Author: Jenny (email@example.com)
Author's Notes:I can’t take a lot of credit for this one. I’m just providing the framework for some great memories for us, and hopefully for you, the readers as well. This episode is a compilation of highlights from Season 5. Flashbacks are pulled from previous episodes and are the property of the authors of those episodes. Thanks to dotty, Cat, Mac, Angelia and Shelly for your contributions.
Thanks:The biggest, bestest thanks to Sybil, the comma queen. You really do go above and beyond the call of duty!
Dotty West, 58 year old mother of one, grandmother of two, was undeniably in the late stages of the currently wide spread, but generally not fatal disease known by homemakers everywhere as spring cleaning. For three days, now, she had beaten, shook, vacuumed, swept, mopped, and dusted everything she could see.
She normally suffered through this affliction with the willing company of her daughter, Amanda, and her grandsons, Phillip and Jamie. Unfortunately, this year, Amanda was busy with her job, and her grandsons had reached the age where they could no longer be fooled into thinking that this particular activity was fun.
Now, her son in law, Lee, had potential. He enjoyed her company and was still new enough to the family that he hesitated to deny anyone, anything. However, he was busier than her daughter, and had not been able to join her this afternoon as promised. Therefore, she would tackle the last winter weary room alone, Amanda and Lee’s bedroom.
Never before had she been hesitant to enter and clean this particular room, but that was before Amanda had gotten married and her son in law had moved in. One’s bedroom was one’s private domain, and Dotty firmly believed that married couples needed their privacy. She had voiced her concern to Lee when he had called earlier to say that he'd gotten tied up and wouldn't be able to join her after all.
He’d laughed and said not to be silly; they no longer had anything to hide, and told her that she could clean the room to her heart’s content. He’d hung up rather quickly, before she had the chance to ask just how ‘tied up’ he’d been. She decided she’d really rather not know, and bravely entered their room and started on the curtains and windows. Two hours later, she had the window dressings clean and starched, the glass sparkling, and was ready to pull out the contents of the closet.
She shook her head at the array, or rather disarray of boxes left there from Lee’s move into the home. She thought she had raised Amanda better than this! "Oh, well," she sighed, "I’ll just move them out, vacuum under them, then put them back. Let them put their own things away." She pulled the first two cartons out, then, gasped as a heavy photo album hit her on the top of her foot. "Ohhh! Amanda Stetson, why isn’t this with the others? It doesn’t belong up here!" She scolded her daughter despite the fact that she wasn’t there.
She picked up the album, automatically dusting the cover with the cloth she had tucked into her apron pocket. "Why, this isn’t one of ours! It must be Lee’s." She flipped the cover open and began to browse through the pages. After a few minutes, she put the book aside, determined to ask them where it came from and why they didn’t have it out to be used and enjoyed. For now, though, she reminded herself that she had dust bunnies to catch and winter blahs to clean out of their home.
At five thirty that night, Lee and Amanda Stetson arrived home, sore and more than a bit irritated by the days events. They had been tied up all right, by some big Russian goon who thought they knew the whereabouts of his missing partner. They had narrowly escaped by slipping free of the guards and out the window. Immediately, upon return to the Agency, Lee had called home to apologize. When he’d made the ‘tied up’ comment, Amanda had to bite back her sarcastic comment. He had remained so pleased with his humor that Amanda had held on to her irritation for the entire ride home. Now, she wanted nothing more than to shower, eat, and curl up with her husband. Unfortunately, she had to apologize to him first. She stopped him in the kitchen and began.
"Lee, I’m really sorry about this afternoon. I didn’t mean to take this bad day out on you, really." She grinned at him and ran her hands over his shoulders.
"It’s okay, Amanda. I know you don’t like for me to make jokes like that, but sometimes I just can’t help it. It’s my coping mechanism. Or at least that's what Pfaff says." He shrugged as she swatted his arm.
"Oh, you!" She shook her head at his incorrigible attitude and stood on tiptoe to kiss him. When he smiled like that, she just couldn’t stay mad. She was glad she had decided to end the fight first.
Lee pulled her into a tighter embrace and kissed her more fully. She responded quickly and neither was aware of Dotty's entrance or her bemused expression.
"Well, I’m glad you two are home. I’ve been simply dying to ask you something!"
"Oh! Mother! We didn’t see you there."
"Obviously!" Dotty laughed. "Never mind. I have a surprise for you." She pulled out the brown leather photo album and held it out to them. "I found this in your closet and decided to add to it for you. Here, look!"
Exchanging looks, they both suddenly recalled how they had received this particular album.
Lee and Amanda arrived at the Agency both worried and excited. Worried about how Billy would take their ultimatum and excited because not only did Amanda do very well on her first major assignment without Lee, but they had also captured the last two people involved in the Kralov Smuggling Ring.
When the elevator doors opened, Lee and Amanda walked out in the middle of a celebration. Several of their colleagues congratulated them. Amanda and Lee walked around looking for Billy or at least find a clue as to where Billy had disappeared to. Lee was just about to give up when Billy walked in.
"Ah, good. The guests of honor have arrived!" Billy walked over to the punch bowl and poured himself a cup before getting everyone's attention. "As you all know, for the past few weeks Mrs. King and Scarecrow have been working separately. Most of you have expressed concern about the separation becoming permanent." Several people booed at the word 'permanent.' Billy raised his hands to calm everyone down. "But that won't happen because, as of now, the partnership of Scarecrow and Mrs. King is hereby reestablished!"
Cheers went up around the room. Good friends of both Lee and Amanda went over to them and congratulated them on both the success of the capture of Moose and Squirrel and their reaffirmed partnership.
As they headed back to their office after being congratulated by most of their coworkers, Francine stopped them.
"Lee. Amanda. I'm glad I caught you. I just wanted to apologize for my behavior this past week. I haven't been myself lately."
"Is everything all right, Francine?" Amanda asked. Both she and Lee had noticed that Francine was still not quite herself yet, but she was definitely better than what she had been in the past.
"Yeah. Everything's fine." Francine noticed that Lee seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere. "What's wrong, Lee? Got a hot date?" Noting Lee's startled look, Francine laughed and went back to the party.
"Well, I'd say Francine is back to normal. Wouldn't you?" Amanda asked as the doors to elevator closed. They smiled and Lee's answer was muffled by Amanda pulling him toward her. Amanda and Lee nodded to Mrs. Marsten and started up the stairs. They talked about the sudden reestablishment of their partnership and some of the things that happened during the private dinner they had with the Petroffs on Saturday night. Lee opened the door to the Q-Bureau and noticed that there was more things in the office than there had been when he left on Friday evening.
On his own desk were three things: a red rose, black umbrella, and black bowler. On Amanda's desk were three packages: one large, one medium, and one small. The small package proved to be a couple letters of commendation from the POTUS and FLOTUS (aka the President and First Lady Of The United States). The large package was from Boris and Natasha Petroff. It contained a note addressed to 'Mr. and Mrs. Emma Peel' stating that they hoped Lee and Amanda would one day go forth on to 'many great and splendorous things.' Also in the package were two crystal wine glasses, two bottles of wine, and the fake Moose and Squirrel setting.
The last package was simply marked "Congratulations." Inside was a note of congratulations from Billy and a photo album, mostly empty.
Now, months later, they realized, almost guiltily, that they had not kept their promise to each other to keep a record of their life together for their future enjoyment.
Amanda reached for the book and turned to a random page. The first thing she saw was Lee with large dollops of green goo on his face. She laughed at his grimace and remarked, "You know that avocado honey facial was really good for your complexion, too."
"Amanda, that was not funny!"
"Sure it was. Don’t you remember how hard Debbie Ann was laughing as she tried to take this picture? She could barely push the button on Jamie’s camera. She really did surprise you by sticking the lens around the corner and snapping the shutter, didn’t she?"
"Yeah, I thought she'd gone upstairs." Lee and Amanda recalled the scene and described it to Dotty.
Night was falling when Lee arrived at Amanda's front door. He knocked and waited for what seemed like an eternity. When the door finally opened, he jumped back in surprise. Amanda was there in sweat pants and a T-shirt; her hair pulled back in a towel and her face covered in a green paste. Lee started to laugh in spite of himself. Amanda scowled at him and pulled him inside.
"Oh, shut up!" Amanda playfully smacked his arm and walked into the family room. Debbie was sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn on her lap, her face as green as Amanda's. The obvious signs of a 'girl's night' were all around him, right down to the sappy black-and-white romance movie playing on the television.
"Hi, Lee. Want some popcorn?" Debbie handed the bowl in his direction as Amanda took her seat. Amanda curled her legs up underneath her and indicated for Lee to join them.
Lee sat in the armchair, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. He shook his head 'no' to Debbie and tried to be serious. Both women were staring at him, brown eyes surrounded by green. It was almost too much to take.
"I've got a place for Debbie to stay while you're in Pittsburgh," Lee started and Amanda sat up straight.
"Great! How soon can we move her in?"
"As soon as you want. I couldn't get one of the places we had talked about earlier..." Lee quickly continued when he saw Amanda's smile begin to fade. "...But I was able to get a furnished apartment in my building. I can keep an eye on her there."
Amanda's smile returned. "That's wonderful! Thank you." Lee silently breathed a sigh of relief at her acceptance of the arrangements. "We'll get her moved in tomorrow morning and I'll leave for Pittsburgh tomorrow afternoon when Mother and the boys get back."
"Hello! I'm sorry to interrupt, but I am in the room!" Lee and Amanda both jumped as Debbie spoke up for the first time.
"Oh, gosh, Debbie. I'm sorry." Debbie shook her head in amusement as Amanda tried to make amends.
"It's okay. Look, I'm gonna go wash this stuff off while you two finish making your plans." She stood and headed upstairs.
Lee watched her go and looked over toward Amanda. When Debbie was safely out of earshot, he said, "I'm sorry about the safe house, but Billy wouldn't budge. I tried everything."
"I'm sure you did. Don't worry. She'll be fine over by you. It's a secure building and I know you'll keep a close eye on her for me." Amanda stood, walked around the coffee table and sat on Lee's lap.
"Amanda?" he whispered.
"Yes?" She was grinning as much as the masque would allow.
"What is that all over your face?" He wrinkled his nose as he looked at her up close.
"It's an avocado and honey facial. Why?" She was inching closer to him now, laughing to herself as he slowly backed away.
"No reason. It just looks...well...it looks ridiculous." Her face was inches from his now and he could back up no further.
"Ridiculous? Really?" She lunged forward; planted a kiss on his cheek and smeared a heaping amount of avocado and honey there in the process. Amanda began laughing hysterically and jumped off of Lee's lap, slowly backing away. His eyes were closed; his breathing slow and even as Amanda waited for the impending retaliation.
"I do not believe you just did that," he whispered. Amanda stood still and laughed as he wiped his cheek. "Just remember one thing, my dear, revenge is a dish best served cold."
"Oh, really?" Amanda was still poised for flight, but began to relax when she realized she was in no immediate danger.
"You won't know what hit you." Lee's eyes began to twinkle as wonderful possibilities began to run through his mind.
Amanda’s laughter slowly died away, and Lee turned to the next page in the near empty album. He grinned widely as he recalled their first Christmas as a married couple. The boys hadn’t known about their marriage, yet, but they had accepted him openly, and he had reveled in the warmth and affection of his new family.
As they looked at the photo, Phillip came bounding into the room and Lee called out, "Hey, Phillip, c’mere a minute."
Amanda patted the space beside her, and her oldest son wiggled his teenage limbs into the tight space.
Phillip looked into the book and exclaimed, "Hey, cool, pictures. That one was this Christmas, wasn’t it?"
"Yep, remember this, Chief?" Lee pointed at the snapshots depicting that morning.
Christmas wrapping paper lay in shreds all over the room even though there were still presents under the tree. The boys sat on the floor chatting excitedly about the gifts from Aunt Lillian and the Colonel.
"Phillip, Jamie, what about the rest of the presents?" Dotty asked.
The two boys looked at each other and both dove for the same present, pushing and shoving each other in their haste to be the first. As their hands grasped the box, a pulling match ensued. Dotty reached out and took the present.
"I'll take this. You two sit down," she said sternly.
"Yes, Grandma," they replied dejectedly.
Dotty looked at the tag on the present and said, "This one is for Lee, from Phillip and Jamie."
As Lee took the present he smiled at the boys. "You guys didn't have to get me anything."
"Just open it, Lee," Phillip said with his brother nodding emphatically at his side.
Lee tore open the paper and laughed when he saw what was inside. Phillip and Jamie looked at each other, puzzled.
"There's a couple more presents under the tree for the two of you," Lee said to them.
The boys again dove for the tree, coming up with presents addressed from Lee. They enthusiastically tore into the paper.
"Cool!" Jamie yelled. "Mom, look, three different lenses for the camera. And a book on how to develop your own pictures. Thanks, Lee!"
"You're welcome, Jamie," Lee replied. He turned his attention to Phillip.
When Phillip caught a glimpse of what was inside the paper, he said, "Oh, no."
Jamie leaned over to see what it was. He repeated his brother's, 'Oh, no'.
Lee and Phillip looked at each other and held up the boxes for everyone else to see. They both held the same Corvette model. The rest of the family laughed as they realized what had happened.
Dotty broke up the laughter when she handed Lee another present. Lee was stunned.
"Dotty, I didn't expect you to get me anything," Lee said.
"I just wanted to get you a little something," Dotty replied with a smile. "Something to welcome you to the family."
Lee grinned like a little boy on Christmas morning as he began to tear open the paper. Dispensing with the wrapping, he opened the box…and was speechless. He held up the slippers for all to see.
Phillip and Jamie broke out in a fit of giggles.
"Ah, thank you, Dotty," he stammered. "Now I can get rid of my old slippers back at my place."
"Nonsense, Lee, Darling," Dotty said. "Those shoes stay here."
"Here?" he asked.
"Here?" Amanda repeated from the arm of the chair where Lee was sitting.
"Yes, Darling, here. Lee is a part of the family." Dotty directed a piercing glance at Lee. "Aren't you, Dear?"
"Ah, yes, thank you…for saying so."
Aunt Lillian, sensing the discomfort in the room, pointed out the other presents still under the tree.
"Right. Let's move on, shall we?" Dotty asked as she picked up another present. "Oh, this one is for me. Lee, aren't you sweet?"
Lee's reply was a weak smile. He was still trying to fathom the meaning of the slippers and Dotty's comments.
When Dotty had the package opened, she pulled a silk scarf from the box. Amanda looked at Lee and raised a questioning eyebrow. He shrugged.
"Oh, Lee," she cooed, "it's beautiful. Look, Lillian, isn't it gorgeous?"
Aunt Lillian reached out and felt the smooth material. "It will go perfectly with the new blue outfit you just bought," she said.
"Oh, it will. Thank you, Lee. I love it."
"You're welcome." Lee paused and peered under the tree. He pointed to a lone box that still remained. "I think there's one more present under the tree."
Dotty reached down and pulled out a small blue box tied with a white ribbon. She read the nametag and handed the box to Amanda with an expectant smile and a gleam in her eye.
Amanda took the box and looked wide-eyed at Lee. Her husband returned her glance with a wink.
Everyone else was silent as they watched Amanda and Lee. Dotty seemed to be holding her breath.
Slowly, Amanda untied the ribbon and lifted the small lid. She pulled out a dark blue jewelry box. She glanced again at Lee, who nodded.
Apprehensively, Amanda lifted the lid. She sighed in relief as she saw the most exquisite pair of emerald stud earrings. She turned the box for the rest of her
family to see as she leaned down and gave Lee a kiss on the check.
"They're beautiful," she whispered in his ear.
"I've found my Emerald City," he returned softly.
Dotty, a definite look of disappointment on her face, stood and declared, "Well, let's get this place cleaned up now."
Seeing Dotty's reaction, Lee smiled at Amanda and mouthed, 'Soon.'
Amanda nodded her agreement as she stood and pulled her husband to his feet.
Phillip and Jamie both checked under the tree again, disappointment evident on their faces.
"What's the matter, fellas?" Amanda asked.
"Nothing," Jamie responded unhappily.
"We were expecting something else," Phillip added forlornly.
Just as Amanda was about to explain the meaning of Christmas and how to be thankful for what you get, the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it," Lee said quickly.
The family could hear muffled voices, and then Lee walked back into the family room followed by a man in an Air Force uniform carrying a small box. The man saluted Colonel Clayton as he entered the room.
"Sir," he said.
"Captain," the Colonel replied as he returned the salute.
The Captain looked at Amanda and her mother and aunt, nodding politely at each. "I'm sorry to interrupt your evening, but I have a delivery for Phillip and Jamie
The boys quickly jumped up from the floor exclaiming that they were Phillip and Jamie. The Captain handed the package to the boys. They frantically tore into
the brown paper wrapping. Phillip let out a yowl when he held up the thing they had been expecting: 'The Legend of Zelda.'
"Yes!" both boys shouted.
"Mom, how'd you get it?" Phillip asked.
"I didn't, Phillip," Amanda as she watched her husband, who was beaming with pride. "I have a feeling I know who did, though."
The boys followed her gaze to Lee, who grinned even bigger.
"I had some help," he said looking to his uncle, who was also smiling.
"Thanks a lot! C'mon Jamie, let's go play," Phillip said, and he and Jamie raced from the room.
The Captain nodded at Lee and the Colonel and headed for the door.
"Oh, wait," Amanda said. "Let me get you a plate of cookies to take."
"Thank you, ma'am," the soldier replied. "That would be nice."
Amanda disappeared into the kitchen for a moment, then came out carrying a plate overflowing with cookies. "I'll walk you to the door."
When they reached the door, Amanda opened it and handed the plate to the Captain. "Thank you so much for bringing the present."
"It was my pleasure, ma'am. Merry Christmas," he told her as he walked away.
"Merry Christmas!" she called after him before shutting the door.
Amanda stood for a minute enjoying the sounds of Christmas in her house. She saw Lee poke his head around the corner, and then he joined her.
"You do realize you're standing under the mistletoe," he said slyly. He stood in front of her and wrapped his arms around her waist as she placed her hands on his chest.
"I do. I was hoping a handsome man would come along." She leaned up and gave him a quick kiss. "You scared me, you know."
"What do you mean?" he asked innocently.
"That box," she replied poking him forcefully in the chest with her finger. "We hadn't made that decision, yet."
"I know," he said with a smirk. "I just wanted to see the look on your face…and your mother's."
Amanda chuckled. "I thought she was going to hit you when she saw the earrings. She keeps hinting, and lately, she's been very vocal about the whole thing."
Dotty's voice carried into the foyer. "Amanda, would you and Lee like some hot chocolate?"
"We'd love some, Mother," Amanda called back. She gave Lee another quick kiss, then took his hand to lead him into the family room. "I can't believe you gave her a scarf," she said, teasing her husband.
Lee allowed her to lead him up the steps. "Hey! It took me three days to find that particular scarf…"
Dotty laughed as they explained the reason her favorite scarf was so humorous. "Well, I don’t care what everyone else says, Lee. You may buy me beautiful scarves like that one any time you want." She patted his shoulder as she spoke.
Lee, grinning at his vindication, asked his wife, "Did you hear that? Dotty likes my scarves!"
"Yeah, well, ask her five years from now when she’s opening another scarf and see what she says…." Amanda elbowed her husband dispelling his smug grin.
The next page in the album contained not pictures, but a pencil sketch of Lee and Amanda dancing in the living room. In the background, their most treasured possession could plainly be seen, the small blue music box, recently recovered and repaired. That little box had been the unusual start of their relationship so many years ago at the train station.
Amanda ran her fingers over the plastic protected paper. "Mother, I’ve never seen this. It looks like Emily’s work."
"It is, dear. I watched her sketch it as we watched you dance, and later, I asked if I might have a copy made for myself. She very graciously presented it to me as a gift. I thought this album was where it belonged, not between the pages of my crossword dictionary. I hope you don’t mind that I added to your album. It really is quite bare."
"Oh Mother, of course I don’t mind, but are you sure you want to part with this?"
"Well, Sweetheart, I don’t feel like I'm parting with it. I hope that you’ll continue to fill this album, and eventually put it out with the others for all of us to share." She waved at the bookshelf on the far wall of the living room that was home to at least five other albums, each crammed with family memories.
Lee tapped the album decisively and declared, "Of course, and why don’t we just make this a family project?"
At that moment, Jamie entered through the back door, dropped his backpack, and asked, "What family project?" He joined them and leaned over the back of the sofa to look.
"This one…a scrap book of our best memories as a family." Lee explained to his stepson when he approached.
"Cool. Can anyone add to it?" Jamie inquired.
"Of course, dufus! That’s why it’s a family project!" Phillip rolled his eyes.
"Don’t call your brother names, Phillip," Lee admonished without a thought as Amanda and Dotty did the same.
"Look, boys, why don’t you each go find something to put in and then we’ll get ready for dinner, okay?" Amanda listened to their voices loudly ‘discussing’ what to get as they tromped up the stairs.
Minutes later, they were back, each holding identical items, ticket stubs to their first professional football game. They presented them to Lee, who nodded as he recalled their origin.
Lee maneuvered the large vehicle through the stadium-bound traffic and sighed. ‘Phillip was right,’ he told himself, ‘we should have taken Metro.’ As they traveled slowly on the crowded and beat up streets that made up one of the District’s less pleasant neighborhoods, Lee kept his eyes on the cars around him and reminded himself to breathe deeply. So engrossed was he in keeping his temper in check, he didn’t notice the silver sports car parked in the nearby alleyway.
"Hey, Lee," Phillip yelled, "Isn’t that your car back there?"
"What?" Lee braked hard and received a loud honk from the car behind him. Slowly he resumed the pressure on the accelerator. "Where?"
"That alleyway back there," Phillip pointed. "Between those old warehouses."
"What would Mom be doing down in this neighborhood?" Jamie wondered.
‘Nothing good,’ Lee answered to himself. "I’m sure it was just a look-a-like car," he said aloud and vowed to make a phone call as soon as they reached the stadium.
Twenty minutes later the car was parked and the party of three walked toward R.F.K. Stadium. "Hey guys, why don’t you go up and get seated?" He handed each boy a twenty. "Go get some food and stuff, and I’ll meet you in a little bit." Greed won out over confusion, and the two teens ran ahead while Lee made his way to the security office to check in with the Agency.
Phillip explained for them, "This was the first ‘real’ football game we ever went to and we want to remember that Lee took us."
"Yeah, we had a blast…popcorn, peanuts, hot dogs, soda. The game was pretty good, too!" Jamie rubbed his stomach in memory.
Lee laughed, "You know, I never did get to see that game?"
Jamie shuffled his feet as their laughter died away. He abruptly pulled something out from behind his back and asked, "Is this okay to go in?"
"Well, sweetheart, what is it?" Amanda reached for the cream colored paper.
Almost shyly he began, "It’s the program from my award ceremony. I mean", he rushed on, "we learned in school that mementoes are anything helps you to remember a special event in your life and I really want to remember that day!"
"Jamie, I think this is a perfect addition." Lee pulled the plastic away from the cardboard and placed the program under the protective covering. He smoothed the wrinkles out and held it up for inspection.
Jamie nodded his approval and recounted why he was so eager to remember that day.
"...Now without further ado, the winner of the 'Young Writers of Virginia Eighth Annual Essay Contest': Jamie King."
The audience applauded loudly as Jamie stood up and slowly approached the podium. After taking several deep breaths, he nervously started by saying, "Good evening. The title of my essay is 'To Tell the Truth.'" Pausing, he took another deep breath, and looked around the auditorium. 'Oh, geez,' he thought, 'all the seats are filled.' He looked at Angela, who smiled at him a second time. After wiping away the sweat that was forming on his forehead, Jamie turned back to face the crowd and read his essay.
"And that was when I realized that as long as I had my family and my friends, that I could face anything, even an audience full of people waiting for me to mess up!" Jamie finished his tale triumphantly.
"Yeah, you mean your girlfriend!" Phillip taunted his brother before Amanda or Lee could stop him.
To their surprise, Jamie just shrugged. "She’s just my friend, but you can think what you want. I don’t care…"
Phillip, disappointed with not getting a rise from his brother dropped the subject in favor of challenging him to a rematch of Zelda. The boys ran off upstairs, yelling over who got to play first.
Lee and Amanda smiled as they listened to their children and together glanced back down at the book in their laps.
"You know, we have a different reason for wanting to record this day." Lee pointed at the program as he spoke.
"Oh I know!" His wife agreed.
In the audience, Amanda watched as her youngest son worked his way through his nervousness. 'I'm so proud of him,' she thought to herself, 'standing up there in front of everyone.' She gave the hand on her lap a squeeze, smiled at Lee, and began to listen to her son.
As Jamie spoke, Dotty glanced over to her daughter and Lee. 'This should be interesting,' she mused. 'I wonder how they'll react to an essay on honesty coming from Jamie. Maybe,' she thought with some hope, 'this is what they need to be honest with all of us about their marriage.'
Lee noticed Dotty watching him and Amanda. "Why is your mother looking at us?" he whispered.
"I don't know, exactly," Amanda returned. "But have you been listening to Jamie?"
Lee nodded. Truth, trust, and honor. Jamie wasn't just reading the words; he believed them. Lee swallowed, trying to remove the lump in his throat. "You thinking what I'm thinking?" he asked his wife.
Amanda nodded. "Yeah. We can't lie to him, to them, anymore."
Dotty listened to them recall that day from her spot in the kitchen. She wholeheartedly, if silently, agreed with them as they concluded that it had been a very good day for them all.
The clock in the living room reminded them that time was flying and that the boys had school the next day. Amanda placed the album in plain view on the shelf, promising herself that it wouldn’t go neglected, anymore.
Lee watched her pat its surface thoughtfully, but waited until she walked back toward him before speaking.
"You know, we’re going to need more than one album…" He pulled her closer for a brief embrace.
"Oh, yeah?" Amanda leaned back and looked up into his eyes.
"Yeah! I plan on making this a marriage to remember forever, to last forever."
"Well, Scarecrow, sounds like a plan to me!"