Plausible Deniability

Usual Disclaimers about taking the characters out for a ride yet putting them back for the real owners (Joyriding)

Thanks once again to Cheryl and Jennifer for the beta work and the GG's in chat for breaking the log jam.

An immediate continuation of A Morning After and Rings. I recommend that you read those two first if you haven't already. There is a more...ummmm...explicit version on Wicky Archive (If that sort of thing interests you.)

4th Season -marriage is known by Billy and Francine but still hidden from the family (sigh…so complicated)

Around 2:30 pm

"Okay, let's go over it again, Amanda. Who are you?" Lee asked as he watched his wife pack her suitcase for their assignment at Serenity Resort and Spa. She looked up at him as he sat up against the headboard of her bed, his shoes off, tie loosened and his sleeves rolled up. He looked like he belonged there and her heart stuttered a little at the thought that perhaps soon he would be there all the time.

"I am Emily Pearson. You are Jack Pearson. We are newly married. I work for the Pentagon in Purchasing and you are a project manager for a classified project for a defense contractor. We met at the Pentagon at one of the contractor reviews."

"Right. That should make us plausible enough targets."

"Right." She straightened out the bedspread on her bed as she thought about the next thing she wanted to say. She started hesitantly "Lee…"

Lee looked up when she stopped talking. "What is it?"

"What are we going to do about Mother and the boys?"

He sighed and raked a hand through his hair. "I don't know. I never intended for the Agency to find out first about us."

Amanda ran her fingers through his hair straightening out what he just messed up. "Billy raised some good points this morning. When he sat there and just stared at us, I felt like a disobedient student being told off by the principal."

Lee pulled her into his lap. "I know. I'm sorry."

"Are you really sorry? I'm not. I think I'm glad it came out. I'm tired of living without you." She began playing with his buttons trying not to make eye contact. "We play at being married. That's not what marriage is about, Lee. I love you. I want to be with you every day and every night."

He took a deep breath and tightened his embrace. "Oh Amanda, I feel the same way. It's just that the situation was not under our control."

"Maybe this is what we needed. This was the impetus to come clean with everyone. But you've avoided my initial question. What do we do about m… our family? That is only the first of many questions. What about the house? I know we've been fixing it up to sell. Are you going to move in here first? Or should we start looking for another house now and be ready to make the move all at once? How will Phillip and Jamie take moving and our marriage? Will my mother think we don't need her anymore? We really need her to be here. Should we get remarried for the family and our friends? I don't want to lie anymore but I also don't want to have to answer a bunch of awkward questions. We both need to be a part of telling them. How are they going to handle having a stepfather when they are becoming closer to their father? Joe's getting married soon, too. Two new step parents. How are they going to handle that?" Amanda paused to take a breath and Lee pushed her down on the bed and kissed her quite thoroughly.

She looked up at him puzzled. "What was that for?"

He smiled and kissed her nose. "It was the only way to get you to take a break. Feel better getting that all out?"

She thought for a moment and nodded. "Yeah."

"Now," he leaned down and kissed her jaw, "those are all good questions and legitimate problems we're going to have to deal with." He trailed a series of small light kisses down her neck and collarbone. "We'll work on all of those together." He nipped the sensitive skin where her neck and shoulder met then laved the small hurt away with his tongue. "We have time to talk about all the contingency plans." He repeated the kisses up her neck and jaw on the other side. "But we're alone right now and watching you pack that red lingerie and that cream colored nightgown has given me other ideas."

Amanda lightly caressed the side of his face. "You mean the backless one with the spaghetti straps?" She asked innocently as she began to loosen his tie.

"You know what that one does to me." Lee growled.

"I do. That's why I packed it." She smiled sweetly as she pulled the tie from around his neck and started on the buttons of his shirt.

His voice became huskier. "You realize we're going on an assignment." He reminded her as he moved to straddle her hips.

Amanda pulled him back down to her. "I do." She whispered as she nibbled on his earlobe.

"We'll have to remain focused on our job."

"Hmmm…I know." It was her turn to tease him with light kisses across his chest as she undid his buttons.

"Our room could be bugged." Lee reasoned.

"Uh-huh." Amanda murmured as she concentrated on not ripping off the buttons of his shirt again like she did the night before at Lee's apartment. "So I guess now is as good a time as any." With that he pushed her shirt up and over her head and with one quick flick of the wrist undid the front closure to her bra. "See what did I tell you? There was a bra emergency."

"Hardly an emergency but, since I'm not one to quibble. Come here." She smiled up at him. "Unless, of course, you intend to talk some more."

Since they started their physical relationship right after their engagement, she was continuously amazed by her libido. It had grown substantially. She and Lee fed off of each other. A look, a caress, or a brush of the lips from Lee could send her desire for him spiraling. They had made love last night and this morning and here she was ready to do it again from just his kisses.

Giving up rational thought, Amanda grabbed his shirt and brought him down to her. His kiss took her breath away. She pushed the shirt off of his arms and caressed the strong muscles in his back. Feeling his weight on her body, she marveled that he could evoke safety and overwhelming arousal at the same time.

They pleased, teased and fulfilled each other until she collapsed on his chest breathing heavily, seeing stars and felt his arms go around her anchoring her to him. The lingering tingle of his kisses along her face helped her to regain balance after their lovemaking.

Amanda reached over and pulled the bedspread over the two of them for some quick warmth.

"Why don't we just get under the covers?" Lee asked.

"I'm afraid if we do, we won't be leaving for a while." Amanda replied moving off of him and snuggling into his side. "What time is our check in?"

"We have to be there by 6:00." Lee's hand caressed her back in soothing motions.

Amanda raised her head and squinted at her alarm clock. "It's 3:30 now. We have time for a nap, right?"

"I think so. It's not too far from here."

"Do we to need to check in with the Agency before we leave?"

"No, we are good until the evening check in. Settle down, now. Try to get some rest." Lee kissed the top of her head.

Her voice sounded sleepy to her own ears. "Hmmmmm…" she sighed contentedly. "I'm glad we packed your bag already. Do we need to set the alarm?"

"Probably." Lee reached for the clock. "You know sometimes it's hard to remember where we're sleeping from day to day."

"I know." Amanda whispered before she surrendered to sleep.

Amanda woke to the sound of an alarm buzzing close to her ear. She reached over and tapped the clock. Lee moved against her and nuzzled her neck.

"I like to wake up like this." She murmured as he began to kiss his way to her mouth. "Come on, Sweetheart. We need to get up."

Lee sat up and rubbed his eyes and face to wake up. "I can't believe I slept that heavily in the afternoon."

She stretched her arms up over her head and sat up. "Well, we did have an…" she searched for a word that felt monumental enough, but her sleep fogged brain couldn't deliver… interesting morning."

Lee vented a humorless laugh. "That's an understatement."

"Would you like me to shower first?" Amanda asked knowing full well he would want to shower together.

"Can I join you?"

"Of course. It gets lonely when I'm in there all alone." She trailed a finger down his chest.

His voice became husky again as she noticed his gaze settle on her nipples which were tight again from stretching. "Amanda, we need to get ready to go."

"I know." They moved into the bathroom and despite their proximity to each other they both managed to get washed, dried and dressed with minimal groping.

Lee held up the little black box which held their rings. "Do you want to wear our rings or the Agency issued ones?"

"Let's wear ours. I don't really want to take them off again."

"Neither do I." Lee confirmed as he snapped the empty box closed and threw it onto Amanda's night stand.

"I just need to leave a note for Mother and tell her I won't be home when they get here in case they beat us back."

An hour later

Amanda was pensive as she looked out of the window at the passing Virginia country side. Her mind had been occupied with the revelation of their marriage to Billy and Francine and how they could tell the family about their marriage and jobs. In her peripheral vision, she could see him glancing at her from time to time. When she was ready she turned to him and put a hand on his leg. "I think we should tell them that we were married already." She turned her head away and whispered. "I don't want to pile one lie on top of another one."

"I understand that. But will it create more questions than we want to deal with right away?" Lee reached down and took her hand bringing her attention back to him.

"I guess that brings up another question, do we tell them about our real jobs? If so, when?"

"We're going to have to tell them." He brought her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles. She smiled at him and squeezed his fingers. "They're going to need to know how to take precautions and why they are taking the Agency training classes."

"So you think it is a good idea to sign them up?"

He nodded and glanced over at her still holding on to her hand. "I really do and as soon as possible. They're going to need to know what to do in an emergency. We know that news of our marriage will get out. Like Billy said, a new alarm can be installed in the house until we find a new one."

"You're okay with living in the house for a while?"

"At least until we can get it fixed up and put it on the market."

"If we announce our marriage, have you move in, buy a house and move, it could be too much for everyone to handle at once."

"True, but I can't say I relish the idea of living for long in the house you shared with Joe." He let go of her hand and returned his hand to the steering wheel.

She watched him for a moment thinking about her approach to the delicate subject of her first husband. "Lee, you know Joe never really treated the house as his home. It was more of a way station for him."

His hands tightened on the steering wheel. "It doesn't really matter. It's still uncomfortable knowing you shared the bedroom with him."

Amanda leaned over and put her head on his shoulder and ran her hand along his thigh. "But never that bed. You are the only one who has shared it with me."

He reached up to stroke her hair. "That helps. A little. But do you see my point?"

"I do." Amanda sighed. "I guess that means we're telling them everything. Too bad we can't just put it in a memo like Billy offered to do with Dr. Smyth."

Lee laughed. "Could you imagine the look on his face when he reads it? He might bite through that stupid cigarette holder he uses."

Amanda chuckled with him. She put her arms in front of her enjoying the feel of a stretch. "I can't believe everything that happened today. It feels like this day has gone on forever. I'm glad we took a nap this afternoon."

"Me too." Lee's eyes left the road for a moment to kiss her forehead. "Hopefully we'll be able to get this assignment done quickly and get home to begin the rest of our lives."

"You know maybe we should ask Mother and the boys if they want us to get married again."


Amanda moved in her seat to look at her husband. "Lee, Mother missed our wedding and the boys might be hurt that they couldn't see it. That could be an issue down the road."

"Maybe. Did you know I've practiced telling your mother and the boys about us and the Agency?"

"You have?" She smiled. "I guess I didn't realize you were nervous about telling them. I thought I was the only one"

"Amanda, it's a big deal. They'll love you no matter what. I'm a new," he seemed to search for a word, "element in the house. Especially since the boys have had you to themselves since Joe left."

Amanda was quiet for a moment as she processed what he said. "You're right it will be a big deal. But they both accept you, Lee. Okay, so we tell them everything. You move in, and if necessary, we get married again, then we work on selling the house and buying a new one."

He nodded. "Sounds good. Why do I feel there is a but coming?"

Amanda sighed. "That's just a lot to handle at once." She put her hand on his shoulder. "We'll just have to get through it one crisis at a time."

"I wanted to give you something more than crisis after crisis." Lee replied quietly. "I want to give you a life and a home."

She ran her fingers through his hair and down his neck rubbing gently. "Sweetheart, you have given me so much more."

The rest of the ride was contemplative for them both. This morning had started off so well and the way the day was ending was almost surreal. Amanda's continued her thoughts centered on her family and the best way to approach them about her marriage. When she asked him what he was thinking Lee replied that his thoughts focused on her and the best way they could make the transition to a real family easier for them all. After that, all Amanda could think about was how lucky she was to have him as her husband.

The Serenity Resort and Spa was a sprawling area surrounded by a lake and acres of woods. Everything looked very calm and peaceful. Amanda knew better than to accept things at their face value.

As Lee pulled into the driveway and parked in a reception spot, she squared her shoulders and put her concerns to the side and concentrated on her job. She looked over at Lee and could see his face taking on a new expression, his Scarecrow mask. She went over her identity in her mind Emily Pearson…Emily Pearson….I am Emily Pearson. I work for the Pentagon in Purchasing. She could feel the identity slip into her mind and she took on the persona of Emily Pearson.

"Ready?" Lee looked over to her.

She nodded her head. "Ready."

"Let's go."

He handed his key and a few bills to a valet that had run out to greet them. He was closely followed by a bellman who came to collect their luggage from the 'Vette as they moved into the reception lobby. A pretty blonde smiled when she saw them approach the desk. "Welcome to Serenity Resorts and Spa. Are you checking in today?"

Lee pulled out his credit card. "Yes, we have reservations under the name of Pearson. We're checking in for the newlywed weekend."

"I have you right here, Mr. Pearson. My, you have been upgraded to a suite." She smiled at him. "Here you are. Please sign the registration card."

"Upgraded?" Lee looked at Amanda and smiled remembering their conversation that morning about their past relationships. "Who upgraded our room?"

She handed them both keys. "I'm afraid I don't know that, sir. You will be in Suite 434. The bellman will bring your luggage up shortly. I hope you have many happy years together and enjoy your stay with us."

Amanda smiled and threaded her hand through Lee's arm. "I'm sure we will."

A short elevator ride took them to the fourth floor and to their room overlooking the lake. Lee opened the door and held Amanda back for a moment. "I've wanted to do this for a long time," as he picked her up and carried her over the threshold. As he set her down, she caressed his face smiling into his hazel eyes. "I love you," he whispered in her ear.

Amanda paused for a moment to get her bearings. "I love you too. She whispered back. She got control of her voice and reassumed her persona. "Oh Jack," Amanda exclaimed looking at the view through the window, "what a beautiful place for our honeymoon."

Lee came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. "I know we wanted to get away for a longer than a few days but work has us swamped right now. We'll take a longer honeymoon later."

"As long as I'm with you, honey." Amanda cooed batting her eyes at him.

Lee grimaced and looked around the room. He motioned for Amanda to continue talking while he did a quick casual visual inspection for cameras and microphones. "Emily, why don't we go for a swim in the pool?"

"Oh Jack, we just drove in from the Pentagon. I would like to relax first. Would that be okay? Maybe we could go swimming after we have dinner." She moved to the desk and pulled out the information guide for the hotel. "Look, honey, they have several restaurants. Ooo, here is one that has quiet niches for guests. It looks very intimate." Looking to see where Lee was she moved around the room picking up random items. "Oh Jack, here is another one that is more formal. You brought your tux, didn't you? Oh that's right. We decided not to be too formal this weekend. I can't wait to hit the spa. What shall I have done? They have massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. Would you like to do a couple's massage? We can choose to have a man or a woman as a masseuse. Which would you like to have? Remember I'm the jealous type, honey. Oh, never mind, we can figure that out later." Amanda took a deep breath and looked at a bouquet of roses sitting on the table. "Jack, these are from Uncle Billy. The card says, 'Congratulations on your wedding. Enjoy the weekend and the suite.' How sweet of him. We'll have to call him to thank him."

Lee came up behind her and whispered in her ear. "No cameras or mics in here at this point. I didn't check the bathroom or the bedroom yet."

"Good. It would seem that Billy upgraded us. That really was sweet of him. Especially considering we kept everything a secret from him for so long.

A knock came at the door and a middle aged bellman entered with their bags. "Good evening Mr. Pearson, Mrs. Pearson. I hope your suite is to your approval?"

"It is very nice. My husband's uncle arranged for the suite."

"Yes, the request came in right before you arrived. It was fortunate this suite was available. We'll refresh it while you are at dinner. Fresh flowers and a fruit basket are part of the suite accommodations." The bellman moved into the bedroom to place their luggage on the stands. "Lovely." Amanda said as she took Lee's arm. "Sweetie, should we see about dinner reservations."

The bellman spoke up. "I could see to that, ma'am. Which of the restaurants would you like to go to tonight?"

"I think the 1769 Room would be nice tonight." Lee said patting Amanda's hand. "Don't you think so, Em?

"Absolutely. Could you make them for 7:30?"

The bellman smiled. "Yes Ma'am. My name is Frank if you need anything else."

Lee escorted the Frank to the door and handed him several bills. "Thank you, we'll let you know."

Lee looked at Amanda and took her in his arms. His mouth ended up against her ear. "Ready to start searching?" He whispered quietly.

She tilted her head to his ear and exhaled softly. "Sure. Do you have the sweepers?"

Lee let her go and opened his briefcase, pulled out the false side and held up the devices.

"Jack, would you mind if we listened to some music while we unpack and get ready for dinner?" She moved over to the radio and found a classical station. The familiar strains of Beethoven's Ninth Sympathy filled the room and, Amanda was sure, the music would drown out any noise they'd make.

Lee looked around the room for likely places for microphones. Amanda approached him and put her forehead against his as he put the sweeper in her hand. "I'll take this room and you do the bathroom." Lee moved into the bathroom and conducted a sweep of the facilities

Amanda continued to sweep the bedroom for bugs and cameras. Lee came out of the bathroom and waited for her all clear signal. "You know we could fit half the field section in the bath tub."

"I guess we'll just have to try it later on. It looks like our suitcases may have been searched before they came up. Some of our items are messed up. "

"We'll check on them again when we get back. At least we may be on the right track and we've hopefully piqued someone's interest." Amanda watched as Lee took an appraisal of the room before his gaze settled on his wife. She smiled as if she could see his thought form. "C'mere." He growled pulling Amanda into his arms and laying a line of sweet delicate kisses behind her ear. A place he knew would turn her into jelly.

"Sweetheart, we need to go down to dinner." She moved her head slightly to allow him better access and sighed slowly. "Mmm…that feels nice. Maybe we can order room service?" Her hands traveled up his back and played with the ends of his silky hair.

"Don't tempt me. We need to be seen and heard, remember?"

Amanda let out a little moan of disappointment and dropped her head down on his chest. "I know. Okay, ready to go?"

As they gathered up the equipment, Amanda tucked one of the sweepers in her purse and Lee put one in his pocket. Before they left the room they placed Lee's briefcase strategically on the dresser with the false side back in place. Amanda's case went on the side of the couch in front of a table.

"Are all your papers in place?" He asked as he put his jacket back on.

"Yes. Yours?"

"Yep. Let's go, Emily."

"I'd follow you anywhere, Jack."

Lee and Amanda made their way to the 1769 Room restaurant. The quaint room offered dark oak paneling and floors. The tables were set in a colonial fashion with a modern twist. Candle sconces lit the walls and the subdued lighting set the mood for tranquility and romance. The couple was seated side by side against the wall on a bench where they could see the entire room. Other newlyweds surrounded them talking quietly or just gazing at each other.

Amanda felt the pull of romance in the room and rested her head on her husband's shoulder. They made small talk about their jobs and what was in store for them when they returned to work after their romantic getaway. Jack had a big metallurgical test coming up on a new compound designed for his classified project. Emily talked about the new Request for Proposals for a naval contract which she had to review before Monday. They worked into the conversation as much of their real life as they dared. Mostly about what needed to be done to the house before it was in salable condition. Amanda hoped that if anyone was listening to them that they portrayed what they wanted them to see, two busy people with inside information. They ordered a sea bass entrée to split and two salads along with a nice cabernet sauvignon.

Just after they were served a man in a suit approached their table. "Mr. and Mrs. Pearson?" Lee and Amanda looked up at the man and smiled.

Lee looked up at the summons. "Yes?"

"I'm Mark from the front desk. I'm sorry to intrude but we forgot to give you your reservations for the Spa tomorrow when you checked in." He handed a sheet to Lee.

"We hadn't made any reservations to my knowledge. Em, did you make reservations?" Lee looked at Amanda questioningly.

Amanda picked up her cue, shook her head and shrugged. "No, I didn't make anything. I didn't have time everything happened so fast. "

"I believe we got the request from your secretary or someone in your office."

Amanda leaned in to look at the paper. "Jack, wasn't that sweet of Francine?"

"Yes, very. I'll have to thank her when we get back."

"The spa reservationist tried to keep you together for couple's treatments as much as possible, but since the requests came so close to your arrival, we weren't able to accommodate all the treatments. I believe you have a few where you'll be separated."

Amanda gave him her sweetest smile. "I guess Jack and I will just have to deal with being away from each other for a short time. We understand that with the time constraints we couldn't be together the whole time." She looked over at Lee. "Don't we, Sweetheart? Thank you so much, Mark for bringing it to us."

"My pleasure, ma'am. I hope you enjoy your stay here."

"Thank you. I'm sure we will."

They ate their dinner with minimal conversation commenting only on the quality of the food and the ambiance of the room.

"Honey," Lee asked as he offered her his arm, "Let's go for a walk."

"Sure, sweetheart." Amanda snuggled up to him as they walked out the door of the hotel and wandered towards the grounds across from the parking lot.

They walked to the parking lot and spotted the Corvette almost immediately. "May I borrow your key to the 'Vette?" Lee asked as he walked towards his car. Amanda dug the key out and handed it over to him. Once inside Lee placed a call to Francine. She confirmed their suspicions that the Agency had not made any reservations. He asked if she could run backgrounds on the employees of the spa and front desk. She said she would do it right away and call their room using the established codes if there was anything interesting and they would call her back from the car. Lee thanked her and hung up.

"It would appear that someone wants us to have a spa day." Amanda observed as they resumed their walk around the grounds. "What's on the schedule?" Lee pulled the paper out of his pocket.

"We can probably forget about anything that has us together as a couple. That would be too tricky to pull off."

"True." Amanda ran her finger down the schedule to look for times they were not together. We both have wraps prior to a massage, but they are separate and at different times. Your time is double to mine. Yours is marked as stress relief and relaxation and mine is just a relaxation wrap." She looked up at him with her brows drawn. "I wonder what that entails."

"I don't know. But according to this we are in room 17 just two hours apart."

"That has to be when it is going to happen. How do we stop it?"

"We could refuse the wraps."

Amanda looked thoughtful. "According to the brochure it is all a part of the treatment. Don't we need to catch the person drugging one of us in order to arrest them?"

"Yes, all we have are suspicions that it is going to happen then." Lee looked worried. "I'm not willing to throw you into danger. Can you claim a headache or claustrophobia before they wrap you?"

"I could but what about you? If they want you to talk, then what do you think they're going to do when you don't know anything about engineering?"

"You're just going to have to come get me. I'll take a transmitter in with me and hide it somewhere. You'll need to get away from whatever they are trying to do to you. Don't spas like this give you a robe to wear around? We will use the transceiver and the mics. I'll put one in my pocket and you can listen while they do the wraps. We still need to find out who is behind all this."

Amanda reached up and rubbed the back of her neck. "I know. Has anyone shown any unusual interest in us?"

Looking around he pulled Amanda over to a bench and sat her down with her back to him. "I'm exhausted. It's been a long day."

When he began to rub her neck, her eyes closed in pleasure. "I know. Okay, who has shown any interest?"

Lee answered her question still rubbing her stiff muscles. "Well, the bellman seemed interested and the guy from the front desk."

"Ooo, right there. The bellman had a chance to go through our bags and the guy from the front desk could have arranged for the appointments."

"I'm finding it hard to think right now. We need to go to sleep."

"I agree. Let's go to bed."

They walked back into the hotel and to their room.

As they entered into the room, Amanda pulled the sweeper from her purse and began to sweep the room while Lee did the same. They swept the living room quickly finding a listening device in amongst a new bouquet of flowers. Another sweep of the bedroom showed another bug in the bedroom around a picture. When all they could find were listening devices, Amanda breathed a sigh of relief that with no camera among the surveillance equipment, they wouldn't be on display. A quick check of both their bags and briefcases showed that they had been tampered with.

"Jack, could you help me with this?" Amanda called from the bathroom.

"Sure, honey." Lee answered as he walked in and shut the door.

He raised an eyebrow at her as she began to unbutton her blouse. She smiled as she looked around the room. While the bathroom was clear of any listening devices they still needed to run the water in the shower to mask their voices from the mics in the bedroom. And since the mosaic marble shower was big enough for two with two rainfall showerheads and a small bench built in, they decided to take advantage of the opportunity to "talk freely" together.

Amanda watched as Lee stepped into the shower and held out his hand to her. She took it and walked in under the showerhead. She tilted her head back to feel the water on her face as it began to drench her hair. She wiped water from her face as she saw her husband look at her his eyes riveted to her face and a small quirk of his lips. He pulled her into his arms and gently kissed her. She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around his neck.

"Mmmmm…that feels so good," she whispered as Lee's hands pushed her head back under the water and began to rub shampoo into her hair. His fingers massaged gently over her scalp working unseen muscles to liquidity. His fingers moved down to her neck and shoulders finding all the hidden knots and tightness and relaxing her body. Amanda could feel the tension of the day fading away with each touch of his hands. She tipped her head back again to rinse her hair and felt Lee's lips gently kissing each eyelid. His mouth settled on hers. She found it so easy to get lost in the sensations that he provoked in her. She opened her eyes and looked deep into hazel eyes. "I love you."

"I love you, too." He replied working his hands full of lather. He soaped her body. She loved the feel of the slightly rough fingers kneading her muscles. As he rinsed her off he placed a gentle kiss on her scar. He told her once when she asked him why he often kissed her there, that it was because he came too close to losing her forever and he wanted her to know that he appreciated everyday he got with her.

She returned the favor for him by bathing him as well. She loved to run her fingers through his hair and massage his scalp feeling his body tremble at her touch. She soaped his body tracing his muscles and lightly stroking his skin. As he rinsed she wondered at their connection with each other. They always seemed to be in sync. Tonight was the perfect example; they were both tired from a long and trying day. Instinctually they knew that the shower was for comfort and relaxation not stimulation. While she pondered their relationship, Lee shut off the water and wrapped her up in a towel. She dried off and got ready for bed. She dropped the nightgown over her head as Lee pulled on pajama bottoms only.

"Jack, do we have to get back early on Monday?" Amanda asked as they walked into the bedroom.

"I have an eight o'clock meeting to review some of the metallurgical qualities of the alloy." Lee replied.

"So, I guess we will need to leave on Sunday."

"It seems. Didn't you say you had a meeting about Naval contracts?"

"I do, but that isn't until eleven."

Amanda turned off the light and crawled into bed. Lee got in on his side and brought her into his arms. She snuggled into his side and laid her head on his shoulder. His hand ran up and down her bare back. Amanda felt relaxed and melty from her shower and Lee's ministrations. The day began to catch up with her and her eyelids felt very heavy as she fell asleep.

The very next morning

The next morning found them up and awake for breakfast in their suite. Their appointments started at ten o'clock for a manicure and pedicure for Amanda and the relaxation treatment for Lee.

As they walked into the spa for their treatment, Amanda enjoyed the calm and serene atmosphere. Music which reminded her of a mountain stream played over the speakers. The earth tone color scheme with splashes of greens, blues and reds from exotic flowers lent itself to the peaceful nature of the spa.

"Mr. and Mrs. Pearson?" A young lady approached them with a clipboard.


"I'm Madeline. I'll be the concierge for your treatments today. My job is to make sure that your day is as relaxed and stress free as possible. If you'll follow me I'll take you to the locker rooms."

They stopped in a room and got bathrobes for each of them. She pointed out the locker rooms and informed the couple that she would meet them on the other side of the locker rooms to escort them to their treatments.

Amanda made a quick change, put her clothes into a locker, made sure that the receiver was secure in her pocket and left by the back door. She met up with Lee and Madeline. Madeline led them through a maze of rooms to Lee's treatment room. "Mr. Pearson, this is where you'll start with the relaxation wrap. Olivia will be servicing you. Mrs. Pearson, if you'll come with me I'll take you to the manicure stations."

Lee gave Amanda a peck on the lips. "Have fun, honey. I'll see you for the massage."

Lee walked into the room and gave Amanda a look before the door closed. Madeline escorted Amanda to the manicure and pedicure stations.

"Mrs. Pearson, this is Samantha. She'll be working on you today."

Amanda smiled. "It's very nice to meet you, Samantha."

Samantha led Amanda to the basin. "Would you please soak your hands there?"

Amanda put her most innocent face on. "Oh my, I wanted to give my husband my rings to hold before we started. You can imagine I didn't want to just leave them anywhere. After all we were just married. He said he would put them on his little finger to hold. Would you mind if I just ran over there and slipped in? It will only take me a minute."

Samantha thought for a moment. "It'll put you behind a little, but we can move your drying to the pedicure time. Sure."

"Oh, thank you. I'll be right back." Amanda gushed as she slipped out of the chair and into the hall. As she walked down the hall she looked occasionally over her shoulder for anyone suspicious, she placed a small earpiece in her ear and listened to a woman tell Lee to relax and let the wrap do its job. Amanda tapped the earpiece when silence descended in the room.

A male voice spoke. "Is he ready?"

"Not quite, the wrap just got finished. He'll need a few more minutes before the treatment begins to work. Then you can question him." A female voice responded.

"Mr. Pearson, can you hear me?" The male voice asked. There was no response from Lee. Amanda's heart began to beat a little faster. "Why isn't he saying anything?"

"Mr. Pearson, wake up. Can you talk to me? Hmm, maybe a different approach." The woman's voice whispered taking a slightly lower tone reminiscent of Amanda's voice. "Jack, dear, it's Emily. Could you tell me again about the new alloy?"

Lee's voice sounded fuzzy. "Emily, you sound funny. Where's your accent?"

"What is he talking about?" The male's voice sounded angry. "We need to get the information. The buyers want to find out the components of the alloy. The files we photographed weren't enough."

"Something could be wrong with the dosage. I can add another layer."

Amanda decided she needed to act. Their cover needed to be protected until their back up arrived. She took a deep breath and put on her best harried expression. She opened the door and started in immediately. "Jack, sweetheart, I hope you haven't started yet I forgot to give you my rings…" She stopped when she saw a woman she didn't know and Mark from the front desk in the room. "Oh dear, is everything okay? Jack? Jack? What's wrong with him? Did he have a bad reaction to the wrap?"

"Mrs. Pearson, you shouldn't be in here. You're going to throw your schedule of treatments off. Olivia was just starting …" Mark moved to block her view of Lee.

Amanda interrupted him. "But if my husband is ill, then I should take him back to our room. Perhaps we can reschedule the treatments until he's feeling better." Amanda moved around Mark and the woman. "Could you please leave while I get my husband dressed again?"

"Honey, is that you?" Lee's voice was definitely under the influence of something. "I love you."

Amanda bent over him and whispered in his ear. "Yes, Lee, it's Amanda. Now be quiet for a few minutes."

"K, is Emily here?" Lee questioned.

"Yes, honey, I'm right here." Amanda unwrapped the cloths. She turned once again to the pair watching her. "Leave now, please." She reiterated in her best mother's voice. "Will I need to call the manager or security about this?"

"I assure you Mrs. Pearson your husband is quite well. The wraps are relaxing him. A stress reduction treatment was requested for him." Mark said trying to get in between Amanda and Lee. "Olivia was just starting the treatment."

"It would seem that he's not feeling well and I would like to get him out of here." Amanda moved to the door and opened it. "Now."

They reluctantly moved out of the room shooting looks at her from over their shoulders. Amanda let out the breath she had been holding as she closed the door and put her back to it. She didn't think it was going to work. Mark and Olivia had caved in and left them.

Amanda walked over to the table and bent over Lee. She began to work the wraps out from around him and got him to sit up. "How do you feel?" She asked cupping his face and looking into his hazel eyes.

"A little fuzzy." He replied as he tried to shake his head then seemed to think better of it.

"Get your robe on." Amanda held it out for him. "I think we'll wait to get our clothes. I don't really want you out of my sight right now. We can call for backup from the room. We'll just use the established code." She took some of the wraps from the table. "I think I'll take these as evidence and so the lab can analyze them."

Lee put his arm around her shoulders. "I may have to lean on you. I feel a little dizzy."

If he was admitting he was dizzy and needed her to lean on, Amanda knew he was feeling worse. She opened the door and cautiously looked out. No Mark and no Olivia. As they made their way through the ladies locker room to the spa reception room, she heard a voice from over her shoulder. "Mrs. Pearson," Madeline called out chasing after them with her clipboard waving in the air, "you can't leave with the robes and you're supposed to be having you manicure right now."

"My husband is ill. I'm going to take him up to our room. I'll come down later for our clothes and bring back the robes." Amanda couldn't believe she was having this conversation.

Amanda made it back to their room and disabled the microphones they had found. In case they had missed one, she decided to continue with the coded messages when she called the Agency. Lee put on his pajama bottoms and lay down on the bed. She sat next to him and quickly dialed IFF and asked for Billy. "Uncle Billy, its Emily. I wanted to thank you for the lovely gift. The suite is very nice….No, I'm afraid Jack isn't feeling well. Something about that treatment didn't agree with him….Maybe I should call Parker for some advice….Yes, it would be nice if you were here with us. The service…Well, there were at least two people who deserved extra tips…. Right…. Well, hopefully we'll see you very soon. Thanks again. Bye-Bye."

'That should do it.' Amanda thought. 'Backup, should be here in an hour or so.' She sat there for a while just watching Lee and holding his hand, making sure he rested comfortably. Since he was in the twilight between awake and asleep, she moved into the living room with her clothes so that she didn't disturb him. She was putting on her shirt when the phone rang. Amanda picked it up. "Hello?"

The IFF operator was on the other line. "This is a secure relay. Excuse me, Mrs. King. You have a phone call from Mrs. West. Mr. Melrose said it would be okay to patch it through."

"Thank you. Please do." The phone clicked. "Hello? Hello, Mother."

"Hello, darling. How's your trip? I wanted to let you know that the boys and I will be heading back tomorrow."

"It's fine, Mother. I should be home tonight. How are the boys? Are you having a nice time?" Amanda struggled to pull her pants up.

"Very nice. How's Lee? Is he there with you?"

"He's fine. Yes, he's in another room." Amanda looked up when she heard a click on the phone.

Suddenly Lee's voice came over the extension. "Dotty, I'm glad we could finally have this talk. I'm sure by now you realize how much I love your daughter. She is everything to me." Horrified, Amanda started across the room but tripped on her pants. As she fell to her knees, she could hear Lee in the bedroom. "You can't know how often I've wanted to tell you that. I know that our marriage may have seemed abrupt but we've loved each other for a long time. Now that you know Amanda and I are married, I want you to know how important you've become to me. I barely remember my own mother, she's been gone since I was four. I'm hoping you wouldn't mind if I called you, Mom. I'm sorry we had to keep our jobs and marriage a secret from the family. Amanda never wanted to lie to you, but National Security and her oath of secrecy has forced her to. But now that is all over. I hope you and the boys can accept me as part of the family." Amanda kicked her pants off her legs and was on her feet and racing to the bedroom. She was frantically waving her hands in the air trying to get him to stop talking. She grabbed the phone away from him and listened to the vast silence on the other end of the phone.

"Mother?" Amanda said.

"Amanda, did Lee just say he wanted call me mom?" Dotty's voice didn't betray any emotion.

"Yes, he did. But I…"

Dotty cut her off. "Did Lee just say you were married?"

Amanda was cautious. "Well, yes he did."

"Did he also just say your jobs were a secret?"

Amanda took a deep breath and counted to five. "Yes, Mother. He did."

"And that you are involved with National Security and took an oath of secrecy?"

Amanda winced at the tone of disbelief in her mother's voice. "Yes. He did say that as well."

There was another silence on the other end of the line as, Amanda assumed, she processed what she had just been told. When she spoke again her mother's voice had a strange quality in it, one Amanda had never heard before as mixture of exasperation, anger, confusion and hurt. "Amanda West King…Stetson. You know you have some explaining to do!"

Feeling trapped, Amanda thought furiously. "Yes, well, it'll have to wait until you get back. And then we can…"

"We'll be coming home tonight." Dotty interjected.

"No, Mother, please. Don't cut your trip short. We still have work to do here."

"Amanda, I have always trusted your judgment in the past." Dotty started.

"And I am asking that you do it one more time, until you hear the entire story, please, Mother."

"All right. Tomorrow."

The breath she had been holding gushed out. "Thank you, Mother. I love you."

"Love you too, darling. Good-bye."

"Bye." A dial tone sounded in her ear.

Lee looked up at her from the bed. "Amanda, why are you upset?"

She frowned down at him "Lee, why did you tell my mother everything?"

"She didn't know?"

Amanda almost smacked her forehead. The drug. Whatever they had given him must bring back memories of a sort. He had been practicing what to say. In the drugged state he didn't realize they hadn't said anything yet. She could have denied everything and told her mother that Lee was having a bad reaction to something. But she didn't want to deny anything anymore. She really wanted the truth out in the open to the family and the world.

She put her hand on his chest and pushed him down. "Just rest, sweetheart. Don't worry about anything." She began to stroke his forehead and face until he settled into sleep.

A knock sounded at the door. Amanda grabbed Lee's gun from his holster and cautiously approached the door their back up shouldn't be there yet. "Yes?" she called out.

"Mrs. Pearson? It's Olivia from the spa. I just wanted to check on your husband."

"Just a moment, please." Amanda raced into the bedroom and found Lee's handcuffs and the tape recorder she used earlier. She closed the bedroom door. She wasn't sure which memory Lee would bring up if she had the gun on someone.

"Sorry, I had to finish getting dressed." Amanda extemporized as she unlocked the door and stepped back out of the way. "Come in."

Olivia walked in the room and turned quickly around at the sound of the door locking. She braced and brought up a defensive stance her arms ready to strike.

"Please don't." Amanda pointed the gun at her. "I would really hate to use this. But I will, if you make me. Why did you come up here?"

"Like I said to check on your husband." Olivia smiled again and moved her arms away from her body with her hands open. "I'm not sure what you think occurred, Mrs. Pearson. I was just giving your husband his treatment for stress."

"I think it was a little more than that. You're under arrest for treason and assault." Amanda recited the woman her rights and cuffed her and put her in a low chair. "Would you care to tell me what drug you used on my husband?"


"Where is Mark right now?"

Olivia smiled. "I don't know."

"Olivia, I'm a federal agent. Could you imagine this is going to get any easier from this point? Let me put it this way. Your drugs can't match what we have in our dispensary."

Olivia paled slightly and her smile faltered. "I have nothing to say."

Amanda sat on the arm of the couch facing the young woman. "Fine. Then just sit there and exercise your right to remain silent." She held her gun with a deceptively relaxed stance and looked at the woman.

Olivia began to fidget. "I'm not sure what you want me to say."

"Nothing, we're waiting for my colleagues to arrive and take you into custody."

She began to perspire. "Isn't there anything I can do?"

Amanda smiled. "Afraid not. You'll be taken to our office and held for further questioning." Amanda counted to five in her head. "You could tell me where Mark is and if anyone else is involved?"

"I don't think I should." She looked around nervously.

"Don't worry; the microphones have all been disabled." Amanda pointed to the table. "Only the one in that recorder is working."

Olivia looked very uncomfortable. "Mark has a room off the Men's locker room. That's where everything is stored. That's where he should be."

"Why did you really come up here?"

"To see if you took the wraps with you. I didn't want the formula for the drug to get out. I was going to sell it."

"How long does it last in the system?"

"Only a couple of hours. Then it breaks down completely with no side effects or memory of the treatment."

"I see." Another knock sounded at the door. Amanda got up and keeping an eye on her prisoner. "Yes."

"Amanda?" Parker's voice came through the door.

"Finally." She breathed and unlocked the door. Parker walked in with her EMS bag followed by Francine, Williams and Duffy.

Francine handed Amanda a file folder. "Parker, Lee is in the bedroom. He'll need to have blood taken for lab tests. The drug was administered by contact with the skin. He was totally wrapped in the cloth. I brought up some of the wraps for analysis. Francine this is Olivia…," she checked the folder for information. "Olivia Ford. She was the one administered the drug. There is another person who needs to be arrested," she checked the folder again, "his name is Mark Dobson. She told me he has a room off the men's locker room which should have tapes and other incriminating evidence. Olivia has refused to say if there is anyone else involved. We should be able to trace the buyers. We are going to need a clean-up crew to take whatever materials are still there."

Francine waited for Amanda to stop talking. "They're right behind us."

Williams and Duffy started to move. "Wait! I should go with you, but I can't leave Lee right now." She looked to her friend. "Francine, we need to get into the room where they were going to question Lee and search it. We also need to get our clothes from the locker room and return the robes. Would you do it for me?"

Francine looked at Amanda her blue eyes wide and disbelieving. "Amanda, I am not a maid."

"Francine, please," Amanda whispered pulling her aside, "you know I shouldn't leave Lee like this. He could say anything in his state." Amanda tried to keep the smile off her face as Francine finally caved in.

She narrowed her eyes for a moment. "Fine," she consented, "but you owe me. This is supposed to be your collar."

After Francine, Duffy and Williams left the suite Amanda moved to the next room and sat down on the bed. "How is he, Parker?"

Parker looked up. "He's fine. He's a little dizzy and disoriented."

Parker walked out of the room to store the blood samples for analysis. Amanda took Lee's hand in hers and smiled into his face. "How do you feel?"

"A little woozy. Why didn't you go down to arrest Dobson?"

She ran her fingers through his hair. "I needed to stay right here with you. I didn't think you would like me to go walking through a men's locker room, even if I was with Duffy and Williams for protection. Besides, I'm sure Francine will like the scenery."

Lee tried to sit up. "I want to get dressed. We should leave and get the Agency to debrief."

She put a palm on his chest and pushed him down. "You're going to stay there until Parker clears you for travel."

A devilish look crossed his face. "You know I would rest better if you were lying down with me."

Amanda looked through the door to see if Parker was on her way back. She leaned down to plant a small kiss on his mouth. "This suite is too busy. Later," she promised.

A slam of the suite door heralded Francine's return bearing a strange look on her face. Lee stood up and Amanda helped him on with his robe knowing full well he would not rest for a while. "Francine," Lee asked putting a hand on her arm, "is anything wrong. Did the arrest go okay?"

"I never thought the inside of a men's locker room would be like…. They didn't even seem to care that a woman was… They just let it all out." She muttered shaking her head. "Oh never mind. Here are your clothes. Williams is with the clean-up crew and Duffy has the prisoners. I'm going with him. Anything else before we head back?"

Amanda turned to Parker. "Is Lee okay to travel? Should I drive?"

"It's probably a good idea." Parker replied with a slight smile on her face. "Make sure he is checked out at the Agency infirmary when you get back. They'll give you final clearance. I'll turn your blood samples into the lab, Scarecrow."

"Thanks, Parker."

"Great. We'll see you back at the Agency." Amanda shooed them out and turned to look at her husband who bore a particular look on his face "Now, Lee," she said backing up into the room, you shouldn't start anything until you get checked out."

"Oh yeah? I'm fine. Want me to prove it?" He growled as he took her in his arms and slammed the door.

The next day –

It had been a trying 36 hours between the arrests, debriefings and talking to Lee about what they were going to tell her mother and sons. Amanda was exhausted. She wanted nothing more than to be done with this discussion and rest. Lee and Amanda sat on the couch making small talk for the last hour. Her ears strained to hear any sound of her family's approach. When the sound of a car door slamming reached her, she nearly flew to her feet.

Lee put his arms around her and gave her a small kiss. "It's showtime." He said taking her hand and walking to the door.

The boys entered the house with their usual clatter. Amanda hugged them both and told them how much she missed them. While she was hugging them she looked over their heads to her mother standing very still by the door. The boys moved to greet Lee with the same enthusiasm and a request to play basketball later.

"Boys," her mother's voice cut through the din, "take your things upstairs. I need to talk to your mother and Lee privately.

Jamie and Phillip looked at each other and began to gather their bags. "Boy, you guys must be in trouble." Phillip said to Lee as he passed him going up the stairs.

Amanda hadn't heard that tone in her mother's voice since she hid Debbie Ann McCabee in their attic. She watched as Dotty moved into the den and sat down stiffly on the couch. Amanda sat down next to her and Lee sat on the table across. From her mother's posture, she knew the next few minutes would be difficult.

Dotty looked at them. "I have some questions."

Amanda took a deep breath. "I imagine you would. Would you like to ask them or would you like us to start with an explanation?"

Dotty held up her hand. "I have had 24 hours to do nothing but think of questions and I would like to start."

"Go ahead." Amanda encouraged.

"Did you get married in February?"

"Yes, on the 13th in Marion."

"I see. How long have you known each other really? I mean you wouldn't have gotten married if you started dating so recently."

"No, Mother. We've known each other for over four years. We dated for about six months before we got engaged and were married."

Lee cut in. "I love Amanda very much. It took me a while to admit it to myself let alone her. I've also grown to love this family, you and Phillip and Jamie. I never had a real family. You know that my parents died when I was very young and I was raised by my uncle. I didn't know how to handle being a part of a family before Amanda showed me."

"You see, Mother, Lee and I worked very closely together for years before we were involved. He is my partner not really my boss."

"Partner? And so that would mean that your secret jobs are…"

Lee took over. "Dotty, this has to stay confidential just within the family for right now. I'm sure you've figured out that Amanda and I aren't filmmakers. We work for the federal government as Intelligence Operatives."

"Spies?" Dotty asked as Lee frowned.

Amanda had to smile at the look on Lee's face. "Lee doesn't like that word but yes, we are spies."

"I see. So a few years ago when you told me you had to stay in town because you were a spy and the other spies needed information you had, you were telling me the truth?" Dotty dropped her head slightly. "Oh, Amanda."

"Yes, I was." Amanda leaned over and patted her mother's hand. "But don't worry, I had a hard time believing it at times too." She pulled her hand back and looked down; she had never told Lee about that conversation. He leaned over, took her hand and kissed it. She looked up. "Lee, I didn't tell you I told her because she didn't believe me. I was desperate to get the family out of town."

"That's okay, Honey." Lee moved to sit next to Amanda still holding her hand.

Dotty looked at them speculatively. "So, you are both spies." She shook her head at her daughter. "What have you gotten yourself into, Amanda? Suddenly, so much becomes clear. You go running out at odd hours, the damage to the car, seeing Lee on stage, and disappearing for days on end."

"Mother, there are things I can't tell you about our job. It really is a matter of National Security. I know this is a lot to handle and we are more than happy to sit here and talk about it. We want to tell the boys later so when they go to bed, we'll answer all the questions you want.

"We had to keep this from everyone. Our jobs are sometimes dangerous and we didn't want our marriage to endanger any of you." Lee leaned in slightly. "Dotty, you should know that Amanda is the best agent I've ever worked with. We always watch out for each other."

Dotty's face suddenly flushed and her voice grew sharper. "Then what happened in California, Lee? If you are always careful, how did Amanda get shot?"

Amanda jumped in her voice firm. "Calm down. That wasn't Lee's fault. It really was a freak accident. He's beaten himself up enough over that shooting. It was nobody's fault except for the man that pulled the trigger. It was Lee's love and care and your love and care that brought me back. I couldn't leave any of you." She looked over at Lee and saw the guilt evidenced on his face. A whispered, "stop that. It wasn't your fault," brought him back to the present.

Amanda watched how her mother studied Lee. Her mother nodded and sat back on the couch. Amanda felt some of the tension leave her body obviously the hard part was finished.

"And when exactly will you tell the boys that Lee is their stepfather?"

"We'll tell them very soon, tomorrow, hopefully." Lee answered taking Amanda's hand. "We're tired of living apart and I'd very much like to be a full time member of this family."

"I believe both of you now. I can't say that I'm not disappointed to have not seen you get married again, Amanda. But you have always known your own mind." Dotty eyed Lee speculatively. "Do you know what saved you from my wrath, Lee Stetson?"

"No, what?" Lee asked smiling slightly.

"When you told me that my daughter means everything to you and that you love her. She deserves someone who will love her like that." Dotty leaned over Amanda and kissed Lee on the cheek.

"I have one last question, at least for now. How did you meet?"

Lee chuckled and Amanda smiled and snuggled a little closer to her husband. "You see," she started, "it all began one day at the train station when there was a thirty five percent chance of rain…."