"When do you leave," Amanda King asked Lee Stetson, her voice stiff with emotion.
"Ah," Lee stalled, looking at his partner. "Actually, I leave tomorrow morning."
"That's awfully fast," Amanda dared a look at him.
"I know," Lee shook his head. "It came as a complete surprise. Billy just told me yesterday morning."
"And you can't tell anyone where you're going to be," Amanda repeated what Lee had told her earlier.
"Right," Lee affirmed.
"And you'll be gone for at least..." she began.
"Six months," they finished together.
Amanda could not keep the tears from falling any more. Lee stepped over to her. "Hey - I'll be back, I promise, partner."
"I know," Amanda looked away. "I'm just really going to miss you, and worry about you...it's going to be strange not having you around."
Lee squirmed under Amanda's gaze. He had come to care a great deal about Amanda, but the open love in her eyes (altough he didn't classify it as such in his mind) was too much for him to deal with. He wasn't anywhere ready to admit that she was more than a friend and partner...who he cared about immensely, overwhelmingly. Who made his heart speed up when she entered the room...
Abruptly, Lee cleared his throat. "Well, you know, it's good for partners to have some time apart, you know?"
"Lee, you're more than a partner to me. I feel..." Amanda searched for words. Lee didn't let her find them.
"Amanda," he broke in. "You know, one day you're going to meet someone and fall in love, and then you'll be the one leaving me, but for a lot longer than six months."
There. He'd reminded her again that he didn't return her feelings. It was getting harder each time. Her admission thus quelled, Amanda sighed. "Well, now, what makes you think I was referring to anything of that nature, Lee? I swear, you can be so...presumptuous," Amanda said vainly trying to cover up her embarassment. "I was just trying to say I'll miss my partner."
She looked at him in exasperation. "I'm sorry," Lee said. "Well, I'd better get going. I still have to pack and pick up some things from Billy."
They hugged awkwardly as they said goodbye. Lee knew he had annoyed Amanda, but at least she was no longer so emotional.
After he was gone, Amanda got back to work, muttering to herself about "that pompous ass."
Amanda looked at herself sceptically in the mirror. The pale peach suit was gorgeous. The long straight skirt went almost to her ankles. The jacket had been tailored to fit her perfectly, and the peach lace camisole added a definite touch of femininity. She tried on the shoes.
Voila, she thought. The peach of the suit accentuated her deep brown eyes. Her long hair, which had grown to almost one length and which she normally wore loosely curled was piled on top of her head, spiralling curls framing her face and falling down her back. She wore pearl drop earrings in her ears.
"Well, that's the best I can do," she said to the woman in the mirror as she glanced nervously at the clock. The limo would be here any minute. Sam would be waiting at the park. Sam. What a whirlwind relationship they'd had! She had only known him for five months. But it seemed like longer didn't it? He loved her, that much Amanda knew. He had proposed after only three dates, and Amanda had laughingly asked him to wait until they'd had a few more dates, so he did. After two months, Sam asked Amanda on bended knee to be his wife, and she had accepted.
I can't believe I'm getting married! Her thoughts turned toward Lee. He had been gone for what seemed to Amanda like forever. She knew without a doubt that she still loved him and always would. But he would never feel the same. He had practically told her to go marry someone else when she tried to tell him how she felt the day before he left.
Still, there was a bond between them. It would always
be there, tying them together, whether Lee acknowledged it or not. She
went downstairs to oohs and ahs from Dotty and the boys.
*****IFF, Billy's office*****
Billy, Lee and Francine were wrapping up a long meeting. Lee had just flown in, and hadn't even been to his apartment to change.
"Well, Lee," Billy concluded, shaking his friend's hand, "It's great to have you back."
"Same sentiment here, Scarecrow," Francine said.
"It's good to be back," Lee smiled at them. "So...where's Amanda? Is she upstairs?"
Billy's eyebrows raised. "Oh, ah...she's not working today. In fact she's off for a few weeks, at least."
"Taking a vacation?" Lee asked.
"No!" Francine gushed. "Getting married, and to a complete hunk, no less."
If Lee's jaw could have dropped to the floor, cartoon-style, it would have. "Excuse me?" he laughed. "That's funny! Where is she, really?"
Billy and Francine looked at each other, then Lee. Billy spoke up, "Lee, why would we joke about that and why would it be funny? We are not kidding. In fact, Francine and I were just about to leave for the park. I'm sure she would have invited you, but she didn't know when you'd be getting back. None of us did. But I'm sure she'd love to have you there."
Lee's smile faded as Billy spoke. "I see," he finally said. "I see. Ummm, well, I have to go. I'll see you two later."
Amanda surveyed the scene from the limo. She was nervous. She could see guests arriving, making out a few of them. Jamie and Phillip were standing by Sam; they were the only 'wedding party' she and Sam had wanted. It would be a simple, beautiful ceremony. She saw Billy and Jeannie and Francine arrive and sit down together.
She looked at her watch. Almost three.
There was a trio of violinists to play Canon in D as Amanda walked 'down the ailse'. They were beginning to play, the guests were seated. Sam stood, nervous and anxious.
Amanda stepped out of the car and quietly walked over to just behind the rows of guests. Slowly, she began to walk toward Sam, who was smiling at her.
She made it without tripping, without fainting and without chickening out. Sam took her hand in his.
The words were all a haze for Amanda. She lost track of time, and before she knew it, the question was asked, "If anyone has any just cause..."
A voice spoke up from behind them. "I do."
"Excuse me?" Sam turned around. Amanda was frozen. Lee!
"I have a very good reason as to why Amanda cannot marry this man." Lee down the aisle toward Amanda.
Gasps and whispers came from the guests. Francine and Billy were astounded.
Slowly, Amanda turned around and looked into the face of Lee Stetson. Willing herself not to faint, she mustered up her voice. "What in the world are you doing?"
"Amanda, I couldn't stop thinking about you. Every day, every night, I thought about you incessantly. I didn't know what I had until I didn't have it. Once we were apart, I missed you so much I thought I would die. I know that there is a bond between us. You know it's there too. We are tied together, Amanda, and I won't let you marry this man," Lee nodded toward Sam, and said to him, "Nothing personal."
"Who is this joker?" Sam asked angrily.
Lee ignored him and stepped between Sam and Amanda. He took her shaking hands in his. "Amanda, can you ever forgive me for being so blind? Please say you can, or my life will be over."
Everyone leaned forward in their seats to hear Amanda's reply. Amanda just stared at Lee, trembling as she looked into his eyes.
Before Amanda could reply, Sam came over and took Amanda's hands from Lee's.
"Amanda, we are getting married here," he said angrily.
Amanda never broke eye contact with Lee as she said, "No, Sam, we're not. I'm so sorry."
Sam's eye's narrowed. "You can't do this to me. No one messes with me!" he yelled as he stormed away, his half of the guests following.
All eyes were still on Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Lee took her hands again, and Amanda did not resist. "I love you," she whispered.
"What?" someone from the audience yelled.
Lee leaned down slightly and kissed her, then. "You know, Amanda," he estured around them, "We've got everything we need right here..."
"Lee!" Amanda gasped in panic. "What are you saying?"
Lee bent down on one knee. More whispers from the guests, who were really enjoying this.
"Amanda King, will you make me the happiest man in the world and marry me?" Lee asked, love in his eyes.
"Oh, my gosh!" Amanda said, crying. "Yes, I will marry you."
Lee stood up, and kissed his bride-to-be. "Thank you," he said simply, smiling.
"My pleasure," Amanda smiled back.
To Be Followed by a Sequel