The True Season of Love (Part 1)
Author: Ilana and Kathy
Summary: Lee and Amanda's first anniversary is approaching. Anything more will spoil the surprise.
Timeline: Season 5
Ilana's Notes: I would like to thank my two partners in crime, Kathy and Jenny for all of their support and feedback. I could not have done this without all of their help and friendship! YOU GALS ARE THE BEST!!! I would also like to thank my wonderful beta readers Shelly and Sybil for making this episode a work of art. Finally, I would like to thank my fellow SMK5 team members for all of their encouragement and support. This is the best project that I have ever worked on and I could not have done it without them.
Kathy's Notes: First, I would like to thank my partner, Ilana. I could not have done this without her encouragement, patience and friendship. I would also like to send a special thank you to Jenny, Shelly and Emma. You were always there when I needed some feedback or advice and you have helped make this story what it is. Lastly, but certainly not least, are our fellow SMK5 team members. You have made this project a joy to be a part of.
Disclaimer: "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" and its characters are owned by Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Productions. We retain the right to the plot. This story is meant for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended.
Feedback: Is welcome, encouraged, and appreciated. We're more than willing to hear what others have to say about this episode in order to improve – thanks.
Any comments, suggestions, etc. regarding the Season 5 project can be made by joining the Yahoo Group, SMK5Comments, or by sending an email to SMK5@smkfans.com. Thank you.
Maplewood Drive, Early Friday Morning
The morning sunlight filtered into the bedroom window, casting its rays upon the two occupants who were lying in each other’s arms. The peacefulness of the morning was suddenly broken by the sound of a buzzer going off.
Lee Stetson grumbled as he leaned over his wife to turn off the offending alarm. Leaning back over to his side of the bed, he pulled Amanda close to him and gave her a long good morning kiss.
"Mmm…" Amanda sighed as the kiss intensified. When they parted, she relaxed into his strong arms. "You sure know how to start the day," she said caressing his face.
He smiled and wrapped his arms tightly around her. "Waking up in your arms is how I like to start my day. Now that our secret is out, I’m definitely going to enjoy this morning ritual."
"I can think of another morning ritual that I would enjoy a whole lot more," she teased, running her fingers up and down her husband’s chest.
"Would you care to elaborate, Mrs. Stetson?" he asked mischievously, pulling her closer.
"I would be happy to, Mr. Stetson," Amanda replied as she leaned into his strong arms and captured his lips. A knock at the door interrupted them before they could go any further.
"Amanda, Lee, are you awake?" Dotty asked from the other side of the bedroom door.
Lee groaned in frustration under his breath as he reluctantly broke away from their intense kiss. "Your mother must be a mind reader, Amanda," he laughed as they got out of bed and put their robes on.
"We’ll be right there, Mother." Amanda answered as she walked over to Lee and put her arms around him. "We'll continue this later," she vowed as she began to nibble on his ear.
"It's gonna be a long day," he sighed, enjoying the feelings she was beginning to stir within him.
"Maybe I can give you something to look forward to," she whispered as she caressed his face.
"What did you have in mind?" he asked curiously, a small smile forming on his face.
"I was thinking about a quiet dinner for two at Emelio's and then dessert back here," she suggested devilishly.
He smiled at her suggestion and gave her a sultry gaze. "Now that’s an offer I can’t refuse," he exclaimed happily.
Amanda gave him one last kiss before making her way downstairs to prepare breakfast for her family while Lee retreated to the shower.
"Morning, Lee!" Phillip and Jamie announced simultaneously as Lee entered the kitchen.
"Good morning!" Lee replied as he walked over to the cabinet and took out a cup. Passing by Amanda, he gave her a kiss on the cheek then proceeded to walk over to the coffee maker and pour himself a cup of the steaming brew. Sitting down at the kitchen table next to Jamie, he smiled at the boy and picked up the newspaper that was laying discarded on the table.
"Well, I'm off to take a shower," Amanda announced. She kissed Phillip and Jamie, wishing them a good day before heading upstairs.
Lee looked up from his paper shortly after Amanda left and observed his stepsons. He reflected on the changes that had taken place over the last year and smiled as he realized that he was now part of this incredible family. Over the last year, they had gradually been getting to know one another. Phillip had accepted him from the beginning, but Jamie had taken somewhat longer. He realized how far he had come since the day that Jamie wouldn't even say two words to him. Now, he and the boys were spending more and more time together and they had finally accepted him as their stepfather. The dreams that he had of falling asleep with his wife every night, and leaving for work with her every morning, had finally come true. His life was now complete.
The beeping of a car horn outside interrupted Lee's train of thought. "That's our ride!" Phillip exclaimed as he grabbed his books and lunch. "Bye, Lee!" Phillip yelled as he ran out the door. Jamie followed his brother out the door, but not before yelling "Bye, Lee! See ya later!"
"Have a good day!" Lee yelled back, but soon realized that he was talking to himself. "Too late," Lee sighed as he patiently waited for Amanda.
Taking one last look in the mirror, Amanda put the finishing touches on her makeup. Satisfied with the end results, she retrieved her purse and headed downstairs.
Lee put down the newspaper as he heard Amanda coming down the stairs. What he saw as he turned around, stopped him dead in his tracks and left him utterly speechless.
Seeing the startled look on her husband’s face, Amanda asked worriedly, "What's wrong, Sweetheart?"
"You look beautiful," he returned with all of his desire for her evident in his eyes. She was dressed in his favorite red dress that accentuated her features to perfection, wore minimal makeup and with her hair cascading onto her shoulders. ‘Red is definitely her color,' he thought to himself as he walked towards his wife.
Amanda smiled at Lee’s compliment. "Thank you," she replied as she reached the bottom of the stairs.
Lee took Amanda's hand and led her towards the front door. He waited outside as she turned out the lights and locked the door. While Amanda was locking up, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a black car speeding down the street. As it came closer to them, he saw one of the windows of the car opening and a man aiming a gun at them. Lee pushed Amanda to the ground just as the bullets started flying in their direction. Suddenly, he felt a burning sensation in his chest and reached out for her before he lost consciousness.
"Wow, that was a close one!" Amanda exclaimed as she tried to stand up. She looked around for Lee and was startled at the sight that she saw before her. The crumpled form of her husband lay still next to her. She could see that his arm was reaching for her as if he was trying to touch her one last time. There was a pool of his blood flowing towards her but she didn’t leave his side, as she was in shock from the events that transpired before her very eyes.
She cradled his head in her lap and gently grazed her fingers over his handsome face. "Lee, please, don't leave me," she pleaded as tears ran down her face. He opened his eyes and briefly gazed into her beautiful face. "I.... love you, A...Man...da," he said weakly as his eyes closed for the last time and he died in her arms. "Leeeeee!" Amanda screamed.
Maplewood Drive, Late Friday Evening
"Amanda? Wake up, Sweetheart! Amanda!"
Amanda awoke at the panicked sound of her husband's voice calling out her name. She felt herself being shaken, and opened her eyes to take in her surroundings. Right away, she realized that she was in her bedroom, not in the driveway seeing Lee’s dead body. Turning over and seeing the look of concern on her husband’s face, she threw herself into his arms and cried hysterically into his bare chest. He pulled his arms tighter around her and gently rocked her back and forth, trying to calm her down. She was sweating profusely and trembling with fear. He had never seen his wife so frightened, and it pained him to see her in such a state.
"Shhhhh...It’s okay, Amanda. I'm here, now. Nobody is going to hurt you." His calm voice reverberated in her ears and she slowly calmed down. Feeling her relax in his arms, he gently wiped the tears that streaked her face, and softly kissed her cheek. Lee patiently waited until her breathing was steady before questioning her about her nightmare.
"Amanda?" Lee probed gently in a concerned tone.
She nodded reluctantly, lowering her face, so he couldn't look into her eyes.
He noticed that she was avoiding him. He put his hand under her chin and gently raised it, so he could look deep into her beautiful eyes. What he saw reflected there pained him to no end. He saw a look of terror that he’d never seen before. Carefully choosing his words, he asked the one question that he knew she didn’t want to answer, but he had to find out.
"What’s frightened you so much, Amanda?" he prodded gently. He felt her tighten her hold on him, and knew that whatever she had dreamt about was eating her alive. "Amanda, I know this is hard for you to talk about, but I would like to help get you through this. We can get through anything together."
Amanda sat up and turned her body so it was facing Lee’s. He took both of her hands and looked at her with such tenderness as she replayed the horrific scene that she had witnessed in her dream.
"I had a dream that we were leaving for work," she began slowly. "You were standing beside me as I was locking up the house, then a car came out of nowhere and shot at us." She stopped and looked away from Lee, dreading the next part of the dream.
He realized that she was holding back, not telling him everything. "Amanda, there isn’t anything that you can’t tell me," he said gently as he started stroking her hair.
She turned to look at her husband with such extreme sadness. She could barely squeak out her next words. Feeling his strength, and seeing such love in his eyes, she began in a shaky voice, "Lee, you…were shot in the chest and….died in my arms." No longer being able to control her emotions, she broke down.
"Oh, Amanda!" he exclaimed, as he wrapped his arms around her and held her as she cried. He felt so helpless as he attempted to comfort her, and waited until her cries subsided before speaking to her again. "Amanda," he began, "look at me." She raised her head from his chest and looked into Lee’s worried face. He gently wiped her tears away, and took her hand and placed it on his heart. "See, I’m alive. It was just a dream. I don’t plan on going anywhere without you. No one can ever take me away from you."
Touched by the sincerity of his words, Amanda hesitated before saying what she felt in her heart. "Lee, when I realized that you were dead and I had lost you forever, I wanted to die with you. I can’t live my life without you by my side. I love you so much, Lee. More than I have ever loved anyone." Finding herself close to tears again, she rose from the bed and walked over to the window.
Lee had never loved her more than at that very moment. Never in his life had he felt such a connection towards one person. He couldn’t imagine living his life without her, either. Feeling the need to hold her close to him, he walked over to where she was standing and pulled her into his arms. He parted slightly after the embrace, so he could look at her as he told her what came straight from his heart. He reached out to her and tilted her delicate chin upward. "Amanda," he said looking into her eyes, "I love you, too…so very much".
"Lee…" Amanda interjected.
"Listen to me," he said gently as he reached up to brush a strand of hair from her tear-stained face. "There was a time, before I met you, when all I wanted was to live my life alone," he stopped for a moment, his voice choked with emotion. "But then, you came into my life, and all I wanted was to be with you. You have brought so much joy into my life, and so much love. More than I had ever hoped for. Amanda, I can’t imagine you not being a part of my life. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me." Without hesitating, he got down on one knee, and looked into her beautiful brown eyes. "Will you do me the honor of marrying me?" he said with true conviction and love in his eyes.
"What?" Amanda asked in surprise. "Lee, we’re already married."
"We got married, alone, without our friends and family," he amended. "It would mean so much to me to share our happiness with the people we love. Besides, everyone already knows about our marriage. It could be a party of celebration, a celebration of our love. What do you say?" he asked hopefully.
Amanda’s eyes sparkled for the first time that night. "Oh, Lee!" she cried excitedly as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately. After several minutes, he pulled away from their intense kiss, leaving them both breathless. "Can I take that as a yes?"
Amanda looked into his eyes, seeing all of the love he had for her. Tears welled into her eyes for the third time that night as she nodded her head. "Yes!" she whispered. Leaning towards her, he put his arms around her waist and embraced her, cradling his head into the crook of her arm.
As they broke apart, Amanda let out a yawn. Seeing how truly exhausted she looked and feeling tired himself, he picked her up and carried her to the bed. He gently laid her down and then positioned himself beside her.
"It’s late," he whispered. "First thing tomorrow, we’ll tell everyone our wonderful news."
"Sounds like a plan, Stetson" Amanda said, sounding like her old self again. "I love you, Lee!" She gave him a quick kiss on the lips before snuggling into his arms and quickly falling asleep.
"I love you, too, Mrs. Stetson!" Lee replied. He gently kissed her forehead and fell fast asleep, the events of the night finally taking their toll.
Maplewood Drive, Early Saturday Morning
Amanda woke up early the next morning, contentedly wrapped in the loving arms of her husband. She let out a sigh of relief seeing that he was very much alive. The nightmare had seemed so real, that waking up next to him was like heaven to her. She always felt safe and secure when Lee had his arms around her and this morning was no exception.
Shifting her body around, she found herself looking into Lee’s gentle eyes. "Good Morning!" she said cheerfully as she leaned into him for a kiss.
"Good morning, beautiful! How are you feeling?" he asked worriedly, the events of last night replaying in his head.
"I’m much better, thanks to you," she acknowledged, caressing his handsome face.
"My pleasure!" He pulled his arms tighter around his wife’s slim form, and turned her face towards his, so she was looking into his eyes. "I meant what I said last night, Amanda. I’m not going anywhere."
"I’ll hold you to that." I have no intention of ever losing him, she thought to herself. She gently kissed him, and ran her fingers through his soft hair, stroking it gently. He deepened their kiss, which she eagerly responded to. As things were beginning to heat up, they heard noises from the kitchen, downstairs.
Realizing that everyone in the house was now awake, Amanda reluctantly broke off their kiss to her husband’s dismay. Before pulling herself from his embrace, she said, "We’d better get downstairs." As she got out of bed and put on her robe, she added, "The sooner we tell them, the sooner we can continue THIS discussion," she gave him a devilish smile, which he knew, all too well.
"What are we waiting for?" he answered with a twinkle in his eyes. He quickly rose from their bed and put on his robe. Taking Amanda’s hand, they went downstairs.
Amanda and Lee walked into the busy kitchen holding hands, just as a fight was brewing.
"I can’t believe you took that picture of me, Jamie!"
"I think it’s a good likeness of you," Jamie teased, holding out the picture for his family to see.
"What are you planning to do with that picture?" Phillip asked curiously.
"I’m going to enter it in the photography contest at school. Mrs. Flynn thinks it will win an award," Jamie replied proudly.
"You showed it to your teacher!" Phillip yelled. "I’m going to get you for that wormbrain," he warned.
"Phillip, don’t call your brother wormbrain," Amanda said sternly to her older son. "What’s going on here?" she questioned loudly, crossing her arms in front of her.
"Junior took a picture of me while I was sleeping, and now he wants to enter it in some contest at school," Phillip explained as he gave his brother a dirty look.
Lee stood to the side watching this display of sibling rivalry. Not having had a chance to grow up with a sibling, Lee took pleasure in seeing the two boys together, whether they were fighting or quietly eating their meals. He gave Amanda a lot of credit for putting up with these two. They were quite a handful.
Seeing this as an opportunity to put his newfound parenting skills to work, Lee stepped in between the two bickering boys. "All right, guys, separate corners," he ordered.
"Stay out of this, Lee!" Phillip warned loudly. "You’re not our father!"
"Phillip!" Amanda scolded loudly.
Lee felt like he had been punched in the stomach upon hearing Phillip’s harsh words. Since he had moved into the King house, Lee had gotten a chance to know his stepsons a lot better. He had become a fixture in their lives, giving them the support that they needed at those times when their own father was not around. He had even started going to their baseball games, and took them to the track once or twice when Amanda wasn’t around. On several occasions, they’d even taken the ‘Vette for a spin. He loved them as much as a father could love his sons. Hearing Phillip’s outburst was somewhat unexpected, and Lee tried not to let his feelings show how hurt he was.
Running his fingers through his hair, Lee said calmly, "No, I’m not your biological father, Phillip, but I would like to be a part of your life. Both of your lives," he added, looking over at Jamie. "I would never want to take the place of your father, but I hope that someday you can think of me in that way. For the time being, I would like for us to be friends, if you will both let me". He walked over to Jamie and put his hand on his shoulder. "Jamie, there must be some other picture you could enter in place of this one," he said to the younger boy.
"Yeah, but…" Jamie protested.
"I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if your brother took a picture of you without your knowledge and showed it to all of his friends. Would you, champ?" Lee asked, raising his eyebrows.
"No, I guess not," Jamie replied shyly, looking away uncomfortably.
"You’ve taken some great pictures, Jamie. Why don’t you enter a different one?" he suggested.
Smiling at Lee’s compliment, Jamie replied, "I will. Thanks Lee." Looking away awkwardly, he added, "I’m glad you’re my stepfather."
"Thanks, champ, I appreciate that," Lee replied, smiling at his youngest stepson.
Phillip walked over to Jamie and apologized to him. He then walked over to Lee. "I’m sorry for saying that you’re not our father, Lee," he said honestly. "The truth is that you are more of a father to us than our real one is. I didn’t mean what I said, and I’m sorry I hurt you. I think you’re a great stepfather."
"Thanks, chief, that means a lot to me," Lee returned with a broad smile, patting the boy on his shoulder. He turned to look at the woman who had given him so much, and thought back to all of the years that he was alone, and remembered how empty his life really was. Amanda had changed all of that by giving him her love, and now, he had the love of her incredible sons. Finally being accepted by Phillip and Jamie, particularly after all that had transpired over the last year, meant the world to him. At that very moment, he truly felt as though he was a member of this family that he loved so much.
Amanda looked deeply into her husband’s eyes and saw a contentment that she had never seen in them before. The scene she had witnessed between her sons and her husband had touched her deeply. Since the day she’d married Lee, she had dreamed of them becoming a family, a real family. Now, it looked like that dream was slowly becoming a reality. The love she had for Lee was stronger than she ever felt possible. He continued to amaze her with the love that he showered upon her and she knew that he was truly her soul mate.
Now that there was harmony between the boys, Amanda decided that it was the perfect time to make their announcement. She cleared her throat loudly, causing everyone to look in her direction. "Mother, boys, Lee and I have some news that we would like to share with you."
Dotty smiled excitedly in anticipation of her daughter and son-in-law’s announcement.
Lee walked over to Amanda and took a hold of her hand. She smiled at him before continuing. "Last night, Lee asked me to marry him."
"YES!!!" Phillip said excitedly.
"Wait," Jamie replied looking to Lee, then Amanda with a somewhat confused expression on his face. "I thought you were already married?"
Amanda walked to where Jamie stood and led him to sit on the sofa. Amanda sat beside him and took his hand in hers.
"Oh, Sweetheart, we are married." Amanda replied, knowing that Jamie must have thought that they were lying to him again.
"Then why do you need to get married again?" Jamie asked curiously, not giving his mother any slack.
"We don’t NEED to get married. We WANT to," Amanda stressed, trying to make Jamie understand.
Jamie was still a little confused and looked pleadingly at his mother and then at Lee.
Lee walked to Jamie’s side and knelt on the floor next to him. He put his hand on Jamie’s shoulder. "Jamie, your mother and I were married alone. We didn’t have any of the people that love us there to share our happiness. We just want to renew our vows, so all of you can be there this time."
"I guess I never thought about it that way," Jamie replied. "I’m glad we’ll get to be there this time."
Amanda put her arms around Jamie and gave him a warm embrace as Lee rose from the floor and mussed his hair a little.
As Amanda pulled away, she asked, "Phillip, would you come here, please?"
Amanda gestured for Phillip to sit on the other side of her.
"Fellas, there’s something I’d like to ask you." Amanda put one arm around each of the boys.
"What?" They responded in unison.
"Well, I would like for you both to walk me down the aisle when Lee and I are married." Amanda glanced from Phillip to Jamie not sure how they would react.
"Mom, we’d love to," said Phillip.
"That’d be cool, Mom," Jamie said.
"And Jamie," Amanda continued looking to her youngest son, "would you like to be our photographer?"
"Aw, Mom, do you mean it?" Jamie asked excitedly.
"Of course, I mean it, Sweetheart!" Amanda responded lovingly.
"Oh Mom, I won’t let you and Lee down, I promise," Jamie said barely containing his enthusiasm.
Amanda pulled both boys towards her chest giving them a hug before looking up at Lee. Lee nodded. She said to the boys, "I think Lee has something to talk to you about, too."
Lee sat on the edge of the sofa next to Jamie. "Guys, I would like to ask if you would stand with me when I marry your mother."
Phillip looked up at Lee. "You mean you want us to be up at the altar with you?"
"Yes, I do." Lee responded. "We are a family, now, and I want you to be there with me, but only if you want to."
Phillip and Jamie looked at each other and said simultaneously, "Sure!"
Phillip rose from the sofa, walked over to Lee, and put his arm around his shoulder. "Lee, we are glad that you’re part of the family. Thanks for including us."
Phillip then turned to Jamie, "How about a game of basketball?"
"Sounds great!" Jamie got up from the sofa, and on his way outside he stopped briefly beside Lee and simply said, "Thank you."
Lee thought, ‘It’s me that should be saying thank you for letting me be a part of your lives.’
Dotty silently watched Lee and Amanda’s conversation with the boys. After the boys had gone outside, Dotty went over to hug Lee and Amanda and cried joyfully, "It’s about time!"
As they parted, she took Amanda’s hands and said excitedly, "I’m going to give the two of you a wedding that you will never forget."
Amanda looked over at Lee, dreading what she would say next. He smiled at her in encouragement.
"Mother, Lee and I appreciate your offer, but we would just like a small intimate wedding to take place two weeks from today on our one year anniversary."
Dotty sat down in the nearest chair, stunned. Her face clearly showed her disappointment in not being able to give her daughter a big wedding. Realizing how disappointed her mother was, Amanda knelt next to Dotty’s chair, taking her mother’s hands into hers. "Mother, I know you were looking forward to planning an elaborate wedding, but this is what Lee and I want. We don’t need a big wedding to show everyone how much we love each other. I could get married in a shack and it would still be one of the happiest days of my life."
A slow smile spread across Dotty’s face upon hearing her daughter’s admission. "I just want to see you happy, Darling and I can see how happy Lee makes you. It is obvious that the two of you are very much in love," she said as she looked over at her son-in-law. "I will go along with whatever type of wedding you want, just as long as we are a part of it."
"Thanks Mother! This means a lot to us," Amanda said as she leaned over and hugged Dotty.
Watching the exchange between his wife and her mother, Lee had a new impression of his mother-in-law. Like Amanda, she never ceased to amaze him. He walked over to where Amanda and Dotty were sitting and gave Dotty a hug. "Thanks for understanding, Dotty," Lee said as they parted.
Quickly composing herself, Dotty rose from the chair to get a pencil and paper. "We’d better get started," she said.
IFF Conference Room, Monday Morning
"Quiet, everyone!" Billy called over the noisy conference room. "Before we adjourn," he said addressing the agents at the morning briefing, "I have been informed that Scarecrow and Mrs. King have an announcement to make."
The noise level in the room raised a couple of decibels as Lee and Amanda walked to the front of the room. Taking a hold of Amanda’s hand, Lee cleared his throat before addressing his fellow agents.
"Um, as most of you already know, Amanda and I eloped last February. Our thinking, at the time, was that we wanted to protect her family, I mean OUR family," Lee amended smiling at Amanda. "Now that our secret is out," he continued, "Amanda and I have decided to get married, again, this time, with all of our family and friends." Taking both of Amanda’s hands and looking into her eyes, he said, with much emotion, "I want everyone in this room to know that I love Amanda very much, and it would mean the world to us if all of you would join us in celebrating our special day."
"Congratulations to you both!" Billy said to his favorite team. "Get to work, everyone." Billy announced as he adjourned the meeting and headed towards his office. All of the agents gathered around Lee and Amanda to offer their congratulations before filing out of the conference room.
After accepting everyone’s good wishes, Lee and Amanda left the conference room. As they were returning to the Q-Bureau, they stopped to speak to Mrs. Marston.
Amanda walked over to her desk as Lee stood by the stairs. "Mrs. Marston, Lee and I are going to renew our wedding vows on February 13th,,which is our anniversary, and we would very much like you to attend."
Mrs. Marston looked over to Lee, and he returned a warm smile. She then looked up at Amanda. "I would be happy to attend. I’m so happy for you both!" She came around from behind the desk, and gave Amanda a hug and whispered in her ear, "I’m glad you finally made an honest man of our Scarecrow!"
"Thanks, Mrs. Marston," Amanda returned with a smile.
Lee and Amanda walked up to the Q Bureau, and after they entered the office, he spun her around and asked, "So, what did Mrs. Marston say to you?"
Amanda responded with a laugh, "It was nothing….just ‘girl talk.’"
Lee put his arms tightly around her, "You know, I do have ways of making you talk."
"Oh, you do, do you?" Amanda replied seductively as she placed her arms around his neck.
Lee leaned down and kissed her gently on the lips and then continued working his way slowly down her neck. "Are you going to tell me now, hmmm?"
"I’ve been trained to resist all types of interrogation tactics, now, but, in this case, I think I’ll give my unconditional surrender." Amanda leaned up and kissed him softly. "As much as I’m enjoying this, we do really need to get to work. I have a stack of filing a mile high."
"Did you *have* to mention that?" he groaned, the disappointment apparent in his voice.
Amanda laughed, "Well, we are at work."
"Oh, all right. You win. But we will resume this at home, Mrs. Stetson." Lee gave her one last kiss before retreating to his desk.
Amanda walked to her desk and picked up the items to be filed. "I’ll look forward to it, Mr. Stetson." She then proceeded into the vault.
Lee sat down at his desk reviewing his notes from the morning briefing. Fortunately, it appeared to be a quiet time in the intelligence community. He just hoped it would stay that way.
Suddenly, he remembered something he had wanted to do earlier.
"Amanda," he called out.
"Yeah," Amanda replied from the vault where she was doing some filing.
"Since you’re having lunch with Joe today, would you mind if I asked your mother to join me?"
"No, not at all," Amanda replied, albeit a bit surprised, as she popped her head out of the vault.
"Why do you sound so astonished?" Lee stood and slowly approached her.
Amanda grinned as she stepped from the vault. "I don’t know. I guess, I’m just surprised that you’d want to be alone with Mother. You know how she can talk."
"Well, you know, I’ve had a little practice with that," he winked and put his hands around her waist.
"Yeah," Amanda laughed as she put her arms around his neck, "I suppose you have."
Lee leaned down and gave her a quick peck on the lips.
"Really, Amanda," Lee responded quite seriously. "We’ve been married almost a year, and I hardly know your mother. I’d just like the chance to get to know her better….and for her to know me."
"Lee," Amanda responded still smiling, "I’m sure she’d be thrilled. I mean, she does think you’re an "11" on a 10 point scale."
"She does?" Lee said in surprise as he pulled her tightly into his arms.
Amanda nodded. "She told me that once when she thought I wasn’t interested in dating you because she just couldn’t understand it. Of course, she didn’t know the truth. So think of how happy she’ll be to have her handsome son-in-law take her to lunch."
Lee, grinning like a Cheshire cat at the comments, replied, "Great. I’ll give her a call." Lee, again, leaned in and gave Amanda a tender kiss and began to release his grip.
"You don’t have to call right now, do you?" she asked as she moved in closer.
"Well, I guess there’s something a little more important requiring my attention." Lee smiled and kissed her. The intensity of their kisses had quickly increased until the phone rang.
They rested their foreheads against each other and Lee said, "If it’s not one interruption, it’s another." They shared a laugh at their *bad* luck.
Lee reluctantly answered the phone, while Amanda returned to her filing. Luckily, it was Billy, just asking if he could meet with Lee later in the day.
Lee sat down at his desk. He paused for a moment before picking up the phone and dialing home.
The phone rang three times before Dotty answered.
"Hello, Dotty. It’s Lee."
Amanda was listening intently from inside the vault.
"No, Dotty. Really. Amanda’s fine. She’s here at the office with me." Lee just shook his head in amusement.
"Actually, I was calling to ask you to join me for lunch."
"We can go another day if you have plans." Amanda hearing this just smiled. She knew what was coming next.
"If you’re sure."
"Okay, then. I’ll pick you up at 12:00."
"Bye." Lee smiled to himself and hung up the phone.
Amanda again stepped out of the vault. "See, I told you so."
Lee looked up and gazed at Amanda. "What?"
"About my mother. She just canceled plans with her garden club to go out with you."
"Well, you know, I am pretty special," Lee grinned broadly.
Amanda strolled over to Lee’s desk and embraced him from behind. "Yeah, you are and I love you."
Lee took her left hand from around his neck and kissed it tenderly. "I love you, too, Amanda."
Emelio's, Early Monday Afternoon
"It’s so good to see you, Joe," Amanda said as she hugged him, and proceeded to sit in the empty chair across from him.
"I’m always happy to see you, Amanda," he admitted, bringing a smile to Amanda’s face. "It seems like the only time I see you," he continued, "is when I pick up the boys and drop them off. I was pleasantly surprised to hear from you."
Their waiter, who arrived to take their order, momentarily interrupted their conversation.
As soon as the waiter departed, Joe turned his attention back to Amanda. As he looked into her eyes, he noticed how happy and full of life they were. He started to get jealous, but soon realized the reason why she was happy. That reason was Lee Stetson. He had never seen her so happy, until Lee became a part of her life. Looking at her beautiful face, Joe could see that she was obviously distracted, and was smiling nonchalantly as though she was thinking about something pleasant.
"Amanda!" Joe called again, tugging on her arm at the same time.
"Oh, I’m sorry, Joe. What were you saying?"
"Where were you, Amanda? You seemed to be a million miles away."
Amanda blushed as she realized that her thoughts were on Lee and their upcoming wedding. "I’m sorry, Sweetheart. My mind must have been elsewhere. I actually asked you to lunch for a reason. I wanted to invite you and Carrie to my wedding."
"Amanda, do you mean you and Lee…"
"He asked me last night," Amanda broke in happily. "We want to make it official, at least where our family and friends are concerned. We’ve already asked the boys to serve as groomsmen, and they are ecstatic. Mother is beside herself. You should have seen Jamie’s face when I asked him to be our photographer. Lee’s a wonderful man, Joe."
Joe took a hold of Amanda’s hand. "Oh, Amanda, I’m so happy for you and Lee. It’s written all over your face how much in love you are with him. Even more than you loved me, I suspect," he said reluctantly. "Your happiness is very important to me, Amanda. That’s all I have ever wanted for you," he choked out.
"Thanks, Joe. That means a lot to me." Amanda smiled brightly at Joe’s admission, knowing how hard it was for Joe to admit that to her. The waiter arrived with their lunch, and the rest of the meal was spent discussing the boys.
La Bergerie, Alexandria, VA, Early Monday Afternoon
Lee had decided to take Dotty to a restaurant that he himself had never been to before. He had no doubts as to it’s quality; though, as it had been recommended to him by many of his contacts.
As they were escorted to their table, Dotty took in the beauty of the restaurant. It was in a historic brick warehouse but was so elegant. The tables were covered in white linen with china place settings, crystal glasses, and a vase of flowers in the center.
Lee and Dotty were seated in a booth in the corner. They quickly reviewed the menus and placed their order.
Dotty, not wasting a moment, said, "Okay, Lee, what is so important that you needed to talk to me alone?"
Lee just shook his head, and gave her one of his winning smiles. "Well, Dotty….actually, I need your help and some advice."
"You should know by now that I’m always willing to give my opinion."
"Yeah, I know. Like mother, like daughter." They both laughed.
"What can I help you with, Lee?" Dotty asked inquisitively.
Lee looked into her eyes. "Dotty, Amanda sometimes wears a heart shaped necklace that I know is very special to her but she never told me why. Do you know the significance?"
"Yes, I do. It is very, very special to her. Why do you want to know?" Dotty’s memories started flooding back.
"I’ve heard it’s traditional for a bride to wear something new and…uh…oh, I can’t remember.
"Oh, Lee," Dotty responded laughing. "A bride is supposed to wear something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue."
Dotty could tell that Lee wasn’t very experienced in this type of thing, but she couldn’t fault him for trying.
"Yeah, that’s it. Anyway, I was thinking of having earrings made for her that match her necklace, if you thought it would be okay," Lee asked hopefully.
"Lee, that’s a lovely idea. I think it would mean a lot to Amanda. You’ll understand why when I tell you where she got the necklace."
Amanda awoke to the morning sun streaming through her bedroom window. She walked over to it and looked outside. A few inches of snow had fallen overnight, but now, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Even at sixteen, she was still excited about Christmas. She grabbed her robe and headed down the stairs.
Phillip and Dotty West snuggled together in front of the fireplace, as was their tradition. After arranging the presents, they spent the evening taking in the beauty of their Christmas tree, and just being together. They often fell asleep right there on the sofa. This year was no exception. They were already awake when they heard Amanda coming down the stairs.
"Merry Christmas, Darling!" Dotty rose from the couch, and tightly embraced her daughter giving her a kiss.
"Merry Christmas, Mother, Daddy!"
Amanda went to the couch and gave her father a hug, and he pulled her down onto his lap.
"Daddy, I am a little old for this," Amanda protested.
"You’ll never be too old. You’re always going to be my ‘little girl!’" Phillip grinned, knowing how uncomfortable his daughter was.
"Oh, Daddy," Amanda sighed.
Dotty smiled as she watched this exchange. She thought, ‘She really is Daddy’s little girl.’
"Okay, Honey, what would you like for breakfast?" Dotty asked from the kitchen.
"How ‘bout waffles?" She looked into her father’s eyes while speaking. "Is that okay with you, Daddy?"
"Sounds great, Sweetheart!" Phillip gave her a big bear hug. "Let’s go help your mother."
They finished their breakfast and went into the family room to open their gifts.
Dotty and Phillip looked on as Amanda tore through her gifts. She opened all of them, except one. Every year, her father bought something special for her that was just from him. She always opened that gift last.
This year it was a very small box. Amanda was intrigued. Of course, at sixteen, she was secretly hoping for car keys.
She proceeded to open the package slowly, and found a beautiful necklace. The necklace had individual diamond stones in the shape of a heart, hanging from a platinum chain.
"Oh, Daddy, it’s beautiful," Amanda said while pulling the necklace carefully out of the box.
Amanda walked over to her father, and with her hand outstretched, she asked, "Would you put it on me, Daddy?"
Phillip, accepting the necklace, replied, "Of course, Sweetheart!"
He fastened the necklace around her neck, and once again, pulled his ‘little girl’ onto his lap.
"Honey, when you wear this, I want you to always remember how much I love you."
Amanda had tears in her eyes. "Oh, Daddy. I will. I promise."
She gave him a hug and a kiss. "I love you so much, Daddy!"
It made Lee smile hearing Dotty’s memories of Christmas in the West household. It made him realize just how much he had missed during his own childhood. But he refused to dwell on the past.
Lee looked into Dotty’s face, and saw her happiness turn to sadness in an instant.
Tears welled in her eyes as she continued, "Phillip died suddenly, just five weeks later. That necklace was the last gift he ever gave her."
Lee placed his hand over Dotty’s to try to comfort her.
"Oh, Lee. I’m sorry," Dotty said while looking in her purse for a tissue.
Lee tightened his hold of Dotty’s hand. "Dotty, you have nothing to be sorry for. Thank you for sharing the story with me."
Dotty quickly regained her composure. "Lee, Darling, you don’t have to thank me. I can see the love you have for Amanda in your eyes. I’m very happy that she found you, and I know Phillip would be, too."
"Are you sure Amanda would like the earrings?" Lee asked.
Dotty patted Lee’s hand. "I’m very sure."
They had a lovely time getting to know one another. Dotty regaled him with stories of Amanda's childhood, and he told her a little about his childhood with the Colonel.
Lee parked the Corvette in front of the house in Arlington. He went around to the passenger side, opened the door, and took Dotty’s hand to help her out of the car. He put her arm around his and escorted her up the walk. He proceeded to take his keys and unlock the front door.
Lee turned to look Dotty in the eyes. "It has always amazed me what a special woman Amanda is. But you know, it’s not so surprising now…She’s just like her mother!"
Dotty was so moved by Lee’s statement that she was speechless. He gave her a kiss on the cheek and walked back to the car. He waved, and before getting in, called, "Thanks, Dotty. I’ll see you tonight."
Dotty was still speechless, but managed a wave before Lee pulled away.
Dotty thought, as she entered the house, ‘I’d say Amanda has herself someone pretty special, too!’
Q-Bureau, Late Monday afternoon
Amanda looked up from her desk, and gazed at Lee standing across the room, dreading what she was about to mention.
"Lee," Amanda said reluctantly, "you know there is someone else we need to invite to the wedding."
Lee turned to look at Amanda, knowing precisely whom she was referring to. He shook his head in disbelief, "You can't be serious. That man will ruin our whole day."
Amanda pleaded with her eyes, "I know, Lee. I'm not happy about the thought, either. But since we've invited everyone in the bullpen, I think things will just get worse if we don't at least make the effort."
"Oh, I know, but it doesn't mean I have to like it, does it?" Lee responded.
Amanda rose from her desk, walked over to Lee, and placed her right hand along his cheek. "No, of course not, Sweetheart."
Lee pulled her into an embrace that he was reluctant to release. "Well, I suppose I'd better call and see if we can arrange to meet with him," he said hesitantly.
Lee released his hold of Amanda and went to his desk, unwilling to do what he knew was necessary.
Lee picked up the phone and dialed the Agency Director's office.
After a few rings the secretary answered. Lee listened to her greeting, and then responded, "Hello, this is Lee Stetson. Amanda and I need to see Dr. Smyth as soon as possible." He secretly wished that Dr. Smyth would be on a month long vacation.
"Okay, that will be fine. We'll see you at 10:00, tomorrow morning. Thank you," Lee reluctantly acknowledged the appointment.
Amanda walked over to where Lee was standing, and put her arm around his waist, "Don't worry, Sweetheart, nothing is going to spoil our wedding day. We won't let it!"
He leaned down and gave her a lingering kiss, then, suddenly, broke away, "Oh Amanda, I almost forgot. I've got to go see Billy." He gave her another quick kiss and left the office.
IFF, Late Monday Afternoon
Lee walked into the busy bullpen, and towards Billy's office. Taking a deep breath, he knocked on his boss's door and waited for the reply.
"Come in," Billy answered after seeing Lee through the open blinds.
"Ah, Billy, can I talk to you for a second?" Lee asked peeking his head around the door.
"Sure, Scarecrow," Billy said cheerfully, and motioned towards the chair directly across from him. "By the way," he added as soon as Lee sat down, "when you see Amanda, mention to her that she did a great job on those security checks."
"I'll tell her as soon as I return to the Q-Bureau," Lee returned hesitantly.
"Do you have something on your mind, Scarecrow," Billy asked curiously.
Lee shifted in his chair uncomfortably, not being able to meet his boss's eyes. "Amanda met her ex-husband for lunch today at Emelio's," Lee admitted with a sad expression on his face.
Billy smiled at his favorite agent, seeing the jealousy he felt towards his wife's ex-husband. "Lee, all they had was lunch. I don't see why that should bother you so much."
"It's not that I don't trust Amanda," Lee justified with much conviction. "I love her with all of my heart and I know that she returns that love and would never do anything to hurt me."
"Then, what's the problem?" Billy asked the frustrated agent.
"I don't trust Joe," Lee confessed. "During all of the time he was away, Billy, he never made an effort to contact her or the boys. Now that he's back in town, he's a constant presence in our lives and I don't like it!"
"Lee, you said yourself that Amanda loves you. I see the way she looks at you. I saw a connection between you two the first time you were together. That's why I kept pushing you to work with her. You can't tell me after all this time that you believe she would choose her ex-husband over you. Do you?"
"No, I don't!" Lee admitted forcefully. "I don't know what I was thinking," he admitted to his boss and best friend.
Billy laughed. "I know you, Lee, and I know how jealous you get, particularly where Amanda is concerned." He got up from his desk and walked over to where Lee was sitting. Putting his hand on Lee's shoulder, he looked directly into his eyes. "Amanda is the best thing that ever happened to you. Don't be a fool and throw all of that away over your jealousy."
Lee got out of his chair and shook Billy's hand. "Thanks Billy!" Collecting his thoughts, Lee hesitated before saying what came directly from his heart. "Listen, Billy, if it weren't for you and your persistence, Amanda and I would not be together, and I would have missed out on the best thing in my life. I have never been this happy before. She brings out the best in me. I don't know how I can ever repay you."
Billy looked at the man standing before him, never believing in a million years the change that had taken place to his best agent. "Lee, you don't owe me anything. Your happiness is payment enough. You were a lone wolf before she came into your life. All I did was put the two of you together, hoping that nature would take its course, and it did, very nicely, if I may say so," Billy said proudly. "You two have such great chemistry. I figured that having her around would calm that temper of yours, and maybe make you a nicer person to be around. Now, I can see that she did just that and a whole lot more. You are a different person, Scarecrow," Billy admitted.
Lee looked at his boss, seeing a man who was his teacher as well as his best friend. "You went to bat for me, Billy, more times than I can count, and you’ve been a real friend to me. I would be honored if you would be my best man."
"It would be my pleasure," Billy replied as he hugged the man standing before him. When they parted, Billy walked back to his desk. "Lee, you and Amanda are like family to me, and nothing would please me more than to watch the two of you get married, even if it is for the second time," he teased as he sat down. "I am truly touched," he admitted, "thank you".
"No, thank you, Billy." Lee said as he stood up and opened the office door. Smiling at his boss, he walked out of the office and into the crowded bullpen.
Billy smiled at Lee's retreating figure before returning to the work in front of him.
Q-Bureau, Late Monday Afternoon
Francine opened the Q-Bureau door, secretly hoping to catch Lee and Amanda in, yet, another compromising position. Instead her eyes fell upon Amanda diligently typing away on Lee’s computer.
"You wanted to see me, Amanda?"
Amanda was concentrating, so intently, that she didn’t see Francine walk in.
"Francine!" Amanda exclaimed, nearly jumping out of Lee’s chair. "You shouldn’t sneak up on somebody like that. Gosh, you’re just as bad as Lee," she snapped.
"I’ll take that as a compliment, Amanda. What did you want to see me about?"
"Well, Francine," Amanda said as she rose and walked over to the couch. "I know that we have had our ups and downs, but lately, especially after what happened with Jonathan, I feel that we have gotten closer. I hope you feel the same way." Amanda sat down on the couch and motioned to Francine to do the same.
"Before I answer you, Amanda, I want you to know that I will deny anything that is said here, if this should ever get out," she warned. "To tell you the truth, I feel as though you have become a true friend to me. Both you and Lee."
"I will never forget how you helped me get through Jonathan’s death, Amanda. That meant a lot to me. I’m sorry for the way I treated you in the past. I guess I was jealous of how you just came in here, with no experience, and got to work with the best agent. And, yet, you still went home at the end of the day to be a mother to your children. I envy you, Amanda. You have so much in your life, and I have no one." Francine turned away from Amanda as tears started to form in her eyes.
"Francine, you know that is not true. You have me and Lee and Billy. We all care about you." Amanda was surprised by this turn of events.
Francine looked at Amanda in awe. After all that had happened between them, Amanda had forgiven her. She realized, right then, how much of a friend Amanda really was to her. "Oh, Amanda, I see why Lee loves you so much. Even after the way I have treated you in the past…"
"Francine, that’s all in the past," Amanda pointed out. I don’t hold that against you. Let’s move forward. I called you up here because I wanted to ask you to be my bridesmaid."
"You want me to be a bridesmaid?" She looked over at Amanda, who nodded in the affirmative. "Amanda, I would be honored. I can see how happy you make Lee and vice versa. I hope one day I can meet someone who loves me as much as that man loves you. Thank you, Amanda, for everything. Lee is very lucky to have you."
Francine quickly composed herself and walked towards the door. Before she opened the door, she warned, "Remember, Amanda, if you ever say a word about what took place today, I will deny it." She quickly closed the door behind her before Amanda could say anything. Amanda just shook her head, and walked back to the desk to resume her typing.
As Francine walked down the hallway, she saw Lee heading in her direction. She quickly composed herself so Lee wouldn’t notice what had just transpired.
"Hi, Francine!" Lee said cheerfully.
"Out of my way, Stetson!" she snapped back.
Lee shrugged his shoulders and opened the door to the Q-Bureau. He saw Amanda sitting behind his desk.
Amanda smiled brightly as she saw her husband walk towards her. "Hello, stranger!"
"Hey, beautiful!" Lee said as he leaned over to kiss her cheek.
"So, Mrs. Stetson," Lee said as he walked behind Amanda and began to massage her neck and shoulders. "How did Francine take the news? Not well, I assume, by the way she just stormed past me."
"Mmm…" Amanda sighed as she gave in to Lee’s ministrations. "She actually took it quite well, and was happy to be chosen as my bridesmaid. Maybe she was in a hurry and you were in her way. You know Francine." Amanda teased rolling her eyes. Lee nodded. Amanda quickly changed the subject. "What did Billy say?"
"He was very happy for us, and was honored to be my best man. Lee moved his hands lower down Amanda’s back. "He told me that we are like family to him".
"Billy is a wonderful man. We are very lucky to have him as our boss as well as our friend." Amanda acknowledged. "Ooh…Lee, as much as I’m enjoying what you are doing to me, if you don’t stop that right now, I’m not going to be able to get any work done. I love you, but you are a big distraction."
"I love you, too. Okay, okay, I’ll leave for a while. But I’ll be back," he teased as he started to nibble on her neck.
"Lee…Oh, you know how I love it when you do that. " She leaned back into him and let herself enjoy the sensations he was stirring within her. Losing control she sighed in resignation. "Oh, what the heck, I can finish this up tomorrow. I did promise you that we would continue what we started this morning," she said mischievously. "Let’s get out of here quickly before I change my mind." Getting up, she shut down Lee’s computer, and retrieved her purse from her desk drawer.
That was all the encouragement that Lee needed. He took Amanda’s hand and led her out the door.
Outside Dr. Smyth's Office, Early Tuesday Morning
Lee and Amanda reluctantly approached Dr. Smyth's secretary. She saw them, and gestured towards the chairs in front of her. "He's finishing up a phone call. He'll be with you, shortly."
Amanda pleasantly responded, "Thank you," as they sat down.
Only five minutes had passed when the secretary told them to enter, but to them, it seemed like thirty.
They stood and went to the closed door. Lee slowly opened the door and they entered the office.
Dr. Smyth stood, and walked to the front of his desk, leaning back against it.
"Well, well, Scarecrow, Mrs. King. Oh, excuse me, is that Mrs. Stetson or Mrs. King-Stetson, now?" Dr. Smyth said sarcastically.
Amanda, trying to stay calm, replied, "Mrs. Stetson would be fine. Thank you, Sir".
"And what can I do for the two of you, today? Not another trip to England, I hope."
Lee, using all his strength of will, said, "Dr. Smyth, I know we haven't always gotten along, but Amanda and I are renewing our wedding vows on February 13th, and we'd like to you to come."
Dr. Smyth looked to Lee and then Amanda, and shook his head, "No can do, kiddies. I have a previous commitment that weekend."
Amanda responded, "I'm sorry to hear that, Sir. But if your plans change, you're welcome to come."
Dr. Smyth responded with a nod. "Is that all you wanted?"
"Yes, Sir." Amanda replied.
"Then get back to work," Dr. Smyth demanded.
Lee and Amanda turned and left the office. As they were going back to the Q-Bureau, they couldn't get the smiles off their faces.
Q-Bureau, Tuesday Afternoon
Amanda sat at Lee’s desk, completely engrossed in her typing. She had a lot of catching up to do after Lee’s pleasant distraction late yesterday. She looked up momentarily, feeling her husband’s eyes gazing at her from across the room.
"Stop that, Lee!" Amanda snapped.
"What?" he asked innocently.
"You know what, Stetson. I mean it!" She again snapped as she looked towards the couch where Lee was lying down with his feet propped up, drinking his coffee, and reading the morning newspaper. "Weren’t you enough of a distraction yesterday?" she teased. "Keep your eyes on your newspaper, Scarecrow. I need to get my work done."
"I can’t help it, Amanda. You are so beautiful. I can’t take my eyes off of you. I’ll be good…" he promised, "for now." He gave her a flirtatious look that always made Amanda weak in the knees.
"You’re incorrigible," Amanda hissed.
"You love every minute of it," Lee said as he got up from the couch and walked over to his desk where Amanda was sitting. He sat down on the corner nearest her.
"Yes, I do," she admitted as Lee leaned down and deeply kissed her.
At the very moment that Lee and Amanda were enjoying their moment of intimacy, there was a knock at their office door.
Lee groaned in frustration as he walked towards the door. "Just once, I would like to kiss my wife without any interruptions." He sighed as he unlocked the door.
"Hello, Lee," Emily smiled cheerfully when Lee opened the door.
"It’s always a pleasure, Emily," Lee returned as he led her inside and gave her a hug.
"Emily, what a surprise!" Amanda squealed as she walked over to Emily. "I hope your not here on business. You’re supposed to be relaxing, and spending time with your wonderful husband," she scolded.
"Charles and I are enjoying ourselves immensely, Amanda," Emily pointed out as she hugged her. "Alas, poor Charles had some business in town today, so I thought that I would see if you wanted to go shopping with me. That is if I am not interrupting you from anything pressing," she said looking over at Lee.
"Don’t be silly, Emily," Amanda returned as she went over to her desk to retrieve her purse. "I would love to go shopping with you. It’s not every day that you are in D.C. Besides…" she said smiling at Lee, "its not as if I’m going to get any more work done today. Too many distractions."
"Me, a distraction?" Lee asked innocently.
"Yes, you, Stetson" Amanda returned walking over to Lee and kissing him on the cheek.
"I can’t help it if I have such a beautiful wife," he said sheepishly. "You two, go out and enjoy yourselves, and I’ll try to finish some of this paperwork. It’s the least I can do for being such a distraction," he added flashing his pearly whites at Amanda.
Emily was watching the exchange between Lee and Amanda with a mixture of amusement and pride. She had never seen Lee so happy in all the years that she had known him. She knew, the moment that she had met Amanda, that she was perfect for Lee. They had such chemistry together and it flowed into their working relationship.
"How about all of us meeting later, for dinner, say at 8:00 P.M.?" Lee suggested.
"Charles and I would be happy to join you and Amanda. I will get a hold of Charles, and Amanda and I can work out the specifics while we are shopping. Shall we, Amanda?" Emily said walking towards the door.
"After you," Amanda replied as she opened the door for Emily. She gave Lee a quick kiss before following Emily out the door.
Emelio’s, Tuesday Evening
"Excellent choice in restaurants, Lee," Emily complimented as she cut into her steak.
"Thank you, Emily," Lee returned. "I’ve always prided myself on choosing only the best restaurants in D.C.," he said proudly. "Actually, Emelio’s is one of our favorite restaurants," he pointed out, looking over at his wife. "Isn’t that right, Amanda?"
"Absolutely," Amanda replied enthusiastically. "Lee took me here many times when we started dating. We would get a quiet booth in the back, like this one, order a salad for each of us and split an entrée," she explained. "We were here, so much, that the bartender called us "regulars," Amanda recalled fondly.
"Well, I can see why," Emily pointed out. "The food here is, so delicious, and the ambiance is very serene".
"I love your taste in wines, Lee," Charles Farnsworth added.
"Lee is an expert when it comes to choosing just the right wine," Amanda said proudly.
Lee smiled at his wife’s compliment. "I learned from the best. My uncle taught me all that I needed to know about selecting the perfect wine."
"So…How are the two of you enjoying D.C.?" Amanda inquired.
"We are enjoying our holiday very much, Amanda," Emily returned. "Charles and I mainly toured the National Mall. There are so many wonderful museums, and, of course, the monuments. As you know, I am very much into art, so we spent most of our time touring the art museums. The steps of the Capital Building were too much for poor Charles, so we sat by the reflecting pool, and I drew some lovely pictures."
"You are such a talented artist, Emily." Amanda complimented. "One day, I hope to see your work in an art museum."
"Why, thank you, Dear. You are too kind. I mainly draw for fun, Amanda."
"Emily drew a beautiful picture of Lee and I when we were on assignment with her in Europe," Amanda explained to Charles. "I would hate to see your talent go to waste, Emily," she sighed.
"I’m honored, Amanda, and I appreciate the thought," Emily said patting Amanda’s hand. "I think my next project will be to come to D.C. when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. That must be a sight to see. When is the perfect time to see them bloom?" Emily inquired.
"They usually start blooming in April," Amanda replied, nonchalantly.
"Well, then, I guess Charles and I will have to find an excuse to visit D.C. in April." Emily glanced over at her husband who nodded in agreement. "Too bad we have to leave next week," Emily said sadly.
"Actually, Emily, funny you should say that. Amanda and I were hoping that you and Charles would extend your holiday by two more weeks, so you can attend our wedding. I asked Amanda last night to marry me, again." Lee said excitedly.
"That’s wonderful. Of course, we’ll stay. It’s about time you did this properly. I honestly don’t know how the two you of you ever managed to keep it a secret as long as you did." Emily admitted.
"It wasn’t easy," Lee said tersely looking over at Amanda, "But it was well worth the wait".
"I secretly hoped that the two of you would marry one day," Emily admitted. "Good show, Amanda. I knew the two of you were meant for each other the minute I saw you together."
"Once I got through those walls that Lee put up around himself, I discovered a man who was yearning to be loved. Besides, Emily, who could resist those gorgeous hazel eyes?" Amanda added smiling mischievously at her husband. "I would love it, if you would be my maid of honor, Emily," Amanda asked hopefully.
"I would be honored, Amanda," Emily returned with delight. "Have you selected your bridesmaids?" she asked curiously.
"Well, Emily, as a matter of fact, I have asked my good friend Penny, who I met when she and her husband visited the U.S. to be one of my bridesmaids," Amanda rambled. "Her husband is a Prince, and the Agency asked me to show her around D.C. Penny and I found out that we had a lot in common, and kept in touch over the years. She actually thought that I had a thing for Lee way back when," Amanda admitted to her dear friend.
"As a matter of fact, Amanda, I actually thought there was something between you and Lee when you were helping me out in Germany," Emily admitted with a wink and a smile, which made Amanda blush.
"I wish I realized back then what was right in front me," Lee acknowledged sadly.
Amanda took a hold of Lee’s hand and looked into his eyes. "When you are talking about love, you have to be patient, Sweetheart. I realized what I had in front of me, even then, but I knew that you needed time to figure it out on your own. What matters is what we have, now," Amanda said with all of her love for him in her eyes.
"I definitely know what is in front of me, and I plan to never forget that." Lee said, squeezing her hand.
"So, my dear," Emily said breaking up the tender moment, "do you have any other bridesmaids?" she asked curiously.
"Today, I asked Francine Desmond to be my other bridesmaid," Amanda replied.
"Francine?" Emily repeated in mock horror, raising her eyebrows in surprise.
"I’ll admit that a year ago, I would not have considered her, but she and I have gotten to be good friends, lately," Amanda calmly explained to a shocked Emily. "There’s more to Francine that what meets the eye."
"What about you, Lee? Who have you chosen to be your best man?" Emily asked, again curious.
"Billy is going to be my best man," Lee replied proudly.
"Billy is definitely the right man for the job, Lee," Emily acknowledged as she took a sip of her tea.
Amanda looked at Lee and smiled. "He has been a good friend to both of us, Emily. He was the one who kept putting us together, hoping that we could work well together. His instincts obviously paid off, and for that, we will be forever grateful."
"Amen to that, Amanda," Lee said with a broad smile.
"Well, I can see that the two of you have this wedding pretty much planned out. When is the big day?" Emily asked as she smiled at the happy couple.
"Actually, Emily," Amanda began as she took a hold of Lee’s hand, "we were planning on having the ceremony a week from Saturday, the 13th, seeing as though that’s our actual anniversary," she confirmed.
"I wouldn’t miss it for the world!" Emily said enthusiastically.
Maplewood Drive, Late Tuesday Evening
After a long day at work, and then dinner with Emily and Charles Farnsworth, Lee and Amanda snuggled on the sofa, enjoying a late movie as the rest of the house slept.
"Amanda?" Lee whispered as he ran his hand up and down her arm.
"Hmmm…" Amanda muttered, intently watching their dinosaur movie, while at the same time enjoying Lee’s gentle touch.
"I was just thinking about where to take you on our honeymoon," Lee admitted.
"You were?" Amanda asked curiously, tearing her attention away from the television and looking at her husband.
"Uh Huh!" Lee acknowledged as he pulled Amanda onto his lap.
"Where were you thinking of taking me?" Amanda inquired.
"It’s a surprise," he teased as he started kissing her neck.
"If it’s a surprise, Lee Stetson, why did you even bother bringing it up?" Amanda questioned with slight sarcasm.
"I was just thinking, Amanda," Lee said calmly, closing his arms tighter around her, "I want to take you somewhere special. Some place you will never forget. I want our honeymoon to be memorable," Lee admitted, lowering his face.
"Lee…" Amanda began, raising his face so he was looking into her eyes. "Our honeymoon will be memorable because we will be together. I don’t care where we go, just as long as I’m with you," Amanda pointed out as she caressed his cheek. "Besides, if you play your cards right, all we may see of our honeymoon is the hotel room," she teased seductively.
"Deal me in!" Lee said excitedly, raising his eyebrows. "Seriously, it would mean a lot to me if you would let me plan the honeymoon."
"Only on one condition," Amanda challenged.
"What’s that?" Lee questioned.
"On the condition that you have the maid make up the room before we even arrive. I was ready to kill the maid on our wedding night." Amanda chucked as she recalled how slowly the maid worked, how long it took her to make up the room, and how impatient they were to be in each other’s arms.
"You’ve got yourself a deal, Mrs. Stetson," Lee smiled as he leaned towards Amanda and captured her lips.
Marion County City Hall, Friday Afternoon
"May I help you?" Margaret Bowman asked politely.
"Yes," Amanda replied. "My husband and I would like to meet with the Justice of the Peace."
Ms. Bowman observed the couple that stood before her, feeling as though she had met them before. "May I have your names, please?"
"My name is Amanda Stetson and this is my husband, Lee," Amanda replied as she took a hold of Lee’s hand. "His Honor married us last February."
"Oh, my…Of course…!" Ms. Bowman exclaimed with a huge smile. "Now I remember, Lee and Amanda. How could I forget? You too were so much in love on your wedding day. I have never seen two people look happier. I can see by your faces that the two of you are still very much in love. Please, have a seat and I will tell his Honor that both of you would like to meet with him." She directed them towards a set of chairs and went into the Judge’s office.
Lee and Amanda walked over to the chairs and took a seat. They took each other’s hand and looked into each other’s eyes as they recalled the last time they were here, and what that day had meant to them. As Lee leaned over to kiss Amanda, the doors to the Judge’s office opened, causing both of them to jump apart.
"The Judge can see you now," Ms. Bowman announced to the embarrassed couple.
"Thank you," Amanda replied, with a slight blush in her cheeks. Taking a hold of Lee’s hand, they made their way into the Judge’s office.
"Please, have a seat," Ms. Bowman directed them. Lee helped Amanda to the nearest chair and sat down next to her.
"Thank you, Ms. Bowman," the Judge said, dismissing her. "How may I help you?" he inquired.
"Well, Sir…" Lee began, tightening his hold on Amanda’s hand. "You may not remember us, but you married us last February," Lee explained.
"Please, don’t tell me that you want an annulment," the Judge asked sadly.
"Oh, no! Definitely not, Sir!" Lee said loudly. "I happen to love my wife very much, and we were wondering if you would remarry us," Lee said with much conviction.
"I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. Of course, I will remarry you. It would be my pleasure!" the Judge exclaimed happily.
"Our friends and family missed out on our first wedding, and we want them to share in our joy," Amanda explained.
"I understand," the Judge said, nodding his head. "When did you want to have the ceremony?"
"We would like for you to perform the ceremony a week from tomorrow, the 13th, which is our first wedding anniversary," Lee replied, smiling at his wife. "We apologize for the late notice, but this is the first chance that we had in our busy schedules to meet with you."
"Well, I don’t think I have anything pressing for that day," he replied as he verified that statement in his appointment book. "I’m just glad that you didn’t say Friday. I hate Fridays," the Judge admitted as he smiled at Amanda.
"Yes Sir, we remember," Amanda confirmed.
"Good, then, it’s settled. On your way out, give Ms. Bowman the date, time, and location for the ceremony, and she will take care of everything. I’m looking forward to marrying you, again," the Judge added before showing them out.
"Thank you, again, your honor," Amanda said pleasantly. "It means so much to us to have you marry us again," Amanda added on her way out.
Lee shook the Judge’s hand, and followed Amanda out of the Judge’s office. On their way out, they gave Ms. Bowman the pertinent information and made their way home to finish the rest of the wedding preparations.
Maplewood Drive, Saturday evening
Dotty carried three slices of cake into the living room where Lee and Amanda were snuggled on the sofa. This was her chance to speak with them about her idea, since the boys were spending the weekend with Joe and Carrie.
Lee watched as Dotty sat two plates on the coffee table in front of them. "Thanks for dinner, Dotty. It was wonderful!"
"You’re welcome, Lee. It was my pleasure to cook for just the two of you – for a change," Dotty happily replied.
Dotty enjoyed watching Lee and Amanda together. They were so blissfully happy. "There is something I would like to tell you both."
"Sure, Mother. What is it?" Amanda asked.
"Amanda, I can honestly say that I have never seen you as happy as you are with Lee." Dotty watched as they looked into each other’s eyes and smiled at her comment.
Dotty continued, "And, Lee, I may not know you very well, but I can see how much you love Amanda just by the way you look at her."
Lee and Amanda sat watching Dotty, wondering where this conversation was going.
"I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about your wedding, and I remembered a poem that I had heard, and don’t laugh…. on a soap opera five years ago," Dotty tentatively stated, watching for their reaction. Their smiles widened, but they refrained from laughter.
Dotty decided that she’d come too far to stop now, so she continued, "This poem touched me, so I wrote it down, and have kept it all these years." She pulled the paper out of her pocket, and walked over and handed it to Amanda. "I know that you were meant for one another, and I think this poem would be lovely for you to read at your wedding."
Amanda held the paper so she and Lee could read it, together. After finishing the short poem, they looked into each other’s eyes, and smiled their agreement.
Amanda rose from the sofa and embraced her mother. "Oh, Mother, it’s perfect! Thank you!"
"You’re welcome, Darling!" She gave Amanda a kiss and returned to her chair. "How about we have our dessert, now?"
Lee reached for the plates of chocolate cake on the coffee table. As he did so, he had a flashback to a similar evening a couple of years earlier. He handed a plate to Amanda and whispered, "at least I can kiss you this time, and I don’t have to run out the back door." Amanda smiled at the recollection, and placed a lingering kiss on his lips, then replied with a smile, "Nope, no more sneaking around for us - EVER!"