Lee and Amanda stood as quietly as possible in the small cramped closet. The door of the outer room had just slammed shut and they weren't sure if the men who had grabbed Augie Swann, an ‘information broker' of questionable repute, would be returning immediately or not. Straining to hear anything that might indicate what was going on, they leaned close to the door trying to make sense of the distant sounds. Voices were talking... someone was shouting... another door slammed then the faint sound of a vehicle starting and driving away drifted into the confined space.
"Lee?" Amanda whispered softly, not sure if she should be talking yet or not.
"Hmm?" Lee still had his ear pressed against the door.
"I think those men took Augie with them."
"Yeah, I think you're right. It's really quiet out there."
"So, can we get out of here? It's awfully stuffy."
"We'll wait a few more minutes, just to be sure. They might have left someone behind."
"Who were they?"
"I've no idea. Probably just some guys who got burned by one of Augie's shady deals."
"Maybe it was something to do with the information Augie had for you."
Lee shrugged non-committally. Amanda knew he had a love-hate relationship with the snitch. Augie loved Lee's money and Lee hated having to deal with the man but there were occasions when Augie came across with something worthwhile. This might have been one of those times.
Augie had called Lee to meet with him about a supposed tip on a security leak. They had just started their bartering when someone had pounded on the door. Turning deathly pale, Augie had pleaded with Lee and Amanda to hide in the closet. "If they find me talking to you, it will bad-real bad. I can't take pain. You know that. I'm very sensitive. I bruise easily."
Amanda had a soft spot for the man, despite the fact that he had once wanted her to become a mud wrestler. She'd urged Lee into the broom closet and Augie had shut the door on them just as the outer door had burst open. Yelling and scuffling had ensued, followed by the departure of Augie and his uninvited guests.
Now she and Lee stood in a closet barely big enough for a mop and bucket, let alone two adults. They were pressed together and their close proximity was making her intensely aware of her partner. Lee inhaled deeply and sighed causing his chest to brush against her. Amanda tried to back up but she was already pressed against the wall.
"It's been at least ten minutes," Lee announced. "I think it's safe for us to leave. You can open the door now, Amanda."
"Good, it's getting really hot in here." Amanda wiggled her arm back to reach the door handle. She turned it to the left, then the right, then back again. Nothing happened.
"Amanda. Open the door."
"I'm trying. I think it's locked."
"Locked? Nobody locks a broom closet."
"Well, I can't get the door to open. You try."
Lee tried to reach the door knob but couldn't. "Amanda, move over a bit."
"I would if I could but there's no room."
"Okay...Lean towards the door and into me. I'll put my arm around your waist and try to reach it from behind you."
Amanda leaned against the door and towards Lee, while simultaneously attempting to keep from pressing her body against him. She felt his arm moving around her waist, reaching for the door. He leaned into her and looked over her shoulder, trying to see the handle. Rattling noises came from behind her as he turned the knob with no success.
"Damn!" Lee hit the door with his fist. "Augie locked us in. Just wait until I get my hands on him."
"Now, Lee. I'm sure he didn't mean too. He was just in a hurry to hide us and probably locked it by mistake."
"Mistake or not, we're still trapped in here."
"Don't you have a lock pick on you?"
Lee was silent.
"Lee? You do have a lock pick on you, don't you?"
He huffed, obviously frustrated and upset. "No. I took my jacket off and left it in the car. And this polo shirt doesn't have the right kind of collar for hiding a pick in."
"Oh. What about your belt? Remember that time I used the prong of your buckle to pick those hand cuffs?"
"Good idea." Lee carefully worked his arms forward and removed his belt. "Okay. We need to switch positions. I can't see the lock from here. Put your arms around me and hold tight. Maybe we can make ourselves small enough so that we can shuffle around."
Lee pulled her tightly against him and Amanda wrapped her arms around his waist. Slowly, they shuffled in a circle as if performing some strange dance. Their thighs brushed against each others, hips bumping, feet moving in unison...
"Umph!" Lee grunted and Amanda felt his hand squeezing her butt.
"Oh!" She automatically moved away from his hand and ended up pushing her stomach even more closely against his pelvis.
"Sorry about that. I just banged my elbow."
"That's all right." Amanda swallowed hard and tried to remain calm and professional. She moved back fractionally, glad they were finally in the right spot. Lee released her and she worked her hands to her side, wiping the sweat from her palms onto to her skirt. Being in such close contact with Lee was causing her heart to pound and her temperature to rise. Even though she was over her initial crush on the man, she was a red blooded woman, and Lee Stetson was definitely a hunk. She couldn't help but be affected by being in such close contact with him, she reasoned. Biting her lip, she silently waited for Lee to pick the lock and open the door. Seconds ticked by. Metal scraped against metal. She twisted her fingers together waiting as patiently as possible.
"The prong isn't long enough. I can't work the tumblers. I need something longer."
"Okay...um, maybe there's something in here you could use."
They looked around as best as they could but didn't find anything suitable. Silently, they looked at each other. What were they going to do?
"Amanda...Don't take this the wrong way, but are you wearing a bra?"
"I beg your pardon!" Amanda felt her eyes widen in surprise.
"Are you wearing a bra? More specifically, an underwire?"
"Lee, I don't think that's any of your business! We may be partners and partners need to know certain things about each other, but my underwear really isn't your concern. How would you like it if I asked you if you wore briefs or boxers? It just not something you go around asking-"
"Boxers. I wear boxers. Okay? Now make it even. Is it an underwire?"
He interrupted her again. "Good. Take it off." She opened her mouth ready to protest, but he continued giving her no time to speak. "I can use the wire to pick the lock."
"Oh." Her outrage quickly dissipated and she was silent for a moment while considering the request. Given the circumstances, she supposed she had no real choice. "All right. Close your eyes."
"Close your eyes."
"Fine." He closed his eyes and she looked at him carefully before unbuttoning her blouse and pulling it free from her skirt. After undoing the cuffs, she shrugged it off her shoulders and wiggled her arms free. It really was awkward since she couldn't move her arms around much. Pausing, she studied his face again. His eyes were still closed. She inhaled deeply, gathering her nerve and then reached behind to unclasp her bra. That was when she realized something. She couldn't get her arms worked around behind her and up to the clasp no matter how she bent, twisted or wiggled.
"Lee, I can't."
"Oh for heaven's sake, Amanda! Why..." Lee opened his eyes, looked down at her and then paused mid-sentence. Amanda could feel his gaze drifting over her red lace bra and knew her face must be turning a matching shade. He cleared his throat and looked over her shoulder. "Listen, we really need that wire. I won't look, I promise."
‘That's what you said before,' she muttered to herself. More loudly, she explained her problem. "I can't get my arms behind me to undo the clasp."
"Oh! Well...I can do it. I can work my arms behind you."
"All...all right." She couldn't keep the stammer from her voice. Swallowing hard, she stepped closer and Lee wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. Her face was buried in his shirt and she was surrounded by his unique scent. His breath beside her ear was rough and she shivered, feeling herself responding to his proximity. He shifted slightly and she moved as well, suddenly finding herself pressed against undeniable evidence that he too was affected by the situation. His hands were trembling slightly as they moved across her back to work the clasp. She held her breath as his fingers slid under the elastic and the band loosened allowing her bra straps to slide down her arms.
"There. Can you get it off now?" He sounded relieved to have accomplished the task and stepped back as much as the limited space would allow.
She nodded and wiggled about to get the bra off while keeping one eye on him to ensure his gaze stayed where it was supposed to be. The lacy garment slid down her arms and she caught it in her hand. Leaning backward, she managed to get one of her arms across her bare breasts. She fumbled, trying to pass the bra to him with her other hand and was surprised to find his arms held straight and tense at his side, his hands fisted. "Here it is."
"Thanks." Lee took the garment and began to squeeze the cup, feeling for the underwire, then wiggling it back and forth, trying to wear a hole in the material so the wire would pop out. Amanda winced.
"You know, that was a brand new bra and it was awfully expensive."
"I'll get you new one." Lee grumbled as he proceeded to extract the underwire. "Ah-ha! There it is." He dropped the now destroyed bra on the ground and held up the wire. "We're as good as free." Quickly he manoeuvred himself into position, inserted the wire and worked the tumblers. In a manner of seconds, the door swung open and cool air rushed into the stuffy closet. They both breathed a sigh of relief and stepped out into Augie's office.
Forgetting herself, Amanda let her arm drop from her chest. "Oh it feels good to be out of that cramped closet." She smiled up at Lee.
Lee turned, grinning in triumph. "It sure does. We were lucky you were wearing a-" He froze and stared. Amanda frowned and followed his gaze down to her chest then suddenly recalled that she was naked from the waist up. Squeaking in embarrassment, she clutched her arms in front of her just as the office door swung open and a slightly rumpled Augie Swann sauntered in.
"Lee, my man! Sorry to have kept you waiting. That was bit too close for comfort. Good thing I was able to persuade my clients to make another appointment." Augie stopped mid-step and took in the situation before him, a knowing grin spreading across his face. "Oops! Sorry to interrupt but I'm glad to see you and Mrs. King were able to keep yourselves occupied while I was detained."
"Augie..." Lee growled and stepped towards the snitch while Amanda dove into the closet and quickly pulled on her blouse.
Two days later....
"Scarecrow!" Billy stalked across the bullpen while staring at Lee Stetson's expense account. Honestly, that man could come up with the most outlandish explanations for the items he submitted. Billy couldn't wait to hear the story behind this one.
"Yeah Billy? You needed me?" Lee leaned back in his chair. The rest of the bullpen had grown unusually quiet. They knew when the section chief used that tone of voice in conjunction with Scarecrow's name, something interesting was about to happen that could fuel the water cooler gossip for weeks to come.
"Yes, I do need you. I need you to explain to me what possible reason you have for listing a red lace bra from Rebecca's Fantasies on your expense account!"
"Ah...well, Billy that's sort of need to know."
"Lee, I'm your boss. I need to know."
Looking around and noticing the avid interest of his fellow agents, Lee swallowed hard and stood up. Putting his arm around Billy's shoulders, he guided his boss back towards his office. "You see Billy, I was meeting Augie Swann..."