Amanda and Lee had just been leaving the building for the day when Francine had intercepted them in the foyer. They were wanted in Billy’s office immediately. Abandoning their hopes of a quick walk in the park to enjoy the late September weather before heading home, they headed into the elevator to go down to Billy’s office.
“Scarecrow, King, I want an explanation right now of why you two keep bungling things with the Russian delegation. This is the first effort that the USSR has made to ask for assistance in this way. The President wants this to go smoothly. Not to mention Dr. Smyth! We know that Rominav is behind the sabotaging of relations with this delegation. You have tried twice to catch this man before he upset the meeting plans for this endeavor. And twice you have failed! Twice in the last four months you have managed to lose the trail of both Piotre Rominav and his apparent accomplice Tatiana Comrede. I want to know why and I want to know yesterday!”
Breathing deeply and glancing to his wife and partner for encouragement, Scarecrow started to let Billy in on their theory. “Billy, we think that we may have a leak of some kind. It is the only way that Rominav could possibly have known that we were onto him. He had to know that we were watching that teahouse. I know that is was just a fluke that we caught him coming and going from there. But when we realized it was him, we put 24-hour surveillance on that joint and we got just what we needed. We found a pattern to his visits with his partner Comrede. Our man heard him tell her that he wanted to destroy this effort before it even got off the ground. Every week for two months he met her there and they planned their schemes. Just when we were ready to close in and arrest them for conspiracy they quit coming! Now tell me why would they stop? I”ll you tell why! He knew we were watching them and that we were close to putting him in a box! We must have information going where it shouldn’t be!” He crossed his arms defensively and waited for the section chief’s reaction.
William Melrose glared over his desk at his only married agents. Married to each other that is. They had fought a lot of red tape in the last several years to remain together. Their record had always been their saving grace. They were the best agent team around and Washington knew it! The White House had refused all of Dr. Smyth’s requests to break the team up, but now rumor had it that Smyth was using the latest unexplained failures to revamp his campaign to destroy their partnership.
“Ok. I see your point. I even agree with you, but we have to have more to go on than that. Lee, Amanda, I know that you are aware of Smyth’s latest attempt to break you up. If this is a leak and if we don’t stop it, he may succeed this time.” Billy was calmer now. He truly only wanted to see his friends together and happy.
The door opened without warning and Dr. Smyth himself breezed in. “Hello, kiddies. How’s the honeymoon? Oh yes, it seems to me that the honeymoon must be over. In more ways than one. You two are finally proving my theory that married agents shouldn’t work together. As much as that thrills me, I don’t want the Agency to suffer because you two can’t focus on your jobs and stop playing house long enough to catch the bad guys! I suggest you rectify that situation immediately! Before I rectify it for you!”
Dr. Smyth blew puffs of smoke into the faces of his nemesis agents, turned on his heel, slammed the door of Billy Melrose’s office and left the aftermath of his sarcasm behind him.
“Dammit, Billy. That man is enough to make me lose my temper completely!” Lee Stetson slammed his fist on top of the desk and glared at his section chief. Scarecrow paced the small expanse of carpet in front of Billy’s desk.
Melrose sat down behind his desk hoping Lee would take the hint and sit as well. “Lee, if this isn’t losing your temper, I don’t know what is. Now calm down and let’s think this thing through.” Mr. Melrose held up a placating hand to his senior agent. He also threw a pleading glance at Scarecrow’s partner and wife. She understood and intervened, standing to put herself in the path of his pacing.
“Lee, Billy is right. We have to calm down and be rational about this. Some one is sabotaging our efforts and I want to know who it is. You want to know who it is. But we can’t figure out who it is if you are yelling at everybody within yelling distance.”
She leaned in close to his body and looked deep into his eyes. As always, the sight of his wife calmed him immensely. He leaned his forehead against hers and breathed in her scent. He visibly relaxed and soon was able to sit calmly in front of Billy and carry on a rational conversation.
Billy over looked this behavior. Ordinarily, the pair was quite careful to maintain a professional demeanor, even in the company of good friends like him. However this latest encounter with Smyth had been a lot to handle on top of the stress of patching their leaky hole in the Agency information plumbing. He had always known that Amanda had been the best thing to happen to his once volatile agent. She knew just how to handle him and he knew how to handle her as well. Together they were unstoppable.
“Now Lee, Amanda, let’s review what we know. Two separate times in the last four months you have attempted to set up a sting operation for Rominav and Comrede. On both occasions they had information to tip them about the set up. You think that it’s an inside job. We need to figure out where that inside information is coming from.”
Lee appeared thoughtful for moments then started to list the people who knew anything about the operation. “T.P., Francine, Smyth, you Billy, Amanda and myself. These are the only people who knew about the set ups. Now, there isn’t a person on that list that I don’t trust. I don’t like Smyth but I don’t distrust him either when it comes to matters of national security.”
“Okay, Lee, then maybe it’s not a person but a place. Where did you meet T.P? Did you discuss this anywhere but in the office?”
“Billy, no of course not. I am not a freshman agent and neither is Amanda. We met T.P. here, in your office, on both occasions we spoke to him. The only other place we work on anything is in the Q Bureau or at home.”
“Yes, sir. We put in an office at home when the boys went to school this fall. We asked you about it. You didn’t have a problem with it.” Amanda reminded him.
“Oh, yes. I remember. Is there any chance that it’s compromised?”
“No Billy, I don’t think so. Beeman sweeps it every month for bugs. The phone line in the office is secured and checked weekly and the walls were soundproofed when we renovated the space into the office.”
Amanda picked up his train of thought, “The door is always locked even if we are home and no one has the keypad access code but us.”
“Certainly sounds secure to me.” Melrose sighed with frustration. “Well, it’s late. Go home. We’ll start on this fresh in the morning.”
Billy Melrose watched as his two best agents, not to mention his best friends, walked out of his office. He sighed, ‘I sure hope we figure this out, soon. Smyth is bucking to dissolve their partnership. Lee will never stand for it and we can’t afford to lose those two.’
“Lee? What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know, Amanda. Let’s just take Billy’s advice tonight, ok? Let’s go home, enjoy a nice quiet dinner and rest.”
“That sounds nice. Unfortunately it won’t be possible. Phillip is home for the long weekend. I think he brought Natasha again.”
“Again? This is three times in four months. Sounds serious.”
“I know.” She sighed a long drawn out sigh. “I sure hope he’s using his head and not his heart. He’s too young to be this involved. I remember his first girlfriend Linda Montez. She broke his heart, you know. I had to fix spaghetti every night for a week to mend his spirit. I could fix all their hurts then. Now, I’m not so sure.”
Seeing her forlorn look and realizing that she was once again experiencing the ‘empty nest syndrome’ common to mothers when they see their children leave home, Lee reached over to grasp her hand in his. “Hey, you’ll always have me. I’m always going to need you.”
Smiling, she squeezed his hand in response and said, “I know. I need you, too.”
The silver Corvette pulled out of the Agency parking lot and headed
toward Arlington and home.