Seventeen Miles

By: Kim
Summary:Amanda needs some time away from Lee, just as he admits to himself that he is in love with her.
Disclaimer:The main characters belong to Shoot the Moon and Warner Brothers Productions. The story is a product of my rather overactive imagination.

Part 1

Lee Stetson woke up and turned off his alarm clock. "Damn," he muttered, remembering the dream he'd been having about Amanda. Just thinking of it made him blush, and he didn't blush easily.

For whatever reason, in that moment, Lee Stetson finally allowed himself to realize fully that he was head-over-heels in love with Amanda King. It hit him like a ton of bricks.

The truth was, Lee had been both hiding and ignoring his feelings. A relationship with Amanda scared him to death. The depth of his feelings for her was something Lee had never experienced with any other woman. They were so deep, however, that even he hadn't been aware of them. Until now.

In Arlington, Amanda King also woke up, feeling blindly for the alarm clock. "Ugh!" she groaned as she sat up in bed and grabbed the clock. She could never find the button without looking at the clock!

As she showered, Amanda recalled the events of the last few months. Lee had been acting more familiar, more friendly with her than ever before, yet oddly, more uncomfortable at times. Sometimes it seemed like he was developing an interest in her, but those moments were fleeting and elusive. But now it seemed they were always at odds, arguing all the time.

Even if, Amanda thought as she shampooed, and that's a big if, Lee has even the slightest feelings for me, he would never do anything about them. It's not in his nature to have or want a relationship that goes beyond one or two night stands. And I am definitely not interested in that!

Lee and Amanda arrived at work at the same time. Both dove right into their work with no more than a cool, "Good morning." There was enough tension in the air to snap a million rubber bands.

Lee glanced up at Amanda. She was wearing red today. Why did she have to wear red today? And why is she all but ignoring me?! Without taking his eyes off her, he reached for his coffee cup, and knocked it over, spilling coffee all over the floor.

Amanda looked up quickly in surprise. Lee was already up and reaching for a roll of paper towels. As he sopped up the mess, Amanda asked, "Everything okay? You seem jumpy."

You *make* me jumpy, Lee thought. "No, no, I was just lost in thought, that's all."

Amanda simply nodded and went back to her files. Lee was certainly being distant today. They seemed to have lost the easy working relationship they had developed.

"Lee," Amanda began hesitantly.

"Yeah," he acknowledged her curtly as he tossed the coffee-laden paper towels into the trash. Why am I acting this way? Lee asked himself. All I want to do is take her into my arms and kiss her!

"I think it'd be good for us to have a break from each other. Maybe-"

"Why do you say that? We're not involved, Amanda," Lee interrupted her. He'd done it again! It came automatically, like a trigger mechanism. Lee cynically looked around the room for Lester the Duck. {Lee needs no one. Lee is a loner. Solitude is healthy.}

"Would you please calm down about that? Gosh, I haven't heard that one for a while!" Amanda was annoyed. "This is what I'm talking about. We had such a good partnership for a while and we were so...I mean we were getting along really well. And now I feel like I'm getting on your nerves again. So I was thinking of taking some of my vacation time."

"Amanda," Lee frowned feeling guilty. "You're not getting on my nerves."

"You're not the same, Lee. Whatever the reason, I feel that it's having a bad effect on us as a team. Billy thinks so too. He's already approved the time off. It's obvious that that's the only solution. We're driving each other crazy."

Lee looked at Amanda for a long moment. She was driving him crazy, but not in the sense she meant. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise. "Well, if you feel that you need some time off, fine. It doesn't matter to me." His feigned nonchalance hurt Amanda, and he knew it.

"Well," she cleared her throat, avoiding his eyes. "Good, then. I'll be gone for two weeks, starting Monday."

"Good for you, Amanda. Look. I need to uh, go talk to Billy. So I'll see you after lunch, okay?" He left the office.

Amanda sat at her desk for a while, stunned. What had she done to make things so strained between them? There was nothing she could recall.

Later that afternoon, Amanda said goodbye to Lee, who noncommitally waved and said, "See ya, have a good time," as she left, without even looking up. Once she'd gone, Lee let out an enormous sigh and rubbed his eyes. It would be a long two weeks. He was hurt that she was leaving him, just as he realized his feelings for her. As if she could possibly know! he thought to himself.

Amanda went home feeling strangely detached from her own life. Something was going on, and she had no control over it. Now all she had to do was decide what to do for a vacation. The boys were away at camp, and Dotty was on her own vacation. Amanda did not want to mope around the house by herself!

Finally, she decided to call the airport and arrange to fly to California. She'd been to Monterey once before when she was younger, and loved it. It would be peaceful and serene, and thousands of miles away from Lee Stetson.

Monterey, California

Two days later, Amanda checked into Monterey Bay Hotel. She had a lovely room overlooking the ocean. Time by herself was exactly what she needed to put things into perspective and get on with her life.

Amanda walked through the town, stepping into little shops along Cannery Row, buying souvenirs for the boys and Dotty. As she exited one shop, she spotted a silver Corvette, and caught her breath. Relax, Amanda. There's now way Lee would have decided to come after you, let alone make it here in two days!

Still, the sight of the car stuck Lee right back in the forefront of her mind, as if he'd been far away to begin with.

Washington DC

Lee Stetson paced in the office he shared with Amanda. It had only been a few days since she walked out, but he was already going crazy. He wondered how he would make it for two weeks. Picking up the phone, he dialed her number. There was no answer. She probably had already left for wherever she was going.

With a sudden panic, Lee realized that he had no idea where she had gone. He felt totally at sea. It was bad enough she wasn't with him, but not having any idea where she was would be torture. But once he knew where she was, he knew he wouldn't be able to stay away...he knew Billy would know where she had gone.

Racing downstairs, he nearly collided with Francine. "What's wrong with you," she asked snidely. "In a hurry, are we?"

Lee ignored her and went into Billy's office, closing the door behind him.

Part 2

Billy stared at Lee. "Come on in, Scarecrow, have a seat," he said sarcastically.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Lee asked.

"I know why you're here," Billy stared at Lee. He looked like hell. He obviously hadn't been sleeping.

"Oh, you do, huh? Then why don't you tell me what I'm going to say," Lee challenged.

"You want to know where Amanda went. You know that she'd tell me," Billy stated confidently.

Lee frowned. How did he know? "So where is she?"

"Sorry, Lee, that's need-to-know."

"Oh, come on, Billy," Lee sat forward. "Please tell me where she is."


Lee folded his arms across his chest. "Why not?"

Billy sighed. "You know, Lee, I seem to recall telling you a while back to straighten out your feelings for Amanda King. You haven't. You treat her like you don't care if she's around or not, then you act jealous at the slightest interest she shows in other men."

"I know, I know," Lee ran a nervous hand through his hair. "Billy, it's killing me not knowing where she is. Please, this *is* need-to-know."

"I don't think so. She told me she didn't want anyone to know where she'd gone. I have a feeling that means you, Scarecrow. She told me only because she knew I might need to contact her."

"Billy, please."

Something in Lee's voice caught Billy's attention. "Tell me why, Scarecrow. What would you do if you knew where Amanda King is?"

Lee stared at him. Billy was going to tell him. "I'd go to her and tell her that...I'm in love with her." Lee closed his eyes and swallowed hard.

That was all it took. Billy smiled at his old friend and said, handing him an index card with the address and location of Amanda's hotel, "There. Was that so hard?"

Lee gratefully accepted the card. "Thanks, Billy!"


Amanda had a light dinner in a sidewalk cafe and then decided to take a stroll along the beach. She left her shoes and purse in the trunk of her rental car and walked down to the shore.

She walked up and down the beach, picking up small shells here and there, thinking about her life. It was horrible to want someone who so obviously didn't want you back. Even when Lee showed signs of advancing their friendship, he immediately withdrew and changed his tune.

It had put a strain on their friendship and their working relationship. Amanda would rather have the old comraderie back, rather than the awkward see-saw of emotions he was inflicting on her by his careless flirtations, as she thought of them.

The wind was picking up and Amanda got chilly, so she walked back to the car and drove to her hotel. She showered and fell into bed and was asleep within minutes.

The next morning, Amanda slept in and ordered a bagel, fruit and coffee from room service. She sat on her balcony enjoying a leisurely breakfast and the sun.

Just as she was changing and deciding what to do for the day, Lee's plane was descending on Southern California.

WIth a growing sense of trepidation, Lee rented a silver sports car at the airport and drove to Monterey Bay Hotel, where he had made reservations.

As Amanda pulled out of the parking lot, a silver sports car flashed by coming in. Shaking her head, she scolded herself. Don't have a heart attack every time you see a silver car! It wasn't even a Corvette.

Lee checked in at the desk. As he was waiting for the desk clerk to find his key, Lee flipped the guest book around and went back a couple pages. He recognized Amanda's signature immediately and committed room 310 to memory. He was given room 212, one floor below hers.

When he was shown to his room, he picked up the phone and dialed Amanda's room. Not that he was going to say anything. He just wanted to hear her voice. But there was no answer. Checking his watch he realized that, of course she'd be out. It was past noon.

Lee showered and changed, then laid down to take a nap. He hadn't been sleeping well at all, and he could never sleep on a flight.

He woke up at five, amazed that he'd slept so long. He shaved, splashed on some aftershave, and went downstairs. His elevator opened at the lobby just as the elevator across from his carried Amanda upstairs.

Lee decided to get some dinner. He drove down the beach until he found one of a million restaurants offering "the world's best clam chowder" and stopped. As he ate, he tried to think of what he would say to Amanda. She would undoubtedly be shocked that he was there, maybe even angry.

After he ate, he drove back to the hotel, unsure of what to do with himself. He stood for a while looking down towards the ocean, and decided to walk along the shore. He removed his shoes and socks and put them into his trunk. He rolled up his khaki pants and the sleeves of his white button-down shirt and strode off for the beach.

Amanda King. When had she stolen his heart? He couldn't pinpoint a particular time. Their relationship had evolved on it's own. Each day she had become more important to him, finally becoming an integral part of his life. He couldn't understand how he had lived without her.

That kiss...that day he had told her she couldn't pull of an assignment. She had kissed him, and he had thought he'd come unglued. No one had ever affected him in that way before. SInce that time, he'd been dreaming about her constantly at night. In daylight hours, she was always there, on his mind.

Yet still he had fought it. He knew he was afraid of what he felt for Amanda. He was aware that once he succumbed, she would become even more to him, and if he lost her...

He couldn't even think of that. He knew that it would be the end of him if he lost her. No one else would ever break through the barrier again. To love and lose was the greatest pain in the world, one that Lee Stetson had experienced more than his share of.

Down the beach, Amanda sat, perched on a rock, staring out to sea. How did I get to this point? she asked herself. Why did I let myself care so much for Lee Stetson? But she knew she could not have avoided it. It happened so progressively, so naturally, that she didn't even realize at the time that it had happened.

Amanda's mind turned fleetingly to Joe, then to Dean, then to a few others who had once held claim to her affections. But she could not keep her mind off Lee. The depth of emotion she held in check for him was so enormously *more* than she had felt for any of the others.

She got up and walked a ways away and sat down on the soft sand, resuming her thoughts. Amanda sighed. Here she was, across the country, and he was so close. I should have known that distance would do nothing to shake these feelings, she told herself.

She knew that she had to get over Lee Stetson. She didn't want to lose her friendship with him, but she knew that quitting the Agency would break all ties to him. They wouldn't keep up any semblence of a relationship. And that was precisely what Amanda needed.

Lee didn't know how far he had walked. He was lost deep in thought. As he walked along, he could think only of Amanda. Of the dreams he'd been having. Of the cases they'd worked on together. Of how lovely she'd looked the last time he saw her. And then he'd hurt her. Pretended not to care that she'd be away from him for two weeks, when inside he was being ripped to shreds, petrified at the thought of losing something he didn't even have anyway.

The sun was setting, casting a red-orange glow over the water and sand. Lee walked on, would probably kept going until dark, if not for what he next saw. A lone figure, up ahead, sitting on the sand. Even at a distance, he knew it was Amanda.

He walked on, quickening his pace. He was drawn to her, and he knew he couldn't stop if he wanted to. He stayed where she couldn't see him. She looked so lonely and sad, sitting there. She too was barefoot and had rolled up her white pants to avoid getting them wet. She wore a pale green t-shirt, and her hair was loose around her shoulders. Once in a while she rubbed her arms against the evening chill.

Lee was transfixed. He could not stop staring at her, and he could not will himself to get closer. Amanda, his mind said over and over.

Suddenly, Amanda could sense that she was not alone. She didn't feel like chatting with another beach comber, so she stood up and brushed off the back of her pants, and turned to head back to the hotel.

Lee froze and held his breath when she stood up. He watched as she started walking towards him, her head down, hair in her eyes. She swept her hair back off her head and looked up, and froze in her tracks, her hand poised above her eyes, shielding them from the setting sun.

Lee felt like a deer caught in the headlights. Neither of them moved or spoke for a full thirty seconds, which seemed like hours.

Reality sank in, and finally Amanda stepped towards him, stopped about ten feet away, and folded her arms protectively across her chest, a mannerism Lee knew well.

"What are you doing here?" she asked in a tone of voice he'd never heard her use before. It wasn't angry, pleased, or sad. It was almost monotone, devoid of any emotion.

Lee swallowed hard. His mouth was suddenly dry as cotton. "Uhhh, I wanted to make sure you were okay. I was worried about you."

Amanda kept her eyes steadily on his. "I came here to get away. From you. Remember?" Same toneless voice. Carefully controlled, he could now tell.

"We...I left things badly," he volunteered. "I'm sorry. I wanted you to know."

Amanda was having difficulty breathing. She closed her eyes, battling a temper she rarely experienced, rarely displayed. "You shouldn't have come."

The words stabbed Lee to the heart, and the pain was reflected in his eyes when he said, "I think we need to talk."

"Why?" It came out harshly.

"Because we're friends. You're my best friend, and I feel I'm losing my best friend," Lee's eyes pleaded with Amanda.

"You may be," she said sadly, finally allowing her feelings to come through, just a little.

"No," Lee shook his head, taking a step towards her.

She backed away from him. If she let him get to close..."Don't, Lee."

"Amanda, let's talk. Please."

"I can't. Not tonight," she said. She closed her eyes again. Why did this have to happen? Why did he follow me all this way? "Tomorrow."

"No. Now."

"No. Tomorrow."

"Amanda, tell me why. Why can't we talk this out tonight?"

"I wasn't expecting this, Lee. You've had time to think about this. You made the decision to come here, although I can't imagine why. But I thought I had two weeks away from you. I'm not prepared to do this. Not right now." Amanda was close to tears, and turned away from him.

"Okay. I understand. What time?"

"High noon."

"High noon?" Lee asked with a smile he couldn't help. "Will it be a showdown?"

"I don't know. You're the one who followed me, remember?"

I would follow you anywhere, he wanted to tell her. "Okay, noon."

They walked together in silence down the beach. Amanda didn't speak to him, and he didn't try to say anything else to her. He couldn't keep his eyes off her.

They parted at the parking lot, Lee going over to his rental car to retrieve his shoes. Amanda noted that he had rented a silver sports car. She also deduced that he must be staying in the same hotel. Great, she thought.

Part 3

Lee awoke at dawn the next day and could not go back to sleep. He sat on his balcony, watiching the sunrise, wondering with a nervous heart what Amanda would say to him today when he told her how he felt.

One floor above him, Amanda sat on her balcony, too, lost in her own thoughts. She knew she'd have to tell him she couldn't work with him anymore. The trouble was, what would her explanation be?

Amanda showered and dressed in a pair of tan drawsting pants and a white t-sirt and tan waist jacket. Pulling on her white deck shoes, she glanced at the clock. Noon was a long time away. She went down to the lobby. No one was at the desk. She snuck behind it and opened the guest book. Lee was in room 212.

Lee didn't know how he could wait another six hours to see Amanda. He didn't want to do anything today, and would not leave his room until noon. He tried watching television, but couldn't pay attention to anything. Finally, after calling downstairs to request more towels, he got into the shower.

Amanda took the elevator to the second floor. After hesitating briefly, she knocked on the door of Lee's room. It opened, and she saw the retreating figure of Lee in a towel. "Thanks, just set the towels on the dresser," he called from the bathroom.

"Ummm," Amanda said nervously. "I don't have any towels."

Lee came back out of the bathroom, painfully aware of what he was (not) wearing. "Oh, Amanda," he said. He folded his arms across his chest, at a complete loss.

Amanda stood awkwardly, staring at Lee. "Sorry," she began, lowering her eyes. "I, uhh...just wanted to say that if you want to get an earlier start to...whatever this is, that's fine with me. I uh, got a little antsy."

Raising her eyes, she met his again. Without a word he walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her. Amanda was bewildered and put her arms around his bare back. He held her for a long moment, then pulled back slightly.

"That sounds good to me," he said, his voice raspy. He had made a mistake in holding Amanda wearing only a towel. His hormones raging, he backed away quickly to the bathroom. "Just let me get some clothes on..."

Amanda felt her cheeks flush hotly and turned away. "Fine. Why don't you meet me at my room, 310."

"Okay," Lee agreed.

Half an hour later, they had decided to take to Seventeen Mile Drive along the coast. Lee paid the admittance fee and they entered the drive.

Amanda sat in silence. This morning's episode was going to make things even more difficult for her. She looked out the window as they passed the beautiful wooded portion of the drive. Huge trees loomed over lovely enormous homes, most of them vacation homes for well-to-do people and celebrities.

Lee too was silent, wondering if Amanda was fully aware of what had happened that morning. He was still trying to figure out what to say, but no words seemed adequate.

After a few miles, they came to the first stopping point, and Lee pulled in. They got out of the car. The weather was perfect. Across the road a family of deer lay in the dewy grass of the golf course. The blue sea was relatively calm, and gulls circled and cried overhead.

Amanda leaned against the railing, watching the waves. Lee came up and stood right beside her, as close as he dared. He just wanted to be near her, for the rest of his life. Now if only she felt the same about him.

"I couldn't believe it last night when I saw you on the beach, Lee. I can't believe you came out here."

"Well, I felt like I had to." He tentatively put an arm around her shoulders.

"Billy told you where I was." It was a statement.

"Don't be mad at him, Amanda. I pressured him." Lee looked at her profile. Her brow was furrowed, as if she was trying to figure something out.

"Thing is, I told him not to tell you unless...let's just say I was very specific in letting him know under what conditions he could tell you where I was." Amanda didn't look at him.

"What were the conditions?" Lee asked, wondering if he had actually *met* the conditons in telling Billy he loved Amanda.

"Uh-huh. Nevermind, Stetson. How about you tell me how you got him to tell you."

Lee laughed. Same Amanda as ever. "I was very convincing," he said. "Let's drive to the next turnabout."

They got back in the car. Lee drove to a few more stops, at each they walked around and looked at the water, the rocks and tide pools. No one else was around. Being a weekday, it was relatively quiet. They talked about the weather, the sights, the seals and dolphins they spotted. Anything and everything but what they came to talk about.

They walked along the water, and sometimes Lee would take Amanda's hand in his. That was something they had been doing for a long time. It was so natural, so right. Amanda didn't refuse his hand, rather she held it tightly, as if afraid he wasn't really there. Or is that just wishful thinking on my part? Lee wondered.

At one point, they just stood side by side watching the tide. Lee's arm, which had been around Amanda's shoulder, dropped down to just below her waist, and Amanda leaned into him. Lee wanted so badly in that moment to kiss her and tell her he loved her, but again he couldn't find the words.

At a stop towards the end of the seventeen miles, Amanda removed her shoes and walked out to the sand. Lee followed suit. They walked around for a while, then Lee noticed that Amanda had wandered away from him. She was standing at the shore, water lapping around her ankles. He approached her and stood beside her.

"I guess it's time we start talking, huh?" Lee glanced over at her. She was beautiful, with the sun shining on her face and her hair gently blown by the sea breeze.

"Yeah," she said calmly.

Lee reached out and took her hand in his.

"You first," they both said.

"You came to me, remember?" Amanda reminded him again, with a funny half-smile.

"Yeah, I did." Lee took a deep breath and turned to face her.

Amanda turned and looked at Lee. He was staring right at her, with an unmistakable look on his face. "Amanda."

Lee stepped closer to Amanda and put his arms around her waist, pleased when she didn't pull away from him. She closed her eyes, and a single tear escaped, sliding down her face. Lee traced it's path with his finger, and Amanda looked into his eyes. Slowly, he leaned in and lowered his face to hers.

He barely brushed his lips against hers and she trembled. He pulled back to gauge her reaction. Her eyes were closed, her face tilted up to his in the sun. Her heart pendant sparkled in the sun, and was sitting on a pulse that was jumping rapidly. He leaned in again, and took her lips possessively. This was the moment he'd been dreaming of for so long.

Amanda was drowning in emotions that she had been trying to lay to rest. Now that they were free, she was beyond controlling them. Lee was here, with her, had followed her clear across the country, and was kissing her, holding her.

A rush of emotions engulfed both of them as they continued to cling together, almost desperately. Lee held Amanda more tightly, if that was possible, and she pressed her body to his in an effort to convince herself that this was really happening. Would she wake up alone, to find that it was just a dream?

She broke off, out of breath, and stared at him. "Are you really here?" she asked as she reached out and took his face in both of her hands.

Lee put his hands on top of hers. "I'm really here. I'm never going to leave you."

Amanda gazed into his eyes. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I couldn't," Lee said honestly.

"Why not?"

"Amanda, I was so afraid. I still am. You don't know how deeply I love you," he stopped as he realized what he'd said. He smiled, and she smiled shyly in return, and he continued.

"I knew that I was getting to really care for you. I've lost so many people. It made me shut people out. I wanted to be a loner. I thought I was happy. But changed me, Amanda. It was so subtle, but I started to feel so...human. You brought out the best in me. And then I fell in love with you. I fought it. Fought it and didn't recognize it. But you became my best friend. You stood my me and believed in me, even when no one else did. I've never had that kind of...friendship."

"I never thought you'd be saying these things to me," Amanda said, as another tear made it's way down her cheek. "I came out here to force myself to realize you would never love me. I was resolving to go back and quit the Agency and tell you I never wanted to see you again."

Amanda studied Lee's face. She could tell that what she'd been planning would have devastated him. She'd had no idea...

Lee couldn't imagine that scenario. He was so glad that he'd followed her. He took her into his arms and buried his face in the crook of her neck. "Don't, Amanda. Don't leave me. Don't ever leave me, please."

Amanda realized that Lee was crying quietly. She held onto him. "Never," she promised.

"I love you," he told her as he lifted his head to look into her eyes. He didn't even care that tears were in his eyes. This was Amanda.

Amanda traced her finger down his face as he had hers moments before, following the tear's progression. Her finger strayed to his lips, and she ran a finger along his lower lip until he brought his lips to hers in another lingering kiss.

They walked along the shore, hand in hand, stopping occasionally to kiss and reassure each other that now they each belonged exclusively to one another.

As they headed back to the car, they decided to go to an early dinner after changing at the hotel. They ate at a quiet, intimate restaurant, talking and holding hands. Lee couldn't stop smiling, he was so happy to finally call Amanda his own.

"What are you smiling about?" she asked him, taking his hand in her own.

"I can't stop smiling, Amanda," he confessed. "For the first time in my life, I know what 'happy' means."

Amanda was speechless. Her eyes locked with Lee's. "I don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything," he whispered as he leaned over and kissed her. "Just say you love me."

"I love you."

After dinner, they walked around hand in hand, for a long while. Both of them were still in a state of wonderment at their new relationship.

Once they returned to the hotel, Lee asked Amanda to come into his room for a nightcap. Suddenly she was nervous as a cat, and murmured that she should get to her own room.

Lee was confused; she hadn't even kissed him goodnight. He wondered what was wrong as he showered and put on some cotton pajama bottoms. He picked up a t-shirt but decided against it. The room was too warm as it was.

Amanda changed, too, into a pair of striped pajama bottoms and a short t-shirt. What did I do? she asked herself. She knew what it was. She didn't know what Lee would expect from her. Everything was so new, and although she wanted nothing more than to be as close to him as possible, it was too soon.

Also, what if she didn't measure up to his standards? She had been married, yes, but he seemed so...experienced. Very experienced.

But she didn't want to be alone. Dejected, she looked at the phone. What would she say? She decided instead to go down to his room and explain.

She slipped out in the hall in her pajamas and socks. She didn't even care if anyone saw her. All she wanted to was to see Lee one more time.

She timidly knocked on the door. Lee was on the bed, watching television. He thought he heard a knock, so he muted the sound. There it was again!

He bounded off the bed and opened the door. "Amanda!"

She rushed into his arms, her mind registering his bare chest and restricting oxygen to her lungs.

Lee, too, was aware of the thin t-shirt she wore. "I'm sorry about earlier. I'm just a little..." she shook her head. "Sorry."

"It's okay," he said, still not sure what was eating at her.

"Look, Lee," Amanda said, staring at his chest. No, that wouldn't work. She looked him in the eye. Even harder. Oh, well, she thought. "I...this is all so new still. I didn't want you to think that I - that I don't..."

"Hey," Lee said, realizing her despair finally for what it was. "Don't worry. I'm not in any rush either, at least emotionally," he said, trying to keep a tight reign on his feelings. She smiled, embarassed.

"I just want to be with you tonight," she said, looking down.

"I want you with me," he told her, encircling her in his arms again.

They fell asleep in each other's arms, content just to be together, to know that they would never have to doubt or worry again.

Lee was dreaming about Amanda. This time it was so real, so intense. He woke up, disappointed, but then felt her in his arms. Eager to finish the dream, he rolled to his side and continued kissing her, placing a hand beneath her shirt.

Amanda woke up, disoriented. She gasped when she realized what was happening. "Lee!" she whispered loudly.

Lee woke up, remembered where he was, and reluctantly withdrew his hand. "I'm sorry," he mumbled, embarassed. "I was dreaming."

Amanda smiled, remembering his touch. "Must have been some dream," she teased.

"You could say that," Lee nodded.

The next morning at dawn, Lee again awoke with Amanda in his arms. This is what he wanted for the rest of his life. He didn't need any more time to think about it, he knew. He watched her sleeping for a long time.

Amanda awoke to find Lee watching her intently. "Good morning," he grinned.

"Good morning," she smiled back. "Did you finish your dream last night?"

"If I had, you would have known about it, trust me," Lee's face flushed, and he ran a hand through his hair.

Amanda's face went pink, too. "Oh," she said.

Lee got out of bed, not trusting himself to stay there with her. "So what do you want to do today?"

"Anything involving you," she replied.

Lee smiled back and headed for the shower. After a few minutes, he called out, "Amanda?"

"Yeah?" She was making some coffee in the hotel room coffee pot.

"Ahh, did the maid bring some towels?"

"Oh, yeah. They're here on the other bed. She must have forgotten to put them in the bathroom."

After a moment, Lee's voice called out again. "Amanda."


"I need one of the towels."

"Oh, of course," she said.

Amanda opened the bathroom door and stepped inside, her eyes closed. "Here," she said, holding it out.

"I can't reach it."

Amanda stepped closed, and heard Lee laugh. "You're so cute," he told her, taking the towel. As she turned to leave the bathroom, Lee stepped out quickly, wrapped the towel around himself, and grabbed her from behind.

Surprised, Amanda turned around to see a wet towel-clad Lee. "What do you think you're doing?" she asked.

"Not what I'd like to be doing," he grinned, placing a kiss on her lips. Another kiss followed, and another.

"I think I should go back to my room and sh- shower and ch-change," she said, flustered.

"Okay," Lee smiled, loving the look in her eyes.

Amanda was embarassed to be one of four people on the elevator on the way up to her own room. Curious and knowing glances made her blush. She was relieved to get into her own room and lock the door behind her.

Her phone rang. Smiling, she picked it up. "Hello?" she greeted, as if it could be anyone in the world.

"I miss you," Lee whispered into the phone.

"I miss you too," she returned.

After she hung up, Amanda showered, dried her hair, put on her makeup and got dressed.

As soon as she got her shoes on, a knock came at the door. "Perfect timing, Mr. Stetson," she said, pulling him into the room for a kiss.

"I thought we could take drive over to Carmel today. We could find somewhere to stay there, if you like," Lee suggested, taking in the scent of Amanda's shampoo and perfume.

"Sounds great," she agreed.

Part 4

Amanda turned in her rental car as they only needed one now. They checked out of their rooms and settled the bills and headed out of Monterey.

The drive to Carmel was beautiful. They found a Victorian Bed & Breakfast and made reservations and were shown to their room.

"Honeymooners?" asked their host as they were walking down the hall.

"Yes," Lee spoke up before Amanda could produce a flustered response.

"Excellent. I gave you the Honeymooner's Suite."

The room was gorgeous. The room was elegant, decorated in pale pinks and greens. A large Persian rug adorned the oak flooring. The furniture was all authentic. A floral loveseat sat in front of a brick fireplace. There was a sunken jacuzzi in the pink-tiled bathroom.

After their host left, They quickly unpacked and headed out for lunch. Then they walked around, finally winding up in a little antique shop.

As Amanda browsed through the store, Lee spotted a pair of matching antique wedding rings in the display case. Lee made a split second decision and hurriedly purchased the rings.

Lee placed the small sack into his pocket just as Amanda came back to the front of the store to purchase an antique teacup and saucer.

They walked around town some more, and when Amanda went into a clothes shop, Lee said, "I'll be right back," and left.

Amanda was mildly curious as to where he was going, but didn't care as long as he came back. She was so exquisitely happy, she felt like she was living in a dream. She had come out here to forget Lee Stetson and instead had spent the night in his arms last night. He never failed to surprise her...

After about ten minutes, Lee was back at her side again. "Let's get some bathing suits," he said, pulling her over to a rack.

"Why?" she asked.

"Well, for the jacuzzi," he explained. "Unless you'd rather forego the bathing suits," he whispered in her ear, sending a chill down, then back up, her spine.

"How's this one," she quickly picked up on the indication and pulled out a suit from the rack. It was purple with a white floral print and very modest.

Lee gestured at it, so-so. He searched until he found what he wanted to see her in. "I like this one," he said.

Amanda looked at the skimpy black suit. "I don't know, Lee..."

Lee tucked the suit under his arm and walked over to a rack with men's trunks. He pulled a pair off the rack and headed for the cashier.

"Wait a minute," Amanda grabbed the back of his shirt. "I said I don't know about that thing. Might as well 'forego the suits' as you put it."

"Fine by me," Lee wiggled his eyebrows up and down at her.

Amanda grabbed the black 'string' and put it back on the rack. She looked through and found another suit, also in black, with a little more coverage.

"Here," she handed it to him.

Lee shrugged. "Oh, well. It'll still be the least dressed I've ever seen you," he said with a glint in his eyes that made Amanda blush again.

After a long day of shopping and walking and sight-seeing, Amanda and Lee headed back for the bed and breakfast. They ate dinner at a small candlelit table of the dining room. Lee ordered a bottle of champagne to be sent up to the room.

Once the table had been cleared, Lee stood up as if to leave the dining room. There were only two other couples there, an older couple celebrating their fiftieth anniversary, and a younger couple celebrating their tenth. Both couples had honeymooned at the same bed and breakfast.

Amanda prepared to stand up too, but before she could, Lee was down on his knee in front of her.

Amanda's heart jumped up into her throat and she couldn't breath. Lee smiled at her and took her hands in his.

"Amanda. You are my best friend, and I love you more than I will ever be able to put into words. So you're just going to have to let me show you." Lee pulled out a little velvet black box and opened it. He took out the ring and held it poised at Amanda's ring finger. "I never want to be without you again. Please tell me you feel the same way. Marry me."

Amanda could only nod as Lee slipped the ring on her finger. Finally she found her voice. "Yes," she said happily, tears running down her face.

The other coupled applauded and offered congratuations, and a bottle of champagne was brought in, on the house.

Half an hour later, Lee was in the jacuzzi waiting for Amanda to join him. "Come on, Amanda!" he called to her impatiently. He had the bottle of champagne and two glasses, as well as a huge bouquet of roses which he'd ordered to be sent to the room earlier in the day when he snuck out of a store.

Amanda entered the bathroom in one of Lee's shirts. "Nice legs," Lee complimented. "When do I get to see the rest?" he teased. "Why are you wearing my shirt?"

"I, uh, felt a little underdressed," she laughed.

Lee grinned. "That's the idea, my love," he said, holding out a hand to her.

Amanda let the shirt fall to the floor and stepped quickly into the jacuzzi. "You're gorgeous," Lee said, watching her disappear quickly into the water.

Amanda smiled nervously. "Thank you," she muttered, then scooted closer to him. "I had no idea you were going to propose," she smiled.

"I didn't either, until I saw these rings," he confessed. He reached for a glass of champagne and handed it to Amanda. "I just knew, in that moment, it was all I wanted to do."

Amanda leaned over and kissed Lee. He set his glass down and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer. His hand wandered down to her hip. He wanted to touch every inch of her. He pulled her over so that she was sitting on his lap.

"Let's get married tomorrow," he mumbled between kisses.

"Yes," Amanda agreed breathlessly. "Then stop what you're doing. If we're getting married tomorrow, then let's do this right and wait one more night."

Lee nodded, drew in a ragged breath. "Okay."

They fell asleep in each other's arms, dreaming of their wedding.

Part 5

Amanda left the bed and breakfast after a thousand kisses. "Please, sweetheart," she pleaded. "I don't want to get married in jeans!"

Finally Lee let her go, and he went to find a suit himself.

They met back at their room at the same time. "I found a perfect dress," Amanda said. "Actually it's more like a suit."

She pulled it out of the bag to show Lee. "It's beautiful," he said, "But it pales in comparison to you."

"Lee," Amanda sighed.

"Put it on," Lee said.

They dressed quickly, Lee going into the bathroom with his suit. When he emerged, Amanda was struggling with a string of pearls.

"Here, let me," Lee took them and fastened them around her neck, then put his arms around her waist.

They looked at their reflection in the mirror. "Is this really us?" Amanda asked.

"This is how it should have been all along," he answered, and leaned down to kiss her neck tenderly.

They found a justice of the peace who agreed to drive with them to the beach for a ceremony. The two other couples from the bed and breakfast came along, excited to be part of the romance.

They used traditional vows, but the way they said them made them their words alone. Amanda barely made it through hers. They were pronounced man and wife, and Lee fervently kissed Amanda while the onlookers applauded.

They went back to the room and changed, again with Lee in the bathroom. He loved her for her old-fashioned ways, it made everything so special. Lee wore a pair of jeans with a blue denim shirt, and Amanda wore a pair of jeans with a red cardigan sweater.

They dined at an oceanside restaurant. Neither could stop smiling or looking into the other's eyes. After they ate, they took a stroll on the beach.

She turned to Lee. He took her in his arms. "You've made me so happy, Amanda Stetson. You'll never know how grateful I am to you."

"Likewise, Mr. Stetson," she smiled.

He held her close and kissed her. He took her ear between his teeth and after releasing it worked his way down her neck. He undid the top two buttons of her sweater and glimpsed a red lace bra underneath.

"Let's go back to the room," he said urgently.

Amanda was only able to nod.

Lee drove as fast as he could back to the bed and breakfast. He waited nervously for Amanda, who emerged after ten minutes in a stunning ivory lace gown.

"Oh, my god..." Lee gaped at her.

"I picked up a little something extra when I bought the suit," she said, enjoying his obvious pleasure at the gown.

He took her into his arms and kissed her. "Are you glad I followed you to California?"

"Do you have to ask?" she smiled. "It was all I could think about, but I didn't dare hope,'" she admitted.

"Seventeen miles," he whispered.

"What?" Amanda was confused.

"It took all seventeen miles for me to tell you how I felt," he explained.

"It took you longer than that," she said, smiling and looking into his eyes, seeing nothing but love.

"I love you," he said as he held her to him.

"I love you, too," she replied, and was lost in his kiss.

The End (Actually the Beginning...:)