless you let her go right now."
In the bed, Dotty flinched as she remembered the ominous sound of Amanda pulling the hammer back on the revolver.
"I mean it, Gavrikov. The reason I've never shot anyone is because I've never needed to. But I promise you, right now I have no qualms about you being the first."
Dotty's thoughts then turned to the conversation with Mr. Melrose after her debriefing.
"You're going to learn more about your daughter over the next few days than you've probably learned in the last few years. So I just wanted to say, please be easy on her. And on Lee. "
'I wonder what on earth there could possibly be left to learn?' Dotty wondered. Then she pondered on what Mr. Melrose had said about Lee and the role Amanda played in his success.
He's the best agent I have, and he would die a hundred times over to keep Amanda safe. That's the main reason I wanted you to come along with us this evening. I wanted you to see both of them at work, but especially Amanda. I can't afford to lose her, Mrs. West. Because if I lose her, I lose Lee. Lee was always a good agent, but now he's a great agent. Thanks to Amanda. Their partnership has been one of the most successful in Agency history."
"Are they really that good?" Dotty had asked.
"Mrs. West, your daughter has saved countless lives, including my own and several others you see out there," Billy had said, gesturing toward the bullpen. "And as for Lee, she has saved him in more ways than one."
"What do you mean by that?"
Billy had smiled. "You'll see."
What DID he mean by that? Dotty heaved a heavy sigh and threw off the covers, then turned and sat on the edge of the bed. 'I am so upset with Amanda, but she's my daughter and I love her. And even though I'm still upset, I'm so very proud of her. I need to let her know that. Plus it's time to get some answers. It's time to get to know my daughter again'. Dotty stood and reached for her robe.
TO BE CONTINUED…