Disclaimer: This is my prequel to "A Little Mystery, A Little Magic"
“Daddy!” 3- year -old Anna Dorothy Stetson called as she heard her father come in the front door. She ran from the living room where she had been coloring and jumped into his arms.
“Hey! There’s my baby girl.” Lee cooed as he scooped the small blonde haired child up. Her hair was almost white when she was born, but it had darkened considerable since then. If it continued at the pace it was going her hair would be as brown as her mother’s soon.
“Where Mommy?” Anna asked, her lower lip turning down. It had been a long day since she’d seen her parents and she missed them terribly.
“She had to stop and pick Jaime up from Science Club. She’ll be back soon.”
“Promise.” Lee smiled as he sat Anna down on the floor and walked into the kitchen where Dotty was busy preparing dinner.
“Hey, Dotty.” He grinned. “How was my little angel today?”
“She was wonderful as usual. You’re home early…dinner isn’t ready yet.”
“That’s ok. Amanda’s going to be late with Jaime and I just wanted to spend some time with the kid.” He giggled as Anna looked up at him menacingly. Well, as menacingly as a 3 year old can look.
“I am not a kid!” she said as she stomped her foot and put her hands on her hips.
“Of course not.”
“Tell me a story Daddy.” Anna pleaded.
“Ok, what story do you want to hear?”
“I don’t know!” She smiled.
“Alright, c’mon.” He picked Anna up and carried her over to the couch. He sat there with his little girl on his lap and started his tale. “Once upon a time there was a prince and princess. They were married but no one knew it.”
“Why didn’t no one know it Daddy?” Dotty harrumphed when she heard Anna’s innocent question. If she only knew.
Lee looked at Dotty out of the corner of his eye. He still wasn’t sure if Dotty had ever completely forgiven him and Amanda for eloping. “They were keeping it a secret.” Lee continued.
“Because there were some mean men who wanted to hurt anyone the prince loved.”
“Oh, that’s not nice.”
“No, it’s not. Anyway, one day…”
5 years ago…
“Lee!” Amanda called as her body was wracked with pain once more. The cramps in her abdomen were getting worse. At first she thought it was just a bout of morning sickness, she was 4 months pregnant after all. Lee came running into his bedroom at the sound of his wife’s call.
“Amanda? Amanda, what is it, what’s wrong?”
“I don’t know. Oh Lee, I’m scared.”
“Come on, I’m going to take you to the hospital.”
Amanda could only nod. Though she was sure it wouldn’t do any good. She knew what was happening, it was just something that she knew. She didn’t know how, but she knew…she was losing her baby, their baby.
Later, in the hospital Lee lay down on Amanda’s hospital bed and wrapped his arms around her tightly. There was no air between them as the tears overflowed from their eyes and they mourned their child.
“No, mother. Yes, mother. I know mother. I’ll be home tomorrow mother. Goodbye, mother…I love you.” Lee listened to Amanda on the phone with her mother. He knew it was breaking her heart that she couldn’t tell Dotty where she was or why. She just said that she was on assignment…again.
“Everything okay at home?” He asked. Lee was sitting on the chair beside Amanda’s hospital bed holding her hand.
“Yeah.” She said, not really caring.
“Umm, the doctor said I can take you home as long as you take it easy.”
Amanda nodded her head absently. Lee sighed and let go of his wife’s hand. She let his hand leave her grasp and got up from the bed. “I guess I should get dressed, then.” Amanda walked to the bathroom while Lee watched her retreating form. He wasn’t sure how they would get through this. They couldn’t even talk about it with anyone beside themselves. Who knew when they decided on the “mystery marriage” that something like this would happen? Amanda came out of the bathroom and she and Lee walked out of the hospital hand in hand and in complete silence.
Amanda and Lee arrived at his apartment in record time. The sun was shining outside and traffic seemed to have disappeared.
“Hungry? I can make something…” Lee asked quietly as they walked inside and shut the door behind them. Amanda stopped moving about 2 feet from the door. She seemed to be riveted to that spot. “Amanda?” He whispered when she didn’t answer him.
Amanda looked up at him and didn’t say a word. She just shook her head no.
“I’ll make something anyway. How about some sandwiches?” Lee didn’t know what to say or do for his wife. He wanted to help her, but at the same time his own heart was broken and he needed her to be there for him. He was confused and for the first time in his life…he was helpless. Lee walked into the kitchen and began to make some sandwiches. When he was done he walked back into the living room area. He was surprised to find that Amanda wasn’t there. “Amanda?” he called as he began to search the apartment. The apartment was small so it didn’t take him long to realize she had slipped through his fingers. He ran out of the apartment, down the stairs and out of the building. He made it out just in time to see his car drive around the corner. “AMANDA!!” he yelled as he tried to run and catch up to the car. His efforts were futile, however and he ran back to his apartment to call a taxi. He’d see if she was headed to her house and if she wasn’t, well, he could use her car to look for her.
“Amanda? Darling, what are you doing here?” Dotty asked as Amanda walked in the front door of their house.
Amanda didn’t answer her. She just stared past her mother as if not seeing her and headed upstairs. Dotty followed after her, with a very worried look on her face. She had never seen Amanda in the state that she was in now. “Amanda?” she called again, quietly. The boys were in their room doing homework and she didn’t want to worry them. Dotty followed Amanda as she made it to the attic door. Amanda walked up the stairs in the attic and stopped at the top as if deciding if she really wanted to stay there.
“Do you know where we put the baby crib?” Amanda asked without looking at her mother.
“What? Why do you want the crib?”
“Do you know where it is?” She asked defensively.
“It’s gotta be up here somewhere. Everything is, you know one of these days we really should clean everything out of here. Between this attic and the garage we have enough stuff to…” Dotty stopped talking when Amanda uncharacteristically “Shh”ed her.
Amanda started to look through all of the boxes and shelves while Dotty watched. After a moment, Dotty decided to help her daughter in her search. She kept an eye on Amanda while searching. She stopped when she saw Amanda pull out a box of old baby clothes.
“Oh mother, would you look at these?” Amanda smiled. Dotty walked over and knelt by her side. “Can you believe Phillip and Jaime used to fit into these?” Amanda touched the tiny baby shirt tenderly.
“Amanda, is there a reason you’re looking at all this baby stuff?”
“Of course, mother.”
“Would you like to tell me the reason?”
“They’re for a baby.”
“A baby. They’re for a baby. What baby?”
“My baby.” Amanda whispered. Her voice cracked as she continued “My and Lee’s baby.”
“Amanda.” Both Amanda and Dotty turned quickly when they heard Lee’s voice coming from the Attic entrance.
“Lee? What’s going on?” Dotty asked, worried.
“Umm, hi Mrs. West. Do you think I could have a minute alone with Amanda?” He asked.
“Oh, sure.” She answered as she stood up and left the attic. She stood, just outside the attic door for a moment. Then, she walked away, leaving her daughter her privacy.
“Amanda?” Lee asked tentatively as he walked slowly to where his wife was sitting on the attic floor. He knelt down beside her and touched her shoulder gently. Amanda flinched at his touch causing a look of pain to cross her husband’s face. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“Of course. Lee, look at these sweetheart. It was Phillip’s and then it was Jaime’s. I don’t know how it survived those two, but it did. Don’t you think this will look so cute on our baby?” Amanda said as she continued to play with the hem on the little shirt.
“No! Don’t. Do you want a son or a daughter? I think I’d like a little girl. I’ve already had sons, you know?”
“Amanda.” Lee took her hands into his and took the shirt from her grasp. Amanda whimpered as he took the box of baby things and pushed them away. He let go of one of her hands and took her chin in his free hand. “I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, but Amanda…”
Amanda wouldn’t let him finish. She stood up quickly. “I think we should tell mother and the boys the truth. After all, we won’t be able to hide this for very long.” Amanda was down the attic stairs before Lee could react.
“Mother, Phillip, Jaime!” Amanda called as she headed downstairs and to the living room.
Lee had never felt so helpless in his life. He had no idea how to help his wife. He also had no idea how he could stop her from what she was about to do.
“I, we have great news guys.” She announced as her family entered the room and sat on the couch. Lee could only watch, he was frozen, not knowing what to do.
“Amanda, sweetheart.” He said, though he knew it wouldn’t help.
“Mom, what’s up?” Phillip asked.
“Amanda, don’t” Lee pleaded to no avail.
“Your stepfather and I are going to have a baby.” Amanda announced cheerfully as if her news were as common as running water.
Lee didn’t know what was worse, the look of complete delirium on his wife’s face, or the looks of pure betrayal from her family.
"Stepfather?” “Baby?” Phillip and Jaime both exclaimed. Dotty, for once was speechless.
“Oh Amanda.” Lee whispered. He moved to stand beside his wife. “Look, I know you guys have a lot of questions, but your mother really needs her rest.”
“I’m fine, Lee.”
“I know you are. But, you need to rest. Come on.” Lee said.
“Don’t make me pick you up and carry you.”
“Fine.” She said. Amanda kissed her sons and then walked upstairs to her bedroom as if she hadn’t a care in the world.
Jaime, Phillip and Dotty all sat on the couch, speechless. None of them knew what was going on and they weren’t sure they wanted to know. What they did know, was that something was wrong with Amanda. After Amanda disappeared up the stairs Lee started to speak.
“Umm, I don’t know what to say.” He shrugged his shoulders and looked extremely nervous.
“The truth would be nice.” Dotty said snidely. “And why did you just practically order Amanda upstairs.”
“Because she needs her rest.”
“Pregnant women aren’t breakable, you know.”
“I know. But, Amanda isn’t pregnant. Not anymore.” All three of the room’s inhabitants gasped.
“No! You’re lying!” Amanda screamed as she ran back into the room. She hurled herself at Lee and began pounding him in the chest.
Phillip and Jaime both stared in shock as they watched their normally gentle mother practically pummeling Lee.
Lee grabbed Amanda’s hands and held them away. “Amanda.” He whispered. Amanda continued struggling with Lee, trying to break free from his grasp. Tears were streaming down her eyes. Lee looked deep into her eyes and had to break his eyes away from hers. The sight he saw in them was too frightening. He didn’t see love in them. Every time she looked at him he could see it, the love she held for him, but this time, her eyes were filled with nothing but pain and anger.
Dotty stood and walked to where Lee and Amanda were struggling. She placed her hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “Amanda.” She said, softly. “It’s okay, sweetheart. It’s okay.” Amanda stopped struggling at the sound of her mother’s voice. Lee let her arms fall to her side. In a matter of seconds, Dotty had pulled Amanda into a tight embrace. Amanda cried painfully into her mother’s shoulder.
“It’s a lie, it has to be a lie!” she moaned as her mother stroked her hair.
Lee dropped his gaze to the floor. He couldn’t bear to see his wife in such pain. It was breaking him apart that she wouldn’t let him comfort her. The baby was his too, after all.
As if reading his mind, Dotty looked up to him. “Lee.” She whispered. Both Amanda and Lee looked at her as she spoke. “It’ll be alright.” She smiled warmly at the son-in-law she had only just found out about. She held her hand out, indicating that Lee should come towards her. In one sweeping movement she had pulled Lee into the embrace that she had around Amanda. Lee’s head rested on the top of his wife’s head and he breathed in the smell of her hair. The tears came to his eyes and he couldn’t fight them away.
Amanda could feel the sadness emanating from her husband’s form before she could see it. As she felt tears fall onto her head she slowly turned around so that she was now facing away from her mother and towards her husband. Amanda wrapped her arms around Lee tightly and buried her face in his neck. Dotty wordlessly disengaged herself from her daughter and walked towards the boys sitting on the couch. She took her grandsons by their hands and led them out of the living room. Both boys looked at their mother sadly as they left her alone with Lee.
Lee wrapped his arms around his wife as tight as he could without hurting her. They cried together for what seemed to be forever. Finally, Amanda pulled away from him and whispered tearily “I’m sorry.”
“I love you, Mrs. Stetson.”
Amanda’s words choked in her throat as she said. “I love you, but is it…” she stopped as the lump in her throat stopped her from speaking.
Lee put a finger to her lips. “Shh, don’t say it.” He kissed her softly on the lips and leaned down so that he was speaking directly into her ear. “Our love will always be enough. It’s stronger than anything.”
“I hope so.” She choked out.
“Me too.” Lee kissed his wife’s forehead and then pulled her back into another embrace. His hand cupped the back of her head as he felt her crying on his shoulder. “It has to be.” Lee closed his eyes and wished for a way to take all their pain away. Knowing there was no such cure he just settled for holding on to the love of his life for as long as he could.
“Okay kids…” Billy started the meeting in the bullpen. He stopped speaking when he noticed one half of his favorite agent team was missing. “Lee, where’s Amanda? I’ve never known her to be late for a meeting before.”
“Umm…” Lee stammered. He hadn’t expected to need to answer that question in front of a room full of prying eyes. He knew he should have expected it; Amanda wasn’t there after all. His mind worked in overdrive trying to think of an excuse, but he was spared the need when the conference room door opened.
“There you are, we were wondering if something had happened.” Billy smiled when he saw Amanda walk through the door.
“Well, actually I lost…” Lee’s heart pounded. “My keys.” Lee sighed as he started breathing again. Billy nodded as Amanda sat down at the long table. He couldn’t help but notice that she sat at the seat closest to the door, even though the seat next to Lee was empty. He couldn’t help but wonder what was going on with them. He was secretly rooting for them to get together and could only hope that something hadn’t happened to ruin it all.
“Okay, I’m sure you’ve all heard about Connor Connors?” He continued as he saw a sea of nodding heads. “He’s escaped.” The agents in the room gasped. They remembered well Mr. Connors, the man who had terrorized the agency last summer. His reign of terror had included every thing from mayhem to murder. Right before he was caught he had kidnapped his own child. The agents on the case managed to arrest Connors and keep the little girl safe, but there was no way to know what would have happened if they hadn’t arrived when they did.
“Is there a unit at his ex-wife’s house?” Lee asked. He couldn’t help but glance at his wife who was sitting a few seats down from him. They both knew what it was like to lose a child.
“We sent one out this morning, but…” Billy paused. This was one of the hardest parts of his job.
“But what?” Amanda was sitting ramrod straight, not sure if she really wanted to hear what was coming next.
“He was one step ahead of us.”
“He took the little girl, didn’t he?” Amanda looked like she was on the verge of tears. Lee wanted to just grab her and hold her and tell her it was all going to be ok. He knew though, that he would probably just get pushed away and that would destroy his already broken heart.
“No, he didn’t.” Amanda breathed a sigh of relief. Lee’s eyes never left his wife’s face. “But, he got her mother. She had seen him coming somehow and hid Adrianna in a toy chest. He tore that house apart but she was hidden by teddy bears. We don’t have any leads of where he might have taken the woman.”
“Where’s Adrianna?” Lee asked.
“In my office. Children’s services wanted to take her, but she has been through so much…Well, I figured we could do better for her.”
“Better, sir?” Amanda whispered.
“Well, actually, I was hoping maybe you would take her in. You’re great with kids and being in a normal environment would be good for her.” Billy thought it was a perfect plan, but he wasn’t so sure when he saw Amanda’s face turn a ghostly white.
“Umm, sure sir. She’s three, right? I’ll, uhh, I’ll have to get her some toys and things.” Amanda was watching her fingers as she spoke.
“Actually, there’s a team at her house now getting some clothes and things.”
Amanda nodded her head. “I guess I should take her home now, then. She’s probably scared to death.” Her voice cracked slightly as she spoke. Amanda got up from the table quickly and left the conference room without meeting anyone’s eyes.
Lee stood up to go after her, but turned to Billy to make sure it was ok. Billy just nodded “Go.” He said.
“Amanda?” He called as he caught up with his wife who was already at Billy’s door.
Amanda paused at the door, but didn’t turn around. Lee put his hands on her arms and turned her around. “Are you sure you want to do this?” Lee asked.
Amanda stared at the floor. “Yes.” She choked out. “I’ll be fine.”
Lee lifted her chin up with his finger. “I want to help.” Amanda nodded. Amanda turned back around and opened the office door.
“Adrianna?” She called quietly as she entered the office. She smiled at the little girl who was sleeping peacefully on Billy’s couch. She walked over to the couch and knelt down beside it. She gently touched Adrianna’s head and brushed the hair off her face. The sweat that had accumulated at her hairline as she slept had plastered the blonde locks to her forehead. Adrianna woke up slowly and started to cry when she didn’t recognize where she was or the woman kneeling by her.
“It’s ok. I just want to take care of you while your mommy’s away. Is that alright?” Amanda asked quietly as she stopped stroking the child’s head.
Adrianna looked up at her with a mix of curiosity and fear. “Who are you? Where’s mommy?” She asked.
“My name’s Amanda, that big guy over there is Lee.” She pointed to where Lee was standing. He was watching the exchange carefully. He was worried about how Amanda would react to this child so soon after their loss.
“Hi.” Adrianna said softly.
“Your mommy had to go away for a little while. She’ll be back real soon, though. I thought maybe you’d like to stay at my house until she comes back. Would you like that?” Amanda smiled warmly.
“Can he come too?” She grinned at Lee. Lee couldn’t help but smile back.
“Sure he can.” Amanda said apprehensively. She wasn’t sure she was ready to see Lee playing with a little girl. She was sure she’d have visions of him playing with their little girl. She already had enough of those already.
“Ok. Can we go now? Do you have kids?”
“Of course we can go now and I have two boys, but they’re a lot older than you are.”
“How old are they?” she asked as Amanda scooped her into her arms and carried her out of the office.
“Eleven and thirteen.” She answered as the three of them left the agency and headed to her house.
“Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!” The word echoed through the halls and down the stairs of Amanda’s house. The sweet little girl sure had a pair of lungs.
“What’s going on up there?” She called up the stairs. She couldn’t help but laugh when Lee appeared at the top of the stairs. He was very disheveled, with his hair flying every which way and mud all over his jeans.
“Just a little mutiny, nothing to worry about.” He said as Amanda watched Adrianna run past him and down the stairs. She ran to where Amanda was standing and wrapped her arms around Amanda’s legs.
“He said I gotta take a bath! I no wanna take a bath!” Amanda looked down at the little girl who had mud caked everywhere from her hair to her feet.
“Umm, I think I’ll have to agree on the bath Little Miss. You’re a mess!”
“A little miss mess!” Adrianna giggled. “I wanna play more!”
Lee walked down the stairs and scooped the little girl up into his arms football style. “Well, too bad.”
“Why do I haveta take a bath? You don’t have to take a bath?” She asked as Lee carried her up the stairs.
“Why? Well…because…because I said so and I’m bigger than you!” Lee had no idea where those words had come from but he was sure he had promised himself he’d never say them. Amanda only giggled as the little girl pouted the rest of the way up the stairs.
“Would you like some help, Lee?” Amanda asked.
“No, we’ll be just fine, won’t we Annie girl?”
Adrianna shrugged her shoulders when Lee sat her down on her feet. “Can I have a bubble bath?” Lee looked down at his wife who nodded her head.
“Sure thing.” He smiled.
“Yay!” Adrianna ran for the bathroom.
“See, no problem.” He winked at Amanda and followed Adrianna’s trail. Amanda sighed as she watched the interaction between her husband and this little girl. She felt tears sting her cheeks as she wished that the little girl upstairs wasn’t a stranger, but was their child. She wiped the tears away with her hand and went into the kitchen. The boys and her mother would be home soon and everyone was going to be hungry.
“Comfy?” He asked as he rubbed his hand across her cheek.
The woman didn’t speak. She just stared straight ahead.
“I know you’ve done something with the kid. I am going to get her back. There’s nothing you can do.”
“Stay away from my baby!” She spat.
“Aah, so you are alive. Well, my dear Holly, you better hope no one gets in my way. I will do anything to get my little girl.”
Holly knew that she had to believe him. He was like a ticking time bomb; he could go off at any moment. She could only pray that someone had found Adrianna and was taking care of her. She had to hope that whoever they were they would keep her safe and away from her father.
“Just sit tight. I gotta go out. Don’t even try to escape.” Connor walked out of the warehouse and left Holly staring at the door in tears.
Connor drove a car away from the warehouse district. He wanted to check out the house. He thought maybe there would be a clue to where Adrianna was. When he got near the house, however he noticed cars and people everywhere. He parked the car and watched, waiting for a break. He got one when he saw a man in a tailored suit carrying a large teddy bear to a car. Luck was certainly turning his way, he thought as he followed the man’s car.
“Where are they with her things?” Amanda wondered aloud as she looked out the window again.
Lee was sitting on the couch with Adrianna on his lap. She was wearing one of Jaime’s t-shirts and it hung down to her knees. Lee was reading her a book as she twirled a stray lock of hair around her finger. Phillip and Jaime had called to say they were going to stay at their dad’s over night. “Amanda?” He called to the other room where Amanda was standing by the window.
Amanda came into the room and walked to stand by the couch. “What? You know they really should’ve been here by now. I don’t know what could be keeping them. I mean she can’t stay in that t-shirt forever. I think I’ll call…”
“Amanda.” Lee touched her hand. Amanda quickly pulled her hand out from under his. The quick touch was enough to send shivers down Amanda’s spine, but she was still on automatic. The pain in Lee’s eyes at her retraction was enough to make her want to reach out and just tell him how much she loved him. Something was holding her back. Amanda hated that something. “Amanda,” he continued. “How about I go find them?”
Amanda nodded her head. Lee stood up and sat Adrianna on the couch. He got his coat out of the closet and took one more glance at his wife before walking out the door. Amanda sat down on the couch next to Adrianna. She was shaking and trying her best to hold in the tears that were threatening to spill over.
“Manda?” Adrianna spoke softly as she climbed onto Amanda’s lap. Adrianna wrapped her arms around Amanda’s neck and kissed her cheek. “Why are you so sad?”
“What? I’m not sad. I’m just…I’m not sad.”
“Yuh huh! You wanna cry?”
Amanda pulled Adrianna close to her and hugged her tight. “How did you get so smart?”
“My mommy’s smart.” Amanda grinned through her tears that had begun to fall. “Did Uncle Lee make you sad?”
Amanda closed her eyes and shook her head. “No, I…I lost something very special to me and I miss it.”
“I lost my teddy bear once.”
“Oh?” Amanda smiled slightly. She still held onto the little girl tightly.
“Yup. I couldn’t find it anywhere!”
“Did you find it again?” Amanda asked slowly.
“No,” Adrianna looked sad as she spoke. “But, my Mommy says maybe there was a little girl who needs her so she went to help. Mommy says maybe even she’ll come home when she’s done helping the other little girl.”
Amanda took Adrianna’s head into her hands so that she was looking right into her eyes. “But you miss her right.”
“Yeah, I never gonna forget her either. I hope she comes home someday.”
“What if she doesn’t?” Amanda asked, but wished she hadn’t after the words were out of her mouth.
“That’s okay. I love her for always anyway. And, I have mommy. She loves me.”
“Yes, I’m sure she does. Very much.” Amanda hugged the little girl again and wiped the tears from her face.
Amanda jumped slightly when the front door swung open. She smiled when she saw her husband enter. “Look who I found.” Lee announced proudly as he brought in a large brown bear.
“It’s Telly!” Adrianna shrieked as she ran to where Lee sat the bear down on the floor.
“Is that the bear you lost?” Amanda asked as she walked over and stood next to Lee.
“Unh uhh, she’s her sister!” Adrianna hugged the bear happily. An agent came inside with bags of clothes and toys.
“Thanks.” Amanda said as she let the agent put the bags on the floor. Lee picked up the bags and carried them into the living room. Amanda tried to pry Adrianna from the bear, but her efforts were futile. She finally gave up and walked to the staircase that led into the living room. She stood on the top step and watched Lee organize the bags.
Lee looked up when he saw her staring at him. There was a look in her eyes that he hadn’t seen in a long time. “Amanda? Is everything ok?” He asked, worried.
Amanda shrugged her shoulders. “Getting there.” She smiled tenderly at her husband. The moment was broken, however when there was a loud commotion at the back door.
“Watch her!” Lee instructed Amanda. He went to the back door to see what was going on. Amanda’s breath stopped when the back door swung open and knocked Lee to the floor. She didn’t know what to do when a man walked in the door and towards her and the little girl hugging her teddy bear.
Amanda saw something move behind the man, but she wasn’t about to take her eyes off him. “Who are you?” She asked as calmly as she could muster. Her nerves were so shot lately that she was sure she had to be shaking.
“Don’t worry about that lady. Just give me my kid.”
“Connors!” She exclaimed. It seemed like things were moving in slow motion as Amanda saw her husband get up off the floor and tackle Connor Connors. Adrianna threw herself into Amanda’s arms and started to whimper.
“Manda?” She cried. “Make the bad man go way!” Adrianna buried her face in Amanda’s neck. Amanda could only watch as Connors and Lee fought on her living room floor. She winced as Connor hit Lee square in the stomach. Lee doubled over in pain, but managed to grab Connor around the knee. He yanked hard and pulled him down. Connor fell to the ground, but he was still able to grab Lee around the lapel. He pulled himself and Lee up off the floor. Lee and Connor continued to exchange punches for what seemed like an eternity. No one noticed the blonde woman walk in the door and then walk back outside and next door. Amanda screamed when Connor knocked Lee to the floor. While falling Lee hit his head on the table, hard.
“Lee!” She yelled.
Noticing that Lee was unconscious on the floor, Connor stopped and nursed his bruises. “Don’t think of trying to get away, Lady.” He threatened.
Amanda held on to the crying child in her arms. She walked carefully over to where her husband was lying on the floor. “Oh Lee.” She whispered softly. Amanda touched the wound on Lee’s head gently. She didn’t want to cause him any more pain than he was already suffering. She couldn’t resist the urge to run her fingers through his hair. “Please be alright.” Amanda leaned down and kissed him on the forehead.
“Manda?” Adrianna whispered. “Uncle Lee gonna be okay?” she asked.
“Yes, baby, he has to be. He has to be.” Amanda cried softly as she lay her head down on her husband’s shoulder; Adrianna still in her arms.
Connor walked over to Amanda. “Now isn’t this sweet. Give me the kid.” He grabbed at the little girl, but Amanda held tight.
“No, Manda, no!” Adrianna cried.
As if in answer to Amanda’s silent prayers the front door swung open. Connor ran out the back door as police ran after him. Amanda flagged one of them down. “You have to get help for my husband. He’s hurt. Please, you have to help him.” She cried.
The police officer put her hand on Amanda’s shoulder. “There’s an ambulance and paramedics outside, I’ll go get them. Ok?”
Amanda nodded. She looked at Lee and she knew that if he died she would never be able to survive. He was her everything. Amanda felt a tender hand touch the top of her head and she looked up. “Mother?”
“He’ll be fine. He’s strong.”
“How…” Amanda was at a loss for words.
“I came home and saw Lee fighting that man. So, I called the police.”
“Oh mother.” Amanda let her mother pull her into an embrace and cried on her shoulder. As the paramedics prepared to take Lee to the hospital Amanda let go of Adrianna and handed her over to her mother. “Would you watch her for me? I have to go with him.”
“Of course, go on.” Dotty watched as Amanda followed the paramedics out of the house. When the door closed she paused. “Wait, who is she?” she exclaimed. Dotty looked down and saw the little girl’s lower lip quivering. “Oh, sweetheart, it’ll be okay. My name’s Dotty. What’s yours?”
“Adrianna, but you can call me Annie.”
Amanda sat on the edge of Lee’s hospital bed. The memories of the last time they were in a hospital were still very fresh in her mind. Amanda took her husband’s hand into hers and kissed his bruised fingers. The worry she was feeling was creasing her forehead. She jumped when the doctor walked in.
“Is he going to be okay?” She whispered, afraid that she wouldn’t like the answer.
“He’ll be fine, Mrs. Stetson.” Doctor Quinn said. “He has a nasty bump on his head, but it’s not too bad. A little TLC and he’ll be fine in no time.”
“I’m afraid I haven’t been very good in the TLC area lately.” Amanda looked down at her husband sadly. She couldn’t help but think about what ifs. What if he had died, the last thing he would remember would be her pulling away from his touch. She knew she would never be able to forgive herself if that happened. She was so caught up in her thoughts that she didn’t notice Dr. Quinn quietly leave the room.
Amanda had Lee’s hand in one of her own and brushed his hair with her other hand. “I love you, sweetheart. So much…” She lay down on Lee’s chest and cried. Her whole body tensed when she felt something touch her head. She was almost afraid to open her eyes, afraid she was only dreaming.
“Amanda…” Amanda’s tears stopped as if by magic when she heard her husband’s voice calling to her. “Amanda…”
Amanda sat up and looked into Lee’s eyes. Lee was taken aback by the look in her eyes. The love was back and he wanted to shout with joy…only it would have hurt too much. “I love you, Amanda.” He said as he caressed her cheek fondly. Amanda leaned down and kissed him sweetly on the cheeks.
“I’m so sorry.” She whispered softly.
“For everything. For the baby…” Lee moved a finger over Amanda’s lips.
“Stop. You have no reason to be sorry for the baby. It was not your fault.”
“But, I, I could’ve done something, I should have know that something was wrong. I was her mother, I should have been able to take care of her, to protect her.”
“Oh, sweetheart. There is nothing you could have done. You did everything right for that baby, we just weren’t meant to meet her yet.”
“I thought…I thought you would hate me for losing her.” Amanda’s tears returned and fell gently down her cheeks. Lee wiped them away one by one with his fingers.
“I could never hate you Amanda Stetson. You are my love, my life. I know it took me awhile to tell you that, but it will never change. Besides, you aren’t the only one who lost her. I lost her too.” By now Lee was crying as well.
Amanda wiped away Lee’s tears just the way he had for her. “I know. I just, I was so angry, so hurt. I couldn’t think, I didn’t know what to do.” Amanda lay back down and buried her head in Lee’s neck. Lee cupped her head in his hand.
“We can’t let this happen again. We spent too much time keeping our emotions pent up inside. It was like we had just met again.”
Amanda nodded her head. “This has been the worse time of my life. I never want to go through anything like this again. Promise me, promise me everything is going to be ok?”
“Oh, Amanda, I can’t promise that. Life throws us a lot of curveballs especially in our line of work. But, I will promise that I will always be here. If you need a shoulder to cry on, someone to listen or even a punching bag. I’m here and I want to help.”
“Lee, what if I want to try for another baby?” Amanda’s stomach was doing twists and turns. She was worried that after all that had happened Lee would never want a child.
“I would love to have a baby with you, Amanda. Let’s just take this one day at a time, though, okay?”
Amanda nodded. She pushed up from Lee’s chest and kissed him sweetly on the lips. “I promise to never push you away again.” At the look on Lee’s face, Amanda amended “ok, I promise to try to never push you away again. If I forget, you have to promise to not let me.”
“I promise…and that goes both ways Mrs. Stetson.” Lee pulled Amanda down for another kiss. Then she lay back down on the bed and there they stayed, content and at peace in each other’s arms.
5 months later
“Amanda?” Lee walked into the Q Bureau and was surprised to see that his wife wasn’t there. “Amanda?” he called a second time.
“Lose something?” Billy smiled brightly as he came into the Q Bureau behind Lee.
“Yeah, I’ve lost my…Amanda.”
“Your Amanda, eh?” Billy laughed at the smirk that crossed Lee’s face. “I saw her earlier down at the clinic.”
“The clinic? What was she doing down there?”
Billy shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, that’s what I came to ask you.”
“Well, how would I know?”
Just then Amanda came into the room. “Hello sir.” She said as she sat down at her desk. She was wearing a huge smile, but there was look of fear behind the smile.
“Amanda. Everything ok?”
Amanda nodded. “Yes, sir. Umm, could I have a moment alone with Lee?”
“Sure.” Billy said as he left the office.
“Amanda, what’s wrong?” Lee asked, worried.
“I’m, we’re…” Amanda stammered.
“Amanda! You’re really scaring me.” He knelt down beside Amanda’s desk.
Amanda reached over and touched him gently on the cheek. “I went down to the clinic. I haven’t been feeling very well. Umm…the Doctor he said that…” She paused.
“What?” Lee practically yelled.
“He said that I’m pregnant.”
Lee was floored. This was not what he was expecting. He and Amanda had thought they were taking the proper precautions.
“Are you sure?” He asked in disbelief.
“Yeah. Are you happy?”
“Of course, but are you sure it’s not too soon?” Lee put his hand over Amanda’s.
“I’m not sure.”
“How far along are you?”
“You’re kidding, I can’t believe we didn’t see this.”
“Well, I think maybe it’s because we weren’t looking for it. We were still mourning the baby.”
“Are you happy?”
“Oh yes.” Lee leaned up and kissed his wife. “Umm, do you think we should tell everyone at the Agency. I mean the family already knows we’re married, but the Agency doesn’t yet.”
“Yeah, I think we should. When do you want to?”
“How about right now?” Lee smiled. “Come on, I’ll bet Billy’s still outside the door and knows already anyway.” Both Lee and Amanda laughed when they heard Billy clearing his throat.
“Congratulations you two.” Billy beamed as he came back into the office. “To tell you the truth I’ve been expecting this for a long time.”
“Really?” Lee said skeptically.
“Sure, they didn’t give me the big desk because I can yodel.”
Both Lee and Amanda laughed. “You never said anything.” Lee said.
“I figured you must have your reasons for keeping it a secret. I was a little worried a few months ago, but you two are meant for each other. That’s one lucky little kid.”
“Thank you sir.” Amanda blushed. She had no idea that they had been transparent enough for Billy to figure things out.
“Uhh, Billy, about the marriage…” Lee started.
“It’s okay, Lee, I think I can handle Dr. Smyth.” Billy winked at him. Billy patted Lee on the back and then brought him into a fatherly hug. Billy let go of Lee and kissed Amanda on the cheek. “I really am very happy for the both of you.” Billy said as he left them alone in the office.
“Lee, what did he mean he can handle Dr. Smyth?” Amanda asked.
“I just don’t want to take any chances that they would try to split us up is all.”
“They wouldn’t do that would they?” Amanda asked, she didn’t think she could work with anyone but Lee.
“Not if Billy has anything to say about it.”
Lee smiled at Amanda and kissed her gently on the cheek.
5 months later
“Come on, Mrs. Stetson. Push!” The doctor commanded.
Amanda leaned back against her husband. Lee was holding her hand and had an arm around her shoulders. “Amanda, you can do it, You’re the best, the bravest most beautiful woman in the world. Come on. Just one more push.” Lee whispered in his wife’s ear.
Amanda listened her husband’s whispers and pushed as long and as hard as she could.
The next thing Amanda knew she was lying back in her husband’s arms as the sound of a baby’s cries filled the room.
“Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Stetson. It’s a girl.” A nurse said as she brought them their daughter. Amanda took the baby and cradled her in her arms.
“Oh, Lee look at her. She’s beautiful.” Amanda cooed.
Lee held his wife tightly and touched his daughter’s head gently. “She is, just like her mother.” Lee and Amanda kissed as their new daughter looked at them in wonder.
“So, what’s her name?” The nurse asked.
“Oh, Lee! Her name, we didn’t think of a name for her! We’ve been so busy lately it just totally slipped our minds!”
“That’s ok, I think I have the perfect name.” Lee smiled. “How does Anna Dorothy Stetson sound?”
“That sounds perfect.” Amanda smiled.
“You know Dorothy means Gift of God?” The nurse enquired.
“Yes, we certainly do.” Lee and Amanda exchanged a look of pure love. “Plus, Gramma will love having a namesake.” Amanda said.
Lee kissed his daughter on the top of her head. Then he turned to his wife and they kissed sweetly.
“Welcome to the world, Annie girl, we’ve waited a long time for you.” Lee smiled down at his newborn daughter.
Back to the beginning…
“Why didn’t no one know it Daddy?” Dotty harrumphed when she heard Anna’s innocent question. If she only knew.
Lee looked at Dotty out of the corner of his eye. He still wasn’t sure if Dotty had ever completely forgiven him and Amanda for eloping. “They were keeping it a secret.” Lee continued.
“Why?” The three year old asked.
“Because there were some mean men who wanted to hurt anyone the prince loved.”
“Oh, that’s not nice.”
“No, it’s not. Anyway, one day…” Lee started, but his story was cut short when the front door opened admitting his wife and younger stepson.
“Mommy!” Anna exclaimed as she jumped off her father’s lap and ran into her mother’s arms.
“How’s my baby girl?” Amanda asked as she hugged her daughter and kissed her face.
“Good! Guess what?”
“I made the dessert!” She exclaimed happily.
“Oh sweetheart, that’s wonderful. I can’t wait to taste it.”
Just then Phillip descended the stairs. “Hey mom. Gramma, when’s dinner gonna be ready?”
“Just a minute.” Dotty called from the kitchen.
Phillip sat next to Jaime on the couch.
“Lee, could I talk to you for a minute?” Amanda asked.
Phillip, Jaime and Dotty all looked up at Amanda inquisitively. “Sure.” Lee answered. Amanda put Anna down on the floor took Lee’s hand in hers and they walked into the other room.
“Wonder what that’s all about.” Phillip said.
“I don’t know, but mom was really excited the whole ride home.”
“Jay Jay, read Anna a story?” Anna asked as she climbed up on her brother’s lap.
“What’s up?” Lee asked.
Amanda pressed Lee against the wall and kissed him.
“What was that for…not that I’m complaining.” Lee said as he pulled Amanda closer to him.
“For everything, for you, for everything that you’ve given me and for what we’re about to give to each other.”
“Amanda, what are you saying?”
Amanda put her hands on Lee’s chest. “I’m saying that we’re going to have another baby!”
Lee cheered, scooped Amanda into his arms and spun her around.
“What’s going on in here?” Lee and Amanda both laughed when they heard their daughter’s voice coming towards them. Phillip, Jaime and Dotty weren’t far behind.
“What’s going on is another baby.” Lee said cheerfully.
“A baby? Oh, darling I’m so happy for you!” Dotty smiled and hugged Amanda and then Lee.
“Can I pick the baby we get?” Anna asked innocently.
“Sorry, kid, that’s already been decided.” Phillip laughed. “Congratulations, mom, Lee.” Phillip said as he kissed his mom on the cheek and shook his step-father’s hand.
“Hopefully we’ll get a boy, you know so we can teach him things…like baseball.” Jaime teased.
“Jay Jay, teach me baseball, pleeeeeeaaasssssseee!!!” Anna pleaded.
Lee ruffled the teenager’s hair. “Well, we’ll see what we can do about that.”
Jaime smiled as Lee and Amanda pulled their family into a group hug. “We love you all so much.” Amanda said as she kissed each of her children on the tops of their heads.
“We love you too, darling, both of you.” Dotty smiled.
Lee and Amanda sat on their daughter’s bed watching her sleep. “What are you thinking?” Amanda asked.
“I was just thinking, how did I get so lucky?” He smiled as Amanda took his hand into hers.
“It wasn’t luck, it was fate…and 25 men in red hats.”