Feedback: Hasn't been Beta-read and I'm on heavy meds, so please be gentle. I was having so much fun reading the other challenges that I couldn't resist.
Lee quietly sat beneath the window rocking their newborn daughter. Her mother lay only a few feet away, sound asleep.
Jennifer was so like her mother - gentle, delicate, and perfect. She was also a fighter. Amanda's labor had been short. Jennifer was a very determined little girl. She knew what she wanted. It had been an exhausting day for all three as Jennifer pushed forth,determined to see the first light of day before the sun had set.
Lee chuckled. He was very fortunate indeed that Amanda was also determined, stubborn, and willing to perservere. Otherwise, they never might have come to this moment.
Lee gently put his daughter back into her crib and sat down to thank the lucky stars as he remembered how his wife had helped him learn to live with the ghosts of his past. He absentmindly twisted the ring she had placed on his finger for real the day before Valentine's Day.
One of the first times that they had pretended to be married, they were
posing as newlyweds at the Cumberland. He'd been too chicken to tell
her that they were Mr. and Mrs. until the valet was parking the car.
Then he'd quickly shoved the ring in her general direction. Amanda
handled the marriage well, it was the sleeping arrangements that were less
than satisfactory. Sitting in the restaurant, holding her hand, pretending
to be in love with her came so naturally. Then he had actually married
they were on the cruise ship in San Angelo. The first kiss had surprised him and he leaned in for a second. Only some quick thinking and a change of name kept that marriage from being real.
But before the day came that he married her for real, forever, Amanda had helped him lay to rest the ghosts of his parents and their killer, Thomas Blackthorne. With her help, he had cleared their names.
Amanda also made him see past Randi and all the others. She created a hunger in him that was no longer content with the pillow playmates.
There had only been two exceptions to the long parade of beauties in his bed. He had loved Dorothy and Eva, at least as much as he was capable of loving at the time. He was 24 when he was involved with Dorothy. They were two young agents in the midde of the Oz Network. They thought they were immortal. They learned differently that day at the airstrip when Dorothy had been gunned down and died on a bed of roses. He had met Eva while undercover in Italy. They had danced to their own music along the canals in Venice. He had been hurt when she married another man, but it was far more devastating to learn that Eva was a KGB agent who had just been using him. The final blow had been the afternoon in the junkyard when Eva tried to kill him. If Amanda hadn't been suspicious and removed the bullets from the gun, he would have been dead.
The day after they captured Serdichye, he had brought Amanda six roses to show that he had finally been able to put Dorothy to rest. When Eva had resurfaced, Lee had asked Amanda, "How do you know when it is over?" After Eva tried to kill him, he knew it was over with Eva, but it wasn't until Leslie two years later that he knew it was over for anyone except Amanda.
Lee reached for his wife's hand. Before her, he had tried to ignore his past. His life was a series of daredevil missions and a stream of buxom bimbos. He lived only in the here and now. He didn't even have a beneficiary on his life insurance until only a week before they wed.
With Amanda by his side, he had learned to live with his past. He was no longer haunted by those he had lost. Now, he lived for those in his present and dreamed of his future with them.
Their little girl was a symbol of that future. Lee settled back as smiled contentedly as he started to drift off to sleep. In his mind's eye, he waved good-bye to the ghosts that helped him become the man who had held mother and daughter in his arms today.
He thought of his wife and daughter through the years and all the memories they would make...holidays, school plays, parent conferences, first d...-A-T-E. Yeah, when she's at least 30 or so. Suddenly Lee Stetson, father of Jennifer West Stetson, was wide awake.