Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King and the characters therein are the intellectual property of Shoot the Moon Production Company and Warner Brothers Entertainment Television. No rights have been asserted, transferred, or implied, and I have made no money from this story.
Acknowledgments: To Kim, the characterization queen, to Pam, the comma goddess, and to Jean Marquis, my ego-boosting technical consultant . . . thanks, ya'll!
Amanda sighed and untied the sash on her bathrobe, slipping it off her shoulders and folding it neatly. He was just on the other side of the door.
The day had been so unusual, not at all the way she'd expected her wedding to go. Now though, following a brief ceremony, a kiss, and a photograph, she was Lee's wife.
She leaned against the wall as the room began to sway, the enormity of the situation hitting her. "Amanda?" Lee's voice was accompanied by a soft knock. "Are you okay?"
She opened the door slowly, sticking only her head through. "Oh, yeah, Lee, everything's fine. I'm just . . . getting ready for bed."
She stepped back and moved to close the door, but he stopped her, reaching through the narrow opening for her hand and drawing her forward. "Amanda . . ."
"What?" She eyed him cautiously, trying to remain calm despite the fact that every nerve ending seemed to be firing at once.
"I just wanted to say, thanks. You did really well today." He squeezed her hand and smiled softly.
"Oh, you're welcome." She laughed self-consciously. "I just . . . did what I could, you know . . ." She pulled away slowly.
"Well, you were still a big help," he reasserted and then paused, his tongue flicking out to rewet his lips.
She waited, frozen, unable to focus on anything but his mouth as he swallowed hard and added, "Well, I'll see you later, Amanda."
He closed the door, and she slumped back against the wall, willing her racing heart to slow. He was gone, she was alone yet again, and she was . . . disappointed?
She shook her head as though to clear it of the thought. She was grateful to be alone - thankful for the time to reflect.
Although they hadn't discussed it, there was an implicit understanding between the two of them. The marriage changed nothing between them. They were and would always be partners and friends.
She pushed away from the wall that was supporting her to stand on her own. Turning, she then faced the mirror. She, Amanda King, was now Amanda Stetson. She had a ring on her finger and license that, once processed, would verify the fact of their marriage.
But no one would ever know.
She knew, though, and Lee knew. She ran her fingers over her lips, a poor, fleeting substitute for the kiss they had shared after the minister had pronounced them husband and wife. Its memory set her head spinning and she gripped the narrow Formica countertop as the room rolled again.
How long does it take a woman to get ready for bed? He'd been listening to her through the door for the past half hour. As he heard her soft movements, and the occasional gentle sigh, he fought, and eventually gave in to, the impulse to add pictures to the sound.
Amanda in a thin, white satin nightgown, her arms raised over her head as she yawned and stretched, Amanda's hair flowing around her shoulders, as she ran a brush through it, the fair skin on Amanda's long, slender legs shimmering as she gently massaged body lotion into it - he saw it all so clearly that it was as though it was happening in front of him rather than just behind the door.
And then suddenly, just as he'd imagined her, she was there, walking through the door. He blinked, attempting to ensure that she was real and not an apparition.
"Amanda. . ." he questioned, trying to keep his voice from betraying the thoughts running through his mind. The backlighting shone through her nightgown allowing him an unobstructed view of each curve in silhouette. He felt as though he should avert his gaze, but to do so would only attract her attention, so he continued to relish the moment.
"Do you know that when Joe asked me to marry him, we were still in school?" She paused, and he figured it was because she was waiting to see how he'd react.
Lee nodded, wondering whether he should say something or wait for her to continue. "We were so young and so in love, and so naive. I thought we were going to have a picture perfect life."
She shook her head briefly, and said to no one in particular, "Funny how things turn out."
"Amanda . . ." He tried to interrupt her, uncertain where she was going with her train of thought and unsure he wanted to hear what she was going to say when it concluded.
She seemed not to hear him, and continued. "Dean wanted to marry me, too, but I just . . . I wasn't ready. I don't think he was in love with me as much as he was with my family - the house - mother and the boys. He woulda been a great dad though; he sometimes gave the boys more attention than he gave me."
She walked over to the bed and sat down next to him. Placing a hand on his knee, she looked him in the eye. "Lee, I want . . ."
Before she could finish her sentence, the room rocked again, and he wrapped his arms around her instinctively.
He saw her eyes widen, and felt her suck in a quick, deep breath. He did not immediately let go, instead relaxing his hold only enough to allow him to angle his head more closely to hers. "Amanda . . ."
He found himself drawn even closer to her, lost in her eyes. He parted his lips slightly, and as she whispered, "Lee," they were again thrown off-balance.
He pulled back, the second jolt returning him to the present just as effectively as the first had removed him from it. He cleared his throat and swallowed, looking everywhere but at her and trying to figure out just how long they'd been sitting on the bed together. "Looks like we're in for some rough weather."
"Yeah . . ." she answered, smoothing the front of her nightgown. "I . . . ahhhh . . . better try to get some sleep." She backed toward the door, reaching behind her for the handle. "Goodnight, Lee. Sleep well."
"Goodnight, Amanda," he returned, watching the door close after her. Then, he pulled the drawer of his nightstand open and glanced at the marriage certificate inside. "Lee Stetsman," he whispered, and wondered just what would've happened if he'd signed his real name.