Amanda walked swiftly down the hall towards Billy's office. She was never late, and this of all days was a very bad day to be late. Billy had called her at home, asking her to come to his office immediately upon arrival at the Agency.
Knocking, she entered Billy Melrose's office. Lee, Francine and Billy were all there, obviously waiting for her.
"Good morning," she said, out of breath, "I'm sorry I'm late."
"That's okay, Amanda, we're glad you're here. Have a seat," Billy motioned to a chair.
Amanda sat down, noting that neither Lee nor Francine had said a word to her. Lee was looking down at his shoes, and Francine was looking curiously at Amanda. Amanda wondered what suburban fashion crime she had committed this time. As she sat down, though, she noted that all three of them watched her quizically, and she felt uncomfortable under the scrutiny.
"Amanda," Billy began, "We were wondering if you could clarify something for us."
"I will if I can," Amanda agreed.
"Why don't you greet our guest, first of all," Billy suggested, watching her closely.
Amanda looked around the room, then looked back at Billy questioningly. "Guest?" she asked sceptically.
Out of the blue, a voice on the speaker phone greeted her: "Hello, Angel," the unpersonified, familiar voice said.
Lee, Francine and Billy watched as Amanda's face paled and then flushed.
"Oh, my gosh," Amanda put her head in her hands.
"Do you know this voice?" Billy asked, already knowing her answer.
"Yes," Amanda almost whispered. "How ya doin', Charlie?"
"Not so well, Angel," Charlie's voice filled the room.
Amanda glanced around at Lee and Francine. She felt strangely as though she was in a parallel universe. Well, she was: the Past and the Present. Two completely seperate, or at least she had once believed, worlds.
"Uh, why not, Charlie, and how did you find me, and why did you contact me after all these years?" Amanda rapid-fired questions at her old boss.
Charlie chuckled. "Same old Sabrina. One question at a time. First of all, Kelly has disappeared, and I need your help to find her. You knew her best. Second, I always know how to find my Angels, that is unless they've disappeared. Third, as I stated, I need your help. Kris needs your help."
"I see...and Bosley?" Amanda asked, thinking of her old friend.
"Sabrina, Bosley was shot to death last night," Charlie said quietly. "That's why I'm doubly worried. I'm afraid all of you might be targets."
"Oh, my gosh," Amanda repeated in a shaky voice. She allowed herself a few silent tears, sliding down her face, then she forced her mind back to the problem of Kelly. "Where is Kris?" she asked, wiping away the tears.
"Pick up the phone, Angel," Charlie instructed.
Amanda crossed over to Billy's desk and he handed her the receiver. Shaking for more reasons than she cared to innumerate, Amanda wrote down Charlie's information and instructions. Then she hung up.
Biting her lower lip, Amanda looked up at Billy.
"What was that all about?" Billy demanded.
"I'm sorry, Sir, but I have to leave." Amanda started towards the door.
"Amanda," Billy's tone stopped her. "This complete stranger calls for you, tells me you used to be a detective with his agency, a fact we knew nothing about, and I have no idea how that one got by us when we screened you, and which you obviously didn't think worthy of mentioning. You have some explaining to do, don't you think?"
"Yes, I probably do, Mr. Melrose," Amanda sighed. "But right now, my friends need me, and I don't have time to tell you about all this right now. I have roots with these people that go deep. I'm sorry, but I'm leaving now."
"Wait, Amanda. If you are in trouble, you're going to need some help. I can't let you deal with this by yourself," Billy said, concerned though upset by Amanda's secrets.
Lee spoke up for the first time. "That's right. I'm your partner. I'm coming with you," he said.
Amanda seemed less than pleased with this arrangement.
"Fine. I don't have time to argue. Let's go," she shook her head as she
walked out. Lee glanced back at Billy, confounded. Already, Amanda seemed
like an entirely different person.
Lee followed Amanda outside. She looked around the parking lot. "Okay," she said, thinking, "I can't leave my car here. Why don't you follow me home so I can drop it off there, and then you can drive me to meet Kris."
"Okay," he agreed. "Amanda..." he began.
"Lee," Amanda pleaded with her deep brown eyes, "not now."
Lee nodded, then got into his car and followed Amanda to her house. She pulled into the driveway, got out, and headed towards Lee's car.
Getting in, she said, "We're going to the Regency Hotel just outside D.C.," she informed him.
Lee drove for a while in silence, trying to hold back his endless questions. He thought instead about the three years he had known Amanda King. He simply couldn't imagine her ever being a detective, or involved with anything remotely like what she obviously had been. And why had that Charlie guy called her Sabrina? Lee sighed in exasperation and glanced over at his partner, who had never been such a mystery to him as she was now.
"I know you have questions, Lee," Amanda began. "I can't answer all of them right now. I'll tell you what I can." Taking a deep breath, Amanda seemed to steel herself.
"I left college after a couple of years. I'd met Kris in one of my classes, and we had become friends. Neither one of us could decide on a major, and we wanted adventure. Kris came to me and told me that she had been recruited for a job, complete with training and everything. She said she had put in a word for me, too. To make an incredibly long story short, we were hired and trained, along with Kelly, to be Charlie's Angels. We were detectives. I have never seen Charlie. Bosley..." she paused, remembering Charlies horrible news, "Bosley was kind of a liason between Charlie and us. Charlie is the one who always gave us our assignments. I haven't heard or seen from any of them, except Kelly periodically, since we were 'disbanded', so to speak. Everything was all very secretive and quiet, and Charlie told us never to divulge any information about any of it. We didn't ask questions, we all trusted Charlie. As far as we knew, he wiped out every trace of the agency known as Charlie's Angels. We never knew why, or what happened. It was all so...exciting and glamourous. We had the time of our lives, we faced danger, we were good at what we did. But it all came to an end and Charlie told us to go on to other things, and like I said, forget about what we had been and forget him. My mother knew I worked for a detective agency. But at that time, I was away at college and she never knew the whole truth. SHe never knew my name was Sabrina Duncan for three years of my life. Oh, yeah," she noted Lee's questioning glance, "Sabrina, Kelly and Kris were all false identities Charlie gave us. He set it all up. We legally were those people. We have never called each other by our real names. After everything fell apart, Charlie cleared everything so that those three people never existed. Or, so we thought."
Amanda paused to take a breath. Lee digested everything she had told him thus far. "Why didn't you tell us about this when you came to work for the Agency?" he asked curiously.
"I didn't "come to the agency", remember? I got grabbed at a train station and from there it was just a whirlwind. I didn't lie about anything. I omitted certain information about my past, because it had supposedly been erased. Imagine if I had told you about it and you looked into it and couldn't find a shred of evidence that I was telling you the truth? You all would have thought I was a liar or mentally ill!"
"But," Lee interjected, "When you got to know me, you could have confided in me."
"I could have, yeah," Amanda confessed, "But you have to understand - that is in my not only distant past, but a past that even I was supposed to forget. I pretty much did, for all intensive purposes. I just never saw the point of dredging it up, and even if I had told you eventually, you would have checked it out, and what if it had gotten me fired, like it still might now that it's come out anyway? I just can't believe this!"
Lee put his hand over Amanda's. "It's going to be okay, Amanda." They pulled into the parking lot of the Regency Hotel and a valet, after debating with Lee for a few minutes, parked the car.
Nervously, Amanda looked around. "I don't think we were followed. Charlie said no one knows where Kris is but he himself and now us."
Walking into the lobby, Lee placed his hand casually on Amanda's shoulder. They stepped onto the elevator. "Eight, please," Amanda said to the attendant.
"Okay," Amanda said as they headed down the long corridor. "Here we go."
"You seem nervous," Lee observed.
"Yeah," was all Amanda said in return.
Amanda came to room 828 and knocked quietly. The door
was opened and Sabrina and Kris stood face to face for the first time in
Kris grabbed Amanda's hands, pulled her into the room and they hugged fiercely. "Oh, Sabrina, I'm so glad you're here! I have missed you so much!"
"I've missed you, too," Amanda said with emotion, looking at her friend. "You look good - you haven't changed at all!"
"Well," Kris said, eyeing her friend, "You've changed - you're gorgeous! I mean, you were always good-looking, but I don't know, there's something..." she paused, seeming to notice Lee standing there for the first time. She glanced back at Amanda for an introduction.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Amanda gestured nervously, "Kris, this is Lee, Lee this is Kris."
"Nice to meet you," they said in unison, Kris sliding her eyes back to Amanda. She wondered...
"So, what's going on," Amanda asked. "Charlie told me about Bosley."
"Well, actually," Kris shot a look at Lee. "Do you trust your friend here with your life? With our lives?"
"Oh, of course!" Amanda said quickly. "He's my partner. Don't worry, Kris. I wouldn't have brought him along if I didn't trust him absolutely."
"Okay," Kris relaxed.
Lee smiled at Amanda, glad to hear that she had such faith in him. He watched her closely as the two friends talked. "Bri, Bos isn't dead," Kris stated.
"What?!" Amanda exclaimed, much relieved.
"No. He was shot, but he's not dead. Charlie said that your friends at this 'agency' were listening in, and he wasn't sure if he could trust them. So he said that to protect Bos. Just in case...well anyway, he'll be just fine. He's at Charlie's recuperating."
"I'm so glad, Kris. What about Kelly? Do you have any clues at all?"
"No. All I know is she was in living in California, and Charlie confirmed that she still is."
"So...California, here we come," Amanda said.
"I'm afraid so. I flew here from Colorada at Charlie's request. He wanted the two of us together from the start. But, Bri - I have to tell you. I don't think they'll come after us. I just have this feeling."
"But Bos -" Amanda began.
"Yeah, I know they shot Bosley...but I just...I can't explain it. I have a feeling that we'll be left alone, at least until we start snooping around," Kris finished.
"Well, you've always had good hunches," Amanda told her. "When do we leave?"
"Tonight. I have two tickets for us already, thanks to Charlie. First class."
Lee stood up and opened his mouth, but Amanda didn't give him a chance to say anything.
"Okay. I just have to call Mother and the boys and come up with something," Amanda reached for the phone.
"How are you going to 'come up with something'? Just out of the blue, just like that?" Kris laughed.
Amanda laughed in return and said with a glance at Lee, who was looking at her incredulously, "You'd be surprised at how often I have to do this!"
Lee took the phone from Amanda's hand. "Not so fast. I'm coming with you!"
"Lee, I don't expect you to drop everything and follow us to California. This isn't Agency business, this is a personal matter," Amanda said realistically, but she was secretly pleased that he seemed so concerned.
"I don't care. Billy made it Agency business when he told me to go with you. I'll go home and pack and I'll go with you to the airport and buy a ticket," Lee stated firmly.
"Lee. We don't have time to pack. I really think you should 'stay in the car' this time," Amanda teased lightly.
Lee looked at her in frustration, then glanced at Kris. "Excuse us," he smiled. Taking Amanda's hand while Kris watched with interest, Lee guided her over to the opposite side of the hotel room.
"Amanda," he looked at her, keeping hold of both hands, "I am going with you. You are NOT leaving me here worrying about you, I'll go insane. I'll do whatever I can to help, and I'll stay out of the way when you think it's best. But I am not letting you go alone," he told her, and his voice trembled only slightly with the last words. His eyes told her even more thank that, and she looked away from their intensity. Lee had never looked at her that way before.
"Okay, Lee," she agreed shakily, nodding and looking into his eyes.
"Good," Lee squeezed her hands, and leaned toward her. He placed a lingering kiss on her forehead, and heard her slow controlled exhalation. He did the same, and squeezed her hands again. Amanda moved back into the room, keeping hold of one of Lee's hands, much to his delight.
"Kris, Lee will be coming with us to California," Amanda informed her.
Kris looked at the pair with amusement. "Why am I not
surprised?" she asked, grinning.
Lee bought a first-class ticket at the airport. Fortunately, his seat wasn't far from Amanda and Kris' seats - he was just across the aisle.
On the long flight, Amanda and Kris caught up on each other. "So," Kris said coyly, "What's with James Bond over there?" she glanced over at Lee, who had dozed off.
"Stop right there, Kris," Amanda held up her hand. "Nothing is going on between us. We're partners and good friends, but that's as far as it goes." Or will ever go, she added silently.
"Oh, please," Kris lightly slapped Amanda's arm. "He obviously adores you. I can see it in his eyes. And he's been glancing over at you constantly."
"You haven't changed, have you?" laughed Amanda. "Trust me. You're wrong on this one."
"I'm never wrong about these things, Bri," Kris said sagely, "You know that. Besides, when did you become so dense when it comes to men who are interested in you?"
Lee kept his eyes closed. He'd been trying to eavesdrop, but so far they had been too quiet. This last sentence he heard, and he strained to hear more.
"Kris, sweetheart, listen to me," Amanda instructed her friend. "Lee Stetson and I work closely together. We are friends. That is all."
"Bri, baby," Kris mocked her, "I know men. One day I will be vindicated. One day you will apologize and say, 'I'm sorry I ever doubted you, Kris.'"
"One day hell will freeze over. One day it will rain geese. One day pigs will fly. One day..." Amanda's words were muffled by Kris' hand, and the two of them laughed quietly like a couple of girls at a slumber party.
Lee replayed the conversation in his mind. Ha, he thought. That Kris is crazy. At least Amanda was thinking clearly. but...did she mean that it would never happen from his perspective? From hers? Or from both? The more he thought about it, the more it bothered him. If it was from his perspective, fine. From hers?
The plane landed in Los Angeles at 8:30 p.m. They went to a hotel to check in. They received adjoining rooms; one for Amanda and Kris and one for Lee.
The next morning, they ate breakfast together and dicussed their plans. "First thing we have to do is rent a car, then pick up some clothes and toiletries," Kris said.
They went to a mall and picked up a few things, then stopped at a drug store for personal effects. They ran back to the hotel and changed. After a few minutes, Lee joined Kris and Amanda in their room. Amanda stepped out of the bathroom wearing jeans, a white tank top, a brown suede jacket and brown ankle boots.
"Aha!" There's my Bri!" Kris shouted. "You look great!"
"Why do I take you shopping with me?" Amanda studied herself self-consciously in the mirror.
Lee couldn't take his eyes off Amanda. She looked like the same person, but...wow.
Kris saw the gaping Lee and commented, "What do you think, Stetson?"
"Well, I uh...you know, yeah, it works," he finished lamely, gesturing wildly at nothing and stuffed his hands into his pockets to still them.
Amanda was acutely embarassed. "Okay, Kris. What do you think? Should we check out her apartment, or what?"
"I say we start with Luke," Kris suggested.
"No," Amanda's eyes widened, "I don't agree. Let's go to her place."
"Who's Luke?" Lee asked.
"Sabrina's old boyfriend, as well as Kelly's old boyfriend. But they still keep in touch," Kris explained.
Lee shot a questioning glance at Amanda. Why didn't she want to see an old boyfriend?
Interpreting his look, Amanda answered it, "It's a long, long story. One best left alone."
Kris sat down on the bed. "Bri, he may know something. We have to try."
"Okay, whatever," Amanda gave in. But it was clear to Lee that she was unhappy about it.
Luke Henderson squinted in the sun. Who was that walking up the dock toward his boat? "Sabrina? Kris?" he yelled at the approaching figures. "Come aboard!"
He hugged Kris. "What are you two doing here? I can't believe my eyes," he said. "Especially you," he added as he hugged Amanda. Their gaze held for a moment before he extended a hand to Lee. "Luke Henderson."
"Lee Stetson," Lee said, shaking the man's hand.
"Luke, we're here because of Kelly," Kris offered, watching him.
"Why? She gettin' married?" Luke asked.
"Then you haven't heard," Amanda stated.
"Heard what?" he questioned, looking alarmed.
"Kelly has disappeared," Kris told him.
He hadn't heard. Amanda and Kris filled him in. He was concerned, but explained that he and Kelly hadn't kept in touch much lately. They had parted on rather bad terms, so he hadn't called and neither had she.
"I guess I'm just not 'lucky in love' when it comes to angels, huh?" he shot a look at Amanda, who lowered her glance and fidgeted with her fingers.
"No wedding ring, I see," Luke observed. "You and Joe divorce? You can tell me, I knew you would. You were too good for Joe."
Amanda glared at him. "I really don't think it's any of your business, Luke."
"Isn't she radiant when she's angry," Luke asked Lee. He didn't give him a chance to respond, for which Lee was grateful.
"I'm sorry, Sabrina, seeing you brings back some memories, if you know what I mean," he apologized.
"I do know," she nodded.
They talked with Luke for a few more minutes, then took their leave.
Next, they drove to Kelly's on-the-beach apartment. On the way, Kris said, "Sorry, Bri, I know that was tough." "No, actually, it wasn't tough, it was just strange," Amanda reassured her.
Lee wondered just what Luke had been to Amanda. A feeling of jealousy came over him, a similar sensation to what he felt when he saw Amanda with Joe. Knock it off, Stetson, she's your partner. That's all.
Glancing over at her in the passengers seat, however,
his heart quickened just a little.
"Do you want to do the honors?" Kris asked Amanda.
Amanda looked at Lee. She made quick work of the lock and the door swung open.
"You haven't trained for that yet," Lee exclaimed incredulously.
"Not by the agency, no," Amanda agreed.
She's just full of surprises, Lee thought. She shot him a guilty look and shrugged. "I'm not exactly your average housewife after all, Lee. Sorry to disappoint."
Kris laughed. "Sabrina's not an average anything!"
They began looking around Kelly's apartment for signs. She had packed cothing. Only her purse seemed to be missing. There were several messages on her answering machine, none of them appeared to be significant. A call from her dry-cleaners, her gym, an advertisement for the local paper, a few brief messages from friends who obviously didn't know anything about her disappearance.
Amanda wandered into the bedroom alone. She felt awful looking around Kelly's room. She spotted a picture on the nightstand. It was of her and Kelly and Kris. The memories came flooding back and for the first time since the whole ordeal began, she felt like Sabrina again. Lee entered the room.
"Find something?" he asked. Amanda handed him the picture. Lee took it, and found himself looking at three beautiful young women with their arms around each other.
"This is so wierd, Amanda," Lee said.
"I know, Lee, and I'm sorry you got dragged into all of this."
"Hey, I insisted on coming, didn't I? And I'm glad I did," he said. He place a finger under her chin and tilted her head up towards his. Something in him took over then, and he bent to kiss her.
"Hey, Bri!" Kris called, startling Amanda. She jumped slightly, looked away from Lee, and hurried out of the room, her nerves a jumble of confusion.
By the time she reached the living room, she had convinced herself that she had only imagined that Lee was going to kiss her.
Lee, on the other hand, stayed in the room by himself, trying to figure out what had almost happened. He had almost kissed Amanda. He had wanted to kiss her. He still wanted to kiss her!
Back in the living room, Kris held out a piece of paper to Amanda. "What's this?" Amanda took it. "Oh, my gosh!"
She read the newspaper clipping, and looked up at Kris. "This has to be it," she said. "We have to find her, Kris."
Kris nodded her head. Lee walked back into the room, looking nervously at Amanda, who did not meet his eyes. Kris showed him the article.
Lee read it. "Money Laundering Banker Out of Jail After Serving Half Sentence", the heading read. The article didn't add much, except the name of the man, Derek Simons.
"I remember something about that," Lee recalled. "That was a big trial, he should have ended up serving the whole sentence."
"That was one of our cases," Amanda filled him in. "Kelly's the one who dug up the damning evidence against him, and he knew it. He swore that he'd make her pay for exposing him."
"Well, let's get some lunch and try to decide what to do next," Kris suggested.
"Sounds good to me," Lee said.
They decided on an Italian restaurant not far from Kelly's place. After ordering, they sat discussing what their next move could possibly be. Amanda seemed very jittery. The table was rather small, and Lee could tell that she was bouncing her knee up and down, a nervous habit.
He placed his hand on her knee. She didn't appear to notice at all except that her knee stopped bouncing. Lee didn't remove his hand. The waiter brought salads and beverages and bread.
The conversation changed to more reminiscing, and Kris and Amanda were soon laughing as they remembered old times. Kris was making observations of Lee the whole time. The way he looked at her was just so adoringly. Not blatantly, but it was there.
Without realizing it, Lee began rubbing Amanda's knee and leg lightly as he listened to her recount a story about an old case. Her voice caught for a moment, and she nervously stole a glance at him. She started using a lot of umm's and uhh's, Lee stopped rubbing, but did not remove his hand.
When Amanda reached under the table to put her napkin in her lap, Lee grabbed her hand and didn't let it go until their lunches arrived.
Kris excused herself for a moment and headed for the ladies room. Amanda focused on her lunch, twirling the angel hair pasta around her fork until it was a huge mass.
Lee regarded her intently. "Aren't you going to have trouble getting that into your mouth?" he teased.
"Hmmm?" she responded absently. "Oh!" she said as she saw what she had done and let the pasta fall off the fork. She laughed.
"I guess my mind is somewhere else," she admitted.
"Where is it?" Lee asked, trying to get her to look into his eyes. He still held her hand.
"It's, oh my gosh, in about a thousand different places right now, I think."
Lee knew she was deliberatly avoiding a direct answer. She looked up at him, and their eyes held.
Kris rejoined them, and the moment was gone. Amanda was
relieved. Lee had chosen a really awkward time to pursue this, if there
was anything to 'this' at all. He had put her off so many times and made
excuses for himself that she found anything else difficult to imagine or
Lee paid for their lunch and they got back into the car. "I think we should pay another visit to Luke. I think he must have known about Simons, and he knew about the case. So why didn't he tell us about it?"
"I was just thinking the same thing," Amanda admitted.
Lee drove back to the docks. The three were just upon the boat when they heard voices. They crept around to the front of the boat, out of view, and listened.
"I told you, I didn't tell them anything," Luke sounded upset."You better be telling me the truth," a menacing voice replied. "Was the Duncan woman suspicious?"
"I don't think so," Luke said.
"What's her real name, Henderson?"
"I don't know, I told you I don't know. She never told me anything other than Sabrina Duncan. I can't imagine her being anybody else," he said with a hint of nostalgia in his voice.
"If I find out you're lying, you'll pay. If they come around here again, tell them they're wasting their time." With that, the man walked across the deck and exited the boat. Not glancing backward, he headed down the dock.
"Recognize him?" Amanda asked Kris.
"I don't think so," Kris said. "Should we bother talking to Luke?" Kris asked.
"Yes," Amanda said.
"But Amanda," Lee held her arm, "What if he calls the guy he was just talking to?"
"He didn't sound like he was in on anything. He sounded reluctant. Besides...Luke would never jeopardize my or Kelly's life," she said confidently.
"Because they saved his life," Kris informed him, "And he was in love with both of them."
"Well, thank you, Miss Information," Amanda ribbed Kris. Then she added, "He was never really in love with me. It was really Kelly."
"Bologne, Bri! He moved on to Kelly because it didn't work out with you," Kris hissed in a whisper. "You are so dense about men, Sabrina!"
Amanda screwed up her face. "I am not!"
"A man could be in love with you right under your nose and you would have no idea," Kris countered.
"Enough of that," Amanda blushed and drew her finger across her neck in a guillotine motion. "Let's go," she said, and took the lead heading toward the ramp.
Kris looked at Lee. "She didn't use to be like this. All kinds of guys liked Bri, and she knew it. Not in a 'look at me' kind of way. She just knew. I don't know what's gotten into her!"
Lee shrugged. They followed Amanda toward the boat. Lee couldn't help but think about the mixed signals he'd been sending Amanda. And her reaction to their near kiss and his holding her hand in the restaurant proved that she was confused by his actions of late.
"Luke?" Amanda said quietly.
"I knew you'd be back," he said and came over to her. Kris and Lee came aboard.
"Luke we know you know more than you're letting on. You have to know about Simons, and we saw the goon who just left here." Amanda told him.
"I knew Simons had been released. I've been warned not to say anything to you or to anyone," he said.
"Why was that man here? Does he work for Simons?" Kris asked.
"Yeah...I used to, too. A long time ago. I worked for him at the time he was put away. I went straight. There was nothing incriminating against me, so I got out of the racket altogether. But they know I might put two and two together now, so they gave me a warning."
"And you plan to..." Amanda let her words trail off.
"Help you find Kelly, of course," he smiled warmly at her, not taking his eyes off her face. Lee clenched his fists. Kris saw, made a mental note. Lee asked a question of his own. "Why was that guy asking about A... Sabrina's real name?"
"They know that the girls used alter-egos, so to speak. But they don't know any real names. My guess is they want to keep tabs on them. I don't know Sabrina's real name and I don't want to, and besides," he reached out and caressed her cheek. "You'll always be Sabrina to me," he said gently.
That was enough! Lee moved over to Amanda's side, took her hand in his and glared at Luke. Amanda squeezed his hand and smiled crookedly at him, and he seemed somewhat mollified. Amanda was mystified but enjoying this attention from Lee immensely.
Kris winked at Amanda, who changed the subject fast. "Okay, Luke. Where do you recommend we begin?"
"I do have an idea. I think we should check out Kelly's haunts. See if anyone has been around lately. I know Simons has her, I just don't know where."
"And you know Kelly's 'haunts'," Kris asked hopefully.
"Of course," he replied.
They got off the boat and headed towards the car. Kris and Luke walked ahead, talking. Lee had released Amanda's hand. Now he put his hand on the small of her back.
"I guess I'll have to call you Sabrina around your friend Luke," he suggested.
"Good idea," she agreed, "but he's not 'my friend', at least not in the sense you're implying."
Lee smiled to himself. "Good," he said under his breath.
"What?" Amanda looked up at him, saw his satisfied smile.
They had reached the car, and Lee opened the front passenger door for Amanda
and helped her in. Before releasing her hand again, he brushed his lips
against it lightly.
Luke recommended trying Kelly's tennis club first. "It's the one place that she goes to regularly, so maybe someone will know something there."
They walked into the main entrance and up to the reception desk. A perky blond was smiling at Lee when she said, "Hi! New members?"
"No," Amanda stepped in front of Lee and up to the desk, effectively blocking the chipper receptionist's view of Lee. "We're looking for one of your current members." Holding up a picture of Kelly, Amanda asked 'Suzee', "Have you seen this woman here?"
"Oh, of course! She comes on Tuesdays and Fridays like clockwork," Suzee said as she tilted her head to get a better view of Lee.
"Suzee," Amanda regained the woman's attention, "I know my partner here is dazzling," she said wryly, "but could you please concentrate here? My friend Kelly is missing. When was she last here, and did you notice anything unusual?"
Suzee recovered from her embarassment and said, "She was here on Tuesday, but come to think of it, she didn't come on Friday. I didn't notice anything different. She came at around noon, but I don't recall seeing her leave."
"Thanks, you've been very helpful," Amanda smiled and Kris added, "We're just going to talk to some of the members, if that's okay with you?"
"Oh, yeah, sure," Suzee agreed.
They talked to several people, some of whom recognized Kelly, but none of whom were able to provide any information.
As they were about to leave, a young man came over to Amanda and asked to see the picture.
"Yeah, I see her all the time. When she was here Tuesday, something kind of strange happened, actually."
"What happened?" Kris stepped closer.
"Well she was leaving as I was coming in. This guy came in the front door and walked up to her and said, 'Long time no see, angel,' and she acted kind of freaked out. Then he put his arm around her, but she acted like she didn't like it, but she left with him. Afterward, I thought it was kind of odd, but it didn't occur to me that it could be a major thing until I saw you guys walking around with her photo, and now I feel really bad."
They asked him a few more questions and then left when he was unable to provide any more information. Kris gave him the hotel room number and asked him to call if he thought of anything else.
Their next stops proved unsuccessful. It was getting later in the day, and they decided to get a change of clothes and dinner.
After dinner they decided to call it a night. Everyone was tired, and they couldn't think of any other places to check out.
They dropped Luke off and headed back to the hotel. They sat in Lee's room for a while, discussing the scanty results of the day. Lee said, "I'm going to call Billy in the morning and see if they've come up with anything on the report I asked them to run on Simons. Maybe he'll have a lead for us."
Kris looked at Amanda and then Lee, and said, "Well, Bri, if you don't mind, I'm going to hit the bathroom and then the sack. Goodnight," she yawned.
Amanda said, "Thank you again for coming out here. I didn't expect you to do this, you know."
"I know," Lee nodded, "But like I told you, I want to help. I'd rather be here than back in DC worrying about you getting into trouble."
Amanda laughed. "Well thanks."
"You're welcome," Lee laughed too. Just kiss her, he told himself. He found himself staring at her lips. Why am I finding this so hard, he wondered.
Misinterpreting his discomfiture, Amanda stood. "Well, I should go over and get ready for bed myself. I'm tired and I'm sure you are too."
Lee stood too. "Yeah, well. Goodnight, Amanda-Sabrina," he said softly.
Amanda went through the door and closed it. I don't get him at all, she thought to herself. He acted like he owned me all day, and now he just acts like nothing happened. Well, maybe I was misreading him again...it's not like it hasn't happened before!
Kris came out of the bathroom. "Oh!" she said in a disappointed tone. "I thought you two would have liked a moment alone!"
"Not necessary, Kris! Like I told you -"
"I don't want to hear it. I know what I saw all day," Kris argued. "He's just unsure of himself and unsure of you."
"Whatever," Amanda said as she took her pajamas into the bathroom.
"I heard that!" yelled Kris.
In the next room, Lee sat wondering just what was wrong
Amanda and Kris were awakened at three in the morning by the telephone ringing shrilly.
Amanda reached over and grabbed it and then switched on the light. "Hello?" she said groggily.
"Sabrina, it's Luke. I know where Kelly is."
"Oh my gosh, where is she? How did you find out?" Amanda demanded.
"Okay, we're coming," she said, "we'll be there in an hour."
She stood up from the bed and said, "We have to get Lee up and get dressed, and meet Luke at his boat."
"Okay, you go wake him up and I'll get dressed," Kris said.
Amanda opened the door to Lee's room. She sat on the edge of his bed. "Lee?" she said quietly, not wanting to startle him. She shook his shoulder gently and he rolled onto his back, still sleeping.
"Lee," she said again, a little louder.
"Mmmmmmmmm," was his only response.
She was about to shake him again when he reached an arm around her waist and pulled her down onto his chest. She was about to push herself up when he opened his eyes.
"Amanda!" he gasped as he realized he was holding her down to his chest. Without releasing her, he asked, "Miss me that much?"
"Oh, please, Lee..."
"You're begging?" Lee teased her.
He switched on the light. "What's up, besides us?" he squinted as he let her go, and noticed her long legs. He had to force his eyes back to her face.
Amanda suddenly realized she was wearing shorts and a tank top, and self-consciously headed toward the door. "Uh, get dressed and meet me in our room and I'll fill you both in."
"I like your pajamas," Lee called after her. "A lot."
Blushing, Amanda hurriedly closed the door.
Half an hour later they were once again heading toward Luke's boat. Amanda related what Luke had told her on the phone, that he had followed a lead after they separated, and that he found where Kelly was, but that there were too many people around for him to try anything by himself. "I just hope he's not lying," Amanda concluded.
"Why do you say that," Lee asked, "I thought you said he wouldn't do anything to hurt any of you."
"He wouldn't, deliberately. But if he's got a gun to his head, he might be compelled to cooperate with whoever's in control of the trigger. Regardless, we have no choice but to see what happens. We have to find Kelly."
It was still completely dark as they made their way down the dock to Luke's boat. As they boarded, they neither saw not heard Luke anywhere. "I have a bad feeling about this," Kris whispered.
"With good reason," a menacing voice said from the shadows.
Amanda felt Lee grasp her hand, and a light flashed in
He aimed the gun at them. A fog horn blasted through the night, and the man jumped, looking out toward the water.
Lee quickly pulled out his gun. "Drop it," he ordered the other man, who dropped his gun and put his hands up.
"Amanda, get that rope over their and tie his hands together," he pointed at a piece of rope on the deck.
Apparently the man was afraid of getting shot, because when questioned he gave them all the information they needed. "Well, don't get too cold out here," Kris told him as they left, "We'll send the police to pick you up in a while."
They followed the man's directions to Simon's mansion. When they turned down his street, they saw flashing lights and police cars all over the place. Then Lee spotted Francine.
While they were getting out of the car, she walked over to them. Noting Lee and Amanda's entwined hands, she snipped, "Well isn't this a cozy little California getaway for you two!"
"Can it, Francine," Lee said, but did drop Amanda's hand like it was on fire. Amanda foldeed her arms across her chest. Lee asked Francine, "What are you doing here?"
Francine filled them in on what she had found out, that Simons had gotten right back into the same old games. "Apparently he's a little dusty at covering his tracks, however...or maybe we're just getting better at what we do. At any rate, we have more than enough evidence to lock him away again."
She glanced at Amanda, and said, "They're inside right now looking for your friend."
They waited for quite some time, until finally Kelly was brought out on a stretcher and into a waiting ambulance.
An officer came over to them. "She'll be fine. You'll have to see her at the hospital after she's been looked at and treated. She's a little bruised and dehydrated and they want to get an IV started right away." He gave them the name of the hospital Kelly was being taken to.
Kris and Amanda hugged each other in relief, then Luke hugged them both. Ignoring Lee, Amanda headed toward the car. He had her so mixed up. Just when she was thinking one thing, he abruptly did something to make her doubt again.
"Let's get over to the hospital," she said.
Lee noticed the brush off. He'd been waiting to give her a hug. Who can blame her, he thought as he followed them to the car. I have to do something about this.
At the hospital, they waited for two hours before they could see Kelly. It was well past eight when the doctor said Amanda and Kris could go in.
"Hey," Kelly smiled weakly at them as they walked into her room. "Long time, no see."
"How are you feeling?" Amanda asked with a smile.
"Been better," Kelly admitted. They hugged her gingerly.
"It's good to be back together again," Kris said. "All three of us."
"We have to keep in touch better than this, guys. Once every decade is a little few and far between for my taste," Amanda joked.
They talked for a few minutes, and the nurse came into the room and told them, "Your friend needs her rest," and slipped away.
"We'll talk more tomorrow," they told her.
"Would you ask them if Luke can come in and see me?" she asked.
"Sure," they agreed.
Luke went in to see Kelly, and Lee said, "How about some dinner, ladies?"
Kris shook her head. "I'm going to go back to the hotel, order room service, and go to bed. Sorry." She looked at Lee and said, "I guess it'll just be you two. I'll get a cab."
"I'll take the cab with you," Amanda said. "I think we should just call it a night."
Lee looked dejected, but didn't protest. "Why don't you take the car, and I'll walk or get a cab."
Driving back to the hotel, Kris said, "You are crazy! You could have been alone with him."
"I don't think I wanted to be with him, Kris. You don't understand."
Amanda looked out the window.
"I can tell he's just having a hard time with his own feelings, Bri, but I can see that he really likes you. Loves you, even."
"Kris!" Amanda stopped her. "Please. I don't really feel like discussing this."
Back at the hotel room, they were getting ready for bed waiting for room service, when a knock came at the door. "That was fast," Amanda said as she walked over and opened the door.
It was Lee.
Amanda was shocked to see Lee standing there. "Oh!" she exclaimed in surprise. "Hi," she said nervously. Why am I so jumpy around him lately? Nothing has changed between us, she reasoned with herself.
Still, she could feel her face flushing warmly and her knees go just a little weak.
Lee stared back at Amanda. She was wearing gray sweats and a red tank top, and her hair was in a pony tail, and she was the most devastating creature alive. Lee felt like his heart must be visibly pounding out of his rib cage.
"I, uh...I came to get you. I didn't want you to leave. I thought we could hang out for a while, you know...get something to eat..." he looked at her helplessly and shrugged.
"Well, I kind of already changed and Kris and I ordered room service, you know?" she stared at the door jamb.
Kris came flying out of the bathroom. "Don't be silly, Sabrina!" she laughed. "I'm going to eat my salad and go to bed - booooring! You can get dressed again, Bri, come on, I'll help you decide what to wear. Lee, give her twenty minutes and she's all yours."
Kris slammed the door on a grinning Lee. Lee decided to wait in his own room since he'd been locked out of this one. He could freshen up, put on a little cologne...
Amanda gaped at Kris. "You are something else, you know that? I can't believe you just did that!"
"Oh, hush. Come here and put this on," Kris ordered, dragging Amanda over to the hotel room 'closet'. "See? I told you it was a good idea to buy this dress and these shoes. Now you have to perfect opportunity to wear them! Put them on."
Kris pushed Amanda into the bathroom. Amanda stood there, unable to believe what was going on. Kris ran over and knocked on the adjoining door. Lee opened it, and said, "Oh, hi!" He stepped back so Kris could enter. "Amanda didn't change her mind, did she?" he asked with a look of concern.
"No! I shoved her into the bathroom with a dress and told her to get dressed. Now. Let's get down to business. You and I are now friends, Lee. So tell me just what is going on with you two?"
"What?" Lee laughed self-consciously. Now he knew where Amanda got it. All of her friends were just like her!
"Come on, Lee," Kris smacked him. "I have seen the puppy dog eyes. I have seen you grab her hand and then drop it like a hot potato. I've seen the jealousy, the pride, and the adoration in your eyes, but you are not a couple. Why?"
Lee stared at her. After a moment he decided to cooperate, sensing that he had no choice.
"Amanda and I have worked together for a while now. When we first met, she was not my type at all. But I don't really think I knew what 'my type' was. Lately, in the past year, to be exact, I just...I feel differently about her. I care about her, I worry about her when she's in danger or when she's upset, but I can't seem to tell her that. I get these feelings...that are so intense, they scare me."
Lee sat down, warming to the subject. He didn't usually 'confide' in people like this, but Kris had known Amanda for a long time, and he felt there was a connection. Kris sat down too, intrigued.
"Amanda makes me feel...something I've never felt before. There's this invisible line between my heart and hers, and I feel like all she has to do it tug at that line, and I would belong to her forever. I don't know if this is making sense. I get all...tongue-tied when I even think of suggesting that we take our relationship to the next level. She's my partner and my best friend, but lately I just...I want so much more than that."
Kris stared at Lee, and finally said, "Wow."
"Wow?" Lee smiled. "What do you mean, 'wow'?"
"I mean, 'wow', you have what so many people look for all their lives. I'm so jealous! You have to tell her, Lee. That was beautiful!"
"Wait a minute, now," Lee held up his hand. "I don't know if Amanda feels even a little for me of what I feel for her. It scares me that she might not."
Kris shook her head. "She cares about you so much. I can't get her to admit anything, but I can see in her eyes how she feels about you. She just tries to keep it inside. I think she thinks what you think about her, that you don't return her feelings."
"Kris?" they heard Amanda call from the other room. "Are you here? I need help with this darn zipper."
Kris kissed Lee on the cheek. "I like you," she said, "You deserve my Sabrina."
With that she yelled, "Coming, Bri!" and went back next door.
Lee felt acutely nervous. Like he was a teenager getting ready to take the prettiest girl in school to the prom.
He heard Kris say, "Sabrina, when did you get to be so stunning?"
And Amanda's embarassed, "Shhhhhh! Get out of town."
Amanda appeared in his doorway. The light was behind her, and she was radiant. She was wearing a clingy mid-length white dress with spaghetti straps and white pumps. Her soft curly hair was loose around her shoulders. "Well, here I am," she said.
"You're breath-taking," Lee said with feeling.
Amanda blushed to the roots of her hair and looked away from him. He walked over to her and took her hand.
"Bye, kids, have fun," Kris called.
Lee and Amanda walked to a little French restaurant just around the corner from the hotel. After ordering, Lee picked up his wine glass. "To angels," he said, looking at her intently. They clinked glasses and drank.
The restaurant was not crowded at this hour. They were seated in a quiet corner. Amanda nervously chattered about Kelly and all that had gone on. Lee watched her, smiling, once in a while adding a comment here and there. They talked about nothing in particular all through dinner. Amanda was disconcerted by the way Lee was looking at her. It was making her feel self-conscious and dizzy at the same time.
"Let's go across the street," Lee said after he had paid the check.
"It's just getting so late," Amanda protested.
Lee gripped her hand and without a word led her to the club across the way. As they drew closer they could hear soft, romantic music flow out into the night.
Lee led Amanda straight to the dance floor and took her in his arms. He held her close, and they moved together to the music. There were only a few other couples dancing.Lee put one strong arm tightly around Amanda's waist. He felt her response and could tell her breathing had quickened. His own breathing was altered, and he wondered if she could tell.
Amanda wanted to stay in Lee's arms forever. She could feel his heart beating, and she laid her head against his chest to listen to it.
Lee moved his hand up to Amanda's back. He traced the line of her dress on her bare skin, and she shivered.
"Are you cold?" he asked her, his voice sounding funny to his ears.
"No," she replied, barely a whisper.
He drew back slightly and looked into her eyes. She started to look away, and he held her chin so she couldn't. Her eyes were bright and watery.
"What are you doing to me?" she whispered.
Lee's heart skipped a beat. She did feel what he felt. "What are you doing to me?" he asked her back.
Amanda closed her eyes and swallowed hard. Slowly the music faded and the other couples disappeared. It was only Lee and Amanda, and they had stopped dancing, just stood there drowning in this new sensation.
Lee leaned down and softly kissed Amanda's jawline. "You don't know what you're doing to me," he breathed.
Amanda couldn't speak. He kissed her lips then, and they both felt like the earth was spinning off it's axis.
"Do you want to..." Lee started to say.
"Let's get out of..." Amanda said at the same time.
In the elevator they could barely keep their hands to themselves. Once they got to Lee's room, he fumbled with the key for a moment before he could unlock the door. Once inside, they were instantly in each others arms. "Amanda," Lee said against her neck. "There were so many things I wanted to say to you tonight."
He kissed her neck, her shoulders. They were both overwhelmed with emotions and desires they had been supressing for far too long.
"I know, we really should talk," Amanda agreed, and then pulled his lips to hers again as they sat down on the bed.
Lee forced himself to stop kissing her for a moment. "We've just gone from zero to sixty in no time flat," he told her.
"Yeah," Amanda nodded. "Fast."
They both sat, staring at each other and trying to catch their breath.
"I think we need to slow down a little," Lee said. "I don't want to, but I think we should."
Amanda nodded. "You're right." She yawned. "I'm really sleepy," she said, and then laughed. "I guess I should..." she started to stand.
"Stay," Lee held onto her. "Just stay with me, please? I want to hold you while we sleep."
Amanda smiled and said, "I would love that."
Lee loaned her a t-shirt and sweats that were way too big. "Good thing they have a draw-string," he teased her.
They laid down, and Lee kissed her goodnight. They eventually
fell asleep, Lee with his arms around his Amanda.
Amanda woke up at dawn. For a moment, she was disoriented and didn't know for sure where she was. Then, the realization hit her and she recalled all the things Lee had said (or rather did) last night. Why, she wondered, is he suddenly so interested in me? She wondered. Is it only because he knows now that I haven't always been an ordinary housewife? Does he find me 'worthy' now that he knows my past was exciting and dangerous? Does he feel justified?
Doubt filled Amanda, and she suddenly felt sure that Lee would never under normal circumstances, done what he had last night. Trying not to wake him, she slipped out of his bed and watched him for a moment.
She wanted more than anything to believe he loved her, but his past denials and earlier scorn bore down on her like heavy weight, and doubt won her over.
Quietly, she slipped back into her own room and into her bed. Kris stirred slightly in her own bed, but didn't wake up. Amanda did not fall back to sleep.
Lee rolled over and reached his arm out to encircle Amanda, but the bed was empty. Disappointed, he sat up and looked around. Her dress and shoes were on the chair, but she was gone. Frowning, he wondered why she had left. Lee went out onto the balcony for some fresh air. He wouldn't get any more sleep.
Kris woke up at 7:30 to find Amanda dressed and putting on her makeup. "Well," she said with a grin, "How was your evening?"
"Fine," Amanda said nonchalantly. "We ate, we came back here."
"Come on, there's more to it than that - you weren't in this room when I woke up at two, so tell me what happened!"
"Nothing," Amanda insisted. "There is nothing between Lee and I. We talked a while in his room, and then I fell asleep there accidentally."
"In HIS clothes?" Kris said, picking up the sweats and t-shirt. "Sabrina, what gives?"
"Kris, I love you. You know that. And in a little while I'll feel like talking. but right now, I just can't," Amanda said, and was almost in tears.
"Okay," Kris relented, vowing to kill Lee Stetson if he had hurt her friend. "Do you want to go and see Kelly?"
"Yeah, but visiting hours aren't until ten, so I think I'll go for a walk, Kris," Amanda said. She went out of the room, quietly closing the door.
As she walked, Amanda reminded herself of all the times Lee had emphasized that he would never get involved with someone like her. There had been moments when she had thought he had some kind of feelings for her, but she had been mistaken. They were friends. But now all of a sudden he was seeing a different side of her. That was what he was attracted to, she told herself. But I am not Sabrina Duncan anymore, not entirely. He would soon discover that I was still boring to him.
Back at the hotel, Lee knocked on the door. "Amanda?"
Kris opened the door. "She's not here," she told him.
"Why? Where did she go?" he stepped into the room.
"For a walk," Kris said. "You may think it's none of my business, but Sabrina IS my business, Lee...so what happened last night between you?"
Lee ran a hand through his hair. "Well, ah...we talked at dinner and then went over to a club and danced, and suddenly I was kissing her, and my head was spinning. I've never felt like that kissing any other woman before, in my life. Then we came back here to my room and things almost got out of hand, and then we slowed down and decided to talk in the morning and I fell asleep with her in my arms," Lee said, smiling at the memory. "But when I woke up, she was gone." The smile was replaced with a worried frown. "Did she tell you anything?"
"She didn't tell me any of that!" Kris exclaimed. "That's why I'm even more confused about her leaving. She said nothing happened and she didn't want to talk about it, and she left."
Lee shook his head, confused and hurt. "I'm going to look for her," he said.
His phone rang from the other room. "I'd better get that," he said.
A few minutes later, he came back into the room to tell
Kris, "I have to catch a plane back to D.C. immediately. Please tell Amanda
to call me when she gets home."
Amanda knew she had to talk to Lee, so she figured it would be best to get it out of the way before she lost her nerve.
She knocked at his hotel room door, but for a moment there was no answer. Then a maid opened the door.
"Oh!" Amanda said in surprise. "I was looking for the man staying in this room."
"He must have checked out," the maid said.
Amanda thanked her and went back to her own room. Kris turned off the television. "Hi," she said.
"Hi, Kris. Where's Lee?" she asked.
"He had to go back to D.C. on business. He was really disappointed to wake up without you. He wants you to call him when you get back home," Kris said, then added, "He's really worried and doesn't understand why you left."
Emotionally exhausted, Amanda sat down on the bed and poured her heart out to Kris, telling her about her history with Lee. After about a half hour, she finally concluded with, "So I don't know if I can trust what he's feeling. What if it's this sudden attraction because of this whole business of the fact that I haven't always been Amanda King, housewife?"
Kris put her hand on her friend's shoulder. "Sabrina, listen to me. Lee and I have been talking, and he told me that his attraction for you is nothing new. He's been fighting it, subconsciously, but this is nothing new, Bri."
"I wish I could believe that," Amanda sighed. "Look, let's go see Kelly, I want the two of you to come back to Arlington with me so we can really catch up, just the three of us, unless we can get Bos to join us, too."
"Count me in," Kris said enthusiastically. "I could use a little time with old friends!"
They visited Kelly, who was being discharged that day, and she agreed to come visit Amanda, too.
Back in Arlington, the three met Bosley at the airport
and then they headed for the Agency.
Billy's office was crowded. He, Lee and Francine as well as Amanda, Kris and Kelly, had been discussing the details of everything that happened, as well as Simon's fate.
The phone rang on Billy's desk and he grabbed it. "Oh, yes, put him on, please."
The speaker phone came to life once again with the unmistakable voice of Charlie (who was on a yacht somewhere surrounded by bikini-clad women).
"Hello, Angels - all of you! And Bosley."
"Hello, Charlie!" Four voices chorused.
"Angels, I have a proposition. How would you like to come back to work for me?"
Stunned silence lasted only ten seconds. Billy noted the look of sheer panic on Lee's face. Then all the excuses flew.
"I couldn't possibly...", "I can't move back to California...", "I don't think I could...".
"Not a chance in hell!" Lee's voice shouted, drowning out the others and everyone turned to look at him except Amanda, who studied her hands in acute embarassment.
"I mean...Amanda's my partner, and well..." Lee finished lamely.
"Relax, Mr. Stetson," Charlie said. "It was just a joke."
Kris winked at Lee, who still looked a little bent out of shape. He smiled weakly.
After Charlie had rung off, Billy thanked everyone for their patience and for sharing what had happened on the case.
Amanda, Kris, Kelly and Bosley decided to grab a bite to eat. They left together, and Francine followed them out of the office. Watching Amanda with her friends, she saw a whole new side of Amanda. I can almost respect her now, she mused to herself. Almost...
Later that night, after Bosley and the girls had left for their hotel, Amanda went upstairs and changed quietly in to a pair of cotton pajama bottoms and a cropped t-shirt. Dottie and the boys had gone to bed already, but Amanda wasn't tired at all.
She went downstairs for a cup of hot tea. She was feeling guilty for not returning Lee's calls. She just didn't know what to say to him. Deciding on a cup of chamomile, she pulled down the box and dropped it when she heard a knock at her back door. Picking up the box and turning off the burner, she went and opened the door.
She stepped outside with Lee. "Hi," she said, averting her eyes.
"Hi," Lee said, his voice low and husky.
"I'm sorry I haven't called you back," Amanda said.
"Why haven't you?" Lee asked her directly.
"I just...I've been thinking, and I just didn't really know how to say..."
"Say that we should maybe forget about what happened..."
"Never," Lee's voice rose on the single word and he took her hands in his.
"Lee," Amanda pleaded with her eyes for him not to get so close; it only made things harder for her. "I'm not Sabrina Duncan anymore. I mean part of me is, but I am Amanda King, and with Amanda come all the things that you find...well, unattractive."
Her eyes downcast, she did not see his incredulous expression.
"What?" he exclaimed. "Amanda, listen to me. I don't remember the last time I found anything even remotely unattractive about you! I'm a totally different person than I was a couple of years ago. What happened the other night...was meant to happen."
He stepped closer to her, and she trembled slightly. "Amanda. I love you. There's no point in holding off telling you that. I love you. I have loved you for a very long time now. You don't know what you do to me. Just watching you, or talking to you on the phone, or smelling your hair...it nearly drives me crazy. What happened between us in California should have happened a long time ago. I need you to tell me you feel the same way. Please tell me you love me."
Amanda looked into his eyes, and all her doubts melted away. She reached a hand up to his anxious face. "I do," she said seriously. "I've loved you for so long."
Lee bent his head and kissed her tenderly at first, then with growing urgency. Amanda's hands slipped up to his neck and into his hair, and he wrapped his arms around her tightly, one hand straying to touch the skin of her back under her shirt.
"Lee," she whispered.
"Hmmmm?" he was kissing her neck.
"I think we'd better slow down...you know, zero to sixty..."
"I know," he agreed, but kept kissing her for a few more minutes.
"We have all the time in the world," Amanda told him. "I think we should slow down a little."
"You're going to drive me insane, aren't you?" Lee smiled, but his eyes were looking hungrily at her lips.
"That could be fun..." she teased, and kissed him.
"I'm picking you up at six tomorrow night. I'm going to take you on a date," Lee told her.
"Okay," Amanda said, and went into his arms again. He kissed her once more.
Reluctantly, they parted. "Goodnight," they both said.
He turned to leave, but looked over his shoulder at her.
"I love you, Scarecrow."
"I love you, Mrs. King."