Lee Stetson was not a happy camper by any stretch of the imagination. Ever since that devastating kiss Amanda had given him in answer to his unthinking challenge, he could not get her off his mind.
Tonight was the assignment. William Gregerson would be at Congressman Heinz' party. Gregerson was under suspicion of treason, among other things.
Lee drove over to Amanda's house to pick her up. On the way, he steeled himself to be cool, detached. Yeah, right! he told himself sarcastically. He'd be doing good not to drool on her.
Where had this all come from, anyway? It seemed new, yet he felt like it was long overdue at the same time. Reflecting on past flirtations and near-kisses, he pondered the possibility that what he felt for Amanda was not new, after all. He'd just been denying it for a long time.
What am I thinking? Lee slammed on the brakes to avoid running a red light. I do not have any feelings for Amanda King! Firmly he talked himself into believing the lie once more. That scene in the office was simply enhanced by the fact that he'd not been out on any dates for a while. Why is that? he wondered.
Amanda stood in front of her mirror. Lee would be here any minute and she had to get downstairs. The dress she had bought was not 'her'. She would never wear anything so...dangerous, so SO. She debated talking the dress off and settling for something in her closet, but changed her mind again.
The 'dress' was off the shoulder. It was close-fitting and short. It was black. Black nylons and black pumps, pearls at her ears and throat. The pearl necklace had a microphone so that Lee would be aware of her whereabouts at all times. Her hair she had decided to leave down. It fell over one eye, Garbo-style. A spritz of perfume completed the effect. After all, she was not a housewife tonight, she was a...well, a spy on a mission.
She went downstairs, grateful that her Mother was at her club and the boys were with Joe. How would she ever have explained her appearance to her family?
Just as she stepped into the kitchen, Lee knocked at her back door. She went over and opened it.
Lee looked like he had swallowed a horsefly. Unwittingly he looked her up and down. "Amanda, you look..." he shook his head, at a loss for words. A hand went up to his chin to make sure he wasn't drooling.
"Yeah, I know," Amanda said shamefacedly. "I look like a floozy."
"Well, no. I mean...you look so...so...different! It's amazing."
Amanda blushed. "Is that good or bad?"
"I don't know," Lee said honestly. "I mean, you definately look the part. You're stunning."
"So, I'm usually, what? Drab? Boring? Unstunning?" Amanda was nervously biting her fingernail.
Lee shook himself out of his bewilderment. "No!" he exclaimed a little too loudly. "No way. You always look nice, you know, you always look like you. Right now you don't look like you."
"Well, that's what I was aiming for, not looking like me," Amanda joked.
Lee realized what he must have sounded like. "I'm sorry. Maybe we should start over," he apologized.
"Maybe we should just get going," Amanda said, passing near him to get out the door.
The scent of her perfume nearly sent Lee over the edge. He followed her out and closed the door, then promptly tripped over the door mat.
Amanda reached out to steady him. "Are you okay?"
Lee avoided Amanda's eyes. "Yeah, let's go."
Once at the party, Lee and Amanda split up so as to avoid being seen together. Gregerson was expecting his contact to be alone. Little did he know that his 'contact' had made a deal with the Agency. She had given them what little information she knew and told them she was to meet him tonight in exchange for leniency and airfare back to her country.
Lee watched as Amanda scanned the crowd and finally spotted William Gregerson. She sidled up to him and whispered in his ear, "I understand you have something I'd be interested in?"
Gregerson gaped at Amanda, then grinned broadly. "You're just the person I'm waiting for. Let's go out on the balcony."
As they slipped through the french doors onto the balcony, Lee moved closer to keep an eye on Amanda and Gregerson.
"I believe you have something for me before I give you the information you want?"
"I believe I do," Amanda purred at him. She slinked closer to him and snaked her arms around his neck. She kissed him firmly on the lips, opening her mouth slightly. He opened his mouth too, and she slipped the microchip under his tongue. Inwardly, she was disgusted, but outwardly she kept her poise.
Lee flinched at the seeming ease with which Amanda passionately kissed Gregerson. The guy wasn't bad looking either, Lee reflected grimly. A pang of jealousy shot through him.
"Well," Gregerson smiled slyly. "That was almost better than the prize, eh?"
Amanda remained close to him, and his arms encircled her waist. Covertly, she opened her handbag and he slid a hand around, dropping a diskette into it. "Care to find a room upstairs?"
Lee's fists clenched. Sleeze, he thought. That guy better not try anything else with Amanda or I'll...
"Tempting, but no," Amanda smiled and backed away. As she cleared the french doors, Lee and another agent snuck quietly outside and grabbed Gregerson, escorting him down the outside stairs. No one at the party ever knew anything out of sorts had occurred.
Amanda was unusually quiet on the drive home. "Are you okay?" Lee asked, glancing at her.
"Yeah," she said in a near whisper.
"Come on, you did a great job...for what you had to do," Lee prodded. "So what's bothering you?"
Amanda grimaced. "I didn't like that at all, Lee. I mean, it was just gross. I feel so...cheap and well, floozy-ish."
"Floozy-ish?" Lee repeated, smiling. He was glad she didn't enjoy the assignment. "It was just a job. Relax, it's all over now."
"I know," Amanda nodded. "I hope I don't have to do that anymore."
"Me, too," Lee agreed out loud before he had time to think.
"You too?" Amanda threw him a quizical look.
"Well, yeah, since you disliked it so much," Lee cleared his throat. "I'm glad you won't be kissing anyone else."
"Anyone else?" Amanda repeated his words.
"Yeah, besides Gregerson," Lee improvised.
"Oh," Amanda said doubtfully. "I must be really tired, because you're not making any sense."
Lee remained silent, not sure what to say. They arrived at her house, and Lee walked around and opened her car door. He extended his hand to her and she took it. She stood up and self-consciously smoothed down the short skirt.
"Amanda," Lee couldn't take his eyes off her face, illuminated by the moonlight.
"Yes?" she met his gaze and shifted uncomfortably.
"I wanted to say that you look beautiful tonight. I didn't mean to imply...earlier...I was just...what I mean is, you could never look cheap or like a floozy. You're too...well, I-" he floundered, once again at a loss for words.
"What are you trying to say, Lee?" Amanda prodded quietly.
Lee looked into her eyes for a long moment. "You're who you are, so you could never look cheap. I know who you are inside, no matter what you're wearing on the outside."
That was so not what I wanted to say, he thought. But he couldn't bring himself to say or do what his mind, heart, soul and body were screaming for him to do. Not yet.
So he kissed her hand and said, "I'll see you on Monday."
He got into his car and drove away. Amanda stood on her porch, wondering what had just happened. There was something going on with Lee, but she couldn't put her finger on it.
Oh, who am I kidding? she laughed at herself. Just forget