The Tides of Life

Part 7

Hearing the noise, Lee and Amanda rushed out of the office and into the hall.  Their immediate thoughts were of who was there and how much had they heard.  When they saw it was Natasha, they relaxed only slightly. But after seeing the girl’s pain filled expression they forgot to be suspicious and became concerned for her health.  Seeing that she remained stiffened in pain they went to her side and assisted her to her room.

“Natasha, dear, are you all right?”

Breathing deeply, the pregnant woman nodded her head and said, “Yes, I’m fine.  I had a pain in my stomach, but it’s gone now.  I think it’s normal.  It just took me by surprise that’s all.”

She stood next to the bed and attempted to calm her spinning mind.  That had been a very close call.  She must be more careful not to give her presence away again.  The pain had been so strong that she couldn’t stifle the outburst.

“Natasha darling, set down.  I think you have had too much excitement today.  Now I want you to rest and take good care of that grandbaby of mine.”

“Thank you, Amanda.  I was coming down to rest anyway.  I’m very tired these days.”

“Oh, honey, I remember those days so well.”

Lee, seeing that this was rapidly turning into a discussion he had no desire to be part of, left and returned to the others after wishing Natasha a good night and telling Amanda that he would see her upstairs.

“Natasha, I had such good pregnancies, but even good pregnancies can be very tiring.  My feet would swell.  My back would ache.  I was tired all the time!  I already told you that I gained way too much weight with Phillip.  You have to take good care of yourself so that you can take good care of that baby when it comes.”  She leaned down and gently hugged the quiet girl and wished her good night.

As she was leaving the room, Natasha softly said, “Thank you, Amanda.”

“What for?”

“For being so kind to me.  You’ve opened your house and your heart to me.  I’ve missed my aunt so badly since she died.  You have helped fill the void without even trying.  I don’t deserve your kindness.”

Touched by the girl’s openness, Amanda returned to her side and clasped her hand.  “Oh sweetheart.  You and Phillip made a mistake, but not one that should be held against you for the rest of your life.  You do deserve my kindness and you have it for as long as you want it, maybe even longer.  Now you get a good night’s rest.”

“I will try.  Amanda, no matter what happens, I will always remember and appreciate your kindness.  I just want you to know that.”

Amanda nodded slowly, her expression thoughtful, and left the girl alone.

Natasha watched as her hostess left the room and wondered again if she had any other options in this terrible predicament she was in.  If only she knew she could save Andre and stop Piotre from carrying out his horrible plan.

For now she would bide her time and hope she could dissuade her half-brother from his quest.

Upstairs in their bedroom, Lee and Amanda discuss the recent happenings.

“So, is Natasha feeling better?”

Amanda closed the door securely and began to dress for bed.  “Yes, I think so.”  Her tone was uncertain enough to give Lee reason to question.

“Are you sure?”

“Well, no not really.”

Alarmed now, Lee stood as if to leave the room.  “Maybe, we should take her to the hospital.  I mean, could something be wrong with her or the baby?”

Realizing that the great Scarecrow was in a near panic, Amanda laughed softly and held up her hand to stop him.  “No, Lee.  Not that.  I’m sure that she is fine physically.”

“What then?”

“She thanked me for being kind to her.  Not just that, but she said that she didn’t deserve our kindness.  She almost sounded guilty.  At first I thought she was referring to the fact that she was pregnant.  But her face said it was more.  Her face said she was very sorry but about what, I don’t know.”

She sat on the edge of their bed and appeared thoughtful.  Lee came to sit beside her and rubbed her back softly. “Hey, who’s being overly suspicious now?  What exactly is going through that head of yours anyway?”

“I don’t know.  How deep did her background check go?”

“Background check?  It went as deep as usual.  Just like any other background check for frequent Agent houseguests.  Why?”

“I just can’t help but feel she is hiding something, something that may help us to understand exactly how to help her.  Can we run another?  An in-depth check, as if for a new recruit?”

“I don’t know, possibly.  But we need a damn good reason to get approval from Billy.”  Now Lee Stetson knew his wife very well.  He knew how she thought and he also knew that her instincts were better than any other Agent he had ever worked with. If she had a serious misgiving, he was going to pay attention.

She turned a deeply grieved face to him.  She dreaded to even say it out loud.  How on earth could her family ever survive this kind of betrayal?  He heart wanted to yell, ‘NO!’  That this was a ludicrous idea.  Even her mind was saying ‘No, it couldn’t be’.  But her gut, her instinct, the part of herself that she always listened to, said ‘Yes, you have to check it out’.  She breathed deeply and mustered her courage.  She looked him in the eye and said,

“How about if we tell him she may be our leak?”

Lee stared at her incredulously.  “What?”

“Think about it, Lee.  Each of her previous visits have coincided either with an aborted attempt by the delegation to come in for the conferences or a botched effort to catch Rominav and Comrede.”

“Amanda, that is a stretch even for you, come on.”  He had not expected this, but still, this was Amanda, his wife, his partner.  Even as she began to justify her statement, he knew that he is going to go with her on this.

Agitated, she stood and began to pace nervously.  “Lee, she was right outside the office and we didn’t know it until she cried out.  How long was she there?  Has she been there before?  We are usually careful, but tonight we were sloppy.  How many other times have we been lulled by the sense of security we have in our home together?”

Holding up his hands to stop her ever-increasing agitation, “Okay, okay.  We’ll run the check.  I hope that we’re barking up the wrong tree but at this point we can’t take any chances.”

She nodded her assent and slowly added, “Lee, we should keep this very quiet.  Phillip is going to be devastated.  Mother is crazy about her now.  Did I ever tell you that she was suspicious of her at first because she had Russian parents?  I should have listened to her.  Mother has very good instincts.  She knew that you were good for me; she knew that Joe and I wouldn’t work out.  She knew, Lee.”  Her voice cracked on this last note.  If she was right, her family was going to have to face a betrayal like they had never known.  And it was all her fault.  If she hadn’t become involved with the Agency, Natasha wouldn’t be using them this way.

Desperately wanting to avoid the tears he could see building in her eyes, he teased, “Maybe we should recruit Dotty?  You got your talents from someone.  Must be her!”

“Oh you!”  She punched his arm and was pulled into a quick embrace.  She felt the comfort of the arms of the man who loved her like no other ever could.  And she knew that no matter how much hurt they suffered, they could pull their family through, together, just like always.  She rested her face against his firm chest.  Her ear heard his voice rumble through the soft cotton of his shirt.

“Let’s just take this one step at a time, okay?  We will run the check then see what we need to do.”

She nodded her agreement and together they undressed and walked to the bed.

They climbed into bed to rest as much as possible, neither of them really sleeping.  Just holding each other and comforting as best they could.  Tomorrow would tell them just what they were facing.

Next day, Q Bureau

Lee came into the office with a slow step and rapidly beating heart.  He had just left Billy’s office where they had gone over the in-depth background check on Natasha Relcolme.  At first look, she was exactly what she seemed to be, a student, with Russian parentage, studying languages.

Orphaned at a young age, she had been raised by her aunt, Stella Relcolme.  The wealthy woman had adopted the child of her estranged sister when she and her Russian husband had died in an automobile accident.  When Russian politics tried to get in the way, she had called upon powerful friends in the Capitol and soon she had the young girl in her custody permanently.

The adoption records had been sealed and all mention of her real parents had been left at bare minimum.  They were Russian citizens and were dead.   The record went on to say that she had been raised the privileged daughter of old money and had never been in any real trouble.

That was the top layer.  When one dug deeper, as Lee had just done, you found much, much more.  Now he had to expose these layers to his wife and pray that they could find the right answer to this dilemma.

He entered the room and closed the door, locked the lock and waited for Amanda to look at him.  When she did so he felt her pain, as well as her apprehension about what he was going to say.  Her eyes were haunted as she asked, “I was right, wasn’t I?”

“Well, I still can’t say that she is the leak.”


He took an immense breath, walked over to and sat on the edge of her desk.  “But, she isn’t who she says she is.  I don’t know exactly who she is, but she is more than Natasha Relcolme, student.”

Amanda carefully placed her pen on the desk and braced herself for the explanation.

“Tell me.”

“It seems that she was indeed orphaned and then raised by her aunt. However, she was also legally adopted by the aunt.  The records were sealed and her parents are never mentioned by name.  We’re waiting to hear back from the family courts now as to whether we can break that seal.  If both parents were American, it wouldn’t be a problem.  But with the Russian family courts, it’s a little more difficult.”

“She never told us that her aunt adopted her, Lee.  She just said that she raised her.  Why would she not tell us that?”

“I don’t know, Amanda.  Francine is going to bring down the rest of the adoption records when they’re available to us.”

“If we know her aunt’s name, shouldn’t we be able to get her mother’s name?”

“Oh yes, that was the easy part.  Mother is one Anna Relcolme.  She and her sister Stella were the only children of Senator Archer Relcolme.  Stella never married, and was her father’s live-in hostess and estate manager until he died at the age of 75.”

“And Anna?”

“Well that’s a bit different story.  It seems that Anna met and fell in love with a visiting Russian diplomat.  She disappeared immediately after his return to Russia and according to family and public records, they never heard from her again.  It was believed that she married this diplomat and chose Russian citizenship over living without him.  What we don’t know is who he is.  All records pertaining to his identity and to why he was here
have been purged.  He effectually disappeared with the girl.”

The pair shared long looks.  It certainly seemed that Natasha was not who or what she seemed.  The question was, could she be what the ever-mounting evidence was pointing to?

A brisk tapping of heels in the hall outside the Bureau pulled them out of their reverie.  Lee crossed the small room and unlocked the door.  Moments later Francine Desmond entered with a small sheaf of papers.

“Lee, Amanda, we just got the release from the Russian advocate who handled the adoption for the Relcolme woman.  Here are the vital statistics on the parents.”

She handed over the papers and waited for Lee to read them aloud.  When all she received was pointed looks, indicating that she was excused, she drew her slim frame up to full height, threw her shoulders back and left the room.  Francine Desmond knew when she was not wanted!

No longer able to sit and wait on the information to be read to her, Amanda stood up and took the files from her husband.  She shuffled through them until she found the part concerning the father.  “Lee, something is wrong here.  This says that she was given up for adoption by her father, whose stated reasons were that he didn’t feel he could care for a female child as she deserved.  He signed away all parental rights to the female child but retained sole custody of her male half sibling.”

“Signed away?  She said that both of her parents were dead.  Why does she think that?”

Having read further on in the record, she shakes her head, “She doesn’t think that Lee.   She knows who and where her father is.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Right here, look.  Father’s given name, Dimitri Rominav.  The male child he kept… Piotre Rominav.  Given name of female child, Tatiana Natasha Comrede.   Lee, she’s his sister.  She’s Rominav’s sister!”  Lee took note of the extreme distress on her face.  He grabbed the papers and put them on the desk.  When she tried to stand up and go out the door, he grabbed her arm and pulled her to him.

“Whoa, Amanda.  Where are you going?”

“To find Natasha and Phillip.  I want some answers.”

“So do I but this is not the way to get them.  We are dealing with an international criminal here.  You can’t just go barging off and bring her in.  Besides, you have to think about Phillip.”

“I am thinking about Phillip!  What if he’s in danger?”

“No Amanda. I don’t think so.  It’s not like she’s threatened to hurt him.  I think she is just the information filter.  Piotre is the dangerous one here.”

From behind them Billy Melrose spoke up,  “Scarecrow, what’s this?  Did you turn up something with the back ground on the Relcolme girl?”

“Yes, Billy, we did.  Natasha Relcolme is Tatiana Comrede.”

“Okay so what are we waiting for?  Let’s figure out how to use her to get Rominav!  How did you find her?  Who is she?”

“She is the leak, Billy.”  Lee intoned in a strained voice.

Melrose could only stand, and wonder why Amanda and Lee were so disturbed by this development.  He didn’t have to wonder long.

Amanda spoke next in a whisper.  “She’s also the mother of our grandchild.”

Part 8 >>