Lee was standing at the train station on the platform. He didn't know why he was there, or how he even got there. He was all alone, standing in a dark gray suite and a rose in his hand. Suddenly a loud train pulled up and stopped right in front of him. And just as sudden, all was quiet again.
He could hear footsteps behind him coming nearer. Whoever it was stopped right behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.
It was Amanda. She was wearing a red sweater and red jeans. She had a red headband in her hair, was wearing red lipstick and has on red gloves.
"What are we doing here?" Lee asked very confused, starting to feel like this was a dream.
"I'm here to say good bye to you. For a while anyway. I'll be back in a few weeks, I promise."
With that, she took the rose and put both her hands in his. She leaned in and gave him a very long and passionate kiss. She brought her body in closer until there was no space between them. He kissed her back, never once letting go of her right hand. He let of her left hand, the one with the rose, and slid his arm around her waist.
She pulled back and let his hand go. She walked passed him and got on the train. She stepped through the door, then stopped and turned around.
"I love you. No matter what happens, or what you hear, I'll be back, I promise." With that, she turned back and continued onto the train. It started up again and was gone in a few seconds, leaving Lee in the quiet train station again.
That's when he noticed his hands. Amanda had not been wearing gloves! Her clothes were probably not even really red. Ever part of him that had touched her, was covered in blood. Amanda and been covered in blood that wasn't hers and had gotten it all over him.
Lee sat up so fast, he nearly through out his back. He was covered in sweat in his bed. He looked over at his alarm clock. It was 4:00 am. "Oh well," he thought "I'm getting up in an hour anyway."
He got up and walked into the shower, wondering what the dream had meant. As he walked back into his room straitening his tie, he saw something hadn't noticed before. There was a note on his night-stand folded behind his alarm clock.
He went over and picked it up, wondering who could have gotten into his apartment and put it there. It was folded in half. The front read "Lee"
He recognized it as Amanda's hand writing. He opened it slowly and began reading:
Due to my request, I'm being sent away for a few weeks. I'm not exactly sure when I'll be back. I'll be under contact zero so I won't be able see talk to you until I come back. I came to see you last night, but you didn't answer the door, so I picked the lock and left you a message. You were fast asleep. I tried to wake you, but you wouldn't budge. I told you every thing anyway, maybe you heard me. I'll be back as soon as I can.
Lee was stunned. What was going on?
He finished getting ready and rushed out the door to see what he could find out from Billy. Amanda was his partner and best friend, and he loved her. Now she had left him a note saying she was gone.
He burst in Billy's office.
"Where is she?' he demanded looking strait into the eyes of his startled section chief.
"That's need-to-know, and right now, you don't need to know." He responded, knowing exactly whom he was talking about.
"Billy, she's my partner and my best friend. Can't you tell me anything?" he asked, his voice becoming louder and more worried.
"Yes, there are some things you need to know about this, just not where she is." Looking very serious, which made Lee very nervous, Billy motioned him to sit the chair in front of him.
"From this day on, there is no Amanda King" Lee's head shot up his eyes wide, his mouth open like he wanted to say some thing, but had lost his voice.
"Let me explain. Amanda has been receiving threatening notes for a few days" Lee still couldn't move
"She didn't say anything to you or us, because they threatened to kill her mother and kids if she did. Who ever it was made it quite clear that he always knew where she was and what she was saying. They wanted Amanda to get some files from Joe King's firm, and use Joe to do it. She was given "permission" to tell Joe, so he could get the documents. Turned out to be proof against some international drug/gun smuggling ring. Amanda was to meet Joe yesterday afternoon at a diner and get the proof from him."
Lee was listening very carefully, wondering how Amanda had managed to seem so cool and relaxed, acting like there was nothing wrong for the last few days. She had to do it all alone!
"When she got to the booth where they were to meet, she found another note. It said that they thanked her for getting Joe to get them the proof, but they were going to take Joe, her sons and mother anyway. She came back to the Agency and began searching through files of terrorist and smuggling groups. She tried to find you, but you didn't get in from New York until last night."
"She confided in Francine and asked for her help. She didn't want anyone else to know, afraid that someone would be listening and watching her. They narrowed it down to Carl Derrikson. He had a manor out in the country. She and Francine went out to investigate."
"When they got back, Francine came in and told me that much of the story. Amanda requested to be sent to an agency training camp, and to have a changed identity. When she comes back, she will be issued new apartment, a new name and a official code name since she will be a full time agent."
"What about her family?" Lee could barely be heard. He feared he already knew the answer.
"They're dead Lee. Derrikson had never intended to let them live. He waited for Amanda to come, and shot them right in front of her. If Francine hadn't been there, Amanda would have eventually been caught too and killed as well. Derrikson got away, but Francine gunned down a few of his men."
Lee buried his head in his hands, scarcely believing what was happening to Amanda.
"How about her mental status? If she saw her whole family.shot right.in front of her.she must be in shock or denial or something." Lee worried
"After her request, I sent her down to the psyche ward and she had a thorough examination. She knows what happens, she accepts it and she knows she needs to get on with it. The doctor is afraid she may have nightmares and she may suppress her feelings, but you can help her deal with that when she gets back. You're her best friend, she'll probably open up to you."
Lee still couldn't believe all this had happened while he had been out of town for three days. He kicked himself inside for not being there when Amanda had needed him.
"Lee, you go home and I'll call you if we need you. Right now things are slow. Amanda asked that you pick out her new life. She didn't want to make any decisions herself. She wanted you to pick and apartment, name, code name, child hood, things like that. But if you don't want to."
"No! I'll do it. Don't worry. It's the absolute least I can do for her." Lee turned to leave. He opened the door and looked back at Billy. "Call me if you hear any thing." Billy nodded and Lee headed for the Exit.
Francine saw him and walked quickly to catch up with him. "Lee, Lee!" he stopped in the hall and looked up at her. She handed him a folder. He opened it up. It was a copy of Amanda's official file.
"Amanda asked me to take care of her old life, and you to create a new one." She explained.
"Amanda West King" he read out loud. "born April 28, 1951, died March 15, 1986" Lee closed the file and handed it to Francine. "Now I know what she, both of you, must have felt like when you went to my funeral in '83" he sighed. Francine took the file and put her hand on his shoulder.
"She'll get better Lee. She'll come back strong and dependent, and the first thing she'll want to do is to hug you and cry on your shoulder for days. And we'll find Derrikson too. There is no way he'll get away with this"
Lee was surprised at how understanding Francine was being. "Lee, I know that you and Amanda are close friends, and I was there when she saw her family shot. I know how much she really needs you right now"
Lee smiled at her. "I just hope that will be enough. Thanks Francine" he walked quickly but sad into the elevator, and headed up.
Three weeks later, there was no sign of Derrikson any where and Lee still hadn't heard any thing about Amanda, other than she was passing all the tests, written and active, with flying colors. On the Tuesday of the forth week, Lee was called down from the Q-Bureau to Billy's office.
"Amanda will be on the 3pm train from Albany," A giant smile crossed Lee's face, but Billy stayed stern.
"She was in New York? I didn't know there was a training camp up there?" asked Lee very confused
"There isn't. She was about twenty miles east of Albany, Georgia" Billy explained. "Remember Lee, she won't be the same. She's just seen her family die and has spent the last three weeks in a strict Agency training camp. She might not be the same ever again."
Lee knew this was true, but he just wanted to see her. "Have you come up with a new profile for her yet?"
"I've come up with a few, I just thought I'd run them past her for a final decision."
"What about a code name"
"Well," Lee sighed, "I thought I better see what she's like now before I make any permanent choices." He explained and then he turned back to go on his way.
At 2:55 Lee was waiting on the platform of the train station.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, the train from Albany, Georgia to Boston, Massachusetts will be pulling up, please, stand back." A man called over the intercom.
Lee watched carefully as the people stepped of the train, looking frantically for Amanda. Suddenly he saw a woman in a bright red hat and a white wide-open neck T-shirt that exposed her shoulders, walking through the crowds of people. He walked over to her and tapped her on the back. She turned around, startled. Lee was shocked but happy at what he saw. It was Amanda, but she looked sick, like she had not slept or eaten in days. Her skin was very brown and even burned under her eyes and on her shoulders. Her eyes were very sad and their usual glimmer had left them. When she realized who it was who had tapped her, she smiled slightly and gave him a hug, like she had wanted to do since she began receiving the threats.
"Let's get your luggage and get out of here," he suggested. Still in his embrace, her head dug between his shoulder and neck, she nodded. She slid out of the hug, and walked beside him. He put his arm protectively around her waist, not knowing weather to be happy for her return, or to mourn with her for her family.
They retrieved her things from the baggage cart and walked to his car in silence. He put her things in the trunk and opened the passenger side door for her.
"There are some things you need to do before you can get settled in to your new place. You need to choose and identity and pick one of four apartments I found, is that O.K.?"
She was looking out the window and looked millions of miles away. "O.K." she agreed
They pulled up in front of his apartment and he helped her out and kept his arm around her waist as he led her inside. He let her go to unlock his door. She walked in and automatically slumped down on his couch and hugged herself.
"Do you want any thing to drink? Water, juice, wine,..."
"Scotch, strait up, or a shot of whisky" she said almost in a whisper
Lee had never known Amanda to drink strong liquor except for the Christmas in the mountains when all they had to drink was vodka. He went over to the bar and poured the drink for her. He walked over to the couch and handed her the drink.
"So, what's my new life like?" she asked casually.
"Uhm,.well" he was startled. He had expected her to cry, or talk to him about her experience. He walked towards his desk and picked up a few folders and walked back to her.
"I have three choices for you. Ann Kingston, Amy White, or .." He hesitated, wondering if his third choice was out of line.
"Well those two are basically the same," he said, handing her two folders and sitting down next to her. She took the folders in one hand and finished her drink from the other hand. She placed the glass down on the coffee table. She opened the file of Amy White.
"Their both single, Amy's from San Francisco and Ann is from Flint, Michigan, but they both have lived in DC since she stared college on '69. Each one got a job with IFF in '75 and have worked there ever since. Ann is an editor and Amy is a director. That's just their cover though. Inside IFF, they're agents for the US government, working for the agency as my partner." He couldn't help but smile at the thought of her being back, even under the circumstances
"Great," she replied, sounding apathetic, "what about apartments?"
"There are four I found that where within 20 minutes of the Agency," he handed her three classified ad clippings. "They're one bedroom, one bathroom apartments, roomy kitchens, dinning/living area, nice neighborhoods. We can go look at them in the morning if you want."
"Sure, why not. What about the forth apartment?"
"Actually, it's just down the hall. A neighbor of mine is moving to Florida for retirement and the apartment is up for sale. So if you're interested in me as a neighbor, we could go look at it right now."
Lee couldn't help but notice that Amanda had not changed her expression since she sat down. She looked very serious and unemotional, almost like doctor Smythe.
She sat in deep thought for a while, then stood up "well, I mind as well look at it."
Lee picked up the phone and called the front desk in the foyer. "Hello, Mr. Knight? This is Lee Stetson from upstairs. I was wondering if I could show a prospect buyer Hank Nickleson's old apartment. . Oh good. Is it open, or do we need to get a key to get in?..OK, great. Thank you."
"Let's go then." He extended his hand out to her to help her up. She let him help her up, but then stepped away so he couldn't keep a hold on her hand. She walked out the front door with Lee right behind her. They walked down the hall down three doors. Lee stopped and opened the door and they stepped in. It looked like Lee's apartment, except it was painted in much darker colors. All the carpet, tile and wallpaper were in dark blues, greens, and black.
"You could remodel, if you don't like it. Remember you said once you wanted people to notice your cheery kitchen? You said that it shows what kind of people we were" he smiled at her trying to remind her of better times, when her family was still with her.
"No, it will be OK. I like it dark. I don't feel like being "cheery" any more" Lee's heart broke when he heard Amanda talk like that
"So you're interested in the place then?"
"Well,..." she hesitated for a few seconds "it would be nice to live near a friend, but this may be a little to close, you know. I mean I would come home from work to have part of work live three doors down."
Lee was hurt but he understood what she meant. "You don't need to decide tonight. Billy's given you till Friday to pick an identity and apartment." He reached out for her shoulder and led her out of the dark room.
As they entered Lee's apartment, Amanda picked up the third profile that Lee hadn't told her about. Before Lee could stop her, she had already read the name.
"What's this? Amanda Lorenz Stetson?" she looked at him in shock. "Married to Lee Stetson since 1979?! What the hell is this" she was getting louder and louder and turning red in anger. "Who do you think you are. You can't be serious about this!" she glared at him with resentment and pain in her eyes.
"I was going to talk to you about that one later. I had some things I wanted to tell you some . things . before even mentioning that profile,."
"Don't you have any consideration for what I've been through?"
"Amanda, I'm sorry. I really am. I feel bad and guilty for what happened. Please don't think that I don't care. I do. I didn't want you to see that until I gave you some reasonable reasons why it might be a good idea. I."
"Shut up!!" she yelled. She grabbed her purse and headed for the door. "I thought you were my friend."
"I am. I can't tell you how sorry I am I wrote that. But it's not like it's official. It was just an option for you to consider."
"Consider suddenly being married for seven years?" she was about to pass Lee when he grabbed arm hard enough to stop her, but not to hurt her.
"Amanda don't go like this. Please, let me explain, then maybe."
"Let go of me, now!" She spoke firmly and wryly. She stared at him with cold eyes that sliced right through Lee's soul.
She left him alone, feeling horrible for just making her life even harder. After five minutes he decided to go look for her. He got outside and realized that she had taken his car. "I should never had taught her to drive a stick shift!" he walked back inside and called Billy.
"I'm worried about her. Derrikson is still out there and if he finds her, like if she checks into a hotel with her real name, he would have no problem just pull out a gun on her and kill her!"
"Lee, she's a fully trained agent. She knows how to defend herself. You have to trust she can take care of herself. I can send our two or three men to look for her, but that's about it. We can't force her to do anything she doesn't want to."
Finally, around 7:30, Lee saw his car parked outside. He ran down, hoping to see Amanda sitting inside. But when he got there, it was empty. He wondered how long it had been there. He was walking back inside, when he looked through the window of bar across the street. Amanda was sitting on a barstool holding her head in one hand and a martini in the other. He walked into the bar, but decided to stay out of her sight. This was not the place to have a discussion that would most likely be very emotional. When she finished her drink, she paid her tab and left.
Lee saw her go back into his building. Five minutes later he went in after her. When he opened his front door, he saw she had gotten herself a blanket and was curled up in a little ball on his sofa. He slowly walked over to her. He knelt in front of the couch and kissed her cheek. Her perfume and familiar scent was drowned out by the overwhelming smell of booze. She was drunk and had passed out.
He picked her up and carried her to his bed, then retrieved a bucket from underneath the kitchen sink, in case she had to throw up in the middle of the night. He placed in on the floor next to the bed, and then went into the living room to call Billy and tell him that Amanda was all right. Well, alive at least.
Lee was ripped out of a fitful sleep by the sound of Amanda's blood curdling scream. He jumped off the sofa and into his room where she was sitting hunched over with her hands clutching behind her head.
"No, no, no, no! Stop it! Why are you doing this?" she was whispering in a quiet and high-pitched voice. Her entire body was shaking.
Lee sat next to her and tried to wake her. He put one hand on her back and the other on her arm "Amanda! Amanda, wake up! It's over! Derrikson isn't here. Amanda?"
She had stopped shaking and whispering. But she stayed hunched over. When Lee removed his hand from her arm, she grabbed it with both hands and held it nested to her face, cupping her right cheek. "Why would they do this to me?" she whispered as tears ran down her face. He could hardly hear her.
He took each of her hands into his, letting go of her face. He knelt in front of her. He looked into her eyes. "I don't know. Some people are just sick. But we'll find him. I'll make sure he pays for what he did Amanda, I promise."
She let go of his hands and wrapped her arms around his neck. She hid her face in his neck. He held her protectively, like he never wanted to let her go.
"I'm sorry" she apologized "I shouldn't have yelled at you. I'm sure you had my best interest at heart"
"I shouldn't have written that profile. It was inappropriate of me. I had no right. But I did consider you're feelings, which is why I wanted to wait. But Amanda, don't we want to talk about what happened while I was gone. You know I und."
"No!" she pushed him back "not now" she composed her self, wiping away her tears and pushing back her disheveled hair. "I just want to sleep." With that said, she laid down, covered herself up again and rolled over with her back to Lee.
He sat there until he thought she had drifted off to sleep again. Then he moved to the other side of the bed and laid down next to her. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder, and then drifted off to sleep himself. When she heard him snoring softly, Amanda opened her eyes and got up, grabbed a quilt and went back to the sofa.
At 6:30, Lee woke up and panicked when he didn't see Amanda. "Amanda?" he called out. He got up and heard the shower on in the bathroom. Relieved, he walked into the kitchen to make coffee. She had put the quilt back and fixed up the sofa so that he wouldn't notice that she had slept there.
Five minutes later, Amanda stepped in the kitchen wearing only Lee's bathrobe. Her hair was knotted up in a towel. Lee couldn't help but stare and wonder what had happened to her usual conservative demeanor. "Lee?"
"Huh?" he asked, oblivious to what she had been asking him.
"I asked you if you brought my luggage in yet?" She asked annoyed by his lack of attention.
"No, I didn't. I'll go get it from the car now. Do want a cup of coffee first? I could make you a cup."
"No,...thanks. I'll make my own. I would really like my clothes though"
He nodded and since he was still dressed from the day before, he headed strait out.
On the ride down the elevator, Lee couldn't understand why Amanda had been so cold. He realized she would be different and depressed for a while, but he at least expected her to open up to him. Instead she seemed to be pushing him away. "Just like do." Then it hit him. She was trying to stop the pain the same way he had tried since he was a kid. When he got back to the apartment, she was leaning against the counter with a coffee cup in her hands.
He walked into the bedroom with her suitcases and placed them on the bed. He grabbed a suit from his closet and a pair of boxers and socks. "Amanda, I'll get dressed in the bathroom, you can use my room."
"Thank you" she poured the last of the contents of her cup down the sink and washed it out so Lee wouldn't find out what she'd really been drinking. Then she slowly walked into his bedroom to get dressed.
When Lee entered the living room, he found Amanda sitting on the sofa going through the apartment ads and life profiles. She was dressed in a nark navy business jacket, a white blouse, matching slacks and black heels. He noticed that the "Amanda Stetson" File was on the floor, along with two of the newspaper clippings of apartments.
"So have you decided on a new life yet?." He asked casually walking up behind her
"I think I'll take your Mr. Nickleson's apartment." A giant grin spread across Lee's face.
But then she continued, "it's closer to work farther away from Arlington than the other places and there's a grocery store down the block. These other places don't have one near by." She was fishing for excuses and she knew it, and so did Lee. She was trying to hide that she wanted to be neat someone who cared.
"What about a new identity. You need one soon so we can get you the ID cards and input your history"
"Ann Kingston was born in 1952, I think I like her best" she gave him a little cheeky grin and he had to laugh. It was so good to see her smile again. "Lee why did you write this profile?" she reached down and picked up the "Amanda Lorenz Stetson" file
"Well there were a few reasons. First, Derrikson or any one else for that matter, if they checked a government computer, would never find you because they would be looking for someone single, not 7 years married Second, if we ever went undercover as husband and wife, and some one does
background check on us, it would be true. And third,.third,.I.I" Lee led out a sigh "I couldn't imagine any one else being Mrs. Lee Stetson"
Amanda looked at him, not knowing what to think. She didn't want to feel anything. She never wanted to believe in love for any one ever again. But she could tell what Lee was thinking, and if she wasn't careful, he'd know she felt the same way.
"Well I guess that's a good a choice as any. Would we have to live together?" she asked, almost praying that the answer would be yes.
"No, we wouldn't have to. You can still live in the apartment down the hall. I'm sure it wouldn't make a difference." She looked down at the file again.
"We could go turn the file into the Agency right now so you can buy the apartment by tomorrow or the next day." Lee said, wishing she had to stay longer than that.
"Sure, let's go then" smile gone, she got up and headed for the door. Lee followed close behind, grabbing his car keys on the way out.
At the Agency, whispers and stares followed Amanda as she walked by. Some of the friendlier agents came up and congratulated her on becoming a full agent and expressing their condolences for the loss of her family.
"Hello Amanda." Billy Melrose stood up from behind his desk smiling motioning for her to sit down. Lee handed Billy the file and sat down on the couch. Amanda sat in one of the chairs in front of Billy's desk.
"So you two want to be married then?" he asked, wondering what Lee had said to convince her of something like that.
"Only legally sir. I will be living in my own apartment, and we would probably continue to see other people" she stated casually, trying hard not to think whether that last statement had bothered Lee or not. But then again, "what do I care" she thought to herself.
Lee's heart sank. He had always hated the idea of her dating other men.
"Well, just as long as you work something out, this should be fine. Hand it over to VanMueller, and go down to get your pictures taken for her ID cards. Then Lee can take you to pick out any car from the Agency impound lot you want that has been cleared, as long as it doesn't have drugs in the muffler" Billy and Lee chuckled at the memory, and Amanda managed a little embarrassed smile.
"Thank you sir. I really appreciate this" Amanda got up, picked up the file and left the office, never once looking back at Lee.
"How has she been" Billy asked Lee in concern.
"She woke up screaming last night, but she calmed right down. Billy,.." he hesitated before going on "do they allow drinking at those agency training camps?" Lee asked, trying not to fear the worst.
"Not on the campus, but trainees can leave the camp on weekends to go into town. Why? Do you think Amanda has ."
"I don't know Billy." Lee interrupted, not wanting to hear the possibilities. "I was thinking about emptying my mini bar so she won't be so tempted. I've never seen her like this Billy"
"Give her time, but keep and eye on her, and make sure she won't do something she'll regret later. Talk to her tonight, as much as she feels comfortable with."
Lee got up and headed for VanMuellen's office to find Amanda.
After their visit to in impound lot, Amanda had driven her "new" deep, royal blue '74 Porsche Carrera back to Lee's apartment with him following close behind. Even though she really liked the car, one of the main reasons she chose it was because Lee couldn't keep his eyes off it. It reminded him of his own beloved car, which was lost in a tragic cliff and flame related incident some years back.
Back at Lee's apartment, Amanda waited for Lee. She poured herself a drink and just as she was about to take a sip, when Lee's hand held the cup firmly and pulled it away from her, and placed it back in the bar.
"Don't you think it's a little early in the day to be drinking?" he asked her, picking up three bottles of different drinks from the bar and taking them to the kitchen.
"It's just to relax my nerves. It's not that early any way, it's four o-clock." They had spent the whole day sorting out information and getting her ID cards ready to take home that day. She picked her drink up again and was about to drink, when she was interrupted again, this time by the sound of bottles being emptied down the sink. "What are you doing?" she asked in horror.
"Amanda, I think you have a problem, and I'm going to make you go Cold Turkey until you can admit it!" he explained, grabbing the second bottle, and pouring it's contents down the drain.
"Lee, I don't have a drinking problem. I only have a little nip now and then to help me go to sleep or to relax after a stressful day."
"Amanda, today was not that stressful, and I doubt you're going to sleep at four in the afternoon. Oh, and by the way, you forgot something in your Irish coffee this morning. The coffee and cream!"
Amanda knew she was caught. All she had had for breakfast was a cup of whisky. But she wasn't about to admit that to him or to herself. "Lee, I had coffee this morning" she lied "I had terrible headache"
"Well, I'm not surprised," Amanda gave him a questioning look "You passed out on the sofa last night after spending the evening in that bar across the street." Amanda just bowed her head down with her eyes closed. Then she looked up at him with an angry but helpless look in her eyes.
"Lee, I don't have a problem!" she protested "Now stop this. You don't have to empty all the bottles. This is ridiculous!"
"If you don't have a "problem" then you won't mind if I do this!" He picked up the last bottle and began dumping it down the sink.
"Lee, you're being unreasonable! I need, I mean it's,.it's,. it's medicinal. Yeah! I'm supposed to have a little bit of liquor ever so often as a medical treatment."
Lee just stared at her in disbelief. Did she really expect him to believe such a bogus story? When he finished, he turned to face her "Amanda, we need to talk. I know from personal experience that this is not the way to stop the pain. We're friends for god's sake. Why won't you talk to me?" Amanda had turned away from him and was pacing in his living room.
"Lee, you can't possible know what I went through. You didn't actually see your parents being killed, and I'm sure loosing your partners was hard, I realize that. But you weren't forced to watch your mother and children and ex-husband shot in cold blood. I haven't been able to sleep one night without seeing their terrified faces."
Lee began walking towards her, but she was pacing farther and farther away to avoid him. "Amanda, please let me help you. If you don't let go of your emotions, you're going to end up miserable and lonely for the rest of your life, just like me!"
"I don't care! It's better than having to go through ...that again!"
"No it isn't." he finally caught up with her and reached out to touch her shoulder, but she slapped his hand away. "Amanda, you can't live in fear of feeling emotions for ever!"
"Why not? You do it, and you seem to be content with it!" she turned away from him and started walking to the bar where she left the drink she poured and picked it up and took a big gulp. "What am I doing?" she whispered quietly to herself. Suddenly, she let the glass drop, letting the rest of the scotch spill all over the carpet. She took a few steps back, and then flopped down on the floor. Sitting down, she covered her face with her hands and knelt forward to dig her face between her knees and started sobbing and crying uncontrollably. Lee ran over and sat next to her. She sat up and turned to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and hid her face between her left arm and his neck and continued to sob. Lee held her close and was stroking her back.
"That's it." He whispered "just let it out." He couldn't help but letting out a few tears himself, thinking about what a hypocrite he was being. She was right. He was expecting her to deal with something he hadn't been able to deal with since his parents died.
Lee was woken up by the sound of the phone. He was sitting on his couch with Amanda in his arms. He reached over and picked up the phone.
"Stetson" he spoke quietly, trying not to wake her.
"Lee, I won't be much longer. I'll be home soon" he heard Amanda's voice on the other end.
"Amanda?!" Lee sat up and looked down at his arm. Amanda had disappeared.
His eyes shot open, and he found himself laying on the floor of his living room, his arm wrapped around a sleeping Amanda. She stirred a little, snuggled closer into him and after letting out a content sigh she was still again.
He pulled her close and dug his face into her hair, relishing the closeness and her smell. "I love you" he whispered quietly in her ear.
He could tell she was still asleep, but his heart leapt for joy when he heard a little mumbled "Me too" from her. They stayed there a few more minutes. Lee checked his watch. It was 5:30 in the afternoon. Even though he didn't want to move, he knew they couldn't stay on the floor for much longer.
"Amanda? Amanda it's time to wake up." He called softly, gently shaking her. She stirred and opened her eyes. Closing them again, she stretched her arms and back.
"Hmm?" She let out a sleepy sigh. "What time is it?" she asked not really caring to get up
"uh-hu" she sat up and stretched her arms again and got the kinks out of her neck. He didn't notice he was staring at her until he realized that the phone was ringing off the hook and he couldn't hear it. He stood up to answer it. Amanda also got up and headed for the bathroom to freshen up.
"Lee, it's Billy. VanMuellen finished Amanda's data earlier than expected. Amanda can buy or rent an apartment if she wants and go shopping for furniture if she's ready."
"Thanks Billy. I'll tell her. So she's officially my wife?" Lee could hardly stop himself from grinning.
"Officially yes. But remember, she is allowed to act like a single person. We can't force her to live with you or to even to fall in love with you. It's only part of her new identity."
"I understand. Bye Billy."
He hung up just as Amanda walked back in the room.
"So what are you so happy about?" she asked seeing the grin still on Lee's face.
"He said that you are officially Mrs. Lorenz Stetson and you can go buy the apartment. It's still pretty early in the afternoon, we could go down right now and probably sort things out with the land lord."
An hour later Amanda was standing in the middle of her new home. "You know what?" she asked Lee who had gone to open the thick curtains to let in some light into the gloomy living room.
"I think I'll paint the walls in Queen Anne's Lace and install white carpet in this room."
He smiled, glad she was slowly becoming more like her old self. He knew she would never be the same, but he hoped she'd get pretty close to what she once was.
"I tell you what. You make a list of all the things you want changed, the paint, carpet, the kitchen and bathroom tiles, appliances , the kinds of furniture you want and how you want this place organized and we'll hire some guys to come in and do every thing. That way you wouldn't have to worry about anything, and you could move in in about a week to your very own apartment!"
"Where would I stay until then?" she asked innocently.
"You could rent a hotel, live in the Agency safe house, or you could just stay with me." Amanda smiled, oblivious grateful for the last suggestion.
"I guess I'll stay with you. That way I can keep a close eye on the workers."
Nothing much happened that week. Amanda and Lee would take turns sleeping on the bed and the sofa. They didn't really talk much. Lee would go to work an hour before Amanda giving her time to sleep in after a night of bad dreams. She would go back to his place for lunch and to check up on the painters and decorators. They both would come home late and just go strait to sleep. Amanda never got much sleep though. By the end of the week, every thing in Amanda's apartment was done.
The colors of the walls and carpets were much lighter and friendlier looking than before. Lee helped move all her cloths and some personal boxes of stuff she had packed up that evening. "Thanks Lee. I really appreciate all this"
"Oh, it's OK. These aren't that heavy."
"No. I meant thank you for helping me last week and keeping me this week. I know I wasn't very nice to you at all. But you put up with me. I probably wouldn't have." She gave him a regretful look "I never should have treated you like that"
"Amanda, you had just gone through Hell and back. I couldn't just give up on you."
"Yes. You could have. Why didn't you?"
He began listing things off the top of his head, not really thinking about them "You're my best friend, my partner. You've done it so many times for me I've lost count, I love you."
"You what!" she stared at him in shock
Suddenly Lee realized what he just said "Amanda" he began, hoping she wouldn't run out or slap him "when you disappeared, and all I got was a note from you telling me you had left, I couldn't believe you were gone. I didn't want to go to work and not see you. When you came back and started acting like me, I realized how stupid I had been!"
"Oh thank you. That's very flattering" she stated sarcastically, but she didn't seem to be getting angry.
"I mean, I had been hiding my emotions and feelings. I didn't want to admit to myself that I could actually be falling in love with you, because I didn't want to loose you and go through the pain again. But I do. I love you with all my heart." He was getting very nervous wondering what Amanda's reaction would be.
She slowly started walking towards him with her arms crossed. "Lee, I know that was very hard for you to say. But right now I am very emotionally unstable." he quickly looked away from her, not wanting to look in her eyes when she rejected him. "And even though I might know what how I feel about you," she continued "I don't know what to do about it."
He looked up at her, very confused. She was standing right in front of him, her face mere inches away from his. She lifted her right hand and cupped his face and brushed her lips against his. She slid her left hand up his chest and stopped at his neck, holding it tight. Not exactly sure what was going on, but certainly enjoying it, Lee wrapped his arms around her slim waist and pulled her close.
He leaned forward and, slowly tilting his head, placed his mouth over hers. He kissed her like he had wanted for the longest time. Like they had kissed in his dream. She kissed him back with full force. Feverishly she began exploring his mouth with her tongue and his body with her hands. Lee finally understood what she had meant. She was still unstable and couldn't judge or control her actions.
Reluctantly he slowly and gently pushed her away. He wasn't sure what to do or say. "How do you feel?" he asked searching her eyes for an answer.
"I feel like going out." He stared at her questionably. "on a date" she continued. "with you, tonight." He smiled down at her.
"OK. Where do want to go?"
"How about Emilio's in half an hour?" she suggested
"All right. Half an hour?" he slowly headed for the door still facing her. She nodded and he gave a quick kiss on the lips before leaving her alone to get ready.
25 minutes later, Lee was knocking on Amanda's door wearing one of his favorite suits. He didn't feel like waiting another five minutes. But what he saw next surprised. Amanda opened the door wearing the same cloths she had on before. She had only opened the a few inches and only pocked her head and shoulders out to face him. Her hair and shirt were disheveled. She looked very nervous.
"Amanda, are you OK. We were supposed to go."
"Something came up" she interrupted. "why don't you go back home now, and I'll call you in a while" she seemed very uneasy. Suddenly Lee heard a man's voice behind Amanda.
"Amanda, don't you think the chocolate stirrup will stain the sheet? .Oh. I'm sorry. I didn't realize we had company" the man pushed Amanda back behind the door and shook Lee's hand. "My name's Derrick. Can we help you? Are you selling something?"
Lee knew something terrible was happening. Amanda wouldn't really sleep with someone right before her date with him, would she?
"Oh no. I'm just a neighbor. I just came by to, uh, just to say hello." Wondering what was going on.
"We're very busy, so if you don't mind,." he closed the door on a very confused Lee.
He decided to go back to his apartment and wait for Amanda to call like she asked him to. He had entered through his front door and was just about to shut it when he heard gunshots coming from Amanda's apartment. He ran back to her door and tried to open it. It was looked so he kicked it in.
Amanda was standing over Derrick's body. She was clutching a gun in her right hand, and blood was staining her ripped shirt around her upper left arm. She spun around to see Lee running towards her. She dropped the gun and put right arm around him. he tried to hug her back, but when he touched her left arm, she jerked away, sucking in air through her teeth trying not to yelp out in pain.
"Amanda, what happened?" he asked realizing her arm had been slashed with a knife.
She looked away from him, her gaze focused on the lifeless body in her living room. "That's him" she whispered.
"Who?" he asked, still not understanding anything.
"Derrikson. Carl Derrikson." She held her arm close and started walking to the phone "I'll call Billy."
After she called Billy to send some people to pick up the body, Lee held her, careful not to hurt her until the agents came up. She didn't say anything about what happened besides telling the doctor what kind of knife Derrikson had used on her, a 12-inch butcher's knife, until she was in debriefing. Lee stood outside, listening to her tell the whole story.
"He showed up about fifteen minutes after Lee helped me move my stuff in and had left. I had been getting ready to go out for the evening when someone knocked on my door. I opened to find Derrikson holding a gun in front of him pointed at me. He barged in, grabbing me by the arm. All I knew was that he had found me and he was going to kill me, most likely because he thought I was the only one who knew what he looked like. I managed to kick the gun out of his hand and pick it up, but not before he grabbed a knife and lunged for me. I tried to get out of the way, but he got my left arm. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Lee had come by to pick me up for dinner. We had planned to go out and celebrate my new apartment. Derrikson told me to answer the door, but not to let on that anything was wrong, or he would stab me from behind without hesitation."
Her eyes began to water up, but her voice stayed steady. She took a few breaths before continuing. "I told Lee that I something had come up and he should wait for me to call him. Suddenly Derrikson thought it would be funny if he pretended that I was having an affair with him just to bug Lee. He asked me if the chocolate stirrup would stain the sheets. He introduced himself as Derrick and then shut the door on Lee. He pulled me back, holding the knife the knife to my neck. He must have forgotten I had the gun because when I managed to hold the knife far away for me to stuggle out of his grasp, he laughed like me like there was nothing I could do to stop him. I pulled the gun on him and fired at point-blank. Lee came storming in a few seconds later and we called Mr. Melrose"
Lee couldn't believe it. Why were these things always happening to her when he wasn't around? He had to do something about it, and he was going to. He wasn't ever going to leave her side ever again.
Part 14 Four Months Later
Once again Lee was standing at the train station. This time he was wearing a
tuxedo. He had a dozen white roses in his hand. The train pulled up, filling the
whole platform with steam. He couldn't see anything but white until he saw
Amanda walking out of the fog towards him. She had on an elegant evening dress.
It was a sleeveless pearl white silk gown that seemed to flow when she walked.
She stood in front of him.
"I'm back. I told you I would be." They started to kiss when Lee
heard Amanda's voice again.
"I'm home!" Lee heard Amanda come in through the front door of his
apartment. He got up from the sofa to greet her. It was so nice to have her call
it "home". She had moved in with him as her husband almost a week
after Derrikson was had died in her living room. She had agreed to stay with Lee
only for protection. But slowly, as their relationship bloomed, she began
treating their living conditions as a real marriage. Now, for the last month,
she felt comfortable sleeping in the same bed as Lee. They hadn't made love yet,
but she had felt that it was still to soon. He walked over to her and slipped
his arms around her, giving her a peck on the lips.
"So what did you and Francine do all day? Talked about me no
"I never kiss and tell." She grinned at him and leaned in for a
more passionate kiss. When they parted, Amanda stepped back and picked up her
shopping bags. She put one on the kitchen counter. "I bought some things
for dinner tonight. I thought we could have a romantic candle lit dinner."
"Just you and me? Alone? Tonight? I guess I could live with that."
He grinned and leaned in for another quick kiss.
Amanda picked up the second bag and headed for the bed room, closing the door
behind her. She came out a few minutes later with a sheepish smirk on her face.
"What's in the other bag?" he asked, his curiosity getting the better
"Just a dress and some other things I picked up. It's a surprise."
She whispered seductively.
She started getting dinner ready. Lee helped her chop vegetables and fix the
chicken and put it in the oven talking about what Lee had done at work, and what
Amanda and Francine had done all day. They set the table for dinner and then
snuggled together on the sofa with their cups of coffee. They stayed there until
the timer went off. They enjoyed their meal, not talking much, just staring in
each other's eyes.
When they had finished, Amanda stood up. "Why don't you pour us some
wine and I'll go get your present?" She suggested with a cheeky look in her
She came out a few minutes later with her hair pulled up into a ponytail,
wearing a tightly closed trench coat. All he could see were her legs from the
knees down. "Amanda, I already have a trench coat." He teased,
becoming very curious as to what she had on underneath. He handed her the glass
of wine. She accepted it, but then put it back on the table. She grabbed his tie
and pulled him into the bedroom.
Four Months Later
Once again Lee was standing at the train station. This time he was wearing a tuxedo. He had a dozen white roses in his hand. The train pulled up, filling the whole platform with steam. He couldn't see anything but white until he saw Amanda walking out of the fog towards him. She had on an elegant evening dress. It was a sleeveless pearl white silk gown that seemed to flow when she walked. She stood in front of him.
"I'm back. I told you I would be." They started to kiss when Lee heard Amanda's voice again.
"I'm home!" Lee heard Amanda come in through the front door of his apartment. He got up from the sofa to greet her. It was so nice to have her call it "home". She had moved in with him as her husband almost a week after Derrikson was had died in her living room. She had agreed to stay with Lee only for protection. But slowly, as their relationship bloomed, she began treating their living conditions as a real marriage. Now, for the last month, she felt comfortable sleeping in the same bed as Lee. They hadn't made love yet, but she had felt that it was still to soon. He walked over to her and slipped his arms around her, giving her a peck on the lips.
"So what did you and Francine do all day? Talked about me no doubt."
"I never kiss and tell." She grinned at him and leaned in for a more passionate kiss. When they parted, Amanda stepped back and picked up her shopping bags. She put one on the kitchen counter. "I bought some things for dinner tonight. I thought we could have a romantic candle lit dinner."
"Just you and me? Alone? Tonight? I guess I could live with that." He grinned and leaned in for another quick kiss.
Amanda picked up the second bag and headed for the bed room, closing the door behind her. She came out a few minutes later with a sheepish smirk on her face. "What's in the other bag?" he asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.
"Just a dress and some other things I picked up. It's a surprise." She whispered seductively.
She started getting dinner ready. Lee helped her chop vegetables and fix the chicken and put it in the oven talking about what Lee had done at work, and what Amanda and Francine had done all day. They set the table for dinner and then snuggled together on the sofa with their cups of coffee. They stayed there until the timer went off. They enjoyed their meal, not talking much, just staring in each other's eyes.
When they had finished, Amanda stood up. "Why don't you pour us some wine and I'll go get your present?" She suggested with a cheeky look in her eyes.
She came out a few minutes later with her hair pulled up into a ponytail, wearing a tightly closed trench coat. All he could see were her legs from the knees down. "Amanda, I already have a trench coat." He teased, becoming very curious as to what she had on underneath. He handed her the glass of wine. She accepted it, but then put it back on the table. She grabbed his tie and pulled him into the bedroom.