Summary: Lee and Amanda go to Ottawa for a weekend
conference on the new technique of DNA fingerprinting, leaving Francine to take
over their caseload. Dotty and the boys go with Amanda and Lee for a mini
Disclaimers: Scarecrow and Mrs. King are the property of Shoot the Moon Prod. Get Smart belongs to Talant Associates, Ltd. Arlen Brubaker is a figment of my imagination.
Author's note: If you cannot find any of the recipes that I mention in story, drop me a line and I'll email you the recipe. Please see my endnotes for where the recipes came from.
* ^ * ^ *
9 June 1988
"Is that everything?"
"I think so. Sleeping bags, alarm clock, tour book, binoculars, cameras, notebooks, film, Ids, car key, suntan lotion," Amanda checked the items off of her clipboard as Lee held them up for her inspection.
"Mom! Lee!" Lee dropped the bag of toiletries on his foot. They were out the bedroom door before the clipboard hit the bed. Jamie and Phillip greeted them at the foot of the stairs.
"What's wrong?" Lee asked hurriedly. He was answered by two smiles and both boys grabbed their hands and led them to the kitchen.
"Surprise!" Amanda and Lee looked around the kitchen. The dinning room table was set with breakfast. Dotty was just setting a pitcher of orange juice on the table.
"Uh, what is going on?" Amanda asked.
"Good morning," Dotty said cheerfully.
"We made breakfast!" Phillip and Jamie said enthusiastically. They led Amanda and Lee to the table and made them sit down. Amanda was momentarily struck speechless by the thoughtfulness of her sons. Lee looked at his wife in astonishment; in the five years that he had known her, she had been rarely struck speechless. "So what brought all this on?" Lee asked as he poured syrup on his waffle.
"Jamie and I overheard you telling Grandma that you wanted to have a breakfast as a family last night," Phillip explained as he, Jamie and Dotty sat down. "So we decided that now would be a good time to do it. After all, Jamie and I are done with school and you two got today off from work."
Breakfast continued with Jamie and Philip talking about everything that they wanted to see and do on their trip.
* ^ * ^ *
Francine was upset. She was hoping to get away from everything this weekend. However, Lee and Amanda pulled the plush assignment of the secret Ottawa conference, which meant that someone had to pick up their last few cases.
"Billy, I was planning on a relaxing weekend!"
"Francine, Lee and Amanda assured me that their case load is very light. All you have to do is look over their notes and maybe make a few telephone calls."
"If it's so light, why can't it wait until they get back from Ottawa?"
"Francine, it's Spring Cleaning time."
"I know it's Spring Cleaning, Billy. But I made plans for this weekend."
"Why must I go through this every year? You know no one is exempt from these chores."
"But…" She swallowed her complaint when Billy looked at her. "Ok. I'll do it, but they owe me." She accepted the files that Billy held out to her and left his office.
* ^ * ^ *
On the road somewhere between Ottawa and Arlington, VA
"Darling, I think we need to take a break and stretch."
"Yes, now. Mother and the boys aren't used to being stuck in a car for endless hours, Lee."
"Ok. According the highway sign we just passed said there's a rest area a few miles up the road. We'll stop there." Lee reached over, took his wife's hand, and held it. A couple minutes later he pulled into the rest stop. While Jamie, Phillip and Dotty got out and stretched, Amanda got out the picnic basket for a mid-morning snack. Lee spotted a florist on the other side of the small park; he smiled and jogged over to the vender and purchased five daisies.
* ^ * ^ *
By the time lunch rolled around, Francine had made fifteen calls and scheduled two afternoon meetings. She completed her notes on the last phone call and left before Billy could assign any other cases to her desk.
The Georgetown Bistro was semi-populated. She chose a table in the back away from everyone and ordered a light lunch. The last file from Lee and Amanda's caseload would be easy; all she had to do was tell Brown University that the FBI would handle the disappearance of Professor Arlen Brubaker, after she got some preliminary work done on it. When Francine got up to get a treat from the desert bar, a shabbily dressed man slipped an envelope into her jacket pocket.
Later that afternoon Francine sat down at her desk. One last phone call to make and she would be free for the weekend. The Save the Chipmunks organization and Rainforests: Our Life-long Friends both checked out. One was a group of preteen girls and the other was too involved in sending several protestors to rainforests around the world to think about other things to do with their resources. Francine opened the file on Arlen Brubaker and called the number the University had given. As she waited for an answer, she looked at the photo provided. Arlen Brubaker was the definition of tall, dark, and handsome. 'Well, maybe not dark, but definitely tall and handsome,' Francine thought looking at a picture of a man with short sandy brown hair, brown eyes, and tanned face. She couldn't tell by the picture if he was tall, or any other physical features.
"Good afternoon. Colleen Hampshire speaking," a voice answered on the third ring.
"Hello. Doctor Hampshire, my name is Francine Desmond and I am work-"
"Listen, Ms. Desmond. If the Press doesn't stop calling my office, I'll sue you every last one of you."
"Doctor Hampshire, I don't work for a paper. I was just given this case and needed some information concerning Doctor Brubaker's disappearance."
"Oh. I'm sorry, Ms. Desmond, I just assumed-"
"What? Oh, information, right. I have my notes here somewhere." Francine listened to the sound of paper rustling and soft mutters about how she could never find anything when she needed it. "Here they are. Now, what do you need to know, Ms. Desmond?"
"Is there anything about Doctor Brubaker that would make him identifiable?"
"I thought that I sent a recent picture of him?"
"You did, but I want to know if he had any mannerisms or quirks that could help us identify him."
"Oh. Let's see. Arlen is very fond of puns and old television shows. Ever since his girlfriend, Emilie Carter, died in the accident, he's been quoting from The Avengers and Get Smart. I think she was the best thing that happened to him in a long time, he was such a hermit before she joined the staff."
"Do you remember any of the quotes that he used?"
"No, but have some that he left on my answering machine." There was some rustling of paper as Doctor Hampshire unburied her answering machine and then a click. The baritone voice of Arlen Brubaker could be heard over the telephone.
"Colleen, I just wanted to let you know that 99 and I are going to implement Plan Y-14. Remember that when the moon is full, the tide is high. Tanganyika, by the time you get this, there'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover. KAOS has ordered a 101." The tape ended sharply and Colleen Hampshire got back on the telephone.
"I hope you find him, Ms. Desmond. And soon."
"I'll do my best, Doctor." Francine let the voice of Arlen Brubaker soak in a bit. She looked at the file again. In Amanda's handwriting there was a note dated for Wednesday that said Doctor Brubaker was supposed to be heading to Normandy then on to England for the summer. "Doctor Hampshire, do you know why Doctor Brubaker would be going to France and England this summer?"
"My best guess would be that he was helping out on a dig or doing one of his relic hunts. You should probably call his office. One of the graduate students working there would know why."
"Thank you for your time, Doctor Hampshire." Francine hung up after reassuring Doctor Hampshire that she would do her best to find her friend. She looked at the notes that she took during the conversation.
Emilie Carter- girlfriend, died in an accident
When the moon is full, the tide is high
There'll be bluebirds over the cliffs of Dover
KAOS ordered a 101
Dig / relic hunt
Some of the phrases caught her attention. She searched her memory for why they would seem so familiar. "Of course!" Francine closed the file, grabbed her coat and the file, and headed for the door. She tried to keep an air of being nonchalant. If anyone found out about the collection of old television shows, she would never hear the end of it.
When she pulled out of the parking lot across the street
from IFF, a dark sedan pulled into traffic. The car followed staying two or
three cars behind. It parked across the street from her apartment complex and
waited as the lights in her fourth floor apartment to come on.
Nicholas Street, between Rideau Street and Laurier Avenue
Lee pulled into the Ottawa International Hostel parking area. Philip and Jamie ran over to the stock and Philip stuck his head and arms inside, "Hey, Grandma!"
Dotty looked at her eldest grandson and smiled. Lee and Amanda went inside the old jail to register and get a parking permit for their car. Dotty took a couple of pictures of her grandsons taking turns at being a prisoner and a guard.
Inside, Lee told Amanda that he would check out their rooms and then he would be right down. The clerk at the desk asked if they would like to join a group of people that were going bar hopping in half an hour. Amanda politely declined the invitation and went outside to see what mischief that her two sons were getting into.
"Mom! Look at me!" Jamie said when he saw Amanda step out into the parking lot. Amanda looked over to see her youngest son smiling at her from the stock.
"What on earth are you doing in that, Jamie?" The boys eventually convinced her to get her picture taken in the stock. Lee came out to find his wife, mother-in- law, and stepsons laughing. He hated to interrupt them, but he and Amanda had to register for the conference at the Econolodge by seven o'clock. "Hey, who's gonna help me with the luggage. I can't carry everything up nine flights of stairs by myself."
Philip and Jamie rushed over to help him. Lee told them that there was a film crew on their level. If they were good for their grandmother while he and Amanda were at the meeting that night, some of the film crew would take them on a tour.
* ^ * ^ *
Francine finished watching another season of Get Smart. She found a mention of every code phrase, except Plan Y-14. She knew it was from Get Smart, but she couldn't remember what episode. She went to her kitchen and looked at her mostly bare cupboards. Taking inventory, she finally decided to try a combination of peanut butter and brown sugar to satisfy her hunger. 'I have to get to the store and soon, before I end up ordering pizza.'
As she walked back into the living room with her new entrée, she noticed an envelope lying on the floor in front of her closet. She set her food down and picked up the envelope. She opened the envelope and found four scraps of paper that had a bunch of scrambled letters on it.
Francine didn't recognize the code as any thing she'd seen before. She was about to call Billy when there was a knock on her door. She quickly put the letters back into the envelope and retrieved her gun from the closet. Looking through the peephole in her door she saw a shabbily dressed man, holding his arm tightly to his chest and bleeding from a head wound. The facial features were familiar, but she couldn't figure out why. Cautiously she opened the door.
"May I help you," she asked innocently.
"They're trying to kill me! I need a place to hide." He looked at her pleadingly. Francine was about to say no, but changed her mind when he said, "Please? I just need to clean up, then I'll be on my way." There was something in his brown eyes that told her he was telling the truth.
"Get in." Francine opened the door wider and the man entered her apartment. After she locked the door, she uncocked the gun and put it away. "Care to identify yourself?"
"Brubaker. Arlen Brubaker, professor of ancient studies." Francine looked at him, startled. This wasn't happening. This only happened in the movies or to Amanda, not her. "Is something wrong?"
"No. I…" she paused. "I was just looking into your disappearance, Doctor Brubaker. Uhm, how did you find me?"
"Oh, ah, I followed you from the Bistro this afternoon." He looked down at his feet. "Is there someplace I can clean up?"
Francine was still staring at him in wonderment when she noticed that he was still standing there, trying not to bleed on her white carpet. "Oh, yes. Of course, follow me." She led the way to her bathroom and left him after examining his arm to shower and change clothes. As it turned out, he had a mildly sprained wrist and the cut on his head was just superficial. When he came out, he had changed into a pair of khakis and a black T-shirt. He sported a bandage above his left eyebrow and had his right wrist wrapped in an ace bandage, and carried a small bag in his left hand that she hadn't noticed earlier.
"Thank you for your help, Ms.-"
"Francine Desmond," Francine filled in for him. "Please, call me Francine."
"Francine. I hope you don't mind that I raided your first aid kit. I'll replace everything that I took."
"No need. I replace the kit every month. Uh, would you like something to eat? I have peanut butter and brown sugar sandwiches." Francine couldn't remember the last time that she had felt so nervous around a man. There was something about Arlen Brubaker that just made her nervous, yet she felt as if they were fated to meet.
"No, I probably should get going." Arlen headed for the front door.
"Wait!" Francine snapped back to her senses. "You'd be safer staying here until everything gets straightened out."
"No, I should get going. I wouldn't want to jeopardize your life."
"Jeopardize my life? You're the one that's been missing for a week. Colleen Hampshire gave me the coded message that you left on her machine." Arlen looked at her startled. "I figured out everything but Plan Y-14. The KGB believes that you have or know something, right?"
Arlen slowly nodded his head, but didn't say anything more.
"Look, I can help you. I work for the government." Arlen raised his right eyebrow questioningly. "I'm one of the good guys." Francine reached into her purse and pulled out her ID. Arlen took the ID and carefully examined it, then sighed.
"All right, I'll stay."
"Good. Now why don't you join me in the living room and tell me why the KGB are after you." Arlen followed her to the living room and began to tell his tale.
* ^ * ^ *
Amanda and Lee entered the busy lobby of the Econolodge. To their right was the main desk and to the left was a sign pointing the way to the "DNA Techniques and Uses in Criminal Investigation" conference and registration table.
"Where did we say that we would meet Dotty and the boys?" Lee asked as they joined the queue.
"The Blue Cactus Bar and Grill in Byward Market," Amanda replied. She smiled at her husband and he smiled back at her.
"Next!" the young lady whose nametag read "Paige" interrupted their silent conversation.
"Lee and Amanda Stetson," Amanda said as she handed the registration forms to her.
"Stetson… ah, here you are. The first conference is at eight tomorrow morning."
"Amanda looked at the nametags that she was handed and at the nearly empty table. Gesturing to the crowd of people in the lobby she said, "I guess we are one of the last people to register, huh?"
"Oh, no. The conference didn't have many advanced registrations. We'll be very busy right before the conference starts. The rest of the crowd is here for a chess tournament that is taking place at one of the larger hotels this weekend." Paige explained.
"Ah. Thanks for the information. Have a good evening." Amanda and Lee left the lobby and hurried to join the rest of the family for dinner.
* ^ * ^ *
"When the attempt to kidnap me failed, I decided that I had better run." Arlen finished his tale of how he found out about the plans that the KGB made.
Francine pointed to the notes on her coffee table that he had placed in her pocket earlier that day. "What do these say?"
"These give the location of the new base of operations for the KGB in France and identify a new weapon system that they have.
"There are several rumors in Europe that the Berlin Wall is coming down and with it the Cold War will start to decline. My guess is that the weapon system is their last chance to prolong the Cold War between the super powers."
Francine took in what Arlen said. This was bigger than what she had thought at first; it went from being a simple missing person case to a major intelligence operation in less than twenty-four hours. She needed to get the notes deciphered and put Arlen into protective custody. She walked over to the telephone and started to call Billy at home.
"Hello?" a groggy voice answered.
"Billy, we have a situation."
"What's up?" Billy was more alert when he heard the urgency in Francine's voice.
"I found Arlen Brubaker."
"That's good, but what-"
"Billy, he found out about a KGB operation, that's why he went missing."
"I'll be right there." Francine hung up the telephone and looked at her guest.
"What's going to happen now?" he asked.
"My boss is coming over. I want you to tell him the same thing you told me about the Fuchsia Fox. After that, I don't know."
When Billy arrived at her apartment forty minutes later, Arlen told his story again. Billy decided to take the notes with him to the Agency and that it would be safer if Arlen would to remain under Francine's protection.
* ^ * ^ *
Amanda and Lee walked along Rideau/Wellington Street. Dotty and the boys decided to go back to the hostel. They had a big day planned. While Lee and Amanda attend the conference, they were planning to take a boat tour of the canal and, if time allowed, a bus tour of Ottawa. Lee and Amanda had a late conference Saturday evening, but promised Jamie and Philip that they would meet them for a tour of the Centre Block that afternoon.
Lee stopped in front of the open gate to Parliament Hill. The Centennial Flame and the clock face of the Peace Tower beckoned them inside the gate. There was a couple standing near the flame and another couple was walking across the lawn toward the West Block.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Amanda asked quietly as she leaned into her husband. Lee tensed slightly at the unexpected sound of Amanda's voice, but relaxed quickly.
"Yeah, it is. But not nearly as beautiful as you." He kissed her cheek gently. "Come on, let's walk around." Lee and Amanda took a private tour of the grounds. When they came to the backside of the Centre Block, it began to rain. Lee grabbed Amanda's hand and twirled her around. They swayed to the faint music of nature and a small concert in the Sparks Street Mall area until the rain became heavy. They raced for the shelter of the Pavilion, laughing. Lee had a far away look in his eyes when Amanda looked at his face.
"Hey, what's wrong?"
"Nothing," he answered. She could tell that he was tense, but didn't know why.
"Really? You've been on the alert ever since dinner, Lee."
Lee smiled and looked at her. She raised her left eyebrow silently asking her question again. "I guess I'm nerv-. No, not nervous, paranoid is more like it. Every time we've tried to get alone or have a vacation with our family, something happens. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop."
"Ah, well, let's enjoy the moment, shall we? If something happens, we can handle it. Until then, let's enjoy the respite." She held out her hand to invite him to dance with her. Lee looked at her. She's right; if something happens, we'll deal with it, he thought. They danced for a several moments. A constable walked passed them as he patrolled the grounds and thought, 'Ah, there's a couple in love.'
The smell coming from the kitchen woke Francine up. She sat up in bed and listened for awhile. Someone was moving around. She quickly put on her robe and grabbed the baseball bat that she kept near her bed. Creeping out the bedroom, she silently made her way to the kitchen. At that moment Arlen came out and poured a glass of water to hand to her.
"Good morning," he said cheerfully.
"What are you doing?"
"Making an omelet. You do like eggs and cheese, don't you?"
"Where did you find all this stuff?" Francine asked looking at the small carton of eggs, block of Monterey Jack cheese, and a small bowl filled with julienne potatoes, chopped onion, salt, pepper, flour, and egg1 . She watched as he took a spoonful of the mixture and flattened it, then placed it in a pan.
"It's amazing what you can come up with when you use a bit of imagination and some odds and ends." Arlen smiled. "Sit down. The potato pancakes are just about ready, and the omelet just needs a dash of a secret spice and then breakfast is served. I couldn't find any oranges or grapefruit, so I hope water is okay to use as a drink." When she didn't move from where she was standing, he walked around the island and led her to the small breakfast nook. Moments later he set a plate with half of a large omelet and two potato pancakes in front of her and told her to eat up. When he returned with his plate, they ate and talked about small things, like what they liked to do, what they wanted in the future.
As they cleaned up, Francine decided that she needed to go to the store for more food. She was about to mention it when Arlen spoke up.
"I don't know about you, but I think you need to get more food soon. I don't think I can come up with another meal on what is left." His eyes twinkled. "Why don't you get dressed, and then we can go on some errands."
Francine nodded her head in acceptance. Last night the weather report had predicted highs in the seventies and no rain. Part of her, the side that she kept hidden most of the time, wanted to go out and enjoy the day. The practical Agent side of her kept saying that it would be easier to watch her charge indoors. The battle raged on inside her as she got dressed. By the time she joined Arlen in the living room, the battle had been won, and they were going to go out and enjoy the day.
* ^ * ^ *
A Park in Virginia
"Where are we going?" Francine asked as Arlen pulled her through the park.
"You'll see," was the mysterious reply that she got from her companion. Before they left for the store that morning, Francine called Billy to let him know that they were going to enjoy the day. She could hear the touch of amusement in Billy's voice before she hung up with him. They had gotten the groceries in record time and put them away before Arlen decided that the best way to enjoy the day was to have a picnic lunch.
He requested permission to drive, and now two hours later, they were heading for a quiet spot along a river that flowed through the park. Soon they found themselves in a clearing. "Here we go. Welcome to my refuge from the pressures and stresses of life."
Giant oak trees shaded half of the clearing, in the distance you could hear the sounds of a waterfall. Francine took in the sight slowly. In the span of ten seconds, she heard at least twelve different birds. "This is a beautiful place, Arlen."
"I'm glad you like it. Emilie and I used to come here in the spring and summer. This was our place, where we could let go of everything."
"You must miss her a lot."
"Yeah, I do. We'd been dating for three years before her accident in December." Arlen looked out over the brook that ran along the edge of the clearing. His eyes lost their sparkle. He softly added, "I've been meaning to come out here since the weather turned nice."
"We can talk about something else if you want," Francine suggested. She knew what he was going through. After Jonathan died in November, she'd been holding everything in. Despite everything that happened between them, she missed him more than she ever thought she could. Amanda offered her to be there if she needed to talk, but after the investigation, she just kept to herself and went back to business as unusual.
Arlen didn't seem to hear her. He kept staring out at the brook in a stony silence. Suddenly he said, "Emilie used to say that the brook was the place to put your problems. It takes your troubles and joins up with others and eventually gets lost when it goes over the waterfall."
Francine did't respond. She looked out and let go of some of her emotional restraint. Arlen looked over and noticed a few tears falling on her cheeks. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to ignore you or make you cry." He paused for a moment. "You ready to eat?"
Francine wiped the tears from her face and nodded her head. They ate and talked about life and death. As they packed up she confided, "Thanks for listening to me. I needed to let go."
"Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me your story and for lending an ear as I talked about Emilie." They left the clearing, both feeling more at peace with themselves than they had been earlier that day.
As they approached Francine's car, two masked men greeted them.
"Hand over the notes."
"Notes? What notes?" Arlen asked. The smaller of the two produced a gun.
"Don't play games with us. The big man doesn't like it. Now, hand over the notes and you and your girlfriend can go." Francine bristled at being reduced to the rank of a girlfriend.
"Who's the 'big man'?" Francine asked playing the innocent blond they had assumed she was.
"None of your business, Blondie." The thug was going to say more, but instead was knocked out by a quick upper cut to her jaw.
"Get in the car!" Francine shouted to Arlen. It took a moment for the connection to be made, but she realized that the "notes" that they were after were the scraps of paper that Billy had taken to the boys in cryptology. Arlen managed to dodge the other thug and lock himself in the car. Part of him wanted to help Francine, but another part said that she needed to do this on her own. Within a minute, the other thug joined his partner on the ground. Arlen unlocked the driver side door for Francine and they pulled out of the park. Francine didn't say anything about where they were going, but wherever it was, they were going to get there fast.
* ^ * ^ *
Billy paced back and forth after Francine told him what happened at the park.
"Who is this 'big man' that they mentioned?"
"I don't know. I didn't find any mention of anything that might lead to him in the notes that Amanda made for me. I tried to reach them at the conference, but they weren't available to take any calls," Francine replied. Arlen sat on the couch in wonderment. He was given a guest pass to identify him and had ridden a coat closet to the lower level of the building. At least it wasn't a ride in a telephone booth, he thought.
"I had those notes that analyzed in crypto. The can't figure out the code that was used." Billy leaned on his desk and asked, "Doctor Brubaker, can you remember anything that might give us a clue as to how the code was written?"
Arlen was startled by the question. "I… I can decipher the messages," he stammered. Billy and Francine looked at him questioningly. To their unvoiced question he responded, "I was the one who wrote it in the code after I translated it from the original German."
"I know you said that you knew what the messages contained, but why did you encode the messages?" Francine asked.
"I didn't want anyone to know that I had the messages. I guess I failed in keeping that a secret, huh?"
Billy spoke into his telephone and soon another agent knocked on his door. Billy accepted the package that the agent handed him and then handed it to Francine. Francine placed the plastic sheet that contained the notes in front of Arlen and gave him a pad of paper and a pen. Forty-five minutes later, Arlen put the pen down and handed the pad of paper to Francine.
"Here it is. I used genetic codes to create the encryption. Whatever letters weren't covered by the amino acid symbols, I mixed up and drew them out of my hat," he explained.
"Good work, both of you. Francine, I have an agent watching your apartment, just in case. I'll inform our office in Europe of this new hideout. Enjoy the rest of the weekend." Billy dismissed them, and for once Francine didn't argue about not being included on a high profile mission.
"Come on, Arlen. It's my turn to cook. Have you ever had a homemade Quiche Lorraine?" Francine asked Arlen as they left the office. His response couldn't be heard as the doors to the bullpen closed behind them.
'Francine can cook?' Billy thought, shocked. 'This seems to be the year to surprise me.' Billy noted the shocked looks on some of the agents and chuckled to himself.
"Let's get back to work, people," he barked as he shut the door to his office.
12 June 1988
Amanda and Lee were running late for work. They had gotten back rather late the night before and had slept in. Both hoped that they would make their meeting at nine o'clock. Their working vacation had been good. Amanda had three rolls of film that Lee had taken during their free time from the conference and another six rolls that her mother and sons had taken on tours and shopping excursions. They arrived at Billy's office two minutes late, but no one seemed to notice. Billy motioned them in and asked for their report on the new technology.
"The DNA profiling process would be extremely helpful in terrorist cases and some sabotage situations. Currently efforts are being taken to set up standardized tests and methods to be used in courts. Unfortunately, many courts probably won't allow DNA evidence to be used for awhile," Amanda said, concluding their report.
"Very well, we'll keep an eye on each development that is made then. Other than that, did you two enjoy your weekend?"
"Yes, sir. Mother was disappointed that we couldn't have come out a week or two earlier for the Tulip Festival, but other than that it was quiet." Amanda paused for a moment as she debated to ask about one of the cases that they had left for Francine. "Did anything happen with the Brubaker case this weekend?"
"It was wrapped up on Saturday. Doctor Brubaker is on his way to an archaeological dig in northern France."
At this moment, Francine entered the office. She smiled at everyone in the room and cheerfully said, "Good morning, Lee, Amanda. Billy, here's the report you wanted." She stopped when she noticed that Lee's mouth was slightly open at her behavior. "What? Can't I be in a good mood once in a while?" She left before Lee could respond.
"Who was that?" Lee asked when he regained is composure.
* ^ * ^ *
Lee and Amanda's bedroom.
Lee sat on the bed looking at a large black and white object sitting on the floor. Amanda would be returning soon with pictures from this weekend. He doesn't hear Amanda come up the stairs.
"Are you going to introduce us?" she asked teasingly. Lee looked up and gave her one of those smiles that could melt her.
"You kept it?"
"Of course I did. Although, I had a devil of a time explaining its presence on my front porch to Dean." She smiled at him. "Do you remember what I said that day?"
"Hmm, I believe that it was something like, 'You could buy my affections with this.' You also told me that I was spoiling Alexei with all the stuff that I had bought."
Amanda nodded her head. She walked across the room and picked up the large panda bear. She asked, "So does this guy have a name or are we just going to call it 'Hey You'?"
"Uh. Well, I hadn't thought of name for him, but I thought you would have. After all you've had him longer," he teased, pulling the panda and thus his wife to him.
* ^ * ^ *
Francine opened her mailbox and pulled out several letters and a medium sized package. She sorted through the mail, saving the package for last, as she rode the elevator to her floor. In front of her door was a note from her neighbor and a larger package. She unlocked the door and picked up the package before entering. Depositing her keys and the bills on the kitchen counter, she debated which package she would open first. Both were postmarked from Switzerland and addressed to a Ms. F. E. Desmond and been sent overnight.
Tearing open the smaller package, she found an envelope and a small block of cheese with a French name on it. She opened the letter and was greeted by the words, "Hello F.E.D., agent 99!" She had to laugh. There was no mistaking whom the letter was from. The man that she had met on Friday night and said goodbye to at Dulles airport two days later, had dropped her a line in less than twenty-four hours. The letter was a long one where he just rambled on about what he hoped to find at the dig, what his plans were for the rest of the summer, and why he was heading to Switzerland before going to the dig. Toward the end, he suggested that if they could schedule it, they could head to upstate New York and go camping. She reread the end of the letter.
A card dropped out of the seven-page letter as she laughed. The recipe was called Rich Iced Chocolate2. Francine set down the letter and turned her attention to the other package. Inside was a bottle of wine, a box of Swiss chocolates, two wineglasses and a small card with apicture of the Swiss Alps on the back.
Francine put the wine in the wine rack and placed the glasses in the cabinet with her set of drinking glasses. Then she poured herself a glass of milk and made a brown sugar and peanut butter sandwich, which she had dubbed The Brubaker Special.
Endnotes: "The Brubaker Special" is really called 'Grandma B's Special' in
honor of my maternal grandmother and is quite tasty. (If you don't believe
me, try it yourself).
note 1: recipe from Betty Crocker's Cookbook, ©
1978, p. 187.