“This has been the worst summer of my life!” Lee sat down on the ground, trying to make himself more comfortable. “ I’m so glad it’s over. I always loved summer, but now fall will be my favorite time of year. Amanda is coming back to work! I have no idea how I survived all these weeks without her? I have never been so scared in my life. Even having to move in with the Colonel, after… wasn’t as bad as this. Nothing was as bad as this summer. Tell me Dad, how in the world did you do it?”
Lee let out a breath he hadn’t been aware he was holding. He sat by his parents’ graves and began to recount the entire summer’s fiascos. “It started out like any other summer; I was sent out of town for an assignment that lasted two weeks, two very long, lonely weeks without her. Boy, I almost blew it that time. Man, I hate when my emotions get the better of me.
The case I was working went well, but when I returned, I found that Amanda was working on an assignment of her own without me, and doing it very well, I might add. There was this ‘friend’ of hers helping her out, and I behaved badly. My jealousy almost got out of hand.” He let out a rueful sigh, “but Amanda forgave me for my bad manners as only she could.
Oh Mom, you would have been so ashamed of me. I acted just like a petulant child. I was incredibly proud of her. She really handled that assignment well. Amanda is the best agent I’ve ever worked with. Okay, okay, I guess I’m just a little biased.
After that case wrapped up, Amanda came down with bronchitis, and laryngitis. I thought Amanda’s voice was sexy before, but Dad you should hear her with laryngitis. You have no idea what that did to me! Oh, sorry Mom.
I’ll tell you about it later.” Lee told his father conspiratorially.
“Well, with her mother and sons out of town, I couldn’t just leave her by herself, so I did the only thing I could. I went by each morning before work to make sure she had everything she needed. Then I would check again at lunch. I spent the best week of my life cooking dinner, and just being with her after work. Amanda said I was turning into a ‘normal’ person. You know, with her normal isn’t so bad. It was only for a week though. Her family returned home then, so I had to stay out of sight. She was back to work in no time.”
Lee paused to drink some of the coffee he brought with him. He knew that he needed to tell someone what was going on, and he didn’t trust his feelings to anyone else, except maybe Amanda, and he wasn’t quite ready to confess all to her just yet.
“Our next assignment started out as just another security detail. We were supposed to help coordinate the special security for some jewelry, on loan from the Topkapi Museum that was going on display in the Smithsonian. We both had a good laugh when we saw the display of Concubine Rings. It was a fairly routine assignment until some of the more expensive pieces disappeared….”
******** “Lee, you don’t think the Dodger is at it again?” Amanda queried.
“No, I’m pretty sure he’s still locked up but I’ll have Francine check just to be sure.”
“Good idea. In the mean time, I’ll just see if anyone is in the market for these kinds of collector items. I don’t think those rings were stolen for profit-they’re too conspicuous and they would be too hard to fence.”
“You’re right as usual.” Lee commented as he bent down to steal a quick kiss from Amanda.
“Lee! Stop that. I thought we agreed that when we are at work we would behave like we’re at work.”
“You’re right again. I just couldn’t help myself.” Lee said as he left the Q-Bureau to search out Francine, wanting her to check on the Dodger’s whereabouts. As he started to exit the office, he gave Amanda a dimpled smile and a very playful wink. ******
“While I was searching for Francine, Amanda followed up on the case like the pro she is. She went back to the museum and re-inspected every inch of the place. Her diligence really paid off when she brought the security tape back into the Agency.
It didn’t take Ernie the Camera long to discover that Jeffrey Wainwright, a.k.a. the Phantom, was on the international arrivals security tape from Dulles, and on the tape entering, but never leaving, the Smithsonian.
It was a good bet that Jeffrey and the missing jewelry were together. As usual, Amanda’s instincts really paid off and we got our first lead in the case. Finding Jeffery became our top priority.”
***** “Amanda, let’s see if T.P. has anything. He would know if anyone was in the market for those rings.”
“Good idea.” Amanda grabbed her purse and they left the Agency to meet T.P. at their usual spot, the Library of Congress.
“Lee, my boy! Oh and the lovely Mrs. King, I’m glad to see you’re feeling better. Lee just wasn’t the same without you. What can I do for you two?”
“T.P., we’re looking into the theft from the Smithsonian. I thought you might be able to shed a little light on anyone who may be interested in the stolen Concubine Rings.”
“I haven’t heard a thing, but I’ll be sure to keep an ear open. You do know Phantom is back in DC?”
“Yes, he came through Dulles two days ago.” Lee responded. “ Do you have any idea what rock he is hiding under?”
“Sorry Lee, I have no idea, but if I find out anything I’ll let you know.”
“T.P., please, be careful!” Amanda pleaded, “From everything I’ve read, this Phantom is no one to mess around with.”
“I promise, Mrs. King, I’ll be careful.”
After having gained T.P.’s promise Lee and Amanda left to see if they could unearth any other leads.
“Amanda, I want you to go back to the Agency. See if you can come up with any leads on the rings. I’m going to see if I can find Auggie Swan. I really don’t want to take you to his new place of business.”
“Lee, how bad can an auto body shop be? I’ve been to body shops before.”
“Auggie doesn’t have the auto body shop any longer. He now runs a strip club in the red light district. Trust me. This is even worse then his mud-wrestling place. You don’t belong anywhere near a place like that. Besides, you’re better on that computer than I am, and if we finish up early, maybe, we can play some hooky later this afternoon.”
“You’ve convinced me, I’ll just take a cab back. You can take the car.” Amanda then looked around to make sure they were unobserved, and gave Lee a quick kiss goodbye. “I’ll see you back at the office, be careful!”
“I will,” he hailed a cab for Amanda, and once she was on her way, he went to locate Auggie.
Auggie had no information on the whereabouts of the Phantom, but after some serious persuasion from Lee, and a small finder’s fee, Auggie agreed to keep an eye out and promised to call Lee as soon as he heard anything. Lee had no other leads to check out, so headed back to the office to see if Amanda was having any better luck.
“Hello, beautiful,” A smiling Lee greeted Amanda as he entered the Q-Bureau and locked the office door.
“Hi yourself. Did you have any luck with Auggie?”
“Not much, but he promised to keep an eye out, and an ear open. How about you? Any luck tracing possible buyers for those rings?”
“No, not really. Some good news though, the Dodger is still residing in Joliet, so that’s one less person we have to check into.”
“Glad to hear that,” Lee walked over to where Amanda was, wrapped his strong arms around her, and began placing a series of soft kisses along her neck towards her ear, stopping only when he felt his body’s reaction to Amanda’s nearness. “How about you and I calling it a day and you letting me take you to Emilio’s for dinner?”
“Mmm, sounds like a good idea,” Amanda purred in response to Lee’s advances “but I’ll have to take a rain check. I promised the boys we’d go for pizza after baseball practice, and then, if it isn’t too late, to Goofy Golf. I’m sorry, I would love nothing more than to spend the evening with you, but I promised. You’re more than welcome to join us.”
“Ah…no, that’s all right. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Lee replied dejectedly.
“Hey, I promised the boys.”
“I know. It’s okay. I’ll just head down to Billy’s office and update him. Why don’t you head home now and I’ll call you later. I’m sure your mother would be glad to have you home early for a change.”
“It would be nice, but I need to finish filing these in the vault before I leave.”
“Go, I’ll finish the filing for you.” Lee began to kiss Amanda again.
“Lee, stop! Someone can walk in here at any time.” Amanda protested
“No, they can’t. I locked the door when I came in.”
“Good thinking,” Amanda replied and then pressed her body closer, giving Lee a kiss so passion filled it curled his toes.
“Amanda,” Lee sighed. “We have to stop this now or…”
“I agree,” Amanda reluctantly left Lee’s warm embrace, wiped her lipstick from his lips, picked up her purse, and headed home, bidding Lee a good night as she unlocked the door. “Call me later!” *****
“I waited as long as I could and finally called Amanda around eleven o’clock. She must have been waiting by the phone because she picked it up on the first ring.”
“Amanda, it’s me. How was your evening?”
“Lee, it was good. It would have been better if you were there!”
“I missed you too! Tell me everything that happened from the moment you got home. Was everyone happy you were home early?”
“Yeah, everyone was glad, especially Mother. She was really going on, and on about my boss being a slave driver. That he works me too hard. Especially in the editing room.”
“Don’t worry, I set her straight. I told her that you’re well aware that I work too hard, and this early quit was your way of making it up to me. She seemed happy with that answer because she dropped the subject.”
"And the boys?”
“The boys. Well, they were glad I was home early, too. I just wish they would get over this name-calling. I’m real tired of hearing Phillip refer to his brother as worm brain. Jamie’s no better. I think he called Phillip dork breath at least three times before we even got out of the door.”
“Don’t worry about it, Amanda, it’s just boys being boys. You don’t even want to know some of the nicknames my friends and I gave each other when I was their age. They’ll grow out of it.”
“I hope so.”
“Trust me, they will. Did your mother join you?”
“No, she had plans with Captain Kirk. They went out to dinner and dancing at his club. She said not to wait up because… ”
“Hey, what’s the matter?”
“Nothing really. I was just remembering something she said.”
“Oh, really. What?”
“It’s nothing, Lee. Just my mother butting into my life, again.”
“You sound upset. Tell me what she said.”
“Well, she said that she should be the one taking the kids out and I should be the one going out for dinner, dancing, and whatever…She seems to think that just because I’m a mother I stopped seeing myself as a woman. But that’s not true… is it?”
“Trust me, Amanda, you’re all woman.”
“Lee, be serious.”
“I am being serious.”
“So, how was your evening?”
“Changing the subject, Amanda? Ok, I’ll play along. My evening was terrible. I had this hot date planned, but my girl turned me down.”
“Well then Lee, if she’s that foolish maybe you’re better off without her.”
“No, I’m not! Besides she had a very good reason for turning me down. On the upside, she did promise me a rain check, and I have every intention of collecting!” Lee teased.
“I’m looking forward to it! So really, what did you do this evening?”
“Nothing really. Just picked up some take out, and hung out at home. Watched some television, fantasized about a certain brunette. You know just a normal night home alone.”
“This brunette, anyone I know?” Amanda questioned.
“I’m sure you know her. Beautiful brown eyes, stands about chin high, soft skin, delicate hands, and when I take her in my arms and we kiss-- I’m this close to heaven.”
“Stop that, Lee! Have you given any more thought to how we can locate the Phantom?”
“Ok, I’ll behave! I don’t really have any idea how to locate him. I’m sort of hoping Auggie or T P will get a line on him for us and we’d just wing it. I have a few more spots we can check out tomorrow morning, something should turn up by then. Look, I can spend all night on the phone with you, but your still recovering from your bronchitis, and you need your rest, so I’ll just say good night, and let you get to bed.”
“Thanks, I don’t really want to hang up either, but you’re right, it’s getting late, and I have to be up early tomorrow. I guess I’ll see you in the office.”
“Sweet dreams, Amanda.”
“Good night, Lee.” ********
“It took me a while to fall asleep that night. I kept thinking of what Dotty said to Amanda. I was concerned that my behavior in the past was causing her to doubt herself. How could she ever think she wasn’t a woman? She is most definitely a very sexy, vibrant woman who just happens to be a mother of two. I kept trying to come up with different ways to show her just how much of a woman I think she is.
Amanda and I got our big break the next afternoon when Auggie called to tell us the Phantom was staying in a motel just out side of town. We drove out, and sat outside the motel until we confirmed that the Phantom was actually there.
Let’s face it; Auggie isn’t that reliable a source.
Once we were sure Phantom was there, we called for back up, and armed with a search warrant, we were able to arrest the Phantom, and recover the stolen rings. Case closed.
After the debriefing was completed, and all the paper work was signed, sealed, and delivered, Amanda and I went out for a celebratory dinner. It was wonderful! We went to Emilio’s like I promised. We decided to go for a long walk along the Potomac River. Mom, if you don’t mind I’d like to just tell Dad the rest of this.
Dad, when did I become so stupid? I almost blew it for a second time with the most wonderful woman on the planet.
It started after dinner, during our walk. We were holding hands, and just walking along the river enjoying just being Lee and Amanda, two people in love. There were no bad guys, no family, and no cover assignment, just us.
You know Dad, I never thought I would actually say this out loud, but it’s how I feel. I love Amanda.
I have for a long time now. It feels good to tell someone. I know Amanda has feelings for me too, but she’s never voiced them. Just to be fair, I haven’t told her how I feel either.
Boy, I’m beginning to sound just like her.
Okay, here’s what happened after dinner. It started to rain while we were walking by the river. I don’t mean drizzle. This was a full-blown storm, complete with thunder, lighting and a deluge of water. We were soaked to the skin before we made it back to my car.
You should have seen Amanda. She loved it. We even jumped in puddles. I’ve never done that before, and the look on her face was one of pure bliss, her bubbly laughter was contagious. Anyone who would have seen us would surely believe we were both crazy. I have to say, getting caught in the rain with Amanda was fun, and something I wouldn’t mind doing again.
We finally reached the car, and decided to go back to my place and dry off. I couldn’t bring Amanda home all wet. There would be just too many questions from her mother.
I changed clothes first and realized I only had one clean shirt left. I had planned to pick up my laundry the next day. I pulled on a pair of sweat pants and the t-shirt from the day before. Leaving the clean one for Amanda. It should’ve been big enough to provide adequate coverage for her. She is really thin. My pants would be swimming on her no matter how tight she tied them so I didn’t get any for her.”
******* “Amanda, why don’t you give me your clothes and I’ll run down to the laundry room and put them in the dryer with mine. I’m sure I can dig up something for you to wear until your clothes are dry. Just toss your clothes out the door.”
Amanda entered his bathroom, and quickly peeled off her very wet clothes, tossing them outside the bathroom door.
Lee gathered the wet garments and headed down to the laundry room in the basement. ‘Now I remember why I send all of my laundry out.’ He mumbled to himself as he shook out the wet clothes before placing them in the dryer. He was brought up short when he discovered that Amanda hadn’t given him her lingerie. A devilish smile graced his face as his mind conjured up images of how his t-shirt, wet in all the right places, would look on Amanda’s incredible body. ********
“I was anxious to get back upstairs to her. I quietly opened the door to find Amanda looking out the window. I was about to call out to her when I noticed her drawing my shirt tighter around her body and inhaling deeply the scent that was lingering on my collar.
She looked so sexy standing there in my dress shirt. I knew she had great legs, but Dad, I never imagined just how great. My brain went haywire. All I could think about was how wonderful her legs would feel wrapped around me.
It took several moments before I was able to calm down enough to approach her. I crossed the room to her, slipped my arm around her waist, and just held her close. I felt her tremble in my arms and my first thoughts were of anticipation and arousal.
Then fear crept in. I never wanted Amanda to be afraid of me, or for her to think she was just some… like all those other women I had dated. I released her, making some stupid comment about being cold.”
***** “Are you cold? Here, let me light a fire.”
“That would be nice.”
Once he had the fire going, Lee sat on the couch.
Amanda was still staring out at the rain. It looked like she was having an internal debate. Then she sighed and made her way over to the couch, and sat down next to Lee.
He jumped up off the couch as if it were on fire, as soon as Amanda sat down. ‘Calm down Lee, this is Amanda. She’s been in your apartment before. Yeah, but never wearing only my shirt. She’s never looked at me that way before, either. Come on Lee relax. This isn’t the first time you’ve been alone with a half dressed woman. Just be cool!’
“Amanda, would you like some coffee?”
“No thanks, Lee.”
“How about a glass of wine?”
“No, thank you.”
“Well, what can I get you?”
“Nothing, I’m fine. Please, just sit down and relax.” Amanda coaxed him back to the couch. “Thank you for a wonderful dinner, and walk. I really had a good time. I always love walking in the rain.”
Lee sat back down on the couch, and took Amanda’s hand in his, “I’m sorry Amanda, I didn’t know it was supposed to rain.”
“Lee, I wasn’t being sarcastic. I really love walking in the rain. When I was a little girl, I used to sneak out of the house, and stand in the middle of the yard any time it rained. Mother used to get so mad, and worry that I would catch a cold. Daddy used to say leave her be, she’s just enjoying life. My boys took after me in that regard. Jamie cannot resist a puddle. If there is one, no matter how deep, he has to jump through it. Now I know how Mother felt.”
“I had fun, too! I never jumped in a puddle before. Well let’s just say the Colonel wouldn’t allow it.”
“I’m sorry.” Amanda brushed a stray lock of hair off Lee’s forehead.
“Well, I guess, I’m sorry that you missed out on so much, but I’m sure the Colonel did his best. After all, you turned out all right.”
“Just all right?”
“No Lee, better than all right.” Amanda punctuated this statement with a kiss. It was gentle at first then it changed ever so subtly. Amanda’s tongue begged for entrance into Lee’s mouth, and he eagerly granted it.
“Manda,” Lee moaned deep in his throat. Amanda, emboldened by his reaction, took the kiss deeper, and let her hands roam his body. Before he knew what was going on, Amanda had his shirt off, and her hands, and mouth were thoroughly exploring him.
His hands were doing some exploring of their own. It wasn’t long before her shirt joined his on the living room floor. Lee then pressed Amanda back into the sofa, and positioned himself so that he was half on the couch, half off, careful not to crush her with his full weight.
Amanda was exquisite, clad only in a very pale lavender lace bra and matching panties. Lee would never look at the color purple again without being reminded just how perfect Amanda was.
Finding his position too awkward, he pulled Amanda onto the living room floor. He was better able to press his advantage--just like the good solider he was taught to be. His hands and mouth began to roam freely again, and paused only long enough to look deep into Amanda’s eyes.
What he was looking for was unclear. Just before he lost all train of thought, Lee stopped abruptly.
“Lee what’s wrong?”
“Damn it! Amanda, we have to stop this. I don’t have any con… protection”
“Lee, it’s all right. I’m safe with you.” Amanda replied, and pulled him down for another soul searing kiss.
“Are you sure?”
“I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life! Besides, I’ve got it covered.” Amanda and Lee then lost themselves in the dance as old as time. ********
“It was incredible, Dad. I couldn’t believe how wonderful making love with Amanda was. Never in all my life did I feel like that. It was like coming home.
I guess that’s the difference between love and sex.
I’m ashamed to admit it but those feelings terrified me. Never had I totally lost myself in the moment. That total loss of control scared the hell out of me. Facing a crazy man holding a gun on me never scared me half as much as the overwhelming emotions did that night.
I handled it badly. I was too wound up in my own emotions to consider what Amanda might be feeling. I’m ashamed to admit it, but until I felt her shiver against me, I wasn’t thinking of her at all. I knew what this meant to her. I knew how strongly she felt about sex outside of marriage. How insecure she felt with my past, still I said nothing--only thinking of myself. I was incredibly selfish. And the first thing I said to her was the wrong thing.”
******** “Amanda, I’m sorry. I’ll just go and see if the clothes are dry now.”
Lee then groped around the floor looking for his sweat pants. He quickly dressed and left the apartment returning a few minutes later with their things.
“Amanda, the clothes are dry, why don’t you use the bathroom first?”
She was gone only a moment. “Lee, it’s all yours.”
“Thanks, Amanda. Let me take a quick shower, and I’ll drive you home. It’s getting late.”
“I should have known something was wrong then. Amanda never uses just one-word answers unless something is bothering her. I was too wrapped up in what I was feeling to even notice. There were so many things I wanted to tell her I didn’t know where to begin.
I was trying to sort it all out. I just jumped in the shower and replayed the whole evening over in my mind. I was hopping we would be able to talk about what happened on the drive to her house.
I got my first clue that something was wrong when I finally emerged from the bedroom and found Amanda gone. All she left me was a note saying she was sorry and to please forgive her.
Forgive her for what?
I raced out of the apartment hoping to catch her before she left. I was hoping she might still be waiting for a cab. We left her car at the office. I was going to pick her up for work the next day. I was further dismayed when I didn’t see her outside and Charlie, my doorman, told me he didn’t get her a cab. She snuck out through the garage. I ran down there to see if my car was still there. It was.
I really started to worry then. There wasn’t anyway for her to get home from my place unless she walked the three blocks to the bus that would take her all the way in the city. Then she’d have to walk a few blocks to the office to pick up her car.
I hated the thought of Amanda out alone that time of night. I know she could take care of herself, but I was still worried.
I went back up to the apartment and called her house. I knew she wouldn’t be home yet, but I wanted to leave a message for her to call me when she got in. I figured I could leave it on her answering machine.
No such luck. Dotty answered and I had to come up with a reason for my call. I told her there were some problems with the film we were editing and if she could have Amanda call me when she got it. She agreed. So then all I could do was wait.
I thought about driving back into the city to meet Amanda but I didn’t want to chance missing her call. I didn’t even know for sure that’s where she was going.
I paced most of the night. My emotions were all over the place. Amanda never called me back. I was worried something might have happened to her. I was afraid that I did something to hurt her. She was just too quiet. I don’t think I’ve ever known Amanda not to talk It seemed that the worse the situation we were in, the more Amanda talked. This total shut down of hers really had me worried.
I replayed the entire evening, in all its glorious detail, over in my mind to see if I did anything that may have insulted, or hurt her in any way. No matter how I replayed it, nothing came to mind, and that was what was so confusing to me. I knew I had to talk to her. If I could just talk things over with her, I’d understand what went wrong.
Then I was mad at her. I mean she walked out on me. How could she do that? No one ever walks out on the great Scarecrow. That’s what aggravated me the most. Then it hit me. She didn’t walk out on Scarecrow, she walked out on Lee.
Now I was terrified. I was afraid I’d be alone again, only this time someone I loved wasn’t taken from me. This time, I did something to drive her away.
I made a decision that night. I wasn’t going to let it happen. Amanda’s my best friend, the woman I love, and I was going to fight with everything I had in me to keep her. Except she was very, very mad at me and I wasn’t sure she would ever speak to me again.
I needed to call her. Just to hear her voice. I went so far as to pick up the phone and dial. I hung up when I realized how late it was. I didn’t want to wake the whole family up. That would only make matters worse. So I just had to wait for her to return my original call.
I finally sat down on the couch and fell into a fitful sleep, still holding the telephone. I can’t tell you how frustrated I was when I called her house early the next morning and got a busy signal. I was tempted to heave the phone across the room.
I missed Amanda’s call while I was in the shower. The message she left was cold, her voice flat. I had to set things right. Amanda was too important both professionally, and personally, not to do everything I could to make things right. If I had to, I would’ve begged on hands, and knees to have Amanda forgive me for whatever I did.
I jumped in the car and headed over to Arlington.”
********Lee turned onto Maplewood Drive, and spotted Amanda’s sons loading the jeep with their baseball equipment. “Shit! I forgot the boys have a game this morning.” Deciding that maybe talking to Amanda would be better in a public place, Lee followed them to the ball field, and once the game was underway, he went to find Amanda.
“Lee, what are you doing here? Mother and the boys may see you.”
“Amanda, we need to talk.”
“There’s nothing to talk about.”
“We need to talk about what happened last night.”
“I’d rather not. You were very clear. I think I’ve been humiliated enough, don’t you?”
“Amanda, please,” Lee pleaded, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re the one who always wants me to talk about my feelings. Now, I need to talk to you. To find out why you’re upset. Please?”
“All right, but not here.” Amanda reluctantly agreed.
“I’ll wait for you at my place. Will you come over after the game?”
Amanda let out a breath, “Okay Lee, I’ll be there around 2 o’clock. If it’s going to be later, I’ll call you.”
“Thanks, see you then.” Lee then leaned in to give Amanda a kiss but was taken aback when Amanda turned away from him. ‘Good going Stetson she’s totally pissed at you.’********
“I honestly didn’t know what had Amanda so upset. I replayed the evening again, determined to look at it as unemotionally as possible. Amanda said she felt humiliated. I couldn’t imagine why. What did I do?
I tried to think back, to see maybe I said something but that wasn’t it. I lost the power of speech as soon as she touched me. Could it be because we made love in the living room?
But she didn’t object. At least, I didn’t hear any objections over the blood pounding in my ears. Amanda was not some bimbo that you can just take where you stand. She’s special and deserves to be adored. How would I ever be able to make it up to her?
There wasn’t anything I could do until I spoke to her. I headed back to the apartment to wait. It was the longest wait of my life. I couldn’t wait to talk to her and yet I was afraid that we wouldn’t solve whatever problems we were having. I must have paced 100 miles that day. Finally, I heard her tentative knock on my door and new the moment of truth had arrived.”
******** “Amanda, hi. I wasn’t sure you would come.”
“I said I would.”
“Yes, yes, you did. Come in.” Lee stepped aside so that Amanda could enter his apartment.
She made it as far as the foyer before she stopped. Lee could tell she was battling to continue into the living room and again he wondered just what he had done wrong.
“Come on in, and have a seat. I made some coffee. Would you like some?”
“That would be nice, thank you.”
She was in the same spot when Lee came back into the room. He couldn’t help but note how tense she seemed to be. He watched as she unclenched her hands before he handed her a steaming cup.
“Amanda, here you go. Just how you like it, milk no sugar.”
“Come over here, and sit down. We have a lot to talk about.” Amanda turned back around and sat at the very edge of the sofa, never taking her eyes off the coffee in her cup.
“Amanda, look at me, please.” When she didn’t turn to him he continued, “What’s wrong? I can’t begin to make it right unless you tell me.”
"Nothing’s wrong, Lee.”
"Then why won’t you look at me?” Lee questioned as he placed a finger under Amanda’s chin, gently raised her head, forcing her to meet his gaze. The total devastation he saw in her eyes had his jaw clenching, and his stomach tightening. “Now, please tell me what’s bothering you?”
“Lee, please, I can’t.” she protested, with a catch in her voice. Her emotions were so close to the surface that Lee felt helplessness wash over him. She bit her lip until he saw her lick a trickle of blood off of them.
“Yes, you can. I thought we were best friends. You know you can tell me anything. So tell me, what the hell is going on here?”
Amanda turned away from him, let out a defeated sigh and said, “You’re sure you really want to know?”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
“You apologized.” She whispered.
“What? Amanda, I couldn’t hear you.”
She cleared her throat, and answered again, “You apologized.”
“What do you mean, I apologized?”
“Last night. After we…” she waived her hands around the living room in a frustrated gesture. “The first thing you said to me was ‘I’m sorry.’ You apologized.”
Lee was about to respond, when Amanda began to explain further. He knew that he always got more information from her when he’d just let her ramble, so he sat back, a stark expression on his face and let her continue.
“I’m sorry if you regret what happened, but it meant a lot to me. I’m sorry if it… if I… wasn’t everything you needed. You made me feel ashamed of my inexperience. You made me feel like I did something wrong. That what we did was cheap and dirty. And to make matters worse, you couldn’t wait to be rid of me. Well, you can rest easy buster, I try to learn from my mistakes. Trust me, this will be one mistake I won’t repeat!” She got up off the couch and turned away.
“Amanda,” Lee began.
When she didn’t answer him, he got up off the couch, and walked over to her. The tears streaming down her face were his undoing. He tried to hold her, but she sidestepped his embrace, and started to head to the door.
“Oh, no you don’t! You’re not leaving here until I have a chance to explain. You owe me that much!” Lee was fighting for his life here, and couldn’t keep the anger, and desperation from his voice.
Amanda stopped in her tracks, and swallowed hard, “You’re right. I guess it’s only fair.”
“Damn straight! Now, would you please come back over here?” He requested getting his temper back under control.
Reluctantly, Amanda turned around, and sat back down on the edge of the couch.
“Good. Now first of all, I do not regret making love with you last night. The only thing I regret was that it wasn’t how I wanted our first time together to be.
That’s what I was apologizing for. I wanted to romance you. I had the scene all set with flowers, candles, a fabulous diner, some romantic music, a little dancing and a very nice bottle of wine. You deserve that. Not the Neanderthal that dragged you to the floor and showed you so little finesse last night.
Last night was not a mistake, nor was it cheap, or dirty. What we did together was something beautiful, and I will never forget any part of it for as long as I live.” Lee tentatively reached out his hand, and was relieved when Amanda entwined her fingers with his.
“Lee, I don’t need to be romanced. Besides sometimes the Neanderthal approach works just as well.”
“Maybe you didn’t need to be romanced, but I needed to give it to you.”
“That’s sweet!” Amanda squeezed Lee’s hand.
“Second, I never said you weren’t everything I need. To tell you the truth, last night was sort of a first for me, in more ways than one. It was the first time I truly made love with a woman. Before you Amanda it was just sex, - just an act, - a means to an end. This was the first time I truly cared for my partner.
I didn’t know what to say to you. All I wanted was to carry you off to my bedroom, lock the world out, and never let you leave. That scared the hell out of me, so yeah, maybe I was anxious for you to go, but believe me when I tell you, it had nothing to do with you being inexperienced.”
“Amanda, I’ve never been anything but honest with you.”
“Well, Joe always made me feel that maybe if things were different.”
“Your ex-husband is an idiot! Don’t believe everything he told you.” Stunned by his brief glimpse into Amanda’s past Lee got up off the couch and began pacing his living room
“I guess now it’s my turn to apologize. I’m truly sorry Lee. I blew this whole thing out of proportion. Please forgive me.”
Lee walked over to sit on his coffee table facing Amanda. He took her hands in his and just held them. She was his whole reason for being, and he almost threw it all away with a few careless words, unaware of the old wounds they opened up. Lee made a vow to himself then and there to try to do everything he could to show Amanda just how special she was to him. Resting his forehead against hers, he once again apologized for any misunderstanding he may have caused, and gently kissed Amanda’s tears away. “I meant what I said. Making love with you was not a mistake. So, do you think we can repeat it?”
Amanda let out a chuckle, “I think that can be arranged.” She wrapped her arms around his neck, and buried her fingers in his hair, pulling him down for a very passionate kiss.
Just as things began to heat up, Amanda pulled away, “Lee, I have to go.”
“What do you mean, you have to go?”
“I have to pick up the boys from Jerry's house.”
Lee started kissing Amanda behind the ear, and was now nibbling his way down her throat to her shoulder, his hand rubbing small circles on her lower back. “Let Jerry’s mother bring the boys home.”
“Lee,” Amanda sighed, “I’ve got to go now. Please don’t make this any harder than it is.”
“I’m making it hard? Oh Amanda, you have no idea how hard it is.”
“Lee!” Amanda admonished, with a very becoming blush.
Reluctantly Lee relinquished his hold, and teased. “You know my Uncle warned me about girls like you.”
“Oh really, what did he say?”
Lee changed the pitch of his voice to mimic his uncle and said, “Skip, when you find a woman you care about, hold on with every thing you got.”
“Only about some things.”
Lee held out his hand to help Amanda stand, and walked her to the door. She once again stepped into his embrace, fit her body tight against his, kissing him until he melted against her, then she abruptly stepped away, and opened the door to go.
“You betcha,” was all Amanda said as she sauntered out the door and turned to give him a saucy wink before she got on the elevator. ********
“…So you see Dad your suave, debonair son was a total asshole. Of course it took another few days for me to remember that I didn’t use a condom that night. I was concerned that Amanda might be pregnant. I couldn’t come right out and ask her. I couldn’t tell you how relieved I was when I notice the Snicker wrappers in the office wastebasket. If Amanda was eating chocolate and peanuts it only meant one thing. That was a load off my mind. Not that it would have been a bad thing--it’s just that Amanda and I are not ready to have a child.
We had a long, frank discussion, and things seem to be going better. I finally got to wine and dine Amanda the way I had planned. It was just perfect. The only draw back was, I didn’t get to wake up with her. I respect her decision to set a good example for her very impressionable boys but I hated taking her back to her house.
Disaster averted right? Well, that was the easy part. The next time things went wrong I almost lost her forever. Dad, I don’t know if I would have survived if anything happened. I never thought I would say this, but you and Mom were very lucky neither one of you survived the car crash.
It was the third Thursday of August; we were headed back to the Agency after lunch. We were driving down Constitution Avenue discussing our plans for the weekend, when it happened…”
******* “Amanda, since your mother and sons are going to be out of town this weekend, what do you say we do the same? We could drive down to Chesapeake, or maybe Annapolis?”
“Lee, that sounds wonderful…”
“Why do I hear a but coming?”
“But, I sort of already made plans for this weekend.”
“Oh,” was the disappointed response from Lee.
“Yeah, there’s this guy I’m real sweet on. I was sort of hoping to entice him over with an offer of grilled steaks, maybe a baked potato. I found this wonderful bottle of Merlot I was hoping to share, and perhaps, if he plays his cards right, my famous poppy seed cake for dessert.”
“Love to.” Lee replied with a twinkle in his eye thinking he may have the chance to wake up with Amanda after all.
While they were waiting for the traffic light to turn green, Lee leaned across the car and passionately kissed Amanda. It was a kiss filled with all the promise of what was to come in their shared weekend ahead. All of a sudden, the Corvette was hit hard from behind, and pushed across the intersection, into on coming traffic. The car was hit a second time on the passenger side, and spun around. The only thing that kept them from being hit a third time was Lee’s superior driving skills.
He quickly put the car into gear and maneuvered them out of traffic.
“Amanda! Are you all right?” Lee queried in a panic stricken voice.
“Yeah, I think so. I hit my head awfully hard though.” Amanda turned to show Lee. There was a large bruise already forming. “How about you? Are you ok? Good thing we were wearing our seat belts!”
“You can say that again! Amanda, I’m fine. I think I may have cracked a few ribs on the steering wheel. You, on the other hand, have a very attractive bruise above you right eye.” Amanda reached up to touch it. Lee held her hand down “No don’t, it’s bleeding pretty badly.”
Lee then reached into his pants pocket pulled out his handkerchief, and pressed it firmly to Amanda’s head to stem the flow of blood.
“Ouch! Lee, that hurts!”
“I’m sorry, but you know I have to keep pressure on it in order to stop the bleeding. I promise, I’ll kiss it and make it better just as soon as I can.”
He called the police, and the agency to let Billy know what had happened. The car that rammed them from behind, and the car that sideswiped them, were nowhere to be found.
A crowd had formed and the wail of sirens could be heard in the distance. Lee got out of the car as gently as possible so as not to further injure himself. He crossed behind the rear of the car on his way around to the passenger side to get a look at the damage done to his most prized possession.
“Oh man! Oh hell…Oh Shit! Would you look at what those jerks did to my car? I can’t believe how stupid… if I ever get my hands on the idiots I’ll ……”
“Lee, how about giving me a hand over here?”
“Yeah, sorry Amanda, but look what he did to my car!”
“Lee, it can be fixed. We weren’t seriously hurt, that’s what’s important.”
“You’re right, of course, but still…” Lee went over to open Amanda’s door. “Amanda, it’s all bashed in, and won’t open do you think you can slide over and get out the other side?”
“No Lee, I’m pinned between the door and the gearshift.”
“Ok, we’ll just wait for the police and see if they have something to pry the door open with.” Lee then returned to sit in the driver’s seat reluctant to leave Amanda in the car alone.
A man came over to Lee and handed him a piece of paper with the license plate numbers of both cars.
“Hey, buddy, I saw the whole thing. That guy was crazy. He just barreled into you, and kept right on going.”
“Holloman. Walter Holloman”
“Thanks Mr. Holloman. Would you mind telling the police what you saw?”
“No, I don’t mind at all.”
“Thanks.” Lee got out of the car again to make sure Mr. Holloman stuck around, and about that time the first police car arrived on the scene.
Lee walked over to meet the officer. “Do you have a crowbar I can borrow? I need to open the passenger side.”
“I think you better tell me what happened first,” replied the officer.
Lee was tempted to give the officer a smart answer, but knew that he needed his help to get Amanda out of the car. “Sure thing, officer.” Lee flashed his Federal credentials. “My partner and I were rear ended into the intersection. A second vehicle then hit us. There’s an eyewitness, a Mr. Walter Holloman, willing to give his account of the accident. Now about that crowbar.”
“Right away, Sir” the officer moved to the back of the squad car and got out a crowbar, walked over to the ‘Vette and handed it to Lee.
“How about a little help here? I have a few broken ribs, and can’t get enough leverage to open the door.”
“I don’t think that’s going to work.” Noting the damage to the car and the blood still flowing from Amanda’s head wound, the officer proceeded to call for an ambulance, and the fire department to help free Amanda. He then went over to talk to the eyewitness.
Lee again went to sit with Amanda in the car. “Hey, how are you doing?”
“Other than a killer headache, I’m doing fine. How bad does it look?”
“Well, it should get you a lot of sympathy from Francine.”
"Oh Gosh, is it that bad?”
“No, not really but it should look worse tomorrow.”
“That’s real comforting.”
“Amanda, how badly are you pinned?” the concern was clearly evident in Lee’s voice.
“It’s not that bad. I can wiggle my toes and nothing hurts. I’ll be fine as soon as I get out of here.”
“That makes two of us.” Lee reached out and took Amanda’s hand.
“Lee, how bad are your ribs?”
“They’re fine, as long as I don’t breath. I’ll live. It’s not the first time I’ve had broken ribs.”
“That’s for sure,” a familiar voice replied.
“Billy! Thanks for coming down.” Lee replied.
“I’m glad I did, you must really be hurt,” Billy answered as he handed Lee the policeman’s first aid kit.
“Thanks Billy, but this won’t help my ribs.”
“No it won’t, but it might help Amanda’s bleeding head!”
“Right.” Lee agreed, and then turned around to sheepishly face Amanda. “Sorry partner. Here let’s try to butterfly that. You’ll probably end up with stitches.”
“That’s just great. What’ll I tell mother.”
“Relax, at least this is one time you can tell her the truth. You were in a car accident with a co-worker.”
“Right. Look Lee, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, and I think if we can move my seat back a little, I’ll be able to maneuver myself enough so that I can climb out the window, or at least over the gear shift. I don’t want them to cut the door off your car.”
“Amanda, don’t worry about my car. It’s not as important as you.”
“Please Lee, let’s at least try it. If it doesn’t work then will let the fire department do their thing. Okay?”
“Okay, we’ll try it.” Lee agreed.
Amanda reached down for the release as Lee tried to push her seat backwards. It was too painful for Lee, and they soon abandoned that idea. Once the fire department was on the scene, they tried once again to move Amanda’s seat, but it would not budge.
Amanda refused to let the fire department use the “jaws of life” on Lee’s car. They opted for an air bag placed between Amanda’s seat and the doorframe. It was slowly inflated until it bowed the fiberglass frame back out. It took about an hour, but Amanda was extracted without causing any further damage to Lee’s pride and joy.
Billy assisted Amanda into the waiting ambulance so the EMTs could get a better look at her head wound. Lee was another story all together.
“Lee, if you don’t get in that ambulance and go get checked out, I’m going to have them strap you to that gurney and not let you up for a week.”
“Billy, I can’t leave my car. Only God knows where they’ll take her. She needs to be handled with care.”
“Lee, it’s just a car. It may not be fixable have you thought of that?”
“No Aldo, my mechanic, can fix anything. I’ll just drive it over there and have him take a look.”
“What about Amanda? Are you going to let her go to the hospital alone? Billy asked.
“She’ll understand. She knows how much I hate hospitals.”
“You really think so?” Billy queried with raised eyebrows.
“Of course not, she’ll have my head on a platter if I abandon her now. I guess I better get going then. Will you have my car towed to Aldo’s?”
“Sure Lee. I’ll take care of it. Then I’ll swing by the hospital, and check on the both of you.”
“Thanks Billy. For everything.”
Lee climbed into the ambulance and sat down on the gurney next to Amanda. He placed his arm around her as she very gently rested her head on him.
“Hey Amanda what’s wrong, your shaking?”
“Sorry Lee. I just can’t seem to stop.”
“It’s okay. It’s probably just a delayed reaction. Calm down, it’s over now, and we’re both fine.” Lee gently squeezed her shoulder and kissed her forehead in reassurance.
At the hospital, Lee was examined, and his broken ribs were taped up. He was given a prescription for some painkillers, and released. He was waiting in the emergency room for Amanda when Billy found him.
“Lee, what did the doctor say?”
“Broken ribs, just like I suspected. They took Amanda to radiology for a CAT scan, as a precaution, because of her head injury. She received 12 stitches to close the cut above her right eye. I insisted on a plastic surgeon, so there shouldn’t be a too bad a scar. It shouldn’t be much longer. Did you take care of my car?”
“Yes, your baby made it to Aldo’s fine. It’s probably going to take two weeks to fix. Aldo assured me it would be good as new. I hope your insurance is paid up. You should have seen the grin on his face when he surveyed the damage.”
Both men turned around when they heard the elevator doors open. A nurse was pushing a wheel chair with Amanda over towards them. She was holding an ice pack to her head.
“Amanda, everything ok?” asked a concerned Lee.
“Sure Lee, you’ll be happy to know my hard head came in handy for a change.”
"Amanda, that’s not funny. I was worried.”
“I’m fine Lee. They are going to release me just as soon as the doctor comes down to sign the papers. How about you? What did the doctor say?”
“That’s good news, Amanda.” Billy interjected.
Amanda turned to Billy as if just noticing him. “Sir, thanks for coming down.” Lee couldn’t help but feel a bit pleased that her eyes had been on him from the moment she left the elevator
“Any time Amanda. How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine sir, just a little headache. Lee, you didn’t answer my question. What did the doctor say?”
“Oh you know, the usual mumbo jumbo.”
“Alright. I have five broken ribs, two on the right side and three on the left side. Those are the ones that hurt the most. There is really nothing that can be done for them other then let them heal on their own.”
Amanda and Lee were released from the hospital and Billy drove them back to their respective homes. Billy told Amanda that someone from the agency would drive her car over to her later. Amanda gave Billy her car keys before she exited his sedan.
Lee exited with her. “Billy, just give me a minute, I want to make sure Amanda gets settled okay.”
“Sure thing Lee, take your time. Amanda, I hope you feel better, and if you need anything just call me. Anytime.” Billy smiled.
“Thank you sir, I’ll remember that. Oh, just a reminder, I have tomorrow morning off. Mother and the boys are going to Aunt Edna’s for the weekend and I have to take them to the train station. Thanks for the lift. Have a good night.”
“You too, Amanda.”
The couple turned and headed for the front door. The sound of the stereo could be heard which meant someone was home.
“I guess this is a far as I can walk you.” Lee said indicating the music.
“Yeah, I guess it is. Sounds like the boys. Promise me you’ll get some rest.”
“Same goes for you, too!”
“I’m going straight to bed as soon as I finish with the inquisition.”
“Want some company?” Lee quipped.
“I would if I could, but you’re wounded, and the house is not exactly empty at the moment.”
“No one’s expecting you this early. You could always come back to my place.”
“Lee, as tempting as that sounds, I think I really need to get some sleep, and you need to take it easy on those ribs. Promise?”
“For you Amanda, I promise. I’ll call later to check on you.” Lee playfully winked then headed back to Billy.
“How come you didn’t see her inside?” Billy questioned.
“Somebody’s home. We could hear the stereo from the front door. She’ll be okay.”
“Now, let’s get you home.” Billy pulled away from the curb and headed back to Georgetown.
"Any news on the bozo who hit us?”
“Not yet but Metro is on it. Let’s give them a chance to do their jobs. Are you thinking it wasn’t an accident?”
“No Billy, I’m sure it was just an accident. Amanda and I aren’t working on anything that would have precipitated the crash on purpose.”
“Okay, but just to be on the safe side, I’ll have Francine run your cases, and see if there was more to this. In the meantime, I want you to take it easy. That’s an order!”
The rest of the drive to Lee’s apartment was done in silence.
“Here we are, Lee. Would you like me to see you up to your apartment?”
“Thanks Billy, but it’s not necessary. I only have a few broken ribs. I’ll be fine. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Okay, if you need anything call. See you tomorrow.” ********
“…Amanda’s family was greatly concerned about her injuries and it took some convincing that she was fine, and just had a headache. Her mother wanted to cancel her trip to her sister Edna’s, but thankfully Amanda convinced her to go. That was a lucky break for us Dad. If Dottie stayed home we would have had a lot of explaining to do. I called her a few times the evening of the accident, and she seemed just fine. After our third conversation, I decided to take a pain pill, and get some rest. Looking back, that was the last time I had a good night sleep.
The morning staff meeting had just broken up and I went into Billy’s office to see if there was any new information on the two drivers who hit us the day before. Billy was just about to go over the police report when my world fell apart…”
*******There was a knock on Billy’s office door.
“Excuse me, Mr. Melrose.” The new receptionist meekly entered.
“What can I do for you?”
“Well, we just received a flash alert.” She tentatively replied.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you had someone in here.” She took one look at Lee and immediately became tongue-tied. The Stetson charm at work again.
“Mary, isn’t it?”
“Oh, yes sir, it is.”
“The flash alert?”
“Oh, right. 911 received a call from a house in Virginia, which was on the Agency’s alert list.”
“Mary, we have a lot of houses in Virginia on that list, did you get the address?”
“Yes,” Mary looked at her message pad “it’s 4247 Maplewood Drive, Arlington”********
“Billy and I just looked at each other for a second then raced out of the office and down to the garage. We jumped into my rental car and sped off to Amanda’s home.
I drove like a mad man. Billy ordered a full agency scramble, and contacted his counter part at the emergency center to see if there was any further information on the call from Amanda’s home. The 911-supervisor advised him that there was no response from the caller, but the line was still open, and the police, and an ambulance were being dispatched to the scene.
I made that drive in record time. We were just lucky I didn’t get into an accident. The ambulance was just pulling up as we got there. At first the police refused to let either of us enter the home, but once Billy pulled rank we were granted admittance. I thought maybe something happened to one of the boys. Nothing could have prepared me for the sight of Amanda lying on her kitchen floor. She was extremely pale, and the amount of blood that was all over everything was overwhelming.
The EMTs began working on Amanda. They started several IV lines including plasma, and hurriedly placed her on a stretcher, and raced to the waiting ambulance.”
******** “My God, Billy, what do you think happened in here?”
“Lee, I have no idea. I’m going to get an Agency team in here. Don’t touch anything.”
“Billy, I’m going with Amanda. Contact NEST and have them meet us at Galilee General Hospital. I’ll call in as soon as I have any information.”
“You got it, Lee. Keep calm, Amanda is a fighter!” Billy yelled as Lee raced to board the ambulance before it pulled away.
The medics were not going to let Lee ride with Amanda. Once Lee explained that she was a government agent, and had to have an Agency detail on hand at all times, in case she inadvertently let something of a secure nature slip out while unconscious, they allowed him into the back of the ambulance. It was all a lie, but the medics didn’t know that, and Lee really needed to be with Amanda.
Whatever treatment she was receiving seemed to be working. About half way to the hospital she began to regain consciousness.
“Lee?” Amanda called in a very weak and thready voice.
“Amanda, I’m here.” Lee said as he took Amanda’s hand in his. “Everything’s going to be all right. We’re on our way to the hospital, and you’ll be up and around in no time.”
Lee held on to her hand for the duration of the ride, and all the way through the emergency room. He only let go when a nurse refused to allow him into the operating room. The medics determined that the amount of blood loss suffered by Amanda could only be caused by an internal injury requiring surgery. The NEST doctors were scrubbed and ready when she arrived.
Lee spent about two hours pacing back and forth, stopping every hospital employee to find out if there was any news on Amanda before Billy made it up to the waiting area.
“Lee, you have to calm down. I’m sure someone will tell us something as soon as they can.”
“Billy, she’s counting on me. I told her she’d be fine. I’ve never lied to her before. I can’t start now.”
“Lee, she’s strong. She won’t give up, don’t you! Now, how about we go down to the cafeteria for some coffee.” Billy pleaded.
“You can go. I’m not leaving until I know something.”
“I’ll stay with you. Do you think we should call her family?”
“They’re probably still on the train. I think we should wait until we have something more to tell them.”
“Whatever you think is best. You know more about them then the rest of us do. Now sit down, you’re making me dizzy!”
Lee sat down for about three minutes, and when he couldn’t sit still anymore he began his pacing again.
“Billy, what did the Agency find?”
“There was no sign of a break in or struggle. It seemed she was doing laundry and just collapsed. Francine is organizing a clean up committee and the place should be as good as new in a few more hours.
Lee, look, I know you and Amanda have more than a business relationship, and as long as it doesn’t interfere with my best team doing their job, it’s fine with me. There was an awful lot of blood. Is there something I should know about?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Sure, Amanda and I are friends as well as partners but that’s it. Friends.”
Billy seemed to be about to ask Lee something more when the trauma surgeon came out of the operating room.
“Are you gentlemen here for Mrs. King?”
“Yes, I’m William Melrose, her section chief, and this is her partner, Lee Stetson.”
The three men all shook hands, “I’m Dr. Stewart, head trauma surgeon of NEST.”
“How is she?” Lee asked worriedly.
“She’s doing as well as can be expected. She lost a lot of blood, about 3 liters worth. That’s not the norm, but with ectopics it can vary. The next few days are going to be touch and go.”
“Can I… we see her?”
The doctor was shaking his head to refuse Lee’s request when the nurse came out and whispered in the surgeon’s ear.
“It seems our patient is coming out of the anesthesia sooner than we anticipated. She’s asking for you, Lee. Follow the nurse. She’ll take you to Mrs. King. Oh, just one other thing, it’s important that she stay calm. Any rise in blood pressure, and she could start hemorrhaging again. She may be a little out of it. Don’t worry if she doesn’t make any sense.”
“Thanks Doc.” The two men shook hands again, and Lee was off to see Amanda.
Lee cautiously approached Amanda’s bedside, she looked so helpless just lying there--so small and vulnerable--her face whiter than the sheet that’s covering her. There were IV tubes connected to both arms, one contained a clear solution, the other was blood. There were tubes down her throat, as well as one feeding her oxygen through her nose. There was also a catheter to drain any excess fluids from the surgery. He bent down and placed a feather light kiss on her forehead. Amanda stirred and opened her eyes.
“Lee?” Amanda whispered hoarsely.
“I’m here now, you just rest. Everything will be alright.”
“I know it hurts but you’ll feel better in no time. Just relax.”
“Stay.” she pleaded with some effort. It looked as though each word was more painful than the last.
“I’m not going anywhere.” He took her hand in his and gently squeezed it in conformation. “Just rest, I’m right here.”
Amanda smiled and drifted back into a drug-induced oblivion.
True to his word Lee never left Amanda’s side the entire time she was in recovery. He did however; have to leave her for a moment when they moved her into her own room. Lee took that opportunity to phone Billy and let him know what was going on.
“Billy, it’s me.”
“Lee, how’s Amanda doing?”
“She’s in a lot of pain but they are moving her out of recovery, and into a room. I guess that’s a good sign. What did the task force find out? Who did this to Amanda?”
“Lee, no one did this. I spoke to the doctor when you went to sit with Amanda. What happened to her was not done by anyone. Did they say what floor they were moving her to?”
“Yeah. The seventh. Why?”
“What’s on the seventh floor?”
“I’m not really sure. Why? What did the doctor tell you?” the panic was beginning to creep into Lee’s voice.
“He said Amanda would be fine with a lot of rest”. Any other information would have to come from Amanda. “Lee, I know you two are close. I’ve told you before, it’s all right with me, but is there something I need to know about?”
“Billy, I don’t know what you mean?”
“Just think about it. Call me if you want to talk. Oh, and give my wish for a speedy recovery to Amanda.” ********
“As soon as I could, I went back into Amanda’s room. I just sat there and watched her breathe. The sounds of the monitors were reassuring. Each time I heard the small beep I know my Amanda was fighting to stay with me. A few hours later came the sweetest sound I ever heard…”
“I’m here, Manda.”
“Cold,” she whispered in a strangled voice.
“Okay, hang on I’ll see if I can find an extra blanket for you.” ********
“I raced around that hospital like a mad man. Amanda was cold and I had to find a way to keep her warm. Of course, I could keep her warm, but with all the tubing I was afraid I’d cause more harm than good.
Trust me dad, I was on a mission, one I didn’t plan on failing at.
I located a nurse and she gave me a couple of blankets. I ran back to Amanda and gently covered her with both of them. I had to have some sort of physical contact with her so I softly kissed her on her forehead, both eyes, both cheeks, and finally her lips. Then I settled into the most uncomfortable chair in creation, and held on to her hand like a lifeline. For her or me, I’m still not sure.
I dozed on and off but made sure I was awake each time someone came into check on Amanda. The hospital staff tried to get rid of me by saying that visiting hours were over, but I used my badge, told a few white lies, and soon convinced the hospital security to let me stay.
Funny, isn’t it, I hate hospitals, and there I was telling lies in order to stay. I guess love makes you do strange things.
Amanda had an uneventful night. The nurses came in to replace the bag that held the intravenous blood twice, and finally removed the glucose IV, and the tube down her throat on their second visit.”
******** Lee woke to the soft voice of Amanda calling his name. He had a Cheshire cat smile on his face, lost in his dream for just a moment, and then it faded, as he remembered that Amanda was lying in a hospital bed, and not in his arms.
“Lee?” Amanda called more loudly this time finally getting his attention, “Did you get the number of the truck that hit me?”
“Amanda! How are you feeling?” Lee studied her long and hard “your color is better. Are you in a lot of pain?”
“Just a little uncomfortable. You want to tell me what’s going on? What am I doing here?”
“You don’t remember? I’ll go get the doctor.” Lee stood up, and made his way to the door, when Amanda stopped him.
“Lee, tell me why am I in the hospital?”
“How much do you remember?”
“Not much. The day started out normal. I was getting the boys ready for their trip. Mother was making breakfast. I remember dropping them off at the train station then heading home to get ready for our dinner. I decided to do some laundry before heading over to the agency.” Amanda paused as if trying to reconstruct the events of that morning. “The next thing I remember is waking up here. I was sort of hoping you could tell me what happened in between.”
“You collapsed in your kitchen after calling 911. We get an automatic heads up on those things for agents. By the time Billy and I got there, you were being loaded into an ambulance. You were in surgery for over four hours. Let me get the doctor. He can fill in the rest.” ********
“Reluctantly, I left Amanda to search out the doctor.
I found the resident, who looked no older than Amanda’s son Phillip. His name was Dr. Abrams and he quickly dismissed me from Amanda’s room. I was not a happy camper. I really wanted to find out what was wrong with Amanda. I was adamant in my refusal to leave until Amanda asked me to go.
Of course, I agreed. I can’t refuse her anything. I was also very concerned about her and did something I’m ashamed of. I kept the door from closing all the way and eavesdropped on them. I was shocked at what I heard.”
******** “Well Mrs. King, how do you feel today? You had us all pretty worried yesterday.” The doctor began.
“I’m fine, just a little confused. Can you tell me what happened? The last thing I remember was doing laundry. Lee told me I had surgery. Why? Was it because of the car accident? Please, tell me, I need to know what’s wrong.”
“Well, nothing is really wrong with you. You had a miscarriage.” ********
“That little revelation through me for a loop. I wasn’t sure if I should be listening to this but the confusion and hurt I heard in Amanda’s voice had me glued to the spot. I wanted to go in there and be with her while she got the news. If what the doctor said was true, didn’t I have a right to hear about it? I wanted to give her the privacy she asked for. I mean she sounded surprised by this information too. I decided to stay hidden and knew Amanda would tell me about it in her own way.”
******** “What do you mean a miscarriage? I wasn’t pregnant. I couldn’t be pregnant! I didn’t have any symptoms, we are always careful. I didn’t skip my period. ”
“You know no protection is always 100%. Trust me you were pregnant.”
“Are you sure? Of course you’re sure. Okay, so I was pregnant. That still doesn’t explain why I had to have surgery? I had a miscarriage before, and didn’t need surgery.”
“This wasn’t a normal pregnancy. You had what is known as an ectopic pregnancy. You see, fertilization of the ovum is believed to occur in the tube, and the fertilized ovum is then normally passed on into the uterus. The ovum, however, may adhere to and undergo development in the uterine tube, giving rise to the commonest variety of ectopic gestation. In such cases the amnion and chorion are formed, but a true decidua is never present and the gestation usually ends by extrusion of the ovum through the abdominal ostium. Although it is not uncommon for the tube to rupture into the peritoneal cavity, this being accompanied by severe hemorrhage, and needing surgical interference.”********
“I was glad when Amanda asked for an explanation in plain English. I didn’t have a clue what the doctor was talking about.”
******** “It’s very simple. The egg was fertilized but never traveled into the uterus. Instead it attached itself to the uterine tube. When the fetus grows too big for the tube, it ruptures. In your case, not only did the tube rupture, but so did the artery, which is why you lost quite a bit of blood.”
“Ok, that I understand. How long do I have to stay here?”
“Well, your blood work looks good, and if it remains the same, I guess I could spring you later this afternoon, tomorrow at the latest.”
“How far along was I?” Amanda asked in a shaky voice. The enormity of the situation was finally sinking in and her eyes were beginning to fill with tears.
“Not that far, maybe 4 or 5 weeks.”
“Oh…thank you, Dr. Abrams. Just one other thing, I’d like to keep this confidential.”
“Of course. If you or your husband…”
“Ex-husband, have any questions, just let me know. I’ll be happy to answer them.”
“Thank you. I don’t think that would be necessary.” ********
“I watched as Amanda just lay back down and turned her head away from the doctor, and gazed out the window. It hurt me to see her that upset. I left for about half an hour. I couldn’t just go barging in, she told me to go get some coffee. Besides, I needed time to process everything I heard. I gently knocked on her door and slipped into her room. I thought she was asleep and I didn’t want to wake her. She needed to rest. I settled myself into the chair with my coffee and a newspaper and just waited. Before I got to finish the sports page, Amanda let out a shuttering breath.”
******** “Amanda, are you awake?”
She only nodded in response.
“Is everything all right? What did the doctor say?” Lee could hear the anxiety in his own voice. He wanted to beg for answers, but he was afraid of what she would or wouldn’t tell him.
“Everything is fine Lee. The doctor said if my blood work looks good I could go home this afternoon.”
“Amanda, that’s great news.” Lee answered but he was hoping for some more information. He was waiting for Amanda to tell him about what happened. He needed to hold her. Comfort her. Take comfort from her. He never needed anyone before, but he needed to share this overwhelming sadness with her. He couldn’t until she told him. He couldn’t let on that he heard what the doctor told her.
“Lee, I’m really tired now.”
“You rest. I’ll just sit here and finish the newspaper.”
“If they discharge me today, I have nothing to wear. I can’t go home in a hospital gown.”
That’s it, Lee thought; she’s waiting to tell me after she’s discharged. “I don’t know, I can just picture you walking down the hall with your lovely little butt sticking out. On second thought, I don’t want to have to fight the entire hospital for you. Tell me what you need. I’ll have Francine bring it over for you.”
“No Lee! I don’t like the idea of Francine going through my things. You do it, please.”
“Amanda, I’m not entirely comfortable with the thought of going through your personal things.”
“Please Lee. You go through personal things all the time.”
“Yes, but that’s different.”
“No, it’s not. I’ll tell you where everything is. You won’t have to go searching around for anything. Please Lee, I don’t want anyone else to do it.”
“Sure, okay, tell me what you need.”
“Well, I’m going to need my toothbrush and deodorant, they are in the medicine chest in the master bathroom. In the top draw of the dresser, on the right hand side you’ll find my underwear, just bring anyone; oh yeah, I’m going to need a bra too. In the closet on the top shelf, on the left, you should find a pair of sweatpants, and my Georgetown sweatshirt should be on a hanger about the middle to left in the same closet. Let’s see, did I forget anything? Oh yeah, I need shoes and my purse. Everything else I need should be in there. Thanks Lee, you’re a lifesaver. Oh wait, I don’t have keys to give you.”
“That’s not a problem, remember. I’ll be back as soon as I can. As long as I’m going, I guess I’ll go home and change clothes, maybe grab a quick bite to eat. I haven’t eaten since lunch yesterday. My girl was supposed to cook a fabulous dinner for me, but something happened, and we never got the chance to eat.”
"Your girl, huh?”
“Yeah, my girl!” Lee leaned down and gave Amanda a kiss. It was a kiss that released all the emotions Lee was keeping in check. The fear, the sadness, and the joy of knowing that she would be all right, along with all the passion he felt for her, he poured into this one simple act.
He was shaken by the depth of emotion, both his and hers. He wanted to cling to her, and never leave. He needed her to lay her head on his shoulder, and mourn the loss of their child together. He wanted to tell her he loved her. That everything was going to be all right. This wasn’t the right time for that so he’d just have to wait to tell her how he felt.
“Ok, get going. You keep kissing me like that, we’re going to set off all these alarms, and the whole hospital will be in here.”
“Ok, I’ll get out of here. You rest. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Lee pulled the sheet up to Amanda’s chin, quickly kissed her nose, and left on his errand. ********
“I got back a little after three in the afternoon, just as the doctor was giving instructions to Amanda. She would be able to go home that evening provided she agreed to total bed rest for the next two weeks. Dr. Abrams also told her that her stitches should be ready to be removed by then. Until then, she was not to lift or carry anything heaver then a pen. Absolutely no stretching or bending, not even to tie her shoelaces, was to be done until her doctor cleared her. Amanda was also given the usual post delivery speech, nothing internal for the next six weeks. She was also advised that if there was heavy bleeding or sever cramping to go to the emergency room right away. Until the artery was completely healed, there was always a possibility it could rupture again. I was glad I heard what I did. I knew I was taking Amanda home with me. There was no way I was going to let her go back to her house. She was going to need looking after and I was just the man to do it.”
******** “Hi beautiful, miss me?”
“Hi, yourself. Yeah, I missed you. Did you get everything I asked for? I’m going to be released soon.”
“Yes, ma’am. I brought all that you requested of me. Do you need my help dressing? Of course, I’d rather be undressing you, but hey, I’m willing to lend a hand when necessary.”
“No, thank you, Lee.”
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Lee was worried. This was not like his Amanda. Usually she would tease him back or at the very least scold him for making her blush with his forwardness.
“Nothing’s wrong. It’s just been a very trying few days.”
“Ok, I’ll get out of your way so you can change. I’ll just be outside the door. Yell if you need anything.” Lee backed out of the room concerned that Amanda seemed different. ‘Maybe she’s right. It has been a difficult few days and she really went through a lot.’
He waited twenty minutes then knocked on the door. “Amanda, you decent?” getting no answer he cracked the door open, and called again “Amanda, can I come in?” still not getting an answer, Lee assumed that she was in the bathroom, and just entered her room. He found Amanda fully dressed, just sitting on the bed, staring out the window.
“Hey Amanda, didn’t you hear me?
“Oh, I’m sorry, Lee. I guess I wasn’t paying attention.” Amanda smiled at him but the smile never reached her eyes.
“That’s okay. Ready to get out of here?”
He signaled the nurse who brought a wheelchair into Amanda’s room, walked over to Amanda and offered his hand in assistance. She placed her hand in his, and allowed him to help her off the bed. ********
“She was in so much pain she could hardly walk. I could see her gritting her teeth against it. I tightened my grip, and slid my other arm around her in support. Amanda stiffened at the contact. I was shocked. It had been so long since she reacted that way to my touch. Usually she leaned into me. This time she didn’t. I just assumed she was in pain.”
********They exited the hospital, and Lee once again helped Amanda get into his rental car. He was glad he chose the sedan--he didn’t think Amanda would have been able to sit in the coupe. They drove most of the way in silence until Amanda realized that they were not heading into Arlington.
“Lee, where are we going?”
“It’s a surprise.”
“Lee, while I appreciate all the trouble you’ve gone through, I’m really not up to it. I’d just like to go home, if you don’t mind.”
“Ok, why don’t you just close your eyes and get some rest I’ll wake you when we get there.”
Amanda took Lee’s advice and quickly fell asleep. She woke up just as Lee was pulling into a parking space.
“Have a nice nap?”
“Yeah, where are we?”
“My place. Now before you get bent out of shape, just listen. I overheard you speaking with the doctor, and you are going to need someone to take care of you. Since your mother isn’t home, this is the next logical thing. I could stay with you at your place, but I figured having a strange car parked in front of your house will have the neighbors talking.”
“Lee, thanks, but it’s not necessary. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”
“I know you are. Amanda, please don’t fight me on this. Look lets give it a try--if it doesn’t work out I’ll take you home. Deal?”
She looked at him silently for a moment then agreed reluctantly. “Okay, we’ll give it a try, but Lee...”
“No buts, Amanda.” Lee exited the vehicle and came around to help Amanda. Getting out of the car was difficult, and by the time they made it into the elevator, Amanda was very pale and shaking from the pain. Lee refused to let Amanda go the rest of the way unassisted, and deftly swung her up into his arms.
“Lee, put me down! You are going to hurt your ribs.”
“No! You’re in a lot of pain. I can see it. It’s killing me to watch you struggle for each step. Since you feel you can’t ask for help, I’m just going to give it to you, whether you want me to or not!” Lee carried her down the hallway, into his apartment, and deposited her in his bed. She looked so right there. Like she was born to be there. “Now, stay put. I’m going to get you a glass of water, and you are going to take a pain-killer and get some rest!”
“Bossy, aren’t you?”
“You bet! Remember, I’m the senior agent here!” Amanda sank down into the comfort of Lee’s bed.
He was back quickly, and watched as Amanda took the pill. Lee sat down on the bed next to her, and began to gently brush the hair off her forehead until she was sleeping. He covered her with the comforter, and headed into the living room, and turned on the television. Amanda was right he did hurt his ribs. He decided to take a pain killer, and stretched out on the couch to finish the baseball game. ********
“I was worried. Amanda was just not herself. She seemed to be drawing in, closing off. I was scared the doctor might have told her something I missed. I prayed that everything was all right. I couldn’t imagine my life without her. I just wished she would tell me. I loved her too much to let her go through this alone. Together we could handle anything. I knew she would tell me in her own time, in her own way but I was afraid that Amanda would continue to shut me out. I don’t mind telling you I was really upset that she hadn’t told me about the miscarriage once we were home. I couldn’t figure out why she didn’t tell me right away.”
******** Lee went to get something to eat when he remembered that Amanda hadn’t eaten in two days, and must be starving. He guiltily went into the kitchen and fixed her something to eat. He opened up a can of soup, and made some toast, and tea, fixed up a tray, and carried it over to his bedroom where he knocked before he entered. He pretended he didn’t see the tears rolling down her face.
“Amanda, I thought you might be hungry so I brought you some soup.”
“Thanks Lee, but I’m not very hungry.”
“You have to eat! It’s been two days. You need to keep your strength up. I’m sorry it’s not homemade but it’s the best I’ve got.”
“I’m not really hungry now. Just leave it and maybe I’ll eat it later.”
Lee placed the tray on his dresser, and sat on the edge of the bed next to Amanda and took her hand in his. “Do you want to tell me what’s bothering you?”
“I’m fine, Lee.” Amanda replied and turned away from Lee.
Hurt but determined to get to the bottom of this, Lee began again. “Amanda, you are not fine. Something is bothering you. Is it something I’ve done? Is that why you won’t look at me?”
Amanda turned back to face him. “No Lee, you didn’t do anything. It’s me. I just need a little more time. I promise I’ll tell you everything. Please, can we not do this now? I don’t have enough strength for it.”
“You win, but we will talk about this again. How about you let me help you into the living room? We can watch television or something. You must be bored silly just lying here, or I can join you here if you’d like.”
“I think some television is a good idea.”
“Sure, just give me a minute to get things set, and I’ll come back for you.” If Lee was disappointed by her choice he didn’t show it. He picked up the meal tray and went back into the living room. He came back in, grabbed a blanket out of the closet, and a pillow off his bed. “Just in case you get sleepy.” On his third trip into his bedroom, he helped Amanda stand, and then picked her up again.
“Lee, this is getting ridiculous. I can walk.”
“The doctor said total bed rest, so no, you can’t walk!”
“You can’t carry me everywhere.”
“If I had my way, you’d never be out of my arms.” Lee sank down onto the couch taking Amanda with him. She tried to get off his lap but he tightened his hold and refused to let her budge.
Once he was settled comfortably, he picked up the blanket, covered both of them, and turned on the television. There was an old John Wayne movie on, and they agreed to watch that. Amanda sat like a statue, and refused to relax, so Lee did the only thing he could do. He began to rub small circles on her back and legs and soon Amanda relaxed enough to rest her head on Lee’s shoulder. It wasn’t long before she was sound asleep in his arms, just where she was supposed to be. Lee finished the movie but was reluctant to wake Amanda. At least in sleep she needed him, so he propped his feet on the coffee table, and slept sitting up, holding on to the woman he loved more than life itself.
Lee woke with a smile on his face. Amanda was kissing and nuzzling his neck. Maybe things would start to get back to normal now. He stole a quick peek and realized that Amanda was still asleep. Lee wanted so desperately to kiss her back but held off as long as he could, until Amanda kissed that spot just under his ear. His resolve snapped like a twig, and with a low moan he kissed her awake.
Amanda exalted in his touch. She came fully awake then jumped out of his arms so fast, and headed into the bedroom locking the door behind her.
Lee eased himself up off the couch and swore when he was gripped by pain. All this stress was not doing his ribs any good. He really needed to rest but he needed to help Amanda more. “Amanda, please, tell me what’s wrong? Why won’t you let me help you?” Lee called through the closed door.
He waited a few moments and when he got no response from her made his way over to the door. Lee knocked few times and there still was no answer from Amanda. Frustrated Lee unlocked the bedroom door and let himself in. He found Amanda in his bathroom. She was on the floor curled up in a ball and silently crying. As each tear ran down her face, Lee’s heart broke a little more.
He picked her up, carried her over to the bed, and just sat there holding her as she cried out all of her pain. He whispered nonsensical words, rubbed her back, reassuring her that everything was going to be all right, that he was there for her. The tears subsided and Amanda fell into an exhausted sleep.
Lee tucked her into bed and went to shower and change. He left the bathroom door open so he could hear Amanda should she wake. ********
“I was scared, Dad. Amanda was not acting like herself. I didn’t know what to do to help her. I was desperate enough to call Billy for advice. He didn’t tell me much. Just be there when Amanda was ready to talk to me, he said.
This went on for three days. Amanda and I were like two strangers instead of lovers. I was going crazy waiting for her to talk to me. I decided to go for a walk in the park. I had to get out of there and think. Maybe some idea on how to get Amanda to open up would come to me. I left a note for Amanda on the pillow next to her, gave her a quick kiss goodbye and left. I wasn’t gone long, about an hour and I found Amanda waiting for me in the living room. I was hoping she was ready to talk to me but she didn’t.
She managed to wash up and change on her own, and she looked almost like her old self. Her eyes were still shadowed though. She still looked so beautiful to me. It felt really good to have her waiting there just for me. It was a nice change from coming home to an empty apartment all the time. I cleaned up a little, and made a light lunch, which we ate in silence. The tension was so thick you could’ve cut it with a knife. I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could take.
Amanda seemed to get stronger as the days went by but she still refused to talk about what happened. I sat outside the bedroom door and listened helplessly as Amanda cried herself to sleep each night.
So Dad, we managed not to talk about what happened for a whole week. Then one night, she was having a terrible nightmare, I woke up to her screams. I never felt so helpless in my life. No matter how hard I knocked on the door, I couldn’t get her to answer me. I did the only thing I could. I opened the bedroom door and went in.
It was terrible. I’ve never seen her so distraught. Not telling me was eating her up inside.
It took most of the rest of the night, but I finally got her to calm down. She asked me to stay with her. Progress at last. So being taught never to refuse a woman--especially with a request that I would greatly enjoy--I eagerly jumped into the bed with her. She was in my arms at last, and we just held each other the rest of the night.
I never did fall back to sleep that night. I kept running different scenarios over in my mind. They all had something terribly wrong with Amanda. I was picturing the rest of my life without her. I was prepared to sell my soul to keep Amanda, but I wasn’t prepared for the discussion we finally had the next morning.
Amanda finally told me she was pregnant, and had a miscarriage. I thought I was prepared, after all I knew all along. But to see the hurt in her eyes as she told me knocked the breath out of me. I was sort of devastated and relieved all at the same time.
There was nothing seriously wrong with Amanda, but we lost a child. She was trying to be brave but she cried anyway. I know she didn’t want to cry in front of me. She knows I don’t handle tears well. I felt like crying myself, but I had to be strong, she needed me.
I really got pissed off when she said she didn’t want to tell me because she was afraid I’d leave her too. I didn’t understand at first. Then she told me she had a miscarriage before. It happened about a year after Jamie was born. The asshole she was married to accused her of getting pregnant to keep him in the states, right before he walked out on her, and her two boys. They were just toddlers at the time.
How could anyone do that? If I ever get my hands on the jerk, he’ll wish he stayed in Africa!
She confessed that she didn’t want to tell me because she didn’t want to loose me. I assured her that I would never leave her, that I loved her. We are best as a team personally and professionally.
I was a little mad at her too. It hurt to be compared to Joe. After all we’ve been through how could she think that I would leave her?
I was so shocked to find out just how much emotional damage Joe caused her. I never noticed it before, but now that I think about it, there were small signs.
Like Amanda loves to listen to music, she has a large and eclectic collection of music, but I never heard her sing along to the radio, not even when she thought she was alone. When I mentioned it, she told me Joe made her quit singing. He thought that it was something the girlfriend or wife of a law student didn’t do. The first time I heard her sing I was floored. She has a terrific voice. She was a different woman on that stage. I wish you could have seen her. I’ll never forget it. I keep trying to get her to sing for me, but she won’t.
Then there’s the sex. Don’t get me wrong it’s great but Amanda is so hesitant and she’s always afraid that she’ll do something wrong. No matter how many times I reassure her, it doesn’t seem to help. At least right now we don’t have to worry about that. Amanda is still restricted. I think we’ve gotten closer for it. We do a lot of talking about it, what works and what doesn’t. I think she’s gaining some confidence. Don’t worry; I’ve assured her that I am willing to help build her confidence and skill anytime she feels they need fine-tuning. At least that got a laugh out of her.
She’s smiling more now. She’s almost back to her old self, but there is still a long way to go. After staying the initial two weeks at my apartment, Amanda needed to go home. Her family came back during the second week. She told them she was on a location scout for I.F.F. for the last few days. I had to go back to work anyway, my off assignment mode was over. She usually took time off at the end of August, to get the boys ready to go back to school, so we lucked out there.
When she was feeling better, Amanda convinced Billy to let her work half days. He agreed, and put her in purchasing. Big mistake!
Amanda assumed that I asked not to work with her, and it took Billy a couple of days to convince her otherwise. I couldn’t do it because she refused to talk to me. She wouldn’t even see me when I went down to visit her.
Well, your son is no dummy. I know a good thing when I see it. I wasn’t going to let Amanda go that easily. Each time she pushed me away I pushed back, harder. I would just pop up in her backyard, the grocery store, the ball field, I even managed to pull up next to her at a red light. I’d climb the trellis in her yard and would sit in her bedroom until she came up to bed, then we would spend most of the night together.
I even dragged her out to the movies. She was surprised when I showed up with flowers and actually rang her doorbell. You should have seen the look on her mother’s face when I introduced myself. Amanda said her mother grilled her for three hours when she got home, and practically insisted that Amanda go out with me again. I knew I liked Dottie for a reason. Once I convinced her I wasn’t going anywhere, she began to relax again.
This relationship stuff is tough; a lot of hard work, but in the end it is worth it. Amanda is my whole reason for living.
Well, it’s getting late and tomorrow is the big day. My partner is back. I’ll just say good night now. Have a Happy Anniversary. I love and miss you both very much! Oh, and if you can manage it, put in a good word for me with Amanda.”
Lee got up from his seat in the grass, brushed the dirt off his pants and stretched his tired muscles, picked up his thermos and left the cemetery. He planned on making a quick stop in Arlington before heading home.