Change of Heart

Author: Carolyn

Rating: PG

Summary: Lee has to come to terms with Billy’s sudden death and his temporary promotion.

Timeline:   This takes place about 15 years after Lee & Amanda’s marriage.  Billy died in the line of duty just about a month ago. Francine married Jonathan and left the agency.  Dr. Smith retired and was replaced by Mrs. Barnhart.  Jamie is in medical school.  Philip is teaching Social Studies at a local junior high school and coaches the junior high basketball and soccer teams.  Amanda and Lee have two children Jennifer 10 and Matthew 8.  Jamie and Philip call Jennifer ‘the little mama’.  Dottie no longer lives with her daughter; she is married to Captain Kurt.  Lee has temporarily taken Billy’s job and Amanda has remained in the Q-bureau.

Disclaimer:  The main characters belong to Shoot the Moon and Warner Brothers Productions.  The story is mine for your enjoyment.

Amanda was at the sink washing dishes when Matthew ran through with Puppy chasing him.

“Matthew, calm down.”  Amanda yelled.

Jennifer looked up from her breakfast.  “Mother, is something wrong?”  She knew her mother well.  Amanda never yelled at them, spoke firmly and softly but she always got her point across.

“No, darling.”  Amanda didn’t turn to Jennifer.  She knew her daughter could tell in a minute that she was lying.  Amanda could never lie well.

“Puppy, sit.”  Matthew commanded and his dog obeyed knowing that she would get a treat.

“Matthew, that is the dumbest name for a dog.”  Jennifer stated.  She was two years older than her brother but she acted about ten years older.

“What do you care it’s not your dog.  Dad got it for me.”  Matthew gave the dog a treat and took her outside.  Jennifer shook her head.  Dogs were dirty and uncontrollable; still it was nice to have someone or something that would love you no matter what.  Jennifer remembered the argument between her parents when her father brought the dog home.  Lee always wanted to have a puppy but growing up on Air Force base it was out of the question.  Amanda said she didn’t have time for a puppy.  Matthew won.  Jennifer wanted a kitten but didn’t want to start another fight between her parents.  The fight they had this morning was the worst ever.  She put her dishes in the sink as she heard Lee coming down the stairs.

“Daddy, would you like some coffee?”  She froze when Lee walked into the room.  He had a suite case and his suit bag.

“Thank You, Sweetheart.”  Lee kissed her on her cheek.

“I put a little cream in it for you.”

He took a sip, “Perfect.  Just the way I like it.”

“Amanda,” Lee started but she just turned away.  The kitchen door opened and Dotty and Kurt walked in.  Dotty knew there was something wrong right away.

“Hi, is everyone ready?”  Kurt asked.

“Grandpa.”  Jennifer ran to him.

“Hi, Mom, Kurt.”  Lee shook Kurt’s hand but tried to avoid Dotty’s eyes.  “Amanda, I’ll talk to you later.” She did answer him.  She was afraid that she would cry.  Lee turned to his daughter, “Jennifer, do what grandma and grandpa says.”

“I will, Daddy. How long will you be gone this time?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Can you call?”  She wasn’t exactly sure what her parent’s jobs were but she did know the routine.

“I’ll call you tonight.”  Lee kissed her.  He looked at Amanda but she avoided him.

“Come on, Jennifer, let’s get you brother.”  Kurt and Jennifer followed Lee out the door.

“What’s wrong, dear?”  Dotty crossed the room to Amanda.

“He’s leaving.”  Amanda answered.

“Lee travels a lot. It’s his job.”

“No, Mother.  He’s leaving.  It’s just not working anymore.  Since Billy died and Lee took over his job we can even talk anymore.  We had a big fight in the office yesterday and we continued it this morning.”

“Amanda, I never saw anyone more in love than you and Lee.   Why don’t you two go to a marriage counselor?”

“He wouldn’t.  He still blames himself for Billy’s death.”

“Then you will have to give in.  What’s more important the agency or your family?”

 Lee was putting his suitcase in the car when Jamie pulled up.

“Going on a trip, Lee?”  He asked as he hopped out of his car.

“No.”  Lee answered.  He slammed the trunk of the car shut and then he punched the hood leaving a small dent.

“Want to talk about it?”  Jamie asked.

“Are you going to analyze me?”

Jamie smiled, “Lee, I’m a medical student.  What else would I do?”

Lee put his hand on Jamie’s shoulder.  “Your mother and I can’t even carry on a normal conversation here or at work.”  Then he added, “We decided that we need sometime apart.”

“No, I think you need sometime together.  You don’t spend enough time alone.  I remember when you always made time for each other.”  Lee was quiet so Jamie continued.  “You didn’t cause Billy’s death.”

“I know but I shouldn’t have expected him to chase that guy.  If I did it instead, he would still be alive.”

“Lee, you were shot you couldn’t have chased him.” Lee looked at Jamie.

“Jamie, he was my friend and I miss him so much.  I have to go.  Would you do me a favor?”

Jamie nodded, “Anything.”
“Keep an eye on them.  Let me know if your mother needs anything.”

“Dad.”  Matthew jumped into Lee’s arms. “Where are you going?”


“Did you know that Jennifer wants a kitten?”  He asked.

Lee smiled. He loved that the kids cared so much about each other, all four of them. “She does?”

“Yep.  Hey, Jamie, grandma and grandpa are taking us up in the plane.  They said that Puppy could come.”

Lee kissed his son.  “Matthew, you behave and keep Puppy on a leash.”

“She doesn’t like it.”  Matthew argued.  Jamie shook his head.

“Matthew, do you think she would like it any better if she ran away and got lost.”

“Ok, she’ll wear a leash.”

Lee put Matthew down.  He turned to Jamie.  “Call me.”

“Sure. If it makes you feel better, I’ll tell mom that I’m having a problem with my roommates and ask to stay here for a while.”

Lee hugged Jamie.  He couldn’t believe that of the two boys, he had become so close to that one that had hated him at first.  Joe’s death had brought them even closer.

“Thank you.”  Lee got into his car and left.

 “Jamie, did you talk to dad?”  ‘The little mama’ asked as she ran over to her brother. “Yes.”

“Did you tell him I called you this morning?”

“Jennifer, I wouldn’t do that. Was their argument bad?”

She hugged her older brother.  “The worst.”  He lifted her chin so she faced him.  He took a tissue from his pocket and wiped a tear from her cheek.

“Jennifer, they will work it out.  I know they love each other.  Dad just has to work though some problems at work.”

“I know he still blames himself for Uncle Billy’s death but it wasn’t his fault.  He didn’t shoot him.”  Jennifer said.

“Honey, your dad takes death very hard especially if it’s a good friend.”  Jamie held his sister close and tried to make her feel safe.  “We have to let them work it out.”

“They don’t even talk to each other anymore, how are they going to work it out?”

Just then Dottie and Kurt came out of the house.

“Is everybody ready?”  Kurt was bouncing Matthew on his back and Puppy was running behind them.

“Grandpa, can I fly the plane?”

“Sure you can.  Hi, Jamie.”  Kurt put Matthew and Puppy in the car.  Jennifer kissed Jamie and climbed in beside Matthew.

Dottie hugged her grandson. “Jamie, talk to your mother.”

“I will, grandma.”  He kissed her and she left with Kurt.

 Jamie opened the kitchen door.  His mother was staring out the window.

“Hey, Ma.”  Jamie crossed over to her.

“Hi, Sweetheart.”  She hugged her son and looked at him, “You heard?”

“Yeah, it’s about time you got rid of him.  I never liked Lee.  He thought he was too cool; him and his silver corvette.  I never knew what you saw in him.”

Amanda eyes widen, “James King, you know that you love Lee just like he was your father.   He’s a wonderful man; he’s caring and loving.  You should consider yourself lucky that he is your stepfather.”  Amanda stopped.  Jamie was smiling. “What?”

“I knew you still loved him.”  Jamie hugged his mother.

“Mom, I need to study for some test that I have coming up this week.  Would it be a problem for me to stay here?  Frank and his band are practicing at the house.  I can’t even think straight.”

“Are you sure that is the reason?”

“Would I lie to you?”  Jamie gave her one of his smiles.

“I would love to have you here.”

“Now about you and Lee.”

“Jamie, let’s drop it for now. I have talked enough for one day.”  Amanda kissed her son on his head.  “Besides, I have to go to work.”
Amanda walked into the bullpen; she could remember how much she enjoyed work at one time but now she hated being here.  She crossed the room to Lee’s door but he wasn’t there.

“He’s upstairs with the big lady.  She called screaming about some reports this morning.”

Beaman said looking up from his computer.  “She’s been on Lee’s back since he walked in.”

“Thanks.”  Amanda turned and walked out of the bullpen as Lee was walking in.  His face looked drawn and tired.  Lee seamed to have aged in the past month since Billy death.

“Lee, here are the papers you asked me for.”  His hand brushed hers as he took the report.

“Thank you.”  Lee looked at the papers, “Amanda,” He stopped for a second as if trying to organize his thoughts. He looked at her and she noticed that his beautiful eyes had lost that special sparkle.  “Never mind,” He said and walked to his office.  Amanda watched until he closed the door.  She had hoped that they could finally talk about what was bothering him without fighting.  Lee wanted to hug Amanda and try to forget all the words that had passed between them the past month.  Could she ever forgive or forget some of the things that were said.  He had been a fool.  He had lost his two best friends in the world.  One he could never replace and the other he prayed would forgive him in time.

Amanda went back to the Q-bureau although she just wanted to talk to Lee she was afraid that it would cause another scene like yesterday.  As she walked in the door her phone rang and she answered it.

“International Federal Film, may I help you.”

“Yes, I would like to buy some film.”  The voice on the other end of the phone said.

“I’m sorry we don’t sell film.”  Amanda answered.

“What kind of store is this?”  The voice demanded.

“We’re not a store, we are a film company.”

“Yes, I want to buy some film.”  The voice again said.

Amanda was loosing her patience.  “We don’t sell film.”

“Fine than how about lunch.”  There was a soft laughter on the other end.

“Who is this?”  Amanda demanded.

“You don’t know?  That’s probably because you just a plain, ordinary, dull housewife from Arlington, Virginia.”

Amanda smiled, “Francine?”

“Hi, Amanda.  I’m in town for a couple of days. Jonathan has meetings all day and I hoped we could get together.”

“I’d love to.  How about Ned’s at 12:30?”

“Perfect, I’ll see you there.  Hope you have some new pictures of the kids.  Bye.”

Amanda hung up.  She had time to finish up the paper work that Lee had left for her.

Maybe things would work out when the two of them were back in the Q-bureau.  Being a section chief was safer than being an agent but she knew he hated working with Mrs. Barnhart.  Lee poured himself some coffee and went back into his office.

“Want to talk about it?”  Dr. Stone was sitting on his couch.

“I thought I came to your office and not the other way around.”  Lee sat at his desk.

“I make house calls.  I’m old fashion.”  The doctor took a seat by Lee’s desk.  “I couldn’t help but hearing Mrs. Barnhart this morning.  I was in the outer office.”

Lee didn’t say anything.

“I was also in the bullpen when you and Amanda had your fight.”  The doctor waited for a response.

“I hate this job.  It took my friend and my marriage.”

“Lee, I understand that you feel that you somehow caused Billy’s death.”

“If I had handled the case differently; I should have never gotten him involved. He would still be alive now.”

“There is nothing you can do about it.  Lee, Billy knew the risks.”

“And my marriage?”  Lee asked.

“That’s up to you and Amanda.  You need to decide what is more important in your life.”

“Mrs. Barnhart is trying to find someone to replace Billy.”   Lee’s phone rang.  “Yes, I’ll be right up.”  He looked at the doctor “Duty calls. I spend more time in the elevator that I do working.”

“Lee, come up and see me.  You can’t keep all this in and you can’t let it explode just at home.”

Lee looked at the doctor, “I left Amanda.”

“Lee, I’m sorry.”

“It’s better for now.  We can’t even talk anymore.”

“How about if both you and Amanda come in to see me?”

Lee stood, “I have to get up stairs.  I’ll talk to Amanda and call you.”

Lee left his office.

Amanda took a booth near the door so she could see Francine as soon as she came in.  The door opened and Francine walked in.  She was just as beautiful as ever but she seemed to be more radiant.


“Francine!”  They hugged and Amanda stepped back. “Francine!  Are you?”

“Yes, and I’m so scared.”

“When are you due?”


“Jonathan must be so happy.”

“Oh, he is and my mother is thrilled. She gave up on me years ago.”

They gave their order to the waiter and sat back and talked.

“How are the kids?”

“They are all fine.”  Amanda said as she took out some pictures of the kids.  “Your godson named his puppy 'Puppy'.  Lee and I got into a big argument over the dog but Mathew has surprised me he really takes good care of her.”

“How’s Lee?”  Francine asked.

Amanda became quiet.  “We broke up.”

“No. I don’t believe it you were so in love.  Can I ask what happened?”

“The agency and Billy’s death.  Lee has taken Billy’s death really hard and he feels he was to blame in some way.”

“I heard about that.  He can’t blame himself.”

“Lee feels that he shouldn’t have involved Billy in the case in the first place.”

“Billy knew his limits.”

“Now Lee is acting section chief and all we do is fight; at the agency and at home.  He left this morning.  We haven’t told the younger ones yet.”

Francine took Amanda’s hand.  “I’m so sorry. Let me know if I can help.”

After lunch Francine and Amanda said their goodbyes and promised to get together before Francine had to go home.  Amanda walked back to the agency.  She felt a little more relaxed than she had been in a couple of weeks.  A long black limo pulled up beside her and a tall dark man jumped out of the front seat and said something to Amanda.  Then he opened the door for her and she climbed in.
Lee knocked on Mrs. Barnhart’s door and walked in.  There was a gray haired man sitting at her desk.

“Lee, this is Barry White, he’s out of our California office.  Barry, this is Lee Stetson.”

“Scarecrow, nice to meet you.”  They shook hands.

“Have we met?”  Lee asked.

“No.  I did see you at Billy’s funeral.  Billy and I are old friends and he had spoken about you often.”

Mrs. Barnhart continued, “Barry will be the new section chief.  So it’s back to the Q-Bureau for you.  I want you to show Barry around and help him with what ever he needs.”

“OK.”  Lee answered.

Lee and Barry left her office and he showed him around.  In the bullpen he introduced him to everyone and then showed him his office.

“Lee, I’m hungry.  It’s almost 2:00; what do you say we go and get some lunch?”

“Sounds good to me.”

They walked over to Ned’s; where Lee and Barry took a back table away from the bar so they could talk.  They ordered steak sandwiches and coffee.  Barry talked about his plans for the agency.  Lee was quiet except for a few yes and no answers.

“Lee, Billy and I started in the agency together; he was a good friend.”  Lee shifted in his seat but said nothing, so Barry continued.

“He thought the world of you and Amanda.  He wouldn’t want you to throw your life away because of this.  Let him go.”

“I can’t.  He was my best friend.”

“I know how you feel.  I lost my best friend, my wife.  She died in a car accident.  We had a fight before I left the country on a case.  She was alive when she got to the hospital but she died before they could get a hold of me.  I never told her I was sorry and how much I loved her and needed her.  If it wasn’t for Jeannie and Billy I don’t think I would have gotten through it.  Sue and I were never lucky enough to have children so now I’m alone.  Do you have any children?”

“I have a boy and a girl and two step sons.”  Lee answered.

“Treasure them and your wife.  I would give my life in a minute to make things right with Sue.  I’ll see you back at the office.”  He put his napkin on the table and left.

Lee just sat there.  Barry was right.  Lee had pushed Amanda away because he was scared.  Death had happened to close to him again and all he knew to do was lash out at the one person he needed and loved the most.  Suddenly he had to find Amanda and explain.  Lee headed to the Q-Bureau but Amanda hadn’t returned after lunch.  His phone rang.

“Lee, Mr. White wants you down here.”

“On my way.”

Lee left the Q-Bureau and headed to Mr. White’s office.  He knocked on the door and walked in.

“Lee, I know you are probably the last person I want to put on this case but I know how you feel.  I understand that Karl Zoloft is in DC again.  I want you to head the investigation.”

Lee couldn’t believe that he was being given a second chance to stop this madman.

“I want Amanda on this with me.”

“You can have all the agents you want.  I want this guy stopped.”

Lee went back to the Q-Bureau but Amanda still hadn’t returned.  Lee checked her log but she had appointments all afternoon.  He would have to call her later or tomorrow morning.  Lee left the Q-Bureau to do some legwork and check his sources.
            Lee woke with a start.  It was still dark and he reached for Amanda but he remembered where he was.  How he missed Amanda, the kids and the noises of home.  He decided to get started on his day.  When he arrived at the agency he asked Mrs. Brody if she had seen Amanda.

“No. I haven’t seen her since yesterday when she went to lunch.”

Lee went to see Mr. White and filled him in on the information his informants gave him.

Mrs. Brody paged Lee; “There is a young man up here to see you.”

Lee went upstairs to find Philip in the front foyer.

“Hi, Philip.”  Lee shook hands with him.

“Lee, Jamie tried to call you but when he couldn’t get you he asked me to stop and talk to you.”

“I’m sorry I haven’t gotten a chance to pick up my messages.”

“Mom didn’t come home last night and she didn’t call.  We were hoping that she was with you.”

Lee frowned, “I haven’t seen her since yesterday. Mrs. Brody has..”

“No, she hasn’t.”  She interrupted.

“Did you check with your grandmother?”

“She hasn’t seen her either.”  Philip said.  Lee was beginning to worry.  That wasn’t Amanda.

“I’ve got a class that I’m going to be late for.  Jamie took the kids to school and grandma will pick them up.  He has a late class tonight and I have a game.”

Lee put his hand on Philip’s shoulder and walked him to the door.  “She probably got tied up on a case.  I’ll call you when she comes in.”

Philip left and Lee went to the Q-Bureau.  After making a list of Amanda’s appointments he check her phone log.  Francine called and they had met at Ned’s for lunch.  Lee checked the hotels and found the one where Jonathan and Francine were staying.  Lee sent Peters and Styman to check out his leads for Karl Zoloft and he started at the middle of Amanda list.  It was the local bakery.

“May I help you, sir?”  The young girl asked.

“Is Candy here?”  Lee asked.

“Just a moment, sir.”

An older woman came out of the back room.

“May I help you, sir?”  She asked.

“I was looking for my wife Amanda.”

“So was I.”

“Didn’t she stop by here yesterday?”

“No.  Could I give you her order?”

“Yes.”  She handed Lee a box and he paid her and left.

He opened the box in the car there was a note in code.  Lee would check it at the agency later.  He decided to stop and see Francine.  As he pulled his vet up in front of the hotel she was just coming out with Jonathan.


“Francine!”  They hugged and he shook hands with Jonathan.

“You look great.”

“Lee, I’m going to be a mother!”

“Congratulations.”  Lee shook hands with Jonathan and kissed Francine.

Francine turned serious, “Lee, Amanda told me about you two.  I can’t believe it.”

“I’m trying to find her.”

“I haven’t seen her since yesterday.”

“She didn’t come home last night.”

“We met at 12:30 at Ned’s and were there until about 1:45.  I took a cab back here and she walked back to the agency.”  Francine said.

“She never got back to the agency.”

“Lee, we’ve got an appointment.  Call me later & let me know what is happening.”

“I will.”  Lee said and hugged her.


Lee went back to his car and called Amanda’s first appointment but he was told that she never showed up, then he went to Ned’s and asked everyone if they had seen Amanda with Francine.

The waiter, Steve, had seen Amanda get into a black limo with NY plates.  Lee took out some pictures of Karl Zoloft and his associates.  Steve recognized Josef Kinkier, one of Zoloft’s men.  Lee checked with Mr. White and gave him the information he had collected.  Mr. White sent Bronson and Ryan to see what they could find out and then he sent Lee home.  Lee needed to make two stops on the way home.  The first stop was the cemetery.  He walked over to Billy’s grave.  How he missed his friend and their talks.

“Where is she, Billy? I don’t know what to do or who to turn to.”  Lee spoke out loud.  He was talking to Billy but he didn’t expect anyone to answer.  Lee jumped when someone did answered.

“Trust Barry.”

Lee turned to see Jeannie behind him.  “Hi.”  He hugged her.  “How are you and the girls?”  He asked.

“We’re fine.  I called Amanda the other day to thank her for everything she did for the funeral and she told me about you two.   I’m so sorry.  How are you doing, Lee?”

“Not good.”  Lee answered.

“Lee,” She held his hand, “Billy wouldn’t be happy knowing you blame yourself for his death.”

Lee shook his head, “Jeannie, you don’t understand…”

“Lee, I understand that Billy loved you like a son.  You made him so happy when you asked him to be Matthew’s godfather.”

“Matthew loved him.”

“And Matthew needs you, you and Amanda.”

“I don’t know if she will ever forgive me.”  Lee said. “I said some stupid things.”

“She will.”  Jeannie said as a car pulled up on the road close to Billy’s plot.  “That’s my daughter. I’m going to stay with her for a while.”

Lee took her arm and walked her to the car.  He looked up and took a deep breath fighting back the tears.  Jeannie took his hand again and she reached up and kissed his cheek.

“Lee, thank you for being such a good friend to Billy and thank you for loving him.”

Lee hugged her and then opened that car door for her.

“Give my love to Amanda and the children.  Trust Barry, Lee.  He was a good friend to Billy.”

“I will.”  Lee said as Jeanie got in the car.  He watched as they pulled away then he walked back to Billy’s grave.  Lee touched the headstone.

“Goodbye my friend.”  Lee said.

Lee made his second stop on the way home.

He pulled into the driveway but sat in his car for a few minutes.  Dotty and Kurt’s car was there.  Lee climbed out of the car.  He looked in the kitchen window and remembered all the times he did that before.

“Daddy!”  Matthew jumped into Lee’s arms.  “Is mommy with you?  What’s that?” He asked as something moved in his jacket.

“No, Matthew.”  Lee answered.

“When is she coming home?” Jennifer asked.

Lee kissed the top of her head.  “Soon.”

Dotty asked, “Lee, have you eaten?”

“No, I’m not hungry.”  He poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down at the table with Dotty and Kurt.

Dotty asked, “Have you heard from Amanda?”

Lee tried to avoid her eyes, “No.  She probably doesn’t have the time.”

Jennifer took a plate and heated some food for Lee.  She set a place for Lee and put the plate in front of him.

“Honey, I’m not really hungry.”

“Daddy you need to eat.”  Jennifer said.

Lee smiled, “You win, thank you.”  Jennifer touched her father’s jacket just like Amanda always did.  He smiled at her; she was so much like her mother.

“Take off your jacket, Daddy.”

“My zipper is stuck.  Can you help me?”  He asked.

Jennifer started to unzip his jacket but something moved and she jumped back.  A little white head popped out through the opening.

“Daddy!”  Jennifer screamed.

Lee unzipped his jacket and took out a small white kitten.  He handed her to Jennifer.

“Oh my gosh!”  Jennifer cried and hugged Lee, “I love you, daddy.  How did you know I wanted a kitten?”

“Puppy told me.”  Lee winked at Matthew.  He laughed.

“Jennifer, why don’t you call her Kitten?”  Matthew asked.

“That’s dumb.”   She replied.

Dotty picked up the kitten, “She looks like a little snowball.”

“That’s what I will call her.  Snowball.  Thank you, daddy.  You’re not eating.”  Jennifer looked at Lee.

Lee started to eat.  He hadn’t realized just how hungry he was.

“We’ll leave now, you seem to be well taken care of.”

Dotty and Kurt said their goodbyes and left.

Lee finished his food and Jennifer took his dishes and washed them.  Lee began to dry them.

“Daddy, you relax, I’ll do them.”  Jennifer said.

“I like working with you.”  He said.  She smiled at his remark.

After they were done Lee said, “Come on guys its time for bed.”  Jennifer took Snowball and went up stairs.

“I want mom.”  Matthew hollered.

“She’ll be home later.”  Lee said, “Let’s go to bed.”

“No.”  Matthew sat on the couch, “I’m not moving until mom comes home.”

Lee was tired and he had very little patience left. “Matthew, upstairs now.”

Matthew looked at Lee, “No.”

Lee reached for his hand but Matthew moved back.  He was determined not to move.

Loosing his temper Lee reached over across his son’s chest and placed his left hand under his right arm. Lifting Matthew, Lee raised his other hand to swat his behind.  Jennifer grabbed Lee’s arm.  “Dad, No.  Please, don’t hit him when you’re upset.  He misses mom.”

Lee held on to Matthew and pulled him closer.  He took Jennifer’s hand and kissed it.

“I love you.  You’re so much like your mother.”

He turned Matthew toward him and hugged him.

“I love you, Matthew.  How about sleeping with me in my bed.”

“OK, dad.”  Matthew said laying his head on Lee’s shoulder.

“Could I sleep with you, too?”  Jennifer asked.

“Sure.”  Lee answered.

They started upstairs.

“Puppy and Snowball, too!”  Matthew said.  Lee smiled.  How he loved being a father. 

Lee fell asleep with his sleeping son in his arms.  Jennifer pulled the blanket over them.  She lay down to read when she heard a noise downstairs.  She went down to check.
“Jamie, hi.”

“Hi, sweetie.  Where’s Lee?”

“He’s asleep with Matthew and Puppy.”

 As Jamie poured himself a glass of milk he asked,  “Why aren’t you sleeping?”

“I came down to see if you were hungry.”

“No, I ate at school.  Hey who is this?”  Jamie asked as he picked up Snowball.

“That’s Snowball.  Daddy brought her home for me.”

Jamie put a small dish on the table and poured Snowball some milk.  She licked it up.  Just then the phone rang and Jamie answered it.

“Hello.  Yes he is.  I’ll get him.”

Jamie ran upstairs with Jennifer behind him.  He tapped Lee on the arm.

“Lee, phone.  It’s a Mr. White.”  Lee eased himself out of Matthew’s grasp and took the phone.

“Yes, sir.  I’ll be right there.”  He handed Jamie the phone as he took his clothes into the bathroom.  When he came out he sat on the edge of the bed to put on his shoes.  Jennifer hopped on the bed and slid under the covers.  Lee covered her up and kissed her.

“Go to sleep, sweetheart.”

“I will, daddy.  Please be careful. I love you.”

Lee smiled, “I love you more than you’ll ever know.”

“Daddy, I already know because that’s how much I love you.”

Lee hugged her.  “Sleep.”

She lay down and closed her eyes.

Lee and Jamie went down stairs.  Lee put his ankle gun on and then his shoulder holster.  He took out another gun and loaded it.  Then he handed  it to Jamie.  “You know how to use this.  Take care of the kids and don’t let anything happen to them.”

Jamie nodded, “Sure.”

“Lock it in my night table draw and keep the key with you.  Don’t tell Matthew about it.  Here’s the key.”

“Don’t worry, Lee.  I won’t let anything happen to them.”

“Thanks.”  Lee took his jacket and left.

Amanda was tied up in a bedroom.  She had no idea what day it was or what time.  Her arms and legs were numb from the bindings that held them.  Her thoughts turned to Lee and her children.  What were they thinking?  She didn’t remember what had happened after she got into the limo.  She had tried to fight the ropes that held her arms tight but to no avail.  Amanda looked around the room to find something to cut the ropes.  She noticed that the end of the bed was sharp.  Amanda was able to break a piece of the metal flowers off and start working on her ropes.  She heard talking outside the door and she hid the piece of metal in her hands.  The door opened and in walked two of the men that had been in the limo with her.

“Mrs. Stetson, it’s time to go for a ride.”  They lifted her up and carried her out to the garage.  They opened the trunk and put her inside.

Lee pulled up to the address that Barry had given him.  There were several cars out in front.  Lee walked over to Barry.

“What do you have?”

“Karl Zoloft is inside.  Some of his men left a little while ago and we picked them up.  There are still three of them inside with him.”  Barry said.

“Amanda?”  Lee asked.

“I don’t know.  Lee, I want you with me when we start to move.  You and I will go in the front.”

“Yes, sir.”

Barry spoke into his radio.  “This is papa bear.  Are you in place, mama bear?”

“Roger, papa bear.”

“What about you, baby bear?”

 “All set, sir.”

“We go in on three.  One, two, three move in.”

The agents broke in the back door.  Lee and Barry hit the front.  Within three minutes they had apprehended the three men.  Lee checked the house but there was no sign of Amanda.  One of the agents opened the door to a closet and discovered a bomb.  It was counting down; two minutes left.

“Everyone out now!”  Barry shouted as everyone ran from the house.

Amanda put her feet up to block the trunk from shutting.  Zoloft stepped into the garage and hollered for them to hurry.  Just then the agents broke down the back door and the men ran back into the house shooting at the agents.

Amanda finished cutting the ropes and then untied her feet.  She jumped out of the trunk and ran to the door of the house.  She heard Barry give the order to get out of the house because of the bomb.  She tried to open the automatic door opener but it didn’t work.  She sized up the situation and realized the only way out was by the window in the back.  She had just about gotten out the window when the house and the garage exploded.  She was knocked to the ground as they burst into flames.

     The agents fell to the ground as the house exploited.  Lee was one of first ones up; he tackled Zoloft as he tried to get away.  Lee pulled him up by the collar and put his gun to his throat.

“Where’s Amanda?”

Zoloft laughed, “I suspect by now she is dead.”  He looked at the burning house.

“I searched the house.”  Lee said.

“Did you search the trunk of the car in garage?”  Zoloft laughed.

“You’re dead.”  Lee cocked his gun and pointed it at Zoloft’s head.

Mrs. Barnhart ran over to Lee. “Lee, put the gun down.”

Lee turned to face her keeping Zoloft beside him with his gun pointed at Zoloft’s head.  “He killed Billy and Amanda.”

“Lee, I don’t want to give the order to shoot you.”  She pleated.

Barry was next to Mrs. Barnhart, “Donna, get back.  He’s one of my agents.  I’ll handle it.  Make them put their guns down.”  He pointed to the other agents.  She looked at Barry and nodded, “Guns down.”  She said as she stepped back.

Barry took a few steps toward Lee.

“Barry, stay out of this.  He’s going to die.”

“Lee, think of what you are doing.  Are you willing to throw your life away?”

“He killed Amanda.”

“Do you think she would want this?”

Lee was silent but he kept his gun pointed at Zoloft.

Barry continued, “What about your kids?”  As soon as Barry said it Lee turned quickly toward him and he knew that he hit the right button so he continued.  “What do you have?  Two?  A boy and a girl, right? How old are they?”

Lee answered softly, “Jennifer is 10 and Matthew is 8.”

“Not much older than you were when your parents died.  How do you want me to tell them that you and Amanda are not coming home?”

Lee didn’t move.  Barry knew he was listening.  “Lee, put down your gun.”

Lee lowered his gun and released his grip on Zoloft.  Barry motioned to several agents to take Zoloft.  Barry walked over to Lee as Lee held his gun out to him.  “No, put it in your holster.”  He put his arm on Lee’s shoulder.

“Let’s go home.”  They walked over to Mrs. Barnhart and Lee looked at her.

“Are you alright, Lee?”  She asked.

“Amanda’s dead.  I don’t know how I can go on.”  He answered.

“Lee, you have your children.”  Barry said.

Mrs. Barnhart put her hands on Lee’s shoulders.  “Lee, turn around.”

“What?”  He looked at her unsure of what she had said.

“Turn around.”  She repeated as she tried to turn him.  Both Barry and Mrs. Barnhart were smiling.  Lee looked at them and then turned around.  Amanda was being helped by one of the firemen to the fire truck.

“Amanda!”  Lee yelled as he ran to her.

“Lee!”  She ran into his arms.  “I’m so sorry for everything I said.”

“No.  It was all my fault.  Please forgive me.”  He said as he kissed her.

Barry and Mrs. Barnhart were standing beside them.  Barry cleared his throat.

“Oh, Barry, this is my wife Amanda.  This is Barry White our new section head.”  They greeted each other.

“Barry, thank you for stopping me from doing something very stupid.”

“No, Lee, you never would have done it.  It’s not in you.”

“I’m not so sure.”  Lee shook his head trying to forget what he almost did.”
Lee was pacing in the Q-bureau.  He had finished his report about an hour ago and he was waiting for Amanda to finish her debriefing.  His phone buzzed.

“Yes.”  He answered it.

“Lee, I need you down here.”  Barry said.

“On my way.”  He answered.

Lee knocked on Barry’s door and walked in.  Mrs. Barnhart was at Barry’s desk and he was standing next to it.  Amanda was sitting in front of the desk.  Mrs. Barnhart motioned for Lee to take the seat next to Amanda.

“I have two letters here that are dated before all this took place.  What do you want me to do with them?”  She held up the letters.

Lee and Amanda looked at each other.

“Lee, I didn’t want to stay with the agency if it was coming between you and me.”

Lee smiled, “I didn’t want it to come between us either.  Our marriage is more important than this job.”

“What should I do with these?”  She asked again.

“We'll talk about it and we will get back to you.”  Lee said.

“I can’t afford to loose my two best agents.”  Barry said.

Lee took Amanda’s hand and stood up.

“And I can’t afford to loose my family.  We will talk about it and get back to you in a few days.  Now we are going home.” Lee said half stating and half asking as he looked at Amanda.

Amanda smiled, “Yes, we’re going home.”

As they drove home Lee and Amanda were very quiet.  They had said a lot of things to each other that they wanted and needed to forget.  It would be hard and they both knew it.  Lee broke the silence.

“Amanda, when Billy died I pushed you away.  You were the one person I needed the most and I pushed you away.  I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright.  I understand.”  She said.

“I love you.”  Lee took her hand and kissed it.

Lee pulled into the driveway.  Dotty’s car was in there and so was  Philip and Jamie’s.  Lee had called and told everyone that Amanda coming home.  He got out of the car and came around to open the door for her.

“Amanda, I need to tell you something before we go in.”  He put his hands on her waist and pulled her close.

“I got Jennifer a kitten.”

“Lee, I thought we agreed no more pets.”

“Matthew said she really wanted one and she was so helpful while you were gone.”  Lee stopped Amanda was smiling.

“You’re such a wonderful father.  I love you.”  She put her arms around him and kissed him.

         In the house Philip noticed that Lee’s car was in the driveway. Matthew started to go outside but Philip stopped him.

“Hey wait, buddy.  Give them time together.  Finish your breakfast.”

Matthew did as he was told.  Jennifer stayed at the window with Jamie and Philip.  Dotty came into the kitchen, “What’s going on?”

“Mom and dad are outside,” Matthew said as he ran back to the window.

“Are they talking?”  Dotty asked.

“No.”  Jennifer answered.

“Are they fighting?”

“Yuck, they’re still doing it.”  Matthew said.

Jamie and Philip laughed.

“They’re kissing.”  Jennifer laughed.


         Lee brushed Amanda’s hair back off the side of her face and pulled her closer and kissed her.

“I love you.”  He said between kisses.

“I love you.”  Amanda said.  “Let’s forget this month ever happened.”

“We really do need to make up.  How about after everyone leaves?”  He said.

“Sounds good to me.  Don’t turn around but I think we have an audience.”

“I saw them.  Should we give them a run for their money?”  Lee asked.

Lee pulled her closer and kissed her a long kiss.

Suddenly the back door banged opened and Matthew came running out.

“Aren’t you guys done yet?”  He asked.  Everyone came out laughing.

Philip grabbed Matthew and said, “Let’s play Matthewball.”   He tossed Matthew to Jamie, who tossed him to Lee.  Lee turned him around and handed him to Amanda.

“Mom, I missed you.”  Matthew hugged her.

“I missed you, too.”  She kissed her son as everyone else gave her a group hug.