Summary: Filler for Brunettes are In. Probably a little off canon.
Disclaimer: SMK is owned by Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Productions. Not me. I had nothing to do with writing the episode, Brunettes are In, but I did borrow heavily from the story line for this piece.
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Those five little words kept echoing through Lee Stetson's brain like the wail of a banshee. They were the last things he heard as he lost consciousness, and the first things he heard as he began to come to. They kept repeating in his mind like a sickening mantra, and he felt the icy fist of fear grip his heart. He was aware of those words long before he was aware of his own predicament.
As Lee became more and more alert, other voices intruded on his mind. He heard Amanda scream as he rounded the corner of her house the night before, gun drawn and ready for anything. He heard that scumbag Rollo shout, "You guys take care of the merchandise, I got him!" And then Amanda's quivering cry, "I've never been so scared in all my life! Why'd they come to my house? Who are they?" And finally, his own voice, "Well, Hot Mama!…Oh, Amanda, you make me crazy!…Well, I'm not holding you there, am I?"
The harshness in his own voice brought him fully awake. His head
snapped up, and he finally became aware that he was upright, not of his
own volition, but because his wrists were manacled to a pipe over his head.
He began to put weight on his feet and not his wrists while he scanned
the dimly lit room. At first he thought he was nauseous from his
head injury. After all, he was thrown headfirst through a fence. But then
he became aware that the whole room was rocking gently back and forth.
Now back…now forward. Now back… now forward. And he quickly
surmised that he must be on a boat. The boat! Rollo had talked
about a boat where women were held before they were sold. After he
sailed off the roof of the van and crashed
through the fence, they must have brought him along to the boat. That must mean Amanda was here somewhere, too!
That last thought cleared the remaining cobwebs from his mind, and Lee began to study his surroundings in earnest. He noticed that he was below deck; the tiny porthole showed only a trace of sunlight. And he noticed several sleeping berths around the room. He counted six in all. "Dear God," he thought, "there's enough room to carry six women at a time! These guys must be major league traffickers!"It sickened him to think of Amanda as part of their "merchandise".
Just then Lee spied a figure on one of the berths. "Amanda?"
Lee called quietly. But upon closer inspection, he could tell it
wasn't her. The figure was definitely a woman, but she had blonde hair, and had a little stockier build than Amanda. He called to the woman quietly, but she didn't respond. He noted that her chest rose and fell as she breathed, so she wasn't dead. But he didn't see any form of restraints on her; she must be heavily drugged. Lee felt sorry for the poor woman, and wondered what terrors she had to endure already. He saw a vision of Amanda lying drugged in one of these berths, helpless against the men who would take her away from all she knew and loved to a life of humiliation and degradation. Lee made up his mind right then and there that Amanda King was not going to end up as some rich creep's play toy, not as long as he had anything to do about it. He ignored the nagging pain in his shoulders and arms and began to drop his weight in an attempt to loosen the pipe
from its fittings. "Oh, Amanda, where are you and what are they doing to you?" Lee reached out desperately with his mind as he struggled to free his body. "Why, today of all days, did I forget to put that lock pick in my collar?"
And so, Lee continued to work frantically to free himself from his chains
while visions of Amanda's frightened little face floated
before him. Every time the pain got to be too much, he would force himself to remember the conversation he had with Francine on his car phone while driving at break-neck speed to the Sinclair estate. Francine had done some quick persuasion and had found out some very interesting information from Rollo. It seems Amanda's buyer was willing to pay a small fortune for her. He had seen her pictures, taken during almost constant surveillance of her during the past few days, and had become obsessed. The failed kidnap attempts only fueled his desire more. He had to possess such a spirited woman. No other woman would do. He was charmed by her beauty and amused that he would have a suburban housewife to add to his collection. That was why Rollo and his accomplices were so persistent in their attempts to get Amanda. And that made Lee even more determined to rescue Amanda and keep her safe, regardless of the pain he was now experiencing. Lee had just felt the pipe give slightly when he heard noises outside the cabin door. He quickly dropped his weight and hung from those painful arms as he feigned unconsciousness.
Lee peeped out of half-closed eyes, and what he saw made his heart soar.
Amanda! A large man led her into the room, lifted off her blindfold,
and quickly closed the door as he left. Lee looked her over
quickly. He was relieved to see that she was still fully clothed,
and that her clothes weren't dirty or torn. He could see no bruises
on her face or her hands. He could tell by her
posture that she was very frightened, but she didn't seem to be physically hurt – or sexually hurt. His mind quickly banished that last thought. He couldn't bear to go there, to think about her that way. All he knew was that he had to get her out of there and away from these men who wanted to hurt her and use her. He needed her back home where she belonged: in her house, with her kids, working with him. But he'd really messed things up with her this time.
First he'd have to make sure she was safe, and then…well, maybe she
didn't need to work at the agency any more. Maybe she wouldn't be
in this mess if she hadn't been at that Laundromat when those goons were
looking for women to steal. They had followed her for two days now,
and had even managed to snatch her at the Sinclair estate where she had
gone to do charity work. Maybe he could protect her best if she weren't
working for the agency. If she had a nice, normal job, he wouldn't
have to worry about her getting into trouble. He could disengage
himself from her life and watch her from a distance, making sure she was
safe and OK. Lee knew Amanda's enthusiasm; she would soon forget
all about him and the agency and
throw herself into her new life. Yeah, that would be the best, safest option for her. So where did this sudden hollow feeling come from? No time for introspection now. "Amanda, we have to get you out of here!"
Two days passed since the resolution of that case, and Lee was feeling pretty good. Amanda was safe, the microdot was recovered, and the operatives made it safely out of Russia. And a major white-slavery ring with connections all over the world was being dismantled, thanks to the testimony of Rollo and his co-horts. Sinclair was on his way to a long vacation in the pen, and Lee thought it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Even though Amanda's buyer's identity remained a mystery, Lee did find out that she was destined for the Middle East, probably Iraq. Upon hearing that Amanda was targeted due to her charity work, and not because of agency connections, he had decided that maybe the best way to protect her would be to keep her working at the agency, with him, where he could keep a close eye on her. Yes, things turned out all right. If only his date for the evening hadn't been a bust. Since when had Trixie become such a damned airhead, anyway? Her conversation at dinner bored him to tears, and he really didn't feel like taking her back to his apartment, either. So he feigned a headache and begged off the rest of the evening.
Lee had taken Trixie home, and then found himself driving through a
familiar Arlington neighborhood. He glanced at his clock:
"10:00. Amanda must be getting ready for bed by now. I'll just peek in her window and make sure she's all right."
It was a warm evening, and Amanda's kitchen window was open a couple of inches to catch the breeze. Lee stood under the window and smelled the inviting smell of pot roast still wafting through the air. There was always some good smell coming from her kitchen. It made Lee feel warm inside. And hungry.
Amanda and her mother were still up, drinking cocoa in the kitchen. Lee listened intently to their conversation. He learned all about Amanda's day, and Dottie's hair appointment for the next afternoon. Dottie was trying a new hairdresser, a Mr. Emilio, and she was a little nervous. Lee smiled as he heard Amanda try to calm her mother's nerves. Next, he heard all about the boys' activities and how they were doing this season in softball and school. Then, Lee heard Dottie wish Amanda a good night. He peeked up just in time to see Amanda smiling enigmatically in her kitchen. She seemed totally content and at peace. Lee was transfixed. Amanda was still smiling as she flipped off the kitchen light and turned to make her way upstairs.
Satisfied that all was well on Maplewood Drive, Lee headed back to his
car. He waited a few seconds to see Amanda's bedroom light come on
before he started his engine. Lee began to think back on the mystery
man who wanted to buy Amanda, to possess her. Lee's blood ran cold as he
thought about how close Amanda had come to being in the Middle East right
now, instead of safe in her own home surrounded by people who love her
and need her. Lee had to admit that Amanda
was a beautiful woman, and it was no stretch of the imagination to see how a man could want her just by looking at her picture. But he found it very hard indeed to imagine anyone being obsessed with Amanda King. The very idea made him chuckle, "Amanda King, the object of obsession, yeah, get real."
THE END… Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.