Scarecrow and Mrs. King are the property of Warner Brothers, Inc. and Shoot The Moon, Inc. No infringement of copyright is intended. The author and SMK Virtual Season 6 have not profited from this story. The characters belong to WB and Shoot The Moon, the story is the property of the author.
This episode is for all of you who love a good romance...SMK style. And what would SMacKy romance be without a few interruptions...
And now, on with the show!
"All right, get this operation running." The soldier stood inside the empty house with a walkie-talkie in one hand and the other resting on the butt of his sidearm in the holster at his hip. He eyed his team, disguised as a local moving company, with a stern glare. "We must get the transmission station functional in less than an hour, or we will miss the relay for the first set of command codes."
One of the new recruits set down a crate and paused. "One hour? We need more time."
The leader turned his head from where he watched his men unloading the equipment from the moving truck outside and pinned the other man in his forceful gaze. "Nyet! We have no time! That traitor-friend of yours cost us our time. If he had stolen the equipment instead of trying to escape from us, we would have this done. Now, he rots at the bottom of the pit." He glanced through the sheer curtain-covered window as the men continued to empty the truck and carry the furniture and crates into the house.
"Is it his fault he had second thoughts about our mission?"
He jerked his head back around and faced the younger soldier once more. "There is no room for cowards. We do this for the good of our mother land. If we fail, our world will crumble." Another piercing gaze leveled at the younger man. "We must get this done. Now. No more mistakes." He placed his hand around the butt of his sidearm. "Do you wish you change your mind?"
The man hesitated only a second, but his gaze darted to where his commander had moved his hand before he snapped his attention back. "No, Comrade."
"Good. Get back to work!"
He watched the younger soldier heed his orders. They could not afford any more delays. They must get the transmission expected to arrive that night. Otherwise, the entire operation will be a lost cause. If anyone else got in his way, they would meet the same fate as the last traitor.
Amanda stood in front of the stove, stirring the vegetables steaming on the back burner. The roast simmered in the oven, its rich aroma sending the first waft into the air, permeating the kitchen.
"Mmm, smells delicious in here!"
She smiled when Lee’s voice preceded his appearance around the corner from the den. A moment later, two strong arms wrapped around her waist and her husband’s face appeared to her right just before he dipped closer to nuzzle her neck.
"Alone at last." His warm breath fanned across her cheek as he pulled away to place a kiss near her chin. "I didn’t think your mother would ever get out of here with the boys."
"Well, if they left any later, they would have missed the show time for the movie," Amanda pointed out, fighting to control her body’s reaction to her husband’s proximity.
"Yeah, but did they have to push it so close? I almost grabbed hold of their coats and shoved them out the door!"
Amanda turned her head and saw the frustration on Lee’s face. "What’s the matter? Getting impatient, are we?"
Lee turned her around in his embrace. He leaned his forehead against hers, those mesmerizing hazel eyes peering into hers. "Impatient?" Tightening his hold, he continued. "Amanda, we haven’t had a night alone to ourselves in weeks! Yeah, I guess you could say I’m getting impatient."
A grin tugged at her lips, and she raised one eyebrow. "Got big plans for tonight?"
"Let’s just say I’m in the mood start the celebration a day or two early."
"Early? Early for what?"
Lee released a slightly aggravated sigh. "Amanda, don’t tell me you forgot what Monday is! The 13th?"
"Of course not." She slid her hands up and placed her palms flat against his chest. "How could I? With Mother dropping hints and reminders for the past month, then making sure she and the boys weren’t around tonight."
"So, what do you say we get this night on a roll?"
He started to lower his face toward hers, but Amanda placed a hand against his lips. "Whoa there, Big Fella. We’ve still got supper cooking."
Lee kissed her finger, and a spark of passion lit up his eyes. "Well, so am I, and if we don’t do something about it soon, I’m not going to last much longer."
Amanda glanced and nodded over his shoulder toward the bi-fold doors leading into the den. "Just what were you doing in there? Watching the video from our anniversary last year?"
"What makes you say that?"
"Well, something’s got you all worked up, and I doubt it’s my cooking."
Lee gave her one of his heart-stopping grins, and Amanda’s breath caught in her throat. "You’re not kidding. Why don’t we step away from this hot stove and heat up things on our own?"
This time, she didn’t stop the descent of his lips. The moment they touched hers, Amanda’s body responded, like metal to a magnet, pulled toward the source with no chance of escape. Not that she’d want to do anything of the kind. As her husband’s mouth moved over hers, the spark kindled by his touch fanned into a blazing inferno.
She shifted her hands upward and over his shoulders to tangle in the hair at the nape of his neck, caressing the soft strands. In response, Lee tightened his hold and pulled her closer. A dizzy awareness floated through her, and she thought she heard bells going off in her head. Ignoring the sound, she initiated a deeper kiss. He shuddered, and a moan sounded from deep in his throat.
The chime of the doorbell penetrated her foggy mind, effectively breaking the spell. A moment later, the distinctive scent of roast beef crowded into her semi-conscious state.
With obvious reluctance, Lee pulled away and groaned. "What now?"
Amanda shook her head to clear it then took a step away, despite the strong desire to ignore everything and return to the euphoria begun just a moment before.
After several deep breaths, she turned toward the stove and glanced at the entryway to the foyer. "You check on the roast. I’ll see who’s at the door." She touched his lips and smiled. "And don’t worry. Whoever it is, I’ll make sure they don’t keep me away for long."
"You better," he growled, the deep timbre of his voice sending shivers down her spine.
"For my sake, as well as yours," she muttered to herself as she walked toward the entry. With a hand on the knob, she turned it and opened the door, a gust of cold wind rushing into the house and cooling her flushed skin.
Her section chief, Billy Melrose, greeted her.
"Amanda, I’m sorry to show up this late at night, but we need you and Lee." He paused and placed his gloved hands into the pockets of his trenchcoat, his breath coming out in puffs of white against the dark evening sky. "May I come in?"
Amanda stood back and gestured toward the foyer. "Yes, yes, of course. I don’t know where my manners are, sir." She shut the door behind him. "May I take your coat?"
Billy turned to face her. "No, I won’t be staying long." He cast a glance through the doorway into the family room. "Is anyone else home?"
"Just me and Lee. Mother took the boys to a movie tonight." Amanda didn’t divulge the reason. That would only cause regret on her part at the interruption. If it was important enough for Billy to make a special trip to their home, their night alone would disappear as fast as the cloud formed by his breath a moment before. "Lee’s in the kitchen."
She led the way, trying hard to hide the disappointment on her face when she returned to her husband’s side. He looked up with a smile that quickly faded the moment Billy came around the corner with her.
"Sweetheart, it’s Billy." Amanda stepped toward him and placed an arm around his waist.
He set down the fork and knife he had used to slit the roast to check its tenderness and turned. "Billy." Lee nodded. "What brings you all the way out here?"
"Lee, I’m sorry to barge in on you like this. I tried calling, but all I got was a busy signal. I thought maybe Phillip or Jamie was on the phone."
Amanda drew her eyebrows together. "No, sir, and
I don’t know why the phone would be busy." She glanced toward
the couch. "Before everyone left, Phillip was talking to one of
his girl friends. He probably didn’t put the phone back and it’s
off the hook somewhere." She waved a hand in the air. "I’ll
find it later."
"We just got word from Intel that a group of Russian military extremists have set up camp nearby and are up to no good."
"What’s that got to do with Amanda and me?"
"Well, we tried to get Fielder to look into it, but he’s out with the flu. Francine’s on assignment until tomorrow, and Schroeder’s already working on the follow-up to the threats on the President after the inauguration."
Amanda shook her head and sighed. "They don’t give up, do they?"
Billy shrugged at the rhetorical question then got back to business. "Beaman ran the check and verified a series of radio transmissions, but he couldn’t nail down an actual location. We need someone to act on it now and get the details back to the Agency as soon as possible."
Lee tensed, and she gave him a reassuring squeeze with her arm at his waist. "So, why not send Beaman? He can handle field work just as well as Amanda and I can."
"Under any other circumstances, I would, but the new equipment arrived last week, special ordered from the Joint Commission for Internal Security, and Beaman is the only one trained to work it. We need it to track the signals with greater accuracy."
"So, what do we have to do?"
Billy reached into his trenchcoat and retrieved a manila folder. "Military transmission equipment is relatively easy to track. Frequencies are assigned to each piece of equipment along with a tracking piece concealed inside. That’s how we were able to get a general idea of the area. You’ll find copies of the transmission reports and a map with the three possible locations of these Russian extremists marked in red."
Their boss bounced the corner of the folder against his leg. Amanda glanced at Lee from the corner of her eye and saw his frown deepen with each tap. When Billy extended his arm, Lee reached for the papers.
"You have to get a visual confirmation and send a report back to the Agency. We’ll assemble a team to shut down their operation once you verify the exact location."
Lee flipped the folder open with one hand. Amanda grabbed one side so they both could read and scan the contents. She pursed her lips and drew her eyebrows together in puzzlement at the three potential spots for the Russians to be occupying.
"Why would they set up their operation in the suburbs?"
Her husband answered without looking up from the report. "Because there’s no end to the things that can interfere and make it difficult to track the signals. You have trees, electrical lines, phone lines, radio signals, satellite dishes, and microwaves. Those are the worst."
"So, being down in a gully or concealed behind a hill with a lot of trees could also disrupt the signal?"
Lee nodded. "Exactly."
Amanda looked up. "Billy, if Beaman managed to track this group to these three locations, wouldn’t he have been able to narrow down the field by the transmission frequencies alone?"
"Theoretically, yes, but as you two just pointed out, the transmissions were marked with interference and we only received an intermittent signal. We couldn’t get a good lock on which one was the one we wanted. A sign these guys know what they’re doing. That’s why we need to send someone out there to verify the exact location." He glanced back and forth between them. "And you two are it."
Lee sighed and closed the folder then tossed it on the counter in the middle of the kitchen. He couldn’t hide the resignation from his voice. "We’ll get right on it."
"Great. I knew I could count on you both. If all goes well, it should only take a few hours." He grinned and nodded toward the stove. "And you can get back to enjoying that long weekend for your anniversary."
Amanda looked away from Billy’s twinkling gaze at the food still steaming on the stove, but Lee stiffened beside her.
"You’re damn right we will. I don’t intend to let this opportunity get away."
"Well, I’ll leave you two to it then." Billy adjusted his coat and nodded at them both. "I’ll let myself out." He turned and headed for the front door. "Maybe if you move fast and get going, things won’t cool off too much," he called over his shoulder just before disappearing around the corner. His laughter echoed in the front hall.
The opening and closing of the door signaled his exit.
Amanda waited for Lee to say something before she did. She lifted the
lid off the vegetables and stirred them in the pot. Perfect. A fork
speared into the tender roast revealed the same thing. Everything was
cooked to perfection and guaranteed an excellent start to their night
alone—a night that wouldn’t happen now. With a resigned
sigh, she covered both pans and shifted them from the stovetop to the
bottom shelf of the fridge. Hopefully, they wouldn’t be there
long. Unable to hold back any longer, Amanda kicked the toe board and
shut the refrigerator door with more force than necessary, rattling
the jars on the shelves.
He sighed. "I know. I know. I just can’t get over it, Amanda. Damn it!" Lee slammed a fist against the counter. The plates rattled against the force. "Every time we think we’ve finally done it, finally managed to get some time together, something at work always gets in the way. I’m getting sick of it!"
Seeking to soothe Lee’s attitude, Amanda stepped closer and slid her hands up his chest. "Well, work hasn’t always interrupted." She gave him a coy smile and gazed into his hazel depths, then stood on tiptoe to kiss his lips.
The anger in his eyes dimmed, and he draped his arms about her waist. "No, you’re right. It hasn’t." Lee pecked her lips. "What do you say we get this task done so we can get back to our celebrating? Work has interrupted more than enough to suit me."
"I think that sounds like an excellent idea." She smiled and shared another kiss with him, the barely banked fire sparking again in just seconds.
A guttural growl sounded in Lee’s throat before he pulled away. "If we don’t get moving now, we won’t get there tonight." He clasped her waist in a meaningful squeeze. "But be ready to pick up where we left off when we get back."
Amanda smiled as Lee headed for the den. She turned to grab the wicker basket next to the counter and called to his retreating form. "I’ll count on it."
"All right, this is the last house." Lee pulled the ‘Vette to a stop on the opposite side of the street and down from what appeared to be a vacant house.
"Lee, there’s a moving van parked in the driveway." Amanda pointed at the vehicle bearing the name of a local company.
"Do you know how much it would cost to get a moving company to unload at this time of night on a Saturday?"
He narrowed his eyes. "You may be right." Lee nodded. "That would be right up their alley too, disguising themselves to avoid any suspicion from the neighbors." He turned and gave Amanda a teasing grin. "We know how nosey they can be when it comes to meeting new people who have just moved in. Wonder if they’ve sent out the ‘welcome wagon’ yet."
Amanda backhanded him across the chest, right in tune with his thoughts. "Very funny."
Lee chuckled then reached behind the seat and retrieved the binoculars. "Let’s have a look inside, shall we?" He raised the lenses to his eyes and scrutinized every inch of the house, including the yard and area around the truck. Lowering the binoculars, he sighed. "Damn it. I don’t see anything. Not a soul is moving and there’s no light."
"Well, the report did say the transmission was detected earlier this afternoon. They could have shut things down for the night after getting what they needed."
He opened his door and swung his legs out. "Let’s go have a look. See if we can find anything."
Amanda got out too and walked around the front of the car to join him. She grabbed his hand and placed the keys in his palm. Lee rolled his eyes. When would he ever learn? Sometimes, he wondered if he did it subconsciously to see if she would grab them. All part of a little game they played.
Slipping along the edge of the property and sneaking behind the far side of the truck, they crept up to the house and ducked below one of the windows. Although the front ones were covered with sheer curtains, the ones near the back remained bare. Lee exercised extreme caution as he moved up the side wall to peer inside. With a jerk, he crouched back down.
"What did you see?" Amanda whispered.
"There are people in there. No doubt about it."
"How should I know? I only got a quick look."
Amanda placed her hand beneath his elbow and started to shove him up again. "Well, look again."
"All right, all right." He paused and leveled an irritated glare at her. "Will you stop pushing, already?"
She let go and shrugged in a helpless gesture. Lee shook his head and shifted positions again to get a better look. This time, he angled his head near the corner and tried to identify something that would provide a clue. He scanned the room but saw nothing out of the ordinary. The men inside were dressed as movers and appeared to be taking a break from work. Nothing looked suspicious or gave him any indication they weren’t who they appeared to be.
He squatted beside Amanda and shook his head. "I can’t see a thing in there. Nothing unusual anyway."
"Well, maybe if we go around to the other side, we’ll find something."
Lee nodded. "All right. But—"
"Be careful," she finished for him as she moved toward the corner of the house. "I know."
He rolled his eyes and followed behind his wife. They stayed close to the back side of the house, but had to scramble around the patio and skirt the bushes and garden area, careful to avoid the soft-packed dirt lest they leave footprints as a sign of their presence. Amanda reached behind her for his hand, and Lee grasped hers in a firm clasp. He smiled at her silent admission of uncertainty, despite her years of training. When they reached the other side of the house, the shades had been pulled down, preventing any view at all.
Together, they sank down against a couple of smooth rocks placed on the ground for decoration. Amanda’s foot crumpled what sounded like paper, and she reached out to retrieve it.
Amanda smoothed it out and held it up against the street lamp near the front of the yard. "I can’t quite make out the writing."
Lee took it from her. "Let me see if I can get better lighting." He found a beam of moonlight through the trees between the two yards and focused on the scribbled words. "Looks like some sort of address." With narrowed eyes, he stared at nothing in particular. "Something about it seems familiar. I know I’ve heard of that one street before."
Amanda glanced at the paper. "Oh, that’s the set of warehouses where Andre Zernov, Mother and I were taken. You know, with the Mr.—"
"Marshmallow sign," Lee finished. "Right." He smacked his fingers against the sheet. "This might be the lead we’ve been looking for. Come on!"
"Where are we going?"
Lee grabbed her hand and pulled her alongside the bushes lining the side of the yard. "To check out this warehouse and see if we can find anything."
February 11, 1989
"Are you sure we won’t get caught?"
Amanda pressed against Lee’s back, her warm breath tickling the hair around his ear. He fought back a shiver and focused on the task of picking the padlock on the door.
"Not if we do this right, we won’t," he said with typical assurance. "Besides, we’re on an official assignment. The cops’ll understand."
Amanda whacked his shoulder. "The cops never understand, Lee! It’s how we get ourselves into trouble most of the time...all for doing things like this." She gestured toward the door.
Lee tossed a grin over his shoulder at her as the lock clicked open. He pulled it off and tossed it to his wife, then slid the latch and opened the door.
Pulling out a flashlight from inside his coat, he shined it across the wide expanse of a warehouse.
"Empty. Just what I should’ve figured." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair as he scrutinized the wall closest to him. "This is a clean room if I ever saw one."
"A clean room?"
"Yeah, it means it’s specially shielded, usually with a fine grade steel wire mesh. Works wonders when you don’t want someone tracking transmission signals or sophisticated equipment." He shook his head. "These guys really know how to cover their tracks."
Amanda bent down and picked up something from the cement floor. "Well, almost." She placed a piece of a cardboard box in the palm of her hand and turned it over to see the writing on it. "Looks like part of a set of numbers from something." She pointed to the spot where the tear occurred. "And this looks like it might be from a bar code."
"Serial code, Amanda. That little scrap you found has all the makings of a serial code." Lee looked around the warehouse again, verifying the lack of anything else that might be useful to them then headed for the door. Amanda stayed right with him.
They stepped outside, and Amanda locked the door once more, making sure to leave it as they found it.
"Let’s get back to the car and call Billy."
Once inside, Amanda picked up the phone and dialed Billy’s direct line. "Billy, it’s Amanda. I’m going to put you on speaker so Lee can hear too." She hit the button and replaced the phone in its cradle. "Can you hear us?"
"Loud and clear." Billy’s voice echoed through the interior of the car.
"Billy, Amanda and I are outside an empty warehouse on 31st in Georgetown."
"What led you there?"
"We found a piece of paper at the last house on the list. It had an address on it, so we decided to check it out."
Amanda jumped in to answer. "And we found the warehouse here empty but a torn piece of a cardboard box was left behind. Has some sort of serial number on it."
"We think it might have some connection to that military communications equipment they’ve been testing," Lee added. "Thought you could run a check on the numbers we have. See if Beaman can come up with anything."
"All right, Lee. Go ahead."
Lee read what they had and waited for confirmation from Billy. "That’s all there is."
"Well, it just might be enough to get confirmation. Did you see anything else at the house?"
"Just some men in uniforms matching a local moving company, and a truck in the driveway," Amanda answered. "But, it’s odd to have movers on the job this late on a Saturday night."
"We couldn’t get a good enough look at them to determine anything. So, we’re headed back there to keep watch."
"Good work, you two. We’ll get on this serial number. Call the moment you see anything that could get me a visual."
"Will do." Lee pressed the button to disconnect the call and glanced over at Amanda. "Well, you heard the man. Let’s go!" He put the ‘Vette in gear and turned back toward Arlington.
February 12, 1989
Lee stopped the car on the other side of the house across the street. He wanted to avoid suspicion by parking in the same place twice. Amanda spoke the moment he shifted into park.
"So, Billy’s going to run the check on those numbers, and the police are checking on the warehouse. Where does that leave us?"
"Stuck on surveillance at least until first light." He killed the engine then smacked his palm against the steering wheel. "Not exactly how I had planned to spend the night together."
Amanda reached across and squeezed his thigh. "Let me call Mother, and then we’ll just have to make the best of the situation."
Lee cast a doubtful look at the bucket seats and center console separating them before meeting her gaze. "And just how do you propose we do that?" The amusement in her eyes told him his wife knew something he didn’t.
She gave him a saucy grin and reached behind them to retrieve several blankets which she drew over the seats and piled in her lap. "For starters, we can make this area around us a bit more comfortable." She handed him one of the blankets. "We won’t have the heat from the engine, so we’ll have to stay warm somehow."
"I can think of a few ways to do that...but not in this car."
"All right, Big Fella. Cool your jets a bit."
Amanda smiled. "We won’t have all the comforts of home, but we can at least make spending the night in here more bearable."
"Won’t be the first time."
"No, and I’m sure it won’t be the last." She situated one of the blankets and gestured to the one he held. "Now, pack in that one around the console. I’ll do the same. We can recline our seats back, and it might not be so bad."
Lee followed suit and in minutes they had a make-shift sleeping area. He shrugged and pressed his lips together. "I guess it’ll do."
Amanda gestured with a sweep of her arm. "What do you think?"
Lee turned and grinned. "Not bad," he said with a wink.
She shifted in her seat and leaned toward him then turned on her side. Taking her cue, he did the same, amazed at the difference the blankets made. Their ‘bed’ was somewhat bearable.
"You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you’ve done this before."
"Maybe I have."
Lee reached for her right hand, his left thumb stroking the back of her fingers. "Are you having late night rendezvous’ and doing midnight surveillance behind my back?"
He drew her hand toward his mouth and placed a lingering kiss on her knuckles. The rapid rise and fall of her chest brought a knowing grin to his lips. "So, do you care to elaborate on your expertise in this area?"
Amanda inhaled a shuddering breath. "Well, if you remember, spending the night in your car isn’t exactly unfamiliar to me. I recall being forced to listen to an exchange that involved minimal words when you were engaging a Ms. Sonja Chenko in a peacock dance about two-and-a-half years ago."
Lee grimaced at the reminder of an assignment he’d much rather forget...unless of course it was to remember the situation in light of being the catalyst to he and Amanda declaring their true feelings for each other. He covered her hand with both of his. "Amanda—"
"Don’t say it, Lee. You’ve said it more than enough. I know it was only an assignment to you." She shifted and freed her left arm from underneath her body, then cupped his cheek with her hand. "But since my job wasn’t fun by any stretch of the imagination, I had to do something to make it more bearable."
He turned and kissed her palm. "Well, I’m glad for your resourcefulness." Angling himself in his seat, Lee extended his arm as best he could in silent invitation for her to move closer. She did and he drew her against him. "You know if we were in the Wagoneer, this wouldn’t be half bad."
Amanda snuggled against his shoulder, her head barely resting on his chest. "Look on the bright side. It’s an amusing story we can tell our grandchildren someday."
Lee stared at the top of his wife’s head, curiosity sparking at her words. He brushed it off and focused on the situation at hand. "It will certainly be an interesting night, I’ll give you that."
She raised her head to look at him. "Lee, what if those men inside decide to leave before dawn?"
"I doubt they will. That truck makes a lot of noise when it’s started, and they wouldn’t want to arouse suspicion. Even if they have other cars, we’ll hear them." He nodded toward her feet. "Now, hand me that last blanket." With her help, he spread it across the two of them then rested back against the seat. She resumed her previous position.
Unable to drift off to sleep just yet, Lee clasped his wife’s chin in his left hand and tilted her face up to meet his. She eagerly accepted his kiss and melted against him. The first stirrings made themselves known, and he pulled back, despite the strong desire to continue. A glimpse of the telltale shine in Amanda’s eyes only made him more aware of their situation.
With a sigh, he guided her head back to his chest and made himself as comfortable as possible. "That’ll have to do for now. But, as soon as this case is over..."
"You won’t have to tell me twice." Amanda’s voice vibrated against his chest.
Lee swallowed hard. This was going to be a long night.