Amanda tried to politely remove the gentleman's arm from around her waist. He had already had too much to drink and was getting more than friendly with Amanda.
"Samantha, did I tell you yet that you are the most beautiful woman at this party?" The drunk man said to her.
"Oh, yes, Fredrick, I am pretty sure you did", she said as she tried to twist her way out of his grip but every time she moved, Fredrick seemed to squeeze her tighter.
"Where you going, Samantha? Isn't this nice just being here together like this? Your husband won't mind."
Amanda had had enough of his groping and felt it was time to take matters into her own hands. She grabbed his middle finger and began to bend it backwards towards his wrist. The man yelped in pain and released his grip from her waist.
"Damn, woman! What did you go and do that for?" he yelled.
Amanda freed herself from his grasp and quickly turned to leave only to run smack into another party goer.
"Easy there, little lady! Where's the fire?"
"Oh! I am so sorry, I….." Amanda stopped midsentence as she looked up into Lee's beautiful eyes looking down at her as he held her softly by the arms.
"It's OK, Honey….you can run into me anytime you'd like!" Lee said with a wink and his finest Texan drawl.
"I just didn't see you there. I was just going to find my husband." She said-more for the benefit of Fredrick that refused to leave her alone.
"Well, let's go find him together, shall we? And maybe in our travels we can find ourselves some adult beverages. What do ya say?"
Lee offered Amanda his arm. She happily cozied her arm up within his as they walked out of the garden and onto the vast patio.
"Thank you very much! He was all hands!"
"Where's your husband, Mrs. Anderson?"
"I'm not sure. He thought he saw Hanna and was going to investigate."
"I see you managed to find someone to keep you company."
"HA! Hardly! I couldn't get rid of him! Do you know he pinched my behind? I think he left a bruise!"
Lee turned his head and glanced at her taut behind and gently patted it saying, "Looks just fine to me!"
Amanda gasped and laughed at the same time. She was shocked that Lee was touching her behind but loved it none the less! She was careful to not blow their cover by calling Lee by his name. Instead she just smiled.
Lee and Amanda made their way onto the patio and began to intermingle with the other guests. A waitress was speaking to a couple just in front of them. Lee grabbed her arm.
"Excuse me, Darlin' but when you get a chance….."
Amanda tried not to gasp when the waitress turned around and revealed herself to be none other than Francine. Lee's eyes got wide and he stifled a laugh. Francine seemed stunned to see them both.
"When you get a chance, little lady…I sure would like a big ol' glass of Scotch….neat."
Francine pursed her lips together tightly and gave a quick nod of the head. "Sure. Right away"
"Oh, hold up there, girlie", Lee called after Francine. "Bring my friend here a nice glass of Beaujolais while you're at it!"
Francine glared at Lee as she walked away.
"Ohhhh. You know she's going to kill you later for calling her girlie. I didn't know Francine was going to be here this weekend."
"From the look on her face, she didn't know we were going to be here either. Billy said that she would be around, but I didn't expect to see her until tomorrow. There must be some new developments. Do you see your husband anywhere?"
Amanda looked at Lee as he taunted her poking fun at the fact that she was posing as Paul's wife. She wasn't about to let him get the best of her.
"Oh, you mean that sexy hunk of a man with all that luscious black hair that I just want to run my hands through? That husband?"
Amanda observed that little muscle on the side of Lee's temple jump as it always did when he was trying not to lose his temper. Lee inhaled sharply and replied.
"Yup, that's the one!"
"Oh, wait! I see him over there, talking to that gorgeous little blonde thing that is built in all the right places. What do you say we mosey on over and get ourselves better acquainted?" Lee replied.
Lee began walking across the patio without waiting for Amanda. He was making a bee-line for the blonde woman. Amanda followed closely behind.
"Oh, there you are sweetheart!" Amanda called to Paul. As she met his side, she gave him a soft kiss on the cheek. "I was worried about you! You've been gone so long!"
Paul put his arm around Amanda and smiled.
"I'm sorry darling! I got to talking with so many people, including this charming young woman." Paul turned and looked at the blonde woman with a confused look on his face. "I'm sorry, I am being rude. Darling, this is…"
"Well, if it isn't my neighbor from across the hall! Carl!" Lee said as loudly and obnoxiously as possible.
"Um, Cliff. It's Cliff not Carl. How are you Mr. Stevenson?"
"Oh I told you to call me Bob! Mr. Stevenson is my daddy and he ain't here!" Lee began to chuckle.
"Ok, Bob, if you insist. Sam, I was just about to introduce you to my new friend whose name I am so ashamed that I have forgotten."
"Julia. Julia Straub"
Lee stepped in between Paul and Julia. He grabbed her hand and quickly brought it to his lips.
"It's a pleasure to meet such a fine lookin' woman as yourself, Miss Julia. I am Bob." Lee said as he planted a firm kiss on the back of her hand.
Amanda smiled her best fake smile as she grabbed onto Paul's arm. She didn't like seeing Lee's lips kissing any part of anyone other than her. Julia let out a soft giggle as Lee released her hand.
"Very nice to meet you, Bob."
"What do you say you and I go in search of something to drink, Miss Julia? I don't know about you but I am powerful thirsty."
Placing his hand on the small of her back, Lee led Julia away from Paul and Amanda towards the bar at the white tent.
"It was nice to meet you both" Julia said over her shoulder to Paul and Amanda as she left with Lee. Amanda watched as Lee's tall stature dwarfed the petite blonde. He bent down and whispered something in her ear that had her laughing in seconds. Amanda could feel her cheeks flush with envy.
"You're drink, Ma'am" Amanda heard a voice say. She looked up to see Francine looking her in the eye carrying a tray of beverages.
"Oh, uh…..thank you", Amanda said as she reached out and took the glass of wine, unsure if she should acknowledge the fact that it was Francine.
"Will the gentleman that was with you be returning? I have his Scotch neat." Francine asked.
"No, he will not be returning and I will be happy to take that off your hands", Paul said as he began downing the Scotch as if it were water. Cautiously glancing around to make sure that no one was in ear shot, Paul began to question Francine. "What are you doing here? Billy said you were coming in tomorrow."
"I wasn't supposed to be here until tomorrow but we got this in a coded message from one of our agents in Berlin." Francine said in hushed tones as she offered Paul a cocktail napkin with the message written on the inside of the fold. "No idea what it means, but Billy thought it was important enough to bring to you and get me in a day early."
Amanda casually took the napkin from Paul and pretended to wipe a smudge off of his cheek.
"There you go, sweetheart. Much better!" She said as she neatly folded the napkin and slipped it into her purse.
"Can I get you anything else, Sir?" Francine asked in a hurried manner as other guests began to walk past them.
"Maybe later. This Scotch will do just fine for now." Paul answered in a somewhat dismissive tone as he walked away from Francine. "Darling? Shall we continue our tour of the grounds?"
Amanda turned around to look at Paul over the tops of her sunglasses and gave him a gentle smile.
"Oh yes! I can't wait to see more of this spectacular home. We should find out who their landscape architect is. Our grounds can use a little sprucing, don't you think?" Amanda said for the benefit of those party goers around her.
"Anything for you, my love! "Paul said as he kissed the back of Amanda's hand. "Shall we?"
Paul and Amanda strolled casually along the garden path looking for a spot where Amanda could open up the napkin and read what the message said. They came to a very lush part of the garden with big over grown grasses and shrubs, benches to sit on and think while you pondered the beauty of the scenery around you. Paul and Amanda quickly slipped into the most secluded spot they could find. Amanda rummaged through her clutch to find the folded up napkin. It was then that she heard them.
"Oh, Bob! I can't believe it's really you! I….I thought you were dead! They told me you were dead!" the woman's voice said.
"Oh, I'm not dead Hanna. I am very much alive! I assure you! Let me prove it to you." Amanda's blood ran cold as she heard Lee speaking from the other side of the bush that she was standing next to. What she heard next was perhaps the most difficult of all. Suddenly, Amanda could hear the two people kissing and softly moaning. Her heart was breaking at every utterance.
"Looks like Lee has found Hanna!" Paul whispered into Amanda's ear. He remained stationed by her side and began intimately caressing her jaw line with his hand as he continued to whisper to her. "That was a much easier reunion than I anticipated. Let's hope Lee can get some information out of her."
"It's just an assignment! It's just an assignment!" Amanda kept screaming to herself inside her head. "Lee is only kissing her because it is an assignment, not because he wants to."
"Hanna, darlin'…..what happened to you? I waited for you at our café in Paris and you never showed. I went over to your hotel and you had checked out. Why did you leave me so suddenly?" Lee questioned.
Silence was the only reply that Paul and Amanda heard. The silence seemed to last forever until Lee finally spoke again.
"Why won't you talk to me, Hanna? Just tell me what happened. I thought we meant something to each other." Lee pleaded.
"We did mean something to each other, Bob! It's just…I can't tell you here. Can we please talk about this later? Can't we just enjoy the fact that we found each other again?"
Lee gently grabbed Hanna by the arms and kissed her again. "OK…we can talk later. Let's go take a walk and talk."
"No, Bob….I can't. I just need to…..just meet me tonight, here…about 9:00pm. We'll talk then."
Paul heard footsteps coming closer to them. He quickly grabbed Amanda and began kissing her as a cover. He took her by surprise and she let out a muffled yelp under Paul's lips. She quickly realized why Paul was kissing her and stopped fighting him. Amanda allowed Paul to pull her close to him and hold her tight as he continued to explore her mouth with his own. She didn't even notice Hanna come running out from behind the bush and continue past them. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she heard Lee's voice shouting after Hanna. Amanda wrapped her arms around Paul's neck and pulled him closer to her. Lee suddenly appeared from behind the bush chasing after Hanna. He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the woman that he loved in the arms of Paul Barnes. He could hardly believe his eyes. The more he tried to look away, the more he couldn't move. Paul was locked in a passionate embrace with Amanda…just like the many he had fantasized about over and over again with her. He knew Paul and he suspected that Paul had feelings for Amanda. Did she have feelings for him, too?
"It's just an assignment!" he said to himself as he watched Amanda slip further from his grasp.
To be continued...