Blind Date

By: Jinkies

Disclaimer: Characters of Scarecrow and Mrs. King belong to Shoot The Moon productions and Warner Brothers. Shoot!

Summary: I’ve written both a wedding story and a reunion scenario where Dotty and the Colonel have been married. I thought it would be nice to write a story explaining how they meet.

Time Frame: December of 1988

Author’s Notes: I really enjoy writing SMK stories set after SMK aired. With this story I wanted to show a different side of Colonel Robert Clayton than what was depicted in “A Relative Situation.” Hope you like it.

Rating: G

“Lee? Are you going to wake up today?” Amanda Stetson asked standing over her husband.

“Yeah yeah,” Lee replied turning over in his bed. “I’m just so tired.”

“I know sweetheart, but have you forgotten what today is?”

“What?” Lee said sitting up in bed as he rubbed his eyes.

“Your uncle is going to be here today? Oh sweetheart don’t tell me you forgot.”

“No Amanda I didn’t forget. I just kind of put it to the back of my mind.”

“Oh Lee. Don’t you want to see your uncle?”

“You want my honest answer?” he asked rubbing the back of his neck.

Amanda sat next to her husband on the bed. “Look, I know you and the Colonel haven’t always gotten along, but Lee he is trying. We both know he didn’t make it to our wedding because he couldn’t take the leave. Now that the twins are here, he really wants to make an effort. He’ll be retiring soon, and he’ll really need us. I just can’t believe you let another three years go by without seeing each other. So much for family,” she said shaking her head.

“Now Amanda Stetson your effort to make me feel guilty is not going to work,” he said smiling at his wife.

“I don’t want to make you feel guilty. I care about your uncle, Lee and I know deep down you do too.”

“I do care about him Amanda, but it’s always been hard for me to be able to relate to him. You know that.”

“Yes I do. But it doesn’t mean you can’t have a relationship with him. He’s your family,” she said grabbing his hand.

“You and the kids are my family,” Lee said placing one finger on his wife’s face and kissing her on her mouth.

“Lee you know what I mean. And kisses are not going to make me change the subject,” Amanda said smiling.

“Look, I’m going to be the perfect host when my uncle is here. Don’t worry about that.”

“I know you will. I just wish the two of you could actually talk.”

“Honey it’s not that easy. The colonel isn’t exactly an emotional man,” Lee said with a slight smile. “He’s not the easiest person to get to know.”

“You keep saying that, but he’s been nothing but gracious and friendly to me since I've known him.”

“That’s because you’re Amanda, his nephew’s wife. You’re not his nephew who he raised.”

“Oh Lee you make him sound like an ogre. I think deep down he must be very lonely. I mean he’s never been married right?”

“No he hasn’t. I think he was engaged once or twice, but he never married. Duty was his wife,” Lee said brushing back a stray hair from his wife’s face.

“Don’t you think that’s sad?” Amanda said as a light suddenly went off in her head.

“Amanda, I don’t like that look,” Lee said with a smile. “What are you thinking?”

“I’m just thinking that Mother’s not seeing anyone right now. I know she must be lonely too. Of course she says she’s content with the kids, and us but I know that’s not true. What if we kind of “set up” Mother and the Colonel.”

“Absolutely not, “ Lee said shaking his head.

“Why not? They may hit it off,” Amanda said looking into her husband’s eyes. “You never know. They may really like each other.”

“Amanda you’re asking for trouble. My uncle is not interested in dating. Besides, I don’t think he’s your mother’s type.”

“And why not?” Amanda said looking intently at her husband.

“Amanda look at the men your mother’s been interested in. For instance, look at Captain Kurt and Harry. Both of them held a type of adventure for your mother. My uncle won’t. And besides he’d probably be a dead fish on a date.”

“Lee,” Amanda said with a laugh. “Your uncle is a very interesting man who’s seen the world. What makes you think that wouldn’t interest my mother?”

“Amanda, honey I know you mean well. But I just don’t think it will work.”

“Well, I’m going to prove that you’re wrong. How about if we take Mother and the Colonel out to eat tonight? Carrie already volunteered to watch the twins any time we needed her. Joe wanted to see the boys tonight anyway. What do you think?”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea, but how could I say no to you?” Lee asked winking at his wife.

“You can’t,” Amanda said returning his wink.

“ You go ahead and call Carrie. If she and Joe can come over, I’d be more than happy to make reservations for the four of us tonight.”

“Oh Lee,” Amanda said hugging her husband. “You won’t regret it. If they don’t like each other, that will be the end of it.”

“I’m going to hold you to that Amanda Stetson. Speaking of the twins, how are Will and DJ this morning?” Lee asked smiling.

“They’re doing fine. They were both very hungry,” she said with a laugh. “I want to thank you for getting up with them last night.”

“It was my pleasure. I knew you could use the extra sleep, and just holding my children, well it’s something I can hardly describe,” Lee said with a wide grin. “Have I told you lately how much I love you?”

“I don’t tire of hearing it again,” Amanda said putting her arm around her husband’s shoulders.

“Well then Mrs. Stetson, I love you with all my heart. And I thank you for giving me four wonderful children,” Lee said as he held his wife.

“I love you too Lee. More than you can imagine,” Amanda said as her husband’s lips claimed hers.

* * *

“How was your flight?” Lee asked Colonel Robert Clayton as he stepped in to the Stetson home.

“It was suitable,” he said shaking Lee’s hand. “Not the same as piloting it yourself, that’s for sure.”

“No I’m sure it’s not. Well I’m going to go take your bags upstairs to the guestroom. I’ll check and see if Amanda is upstairs and be right back,” Lee said picking up the Colonel’s suitcases.

“Yes fine,” Robert said as he took a seat on the couch. The house that he had visited three years before hadn’t changed very much. Though Robert knew the people that occupied this house had. He had really wanted to attend Lee and Amanda’s wedding but hadn’t been able to take the time off. Now that he had a grand nephew and grand niece, he felt he could no longer put off the trip to Arlington.

“Colonel Clayton. How nice to see you sir,” Amanda said as she came down the steps in to the living room.

“Amanda, it’s nice to see you,” Robert said coming off the couch and hugging his new niece. “You look wonderful Amanda. Not like a woman who had twins six months ago.”

“Well thank you sir,” Amanda said returning his hug. “You look well yourself.”

Lee Stetson stood and watched the scene before him. He didn’t know what it was about his wife, but she definitely seemed to bring out the human side of his uncle. The Colonel and Amanda had hit off instantly three years ago. She had even had him in her kitchen helping her take cookies out of the oven. It was a side of the Colonel that Lee had never seen growing up. His uncle could be a very distant man, believing in discipline and routine. Lee had resented his uncle many times. But he had also come to realize that his uncle was in his thirties when Lee got dropped in his lap. He didn’t know how to relate to children, let alone raise one.

“Amanda I want to thank you for inviting me to come stay with you. But I could’ve stayed in a hotel,” Robert said.

“Anything that doesn’t inconvenience anyone else huh?” Lee said moving to stand in front of his uncle.

“Well Lee I don’t want to be a bother to anyone.”

“You’re not inconveniencing us. We wouldn’t have asked you to come if we didn’t want you to be here,” Amanda said smiling at the Colonel and shooting her husband a different look.

Lee read the frustration in his wife’s face. “What I meant to say Colonel is that it will be good for all of us to have you in our home.”

“Well thank you Skip. So where are the twins?”

“They’re sleeping right now, but they should be up in a little while. They’ve had a rather busy morning,” Amanda said with a smile. “Can I get anything for you to drink? Lemonade or iced tea?”

“Iced tea would be nice. Thank you Amanda.”

“Iced tea it is. Why don’t you and Lee take a seat on the couch there,” Amanda said with a gesture of her hand. “I’ll be right back with your tea. Lemonade, Lee?”

“Yes honey thank you,” Lee said as he sat next to his uncle on the couch.

“Did Amanda take some time off when she had the twins?” Robert asked his nephew.

“She took 2 months of maternity leave and has gone back to the agency just part time. However, we both took this week off from work.”

“You did? Because I’m here?”

“Well yes Sir. We wouldn’t have invited you if we didn’t want to spend time with you,” Lee said.

“I just hate to disrupt your schedule.”

“Oh you’re not doing that Sir,” Amanda said coming from the kitchen. “Here’s your tea,” she said handing Robert a glass. “And Lee your lemonade,” she said as she handed her husband his glass and took a seat across from both of them.

“I have to say I wasn’t surprised to hear that you two had married. Amanda you’re the best thing that ever happened to my nephew,” Robert said smiling at his niece.

“Well thank you Sir. I feel the same way about Lee,” she said smiling in her husband’s direction. “Sir I don’t mean to be too personal, but you never married did you?”

Lee looked at his wife and mouthed her name as his face showed complete shock.

Amanda ignored her husband’s reaction and settled her gaze on the man before her.

“Well no I wasn’t married. Engaged a couple times, but my career always seemed to get in the way.”

“I’m sorry if you think I’m being forward in asking you.”

“No Amanda. You are my family. I want you to feel free to ask me anything.”

“Well thank you sir,” Amanda said with a smile in Lee’s direction.

“And please call me Bob,” the Colonel said returning Amanda’s smile.

A feather could have knocked Lee over. Miracles never ceased to amaze him!

“Okay. But it may take some time getting used to calling you that.”

“Well then call me Robert. But please do away with the Sirs.”

“Okay then. No more sirs,” Amanda said as she heard the sound of crying. “Oh the twins are up. Excuse me Sir..I mean Robert,” Amanda said smiling at her husband before she took the stairs.

“So how is your work in the spy business?” Robert asked as he faced his nephew.

“Well my work at the agency is about the same as always, busy and busier. I must tell you though that Dotty, Amanda’s mother, only thinks we work for the government. She doesn’t really know that we’re in the undercover business. And Jamie and Phillip still think we work for a documentary company.”

“Your secret’s safe with me.”

“Thank you,” Lee said just as Amanda walked in to the room with Will on one arm. Jamie accompanied her with DJ in his arms.

“Jamie this is Lee’s uncle, Colonel Robert Clayton,” Amanda said gesturing with her free hand.

“It’s nice to meet you finally Jamie,” Robert said rising from the couch. “My nephew has told me many good things about you.”

“It’s nice to meet you too Sir. Sorry I can’t shake your hand right now.”

“That’s more than alright. I see your hands are a little full right now,” Robert said with a chuckle.

“Colonel, let me introduce my children to you,” Lee said glancing down at the two babies before him. “This is William Matthew Stetson,” Lee said gesturing at the baby wriggling about in Amanda’s arms. “And this is Dorothea Jennifer Stetson, or DJ for short,” Lee said as Jamie stepped closer to the Colonel so he could see his niece.

“They’re beautiful children Skip. You did well,” Robert said looking into the faces of the two bundles in front of him. “You too Amanda,” he said smiling.

“Thank you. Do you want to hold Will?”

“Yes I think I do,” Robert said as Lee’s face registered varying degrees of shock. He would have never dreamed of his uncle holding a baby!

“However, I’m a bit rusty holding babies,” the Colonel said smiling down at his new nephew.

“Why don’t you take a seat on the couch and I’ll place Will in your arms?” Amanda said with a smile. She could already tell the Colonel was impressed with his newest family members.

“Here we are,” Amanda said placing Will in the crook of the Colonel’s arm. “Just make sure he doesn’t wriggle out of your arms. He doesn’t like to sit or lay in the same place for too long,” she said releasing her hold on Will. She watched as the Colonel touched Will’s small hands and smiled down at him as Will cooed back. She also noticed the shocked expressions on her husband’s face. Amanda had always known that Robert Clayton had feelings like any other man. He just chose not to share them often. However, here he was in her living room gushing over her children. It was a scene she knew Lee could have never imagined.

“Jamie I’ll take DJ,” Lee said taking his daughter from his stepson’s arms.

“Okay. I’m going back upstairs to work on my homework. Let me know when Phillip gets home from Daniel’s, okay?”

“Okay sweetheart I will,” Amanda said watching her son walk up the steps to his room. It was hard to believe that she was a mother of two infants, a thirteen year old, and a fifteen year old.

“Jamie seems like a real good kid Amanda,” Robert said gesturing toward the steps.

“He is a good kid. Thank you. You’ll get to meet Phillip later on tonight. He’s at a friend’s house today. And you’ll get to meet my mother tonight at dinner. She’s shopping today with a friend of hers.”

“I’ll look forward to meeting her.”

“Good,” Amanda said smiling at her husband. “Lee and I decided we’re going to take you and my mother out to eat tonight. A night for the adults.”

“Who will watch the twins?” Robert asked looking at the baby in his arms.

“Carrie and Joe are watching them. Joe is Phillip and Jamie’s father and Carrie is his wife. They both offered to watch them tonight so we can have dinner out.”

“You must have a good relationship with your ex Amanda,” Robert said.

“Well I guess I do. Joe and Lee have even become friends, as well as Carrie and I. I know some people who don’t get along with their exes, but Joe and I are parents to Phillip and Jamie. That has to come first.”

“You definitely picked a good one here Skip,” Robert said looking in Amanda’s direction. “You know I see both of you in these children. Will definitely has the eyes of his father and grandfather. And DJ’s chin and coloring is much like yours Amanda,” Robert said looking into the bundle in Lee’s arms.

“They’re definitely a mix of both of our families. I can see Phillip and Jamie in them too,” Amanda said with a smile.

“So where are we eating tonight?” Robert asked Lee.

“I made reservations at a restaurant in Washington that Amanda and I eat at frequently. It’s a nice place, and they squeezed us in.”

“Well I hope you’ll let me treat.”

“Oh no. We couldn’t do that,” Amanda said. “You’re our guest.”

“And you’re my hosts. Please let me. I won’t take no for an answer.”

“If you insist, but we don’t want you to,” Lee said knowing he would slip the waiter money before his uncle could pay for it.

“Good then that’s settled. I’m afraid Amanda, I’m going to have to give you Will back. My arm’s not use to holding a bundle of this magnitude for so long.”

“Oh of course,” Amanda said retrieving her son from the Colonel’s arms.

“They are beautiful children,” Robert said looking at DJ in Lee’s arms. “Makes me wonder sometimes why I spent my whole life in the military. I missed out on a lot,” Robert said his voice cracking.

Amanda was touched by his sincerity. “Well I hope you always know that you are loved here at this house and we want you to visit whenever you can.”

“Thank you Amanda. It means more to me than you know,” Robert said meaning every word.

* * *

“Thank you so much Carrie for watching the twins for us,” Amanda said standing over the babies’ cribs.

“It’s not a problem Amanda. I’m more than happy to do it.”

“Well I really appreciate it. Let me see, the twins’ diapers are in the closet, their clothes are in that dresser there,” Amanda said gesturing. “There’s formula in the cabinet above the stove in the kitchen and here’s the baby monitor,” Amanda said handing it to Carrie. “And we gave you the number to the restaurant too right?”

“Yes. Twice as a matter of fact,” Carrie said with a laugh.

“Oh I’m sorry. I’m like this every time I leave them. I’m just so glad I got them to sleep before you got here,” she said looking down at her babies sleeping peacefully.

“If anything happens, we’ll call you.”

“Oh Carrie I know you will. I’m just kind of nervous about tonight too. I came up with this idea to set up Mother and the Colonel.”

“Amanda, you didn’t tell me that.”

“Well, Lee’s not very happy about it. He doesn’t think my mother will like his uncle. I think they might hit it off. So why not try it?”

“Absolutely,” Carrie said with a smile. “Has your mother ever met the Colonel before?”

“No she hasn’t. She’s spoken to him on the phone before but since he didn’t make it to the wedding, she hasn’t gotten to meet him in person. Even tonight when she came in, he was already in his room.”

“Well you better get downstairs to make the introductions.”

“Oh my gosh you’re right,” Amanda said looking down at her children one last time before descending the steps to the living room.

“There you are,” Lee said, taking his wife by the waist and kissing her on her cheek.

“I’m sorry I took so long. I just wanted to make sure to tell Carrie where everything is.”

“Lee I told her we’ll be fine,” Carrie said with a chuckle.

“I know you will be, “ he said looking at Carrie as Joe came to stand beside his wife.

“Amanda don’t worry. I’ve been through this twice remember?”

“Of course Joe I remember. I’m like this when I leave them with Mother too.”

“Well it’s good to know this isn’t preferential treatment,” Carrie said smiling at Joe.

“Speaking of my mother, where is she?”

“She hasn’t come down the steps yet. Neither has my uncle,” Lee said smiling. “I still can’t believe you talked me in to this.”

“Talked you in to what?” Joe asked.

“Amanda is taking Dotty and the Colonel out in hopes that they’ll make a love connection,” Lee said with a small laugh.

“Oh Lee, you never know. They may really hit it off,” Carrie said.

“And they may really hate each other too,” Lee said looking down at his wife.

“Well are you two ready?” Robert asked descending the steps in a suit and tie.

“Yes, we’re just waiting on my mother to join us. Colonel Clayton I want to introduce you to Joe and Carrie King,” Amanda said gesturing towards the couple in front of her.

“Nice to meet you,” Robert said shaking the hands of the couple before him. “But please call me Robert.”

“Well it’s nice to meet you too Robert,” Joe said returning the shake.

“I’m sorry I’m so late,” Dotty West said walking in to the living room. “I didn’t get back from shopping with Harriet until after five. You do know how she likes to shop,” Dotty said looking at her daughter.

“Yes I do,” Amanda said smiling. She also knew how much her mother liked to shop. “Mother I want to introduce you to Lee’s uncle, Colonel Robert Clayton. Colonel, this is my mother Dotty West.”

“It’s nice to meet you Colonel,” Dotty said as Robert offered his hand.

“Please call me Robert. And it’s so nice to meet you Ms. West. Amanda has told me a lot about you."

“I hope all good,” Dotty said with a smile. “And please call me Dotty.”

“Okay Dotty,” Robert said smiling at the woman before him. He didn’t know why, but he instantly liked her. Maybe it was because he could tell she was the same type of open woman Amanda was.

Dotty sized Robert in a matter of seconds. His manners were impeccable. Lee had told her in the past that his uncle was stuffy, but Dotty wasn’t seeing that right now at all. He had been nothing but gracious since she came in to the room.

“Dotty, can I have the honor of escorting you to the car?” Robert asked offering her his arm.

“You may thank you,” she said putting her arm in the crook of his.

“Well are you two coming or are you just going to stand there?” Robert asked Lee and Amanda, a smile parting his lips.

“After the two of you,” Lee said gesturing for the older couple to proceed to the door first. One look at his wife’s face, and he could tell she had a smile of satisfaction on her face. He just hoped she wouldn’t be disappointed when Dotty decided she didn’t’ like his uncle.

* * *

“Lee what do you suggest?” Robert asked his nephew as he was surveying the menu at the restaurant.

“You’re asking me what I would suggest?” Lee asked his voice giving him away.

“Well don’t be so surprised. The last time we ate together you made a very good choice with the wine you selected. I just thought that you would know what dishes were good here,” Robert said looking back at his menu.

“Oh. In that case, their prime rib is very good, the chicken piccatta is good as well.”

“Amanda what would you suggest?” Robert asked of the female seated on his right.

“Oh I don’t know. The veal is good; the baked flounder is excellent. You can’t go wrong with any of their dishes.”

“I don’t care for veal all that much. Dotty what are you getting?” Robert asked looking over his menu at her.

“I think I’ve settled on the shrimp scampi.”

“Shrimp scampi. Sounds good. I think I’ll have the same,” he said folding his menu.

“It is delicious here,” Dotty said folding her menu as well. “So Robert, Amanda tells me you’ve spent your life in the military.”

“I have. But I’ll soon be retiring. Then I’m not sure what I’ll be doing.”

“Have you ever thought of living in Washington?”

“You know I’ve really thought of living in Arlington. I’ve always liked Virginia.”

Lee just about choked on his water as it went down his throat. He had never heard the Colonel say anything to him about living in Arlington. In fact, he had always imagined he would settle near a military base.

“Virginia is beautiful,” Dotty said smiling. “You would also be close to Amanda and Lee.”

“Yes, it appeals to me for that reason as well. Seeing the twins today made me realize that family is everything.”

Lee felt a sudden urge to ask his uncle what alien had invaded his body.

“Did you ever have children?” Dotty asked.

“No I didn’t. I was never married. I guess I was too set in my ways in my youth. The military became my wife. But now that I’ll be retiring, I regret that I never married.”

“You’re still young,” Dotty said with a smile. “Is there anything that makes you think you can’t be married in the future?”

“One never knows I suppose,” Robert said smiling at Dotty.

“Can I take your orders now?” the waitress asked just as Amanda was about to smile in her husband’s direction.

“Do you mind Dotty if I order for us?” Robert asked.

“No I don’t mind at all,” Dotty said obviously flattered.

“The young lady and I will have shrimp scampi,” Robert said with a smile.

“Very good sir. The shrimp scampi is a good choice.”

“I think so,” Robert said smiling at Dotty.

Lee couldn’t believe the change in his uncle from the last trip to this one. Could it be that the Colonel was retiring and was examining his life? Maybe Amanda was right. Could he be lonely? One glance at Amanda told him she was delighted to see the Colonel and her mother getting along so well.

“And for you sir?” the waitress asked breaking in to Lee’s thoughts. “My wife will have the veal, and I’ll have the chicken picatta,” Lee said handing the menu to the waitress.

“Very good choices as well. Is your wine satisfactory?”

“Very good thank you,” Lee answered.

“Okay your dishes will be out in just a little while,” the waitress said taking the menus and heading towards the kitchen.

“So Robert, I bet you’ve seen quite a bit of the world,” Dotty said smiling at the man seated next to her.

“Yes I have. But I’ve also seen a lot of things I wish to not repeat in my life. War is the worst expression of human hate.”

“I’m sure that was very hard on you,” Dotty said placing her hand on top of Robert’s as it set on the table. She didn’t know what it was about Lee’s uncle, but she found herself attracted to him. She didn’t find him to be the least bit stiff at all. Removing her hand from his she asked, “So tell me, Robert, what was Lee like growing up?”

“Oh I don’t think we need to go in to that,” Lee said.

“No Lee. I want to hear about you as a child. What was Lee like as a boy?” Amanda asked.

“Well he was very polite, always honest. In high school, he seemed to have the attention of all the girls.”

“I can see that,” Amanda said with a smile.

“But I have to be honest and say that I raised Lee to be a soldier in some respects instead of a child. I’ve begun to realize that and for that Skip, I am sorry.”

Lee was speechless! Now he knew that an alien had invaded his uncle’s body. What else could account for the changes in his behavior? Normally, he was very standoffish. Yet this trip, he was actually telling Lee things about his own life, about his feelings. “Well Sir, you raised me the best you knew how. I can’t say I always liked that, but I do know you did your best.” “I’m not so sure about that Lee. I guess that as I’ve gotten older I’ve been taking stock of my life. I know there are changes that need to be made.” “I think that’s wonderful that you want to make changes in your life,” Dotty said smiling.

“Here are your meals,” the waitress returning to the table. “Two shrimp scampi’s,” she said setting the meals in front of Robert and Dotty. “And veal and chicken picatta,” She said placing Lee and Amanda’s meals on the table. “Is there anything else I can get for you?”

“No thank you,” Lee said.

“Dotty you were right. The shrimp scampi was a wonderful choice,” Robert said after taking his first bite of food.

“Why thank you Robert,” Dotty said smiling at the man next to her.

“They seem to be hitting it off,” Amanda whispered to her husband.

“Yes they do. You were right,” he whispered back.

“I’ve always told you I know about these things,” she said with a wide grin.

* * *

“Where’s Grandma tonight?” Jamie asked settling on to the couch with his mother. “She didn’t want to watch a movie?”

“She’s out with my uncle again,” Lee said bringing a bowl of popcorn in to the living room.

“Geesh that’s the fourth time this week,” Phillip said getting the VCR ready. “Grandma must really like him.”

“Yes she must,” Amanda said smiling at Lee.

“Okay I’ll admit that I thought it was a bad idea at first. But they do seem to like each other,” Lee said taking a seat in a recliner.

“Wouldn’t that be cool if Grandma and Uncle Robert got married?” Jamie asked. “I guess that would make him Grandpa Robert,” he said thoughtfully.

“Yeah wouldn’t that be cool,” Phillip replied.

“Woah fellas, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here,” Amanda started, “your grandmother has only been out with Uncle Robert a few times.”

“Yeah guys. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves okay?”

“Okay,” Jamie said, “but I do think it would be cool.”

Suddenly, a pot could be heard breaking outside the door. “Oh my gosh!” Amanda whispered to Lee. “What was that?”

“I don’t know but Jamie and Phillip you get to your rooms now!” Lee stated making sure the boys heeded his command.

“Amanda, I’m going out to take a look. You cover me,” Lee said with gun in hand.

“Okay,” Amanda said following her husband to the back door while bumping in to him.

“Amanda,” Lee whispered.

“I’m sorry but you’re the one who stopped,” she whispered back.

Lee slowly opened the back door and heard voices from the patio. He instantly recognized them as the Colonel’s and Dotty’s. “It’s your mother and my uncle,” Lee whispered back to Amanda.

“What are they saying?”

“I can’t tell. We’ll have to get a little closer,” he said taking her hand and walking towards the sounds.

“Oh Robert don’t feel bad about breaking the pot. We can always get a new one,” Dotty said looking up in to Robert’s face.

“You don’t think anyone inside heard do you?”

“No I’m sure they’re watching a movie.”

“Trying to,” Lee whispered to Amanda from behind the woodwork on the patio. Lee knew Dotty and Robert didn’t know he and Amanda were standing behind them.

“Shh,” Amanda replied. “I don’t want them to know we’re out here.”

“They don’t know we’re out here,” Lee whispered back.

“Dotty I can’t begin to tell you what a wonderful time I’ve had with you this past week.”

“Oh Robert, I’ve had a wonderful time with you too. I’ll be honest and tell you I was expecting you to be a bit harsh and stiff. Thank heavens you’re nothing like that.”

Robert laughed. “I’m glad I haven’t been. Dotty the time we’ve spent this week has meant a great deal to me. You’re a special woman Dorothea West.”

“I think we can go inside now,” Lee whispered to Amanda.

“Hold on for just a few more minutes,” she replied.

“What happened to the ‘I don’t like to snoop in to other people’s lives?’”

“That was before your uncle started dating my mother,” Amanda whispered back.

“Good point,” Lee said as he and Amanda leaned closer to the wall that separated them from Dotty and Robert.

“Dotty I’ll have to be going back to base in a few days. I’ll not be able to forget this week we’ve shared,” Robert said taking Dotty’s hand in his.

“I won’t be able to forget it either Robert. I’m sorry it has to end,” Dotty said with a smile.

“Me too. You know Dotty; I’m not a young man. Who knows how much time I have left in my life? Who knows how much time any of us have? All I know is that I’ve had a wonderful time with a wonderful woman. And Dotty I don’t want it to end. I’ll be retiring in six months. I’ll be a ‘free’ man, as some would say. I was beginning to feel that my life would have no direction after I left the military. Now I think I’ve found a direction to go in.”

“Robert what are you talking about?” Dotty asked.

“Dotty, I’ve been stuck in my ways for many years. I’ve been rigid and unfeeling in some respects. I want that part of my life to change. This week, you’ve helped me change. I haven’t said this many times in my life Dotty, but I think I’ve fallen in love with you.”

“Oh Robert,” Dotty gasped. “Do you mean it?”

“I do Dotty more than anything. I don’t know what it is about you, but you’ve lit something in me that I thought was gone a long time ago.”

“Oh Robert, I’ve fallen in love with you too,” Dotty said as Robert’s lips claimed hers in a soft kiss.

Lee and Amanda looked at each other, mouths wide open. Amanda opened up her mouth to speak, but no words seemed to come.

“I’ll be having to go back to base for another six months, but you can come visit me if you like.”

“Oh Robert you know I will.”

“I know Dotty that you and Amanda’s father had a wonderful life together. I also know that from the conversations we’ve had this week it was terrible for you when he died. I don’t know when I’ll leave this earth Dotty. None of us do. I’m kind of making a mess of this aren’t I?” Robert asked.

“You’re doing fine. Keep going,” Dotty said realizing what Robert was about to ask her.

“If you’ll have me Dotty, and if you can put up with an old bachelor, I want to ask you to marry me.”

“Robert this is a big step,” Dotty said looking in to his eyes. “This is a huge step.”

“I know it is Dotty. That’s why I don’t want us to rush it. I’ll be on a base for six months. We can use that time to get to know each other better. We can have more time after that. I just want you to know that I want to be yours if you’ll have me.”

“You know Robert, you remind me of Amanda’s father. He was a strong man, a wonderful provider, and a romantic sort of man. He was the love of my life. But I’ve learned this week that I’m blessed to have two loves in my life. When Raymond died, it left a very lonely spot in my heart. I’ve tried to fill it many times. However, it hasn’t been fully filled until this week. Yes Robert, I will marry you,” Dotty said hugging the man before her.

“I want to take care of you Dotty. I want to make a life for us that we’ll both enjoy.”

“Lee is my mother marrying your uncle?” Amanda whispered.

“Yes Amanda,” Lee replied, awestruck.

“Robert there is one thing I need to do,” Dotty said looking up at him.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“I need to tell Lee and Amanda they can come out from behind the wall,” Dotty said turning towards the back of the patio. “Come out you two. I know you’re back there.”

Lee and Amanda emerged from behind the wall to stand before Robert and Dotty. Both had guilty looks on their faces.

“How did you know we were back there?” Amanda asked.

“I saw you. The light from the street lamp shines on to parts of the patio. You happened to be standing in a good spot,” Dotty said with a laugh.

“How long have you known we were standing there?” Lee asked.

“Right after I told your uncle I’d fallen in love with him I heard movement. I saw you through the lattice.”

“So I guess you heard the pot break?” Robert asked with a smile.

“Yes we did,” Amanda sighed. “Oh Mother I feel terrible for spying on you.”

“Don’t. I know you two did it out of concern. Well I hope that’s why you did it.”

“Oh Mother. You know that’s why,” Amanda said hugging Dotty.

“I guess congratulations are in order,” Lee said shaking his uncle’s hand.

“Thank you Skip. Are you two okay with this?” he asked with a hint of hesitation in his voice.

“We couldn’t be happier,” Amanda said giving the Colonel a hug. “Jamie and Phillip will be very excited too. They were just talking about the two of you before we came out here.”

A shout of congratulations came from the kitchen window.

“Apparently they figured out what’s going on too,” Amanda said with a laugh.

“Oh Mother I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am for you,” Amanda said hugging her mother again.

“Well we decided we’re taking it slow. There’s no need to rush anything at our ages,” Dotty said with a laugh. “It will give you more room here at the house. I know you’re already looking for a bigger place.”

“We are, but we always thought you’d be a part of that bigger place. Now it looks like you’ll have another place to live,” Lee said with a smile.

“How do you feel about a house in the country Dotty?” Robert asked. “A house with a pond and horses.”

“It doesn’t matter where we live. Anywhere with you will feel like home. I’m sure of that,” Dotty said holding Robert’s hand. “As long as its not a military base.”

“Definitely not,” Robert laughed. “My home is where my heart is and now it’s with you,” he said giving her a kiss on her forehead.

“Ah,” Amanda said holding her husband’s hand. “We’ll leave you two alone,” Amanda said as she and Lee walked in to the house hand in hand and grinning from ear to ear.

“I mean it Dotty. Wherever you are is going to be home for me,” Robert said looking in to her eyes.

“Then it looks like you’re already home,” she said as his lips covered hers.