"Amanda!" Lee's voice sounded from downstairs.
"I’m in the bedroom!" she responded. Putting down the pile of folded laundry, she went to the window and pushed aside the curtain. To her surprise, a burgundy sedan sat in the driveway. Wasn't Lee supposed to get his car back today?
He poked his head in the doorway and gave her a smile. "Hi. How's the housework?"
"Just fine, thanks for asking." She turned back to the laundry and started putting away the socks. "You think Billy's going to make us stay at the Italian Embassy all night tomorrow to make up for having today off?"
"I wouldn't mind if I get more dances with you."
"Aww." She gave him a swift kiss as he passed on his way to the closet. "What's with the car?"
"Oh, uh, the part still hasn't come in, so they gave me a different loaner. I thought it'd be nice to have one with a little more room."
She raised an eyebrow. "You did?"
"Yeah, what's wrong with that?"
"Oh, nothing." She shook her head and smiled. Lee Stetson, family man. If the steno pool could see him now.
"You want to take it for a spin?"
She looked up at him, one pair of socks in each hand. "Now?"
"Yeah, just you and me. We've got a couple of hours till dinner, right?" He took the socks from her hands and dropped them on the bed.
"Yes, but I haven't finished the laundry, and I have to make dinner--"
"We'll pick something up on the way home, and I'll help you with the laundry later, okay?" Taking her hands in his, he pressed a kiss to the back of each one.
"Well, it does sound nice--" She was cut off by the ringing of the phone on the nightstand. "I'll get it." He held on to her hands for a second, but she pulled free, giving him a little peck on the cheek in compensation.
She picked up the phone as she sat down on the bed. "Hello?"
"Amanda, it's me," came Lee's voice.
She almost dropped the receiver. "Who?" she asked, turning her head to see Lee standing on the other side of the bed. What the heck . . .
"It's me, your husband? Listen, I ran into a contact, and I think I've got a lead on the Sanders case. I might not be home for dinner. I'm really sorry, but--"
She cut him off with the cheeriest voice she could muster, despite the ball of lead rapidly forming in her stomach. "No, Jamie, I think you'd better come home right after school."
There was a pause on the other end. "Something's wrong, isn't it?"
"That's right!" She didn't take her eyes off the man across the room. "I'm here with Lee, and we'll be waiting for you, okay?"
"Amanda, what are you talking about?" came the exasperated voice. "I'm not there, I'm here."
"I know that, sweetheart," she replied, trying to sound like she was talking to one of the boys. "But you need to get home and start on your homework. It's a school night, after all." Her skin crawled as she thought of how the other man had just been touching her, and she had to turn so he wouldn't see her face. How had Redding gotten so far ahead of them?
"I'll be there as fast as I can." She heard the squeal of the tires over the car phone. "Uh, Amanda, it is you, right? This isn't Redding trying to trick me?"
"No, honey, it's a little too warm out for hot chocolate with marshmallows, don't you think?"
"Okay, it's you," he replied. The racing of the engine sounded through the receiver as he accelerated. "Hang on, okay?"
"All right, sweetheart, I'll see you soon. Bye-bye." She hung up the phone and tried to figure out what to do next.
"That was Jamie?" Lee asked with a curious look.
No, not Lee, she reminded herself as she stood up. She had to get away from him. He hadn't made a threatening move, but as far as he knew, she thought he was her husband. If she could get outside and in view of the neighbors until the real Lee arrived . . . but no, he'd just been trying to get her into the car. Maybe she could claim she was ill and hide in the bathroom?
"Yeah, it was Jamie." She backed toward the door. "He wanted to go over to a friend's house for dinner, but I thought he should come home instead. I mean, it's a school night, and it's rare that we're all here for dinner, although since Phillip is away on that retreat, we aren't all here, but you know what I mean," and by now she had her hand on the doorknob, "so I guess I'll go downstairs and wait for him, since he'll be here any minute!"
With each step back she had taken, the man took one step forward, and now he was close enough to reach out and grab her free hand. "Are you sure?" he asked. "We have a few minutes till he gets home from school, right?" He stepped closer and raised his other hand to the nape of her neck to play with the curls there.
It took all her willpower not to shrink from his touch. "I don't think that's a good idea," she said as she raised her eyes to his.
Looking at him from so close, now that she knew what to look for, she could tell that this man was an imposter. His eyes were a little too green, and their expression was watchful rather than amorous, out of sync with the hand caressing her hair. "What's the matter?" he asked in a low voice, that, if she listened carefully, was just a little off.
"Oh, nothing, I'm just a little tired. All that laundry, you know." She forced a laugh.
"Well, maybe I can wake you up a little," he murmured. His hand curled around the back of her neck as he pulled her forward.
She closed her eyes, knowing that she had to maintain her facade for as long as possible, and knowing she couldn't kiss him if she had to look into those eyes. So she tilted her head upward, reminding herself that this was just another Peacock Dance. She inhaled and caught a whiff of Lee's aftershave. But the masculine scent underlying it was wrong, and she unconsciously stiffened in his arms.
His grip tightened. When she opened her eyes, he was watching her closely, all traces of warmth gone from his face.
She knew he knew that she knew. So she took a deep breath and said, "You're not Lee."
One corner of his mouth turned up. "Come on, Amanda, what do you mean by that? Who else would I be?" But his left hand was moving slowly back toward his side. She ducked from under his grasp and whirled around, opening the door in the same movement. If she could outrun him--
And then she felt the barrel of a gun digging into her back, right at the place where Lee's hand usually rested. "That's far enough," came the voice that was heartbreakingly similar to her husband's, but was now harsh and tense. "That was him on the phone, wasn't it?"
She couldn't find her voice, so she nodded, wincing as he grabbed her upper arm. "Where is he?" He jerked her back inside the room.
"I don't know," she whispered, staring down at the floor.
"I suppose he's on his way," the man went on. He grasped her chin and forced her to look him in the eye. "After your clever response to that phone call."
His eyes were cold, wrong somehow in that familiar face. She now knew what Lee had felt all those years ago when Karen had trapped him, as if the world had suddenly shifted under her feet. At least Lee was safe--for now. "What do you want with us?"
"Me?" he asked, raising his eyebrows in a look exactly like her husband's. "Oh, I'm just in it for the money. Someone else wants a little something from you. But I don’t want to spoil his surprise."
She lifted her chin a little to try to remove it from his grasp. "Who are you?"
"Call me Michael. Or Jim. Or Steve. It doesn't matter." The hand at her chin released its grip, and his fingers trailed down her neck and underneath the neckline of her sweater. She jerked back, and he gave a low chuckle. She couldn't help shuddering. He sounded so much like Lee, but at the same time, so wrong. Like Lee's evil twin.
"Michael," she said, straightening and taking a step back. "Why are you doing this?" Keep him talking, that’s what her training said. Maybe she could distract him enough that he wouldn't notice when Lee arrived.
He shrugged. "Money. Isn't that why everyone does what they do?" Before she could answer, he leaned forward and grabbed her upper arm, turning her around. "Come on, downstairs. He'll be here soon."
She had no choice but to obey, as he shadowed her out of the room and down the stairs. Her mind raced, trying to remember when Mother had said she would be back with Jamie. School would just be getting out, and they were supposed to stop at the store on the way home. She hoped they had a long grocery list.
As they reached the bottom of the stairs and entered the den, there was a noise at the kitchen door. Michael's attention was clearly focused in that direction, and she strained her ears to listen for sounds at the front or back door. Lee knew that something was wrong, and he wouldn't endanger her by barging in without knowing what the situation was. So to give him a hint, she loudly asked, "What are you going to do with us?"
"Shut up!" He whirled her around and jabbed his gun into her ribs. "I'm not stupid. I know what you're doing, and it's not going to work."
From the corner of her eye, she saw the back door inching open, but she kept her attention focused on Michael’s wary green eyes. "What do you mean, you know what I'm doing? All I'm doing is asking you a question, and I think it's a pretty good question. I mean, I know you're probably not going to answer me, but--" She broke off as he raised his hand, and prepared herself for the blow.
"Lay a hand on her and I'll kill you." Lee's voice was as cold as his counterpart's. He stood in the doorway, gun leveled at Michael's back.
His eyes still locked on hers, Michael took a slow step to his right, revealing the gun pressed into her side. She looked up at Lee and gave him the briefest nod to show she was okay.
Then Michael took another step to the side and pivoted, pulling her in front of him. Lee's eyes widened as he came face to face with the imposter. She could almost hear her words from years ago echoing in the air. "To really look at somebody who looks exactly like you . . . " It was frightening enough without the tense situation.
"Get rid of the gun," said the man behind her.
Lee stood firm, shifting his aim now that she shielded most of his target. Michael rammed the gun deeper into her side. "I said, get rid of it!"
If looks could kill, the imposter would be dead. With a grimace, Lee tossed his weapon onto the floor. At Michael's gesture, he raised his hands to shoulder height. "Who are you?"
"Lee Stetson, of course. Or I will be soon enough." He jerked his head toward the door. "Come on. We've got a ride to take. Lee, why don't you drive? Mrs. Stetson and I will be in the back seat. I'll be more than willing to put a hole in her side, should you try anything stupid."
Amanda caught Lee's eye and mouthed, "I'm okay." He replied with a slight upturn of one corner of his mouth. That was all the communication they managed before they were forced out the door and into the car.
"Thanks for coming along, Jamie." Dotty slowed to a stop and looked both ways before driving through the intersection. "I know grocery shopping isn't the most exciting thing to do after school."
He shrugged. "No problem, Grandma."
His voice cracked, and she stifled a smile. Now her youngest grandson was growing up, too. Between Phillip learning to drive and Jamie learning to date, life was getting interesting in the King household. The King-Stetson household, she mentally corrected herself.
And speak of the devil . . . as she made the final turn onto Maplewood Drive, she did a double take at the car headed in the other direction. She lifted her hand to wave, but the car had already passed. "Huh." She pulled into the driveway and stopped so she could look over her shoulder. "That was weird."
"Yeah. Why was Mom in the back seat with someone else if Lee was driving? And whose car was that?"
She shook her head. "No, I saw Lee in the back seat. But then who was driving?"
"Grandma, I'm pretty sure Lee was driving."
"You need to get those glasses checked, young man." She pulled the car forward and came to a stop in front of the garage door. "Well, wherever they're going, I hope they left a note. I was planning on Amanda's help with dinner."
When she opened the trunk, Jamie grabbed two paper bags full of groceries, tucking one under each arm. "Careful!" she called as he headed toward the back door.
"I got it," came his reply. She surveyed the remaining bags and sighed. Maybe she could at least grab the milk with one hand and a bag with the other. She wasn't quite ready to admit that her youngest grandson was stronger than her.
"Hey, Grandma," Jamie called. "They forgot to lock the door!"
That was strange. "Wait for me, Jamie," she shouted. She set the bag back in the trunk and hurried to where her grandson stood, juggling his two grocery bags while trying to open the door.
"Maybe you'd better let me go first." At his skeptical look, she said, "Remember when someone broke into our house a few years ago?" When he nodded, she went on, "It could have happened again."
"Then why were Mom and Lee driving away?"
"I don't know." She was starting to get a bad feeling. "Why don't you wait in the car until I give you the all clear."
He looked dubious, but he obeyed. She pushed the door open and stepped inside, her heart pounding.
Everything looked normal. Nothing was broken in the kitchen, and as she edged into the den, nothing seemed to be missing. She circled the room, checking: the TV was there, the video game controllers, the ceramic vase from Lillian, the gun on the floor--
She froze and slowly turned her head. It was still there. The barrel poked out from underneath the coffee table, the black metal sharply contrasting with the light carpet. Her sinking feeling grew. Lee would *never* leave his gun lying around. That had been one of her first concerns on finding out what he and her daughter did for a living, and he had assured her that he would take every precaution to make sure Phillip and Jamie never got hold of his service weapon. Now, as she bent down to pick it up, she knew something was seriously wrong.
She abruptly stood up. "Yes?" Her eyes flickered downward. From the kitchen door, Jamie shouldn't be able to see the gun. She nudged it farther under the table just in case.
"Is everything okay?"
"Yes. No. Actually, it's not okay." She took a deep breath. Amanda and Lee needed her help, but first things first. "Jamie, I want you to get back in the car. I need to call the police. I think someone's been in the house, and we shouldn't touch anything. All right?"
He nodded solemnly. "You don't . . . You don't think they're still here, do you?"
Dotty froze. She thought it over, trying to remember if she had heard any sounds when she entered the house. Based on the car they had seen driving away, she was confident they were alone. "No, I don't think so, unless they're doing a really good job of keeping quiet and hiding. But just in case, would you please go wait in the car?"
He looked like he was going to argue, so she gave him one of her stern looks. That look hadn't failed her in over forty years, and it didn't fail her now. Jamie let the door fall closed behind him, and she let out a breath. Then she reached for the phone, and after a brief struggle with her memory, dialed a ten-digit number.
"International Federal Film."
"I need to speak to William Melrose," she said. "It's urgent, regarding Lee and Amanda Stetson. I think they're in trouble."
"Now turn behind that building there and stop at the loading dock."
Amanda tensed. Catching Lee's eyes in the rearview mirror, she saw that he, too, recognized where they were. The office building they were passing was the same one where they had faced Redding four years ago. She'd driven past it a few times, always suppressing the memory of dangling off its side while Lee tried to distinguish her from her double.
She cast a sideways glance at the man sitting next to her. She'd been at the wrong end of a gun held by Lee before, but she had always trusted him with her life. This man's gun hadn't budged from her ribs throughout the twenty-minute ride, and it stayed there as the car rolled to a stop. It was a jolt every time she looked at his face and remembered that this was not Lee, and he *would* use his weapon on her.
"All right, here's what we're going to do." Michael said. "We're going to get out of the car, nice and easy, and then we're going to go inside. There's a freight elevator to the left. Just keep your hands where I can see them, both of you." He pressed the gun farther into her side for emphasis, and she stifled a gasp.
Lee made no reply, but turned off the car and climbed out. Their captor followed, then motioned to her. The three of them made their way inside and into the elevator. After pulling a key from his pocket, Michael inserted it in the control panel and pushed the topmost button. "The only way in," he said with a sardonic smile. "Rest assured, we won't be interrupted."
The elevator stopped with a ding on the eighth floor, and the door slid open. With a jerk of his head, Michael indicated the first door to the right. "In there."
As they entered, Gordon Redding rose from his seat behind a desk. "What's this? You're early. And Mr. Stetson, too? An unexpected surprise."
"Yeah, he showed up ahead of schedule." Michael gestured with his gun for the two of them to stand against the far wall. The office was nearly empty, with just Redding's desk and the chair by the window, and another office chair off to the side. The fine layer of dust coating everything suggested the office had been unused for some time.
"Hmm. I was hoping to enjoy the pleasure of your company for a little longer, Mrs. Stetson. However, now that you're both here. . . " Redding removed a snub-nosed revolver from a drawer and walked around the desk. "I've waited too long for this to forget what happened the last time you stalled me."
"That's going to make a lot of noise, you know." Lee nodded at the gun. "It's the middle of the afternoon, and the offices downstairs are still full."
"I don't think so. This floor and the one below it are all mine. You can't hear a gun below that, at least not if my associate's tests are accurate." Redding raised an eyebrow, and Michael nodded. "Any other objections?"
"What is this, a last request?"
"Not for you, Stetson. No, I've had plenty of time to think about this. And I've decided that killing you is just too easy. Besides, after going to all the trouble of obtaining your replacement, I'm going to put him to work."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Let's say you try to apprehend an escaped prisoner without backup. Unfortunately, your partner gets killed in the crossfire. Tragic, really. A skilled agent should know better, but when it's someone who's close to you, you're apt to make errors of judgment." Ignoring Lee's murderous glare, he went on, "You're so torn up about it that you're not quite yourself. Maybe you're a little more distant, a little different from the Lee Stetson everyone knew and loved, but it's understandable after seeing your wife killed in front of you." Amanda shivered. "Maybe you start burning out, selling information on the side. After all, what's the Agency done for you? Might as well get some cash out of it."
"And what makes you think I would do something like that?"
"Oh, you wouldn't, Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes," Michael said from where he leaned against the wall, keeping them both in his line of sight. "But I would."
She wondered if that's what Redding had intended for Karen Brinkman to do. Could that woman have taken over her life? No, she remembered him talking to her when they were waiting for Lee and Karen to arrive, probably close to where they were standing right now. He hadn't intended her any harm as part of his original plan. Obviously, his plans had changed. "That's pretty clever," she said. "You're not just getting revenge on Lee and the Agency, you're making a profit."
"Yeah, but how's he going to know how to be me, how to do my job? You don't have the access codes and passwords he'd need. If you kill us, you'll never get them."
"But I'm not killing both of you." Redding raised his arm and pointed his gun at her. She froze. Sensing Lee moving to her right, she turned to see Michael step in front of him, gun trained on his head.
She swallowed. This would be a really good time for the cavalry to come riding in. Only there wasn't going to be any cavalry, because no one knew where they were.
"You hurt her, and there's no way I'm going to tell you anything you need to know," Lee growled.
"You forget, Stetson, that with your replacement here, I'll have complete access to the rest of your family. I know they're just your stepfamily, but with Amanda already sacrificed to your job, I don't think you'll want any harm to come to them."
"You bastard." If it weren't for Michael standing not three feet away, Lee would no doubt tear Redding apart with his bare hands. She exchanged a helpless look with him, trying to think of something they could do. Poised for action as he was, he needed only a moment's distraction to jump Michael. She was just a few feet from Redding herself, with the wheeled office chair in between them. But unless a miracle happened . . .
Then it did. A sharp "ding" sounded from the elevator down the hall--the elevator that Michael said had no access to their floor. Redding turned his head toward the doorway, and Lee widened his eyes at her. She dove to the floor, using her momentum to shove the chair toward Redding. She was rewarded with an "Oof!" as it whacked him in the shins, sending him staggering into the hallway. As she rolled to her feet, she lunged at him, reaching for his gun while sharply bringing up her knee. A second whoosh of breath told her she had hit her mark, and she wrested the gun from his hand as he bent over. She lifted the weapon high in the air and brought it down on the back of his head. He crumpled onto the office chair, then slid off onto the tiled floor of the hallway.
The elevator doors opened behind her, and she whirled around. To her surprise, Francine and Billy stepped out, guns leveled. They sized up Amanda standing over an unconscious Redding, and then lowered their arms. "Where's Lee?" Francine asked.
Amanda turned, and through the office doorway saw both men struggling for the gun. She stepped inside and raised her gun, then realized she wouldn't be able to tell them apart even if they weren't scuffling so closely together. Their white dress shirts and red ties were the same, or close enough that she couldn't tell the difference, and their pants and shoes were also identical.
"Oh my God," came Francine's voice from behind her. "Which one is he?"
She bit her lip. "I don't know."
"You're married to the man, for God's sake!"
"Francine, I--" She stopped when the blonde put two fingers in her mouth and gave a shrill whistle. The two Lees were distracted long enough for one to drive his fist into the other's jaw, then snap his wrist back and snatch the gun. Training it on the second man, who was bent over in pain, he said, "All right, whatever your name is. It's over."
"Amanda, it's me," the second man said, straightening up with a wince. "He's the imposter."
"Come on, give it up," said the first one. "No one's buying your act. Redding's out of the picture and the best you can do right now is cooperate."
"I'm telling you, Amanda, it's me," the other one said. "This isn't over until you get him to give me that gun."
"So he can kill you like he and Redding planned?" the Lee on the left scoffed.
She exchanged a glance with Francine. Both women kept their arms extended, weapons ready. "Look," Amanda started. "There's a simple way to figure this out. Lee and I established a code word so we'd know it was really us. What is it?"
"Marshmallows," came the response. In unison.
She closed her eyes for a second. Both men insisted the other must have figured it out from the phone call, or from electronic surveillance, their voices spiraling louder and louder over each other. "All right, all right! We'll try something else. When were we married?"
"Which time?" asked the Lee on the left, as the one on the right said, "Which wedding?"
The next question died on Amanda's lips as she realized she didn't want Francine to hear any detailed personal information. Only a last resort. But what else . . .
Then it came to her. "Last time we were here," she said, looking one man in the eyes and then the other. "How did you know it was me?"
The man holding the gun said, "Amanda, of course I knew it was you. Hard as Redding tried, he just couldn't copy you."
The other Lee merely said, "Oh my gosh."
Sure now, she trained her gun on the first man. "All right, Michael, put it down." Francine, apparently sensing her confidence, aimed her weapon at him as well.
The imposter scoffed, giving up his pretence. "I'm the one holding the cards here. Any second now, Gordon's going to be back on his feet, and you guys are dead meat."
"You've got no cards left," Lee said. "Kidnapping two federal agents is bad enough; you don't want to add murder to the list."
Michael hesitated for a second. Then he said, "I've got nothing to lose," as he thumbed the safety back and started to pull the trigger.
Amanda reacted without thinking, her training taking over. Three guns fired, and two Lee Stetsons fell to the floor. Then there was silence.
Keeping her gun trained on the man she had just shot, Francine knelt down to check his pulse. When she stood up, she shook her head. Then she offered a hand to Lee, who was slowly rising from where he'd hit the deck.
Amanda's gaze remained on Michael, sprawled on the carpet with two identical bullet holes in his chest. When she realized she was looking at an exact replica of her husband, dead on the floor, she drew in a shuddering gasp. Lee took her in his arms, and she closed her eyes as she leaned her head against his chest. "You okay?" he murmured.
"Yeah, I'm fine." She drew back to examine his face. Yes, there was no doubt: those hazel eyes, full of warmth and concern and love, belonged to her Lee.
So did the bruise that was already forming on his jaw. She reached up to touch it, and he pulled away with a wince. "Ooh, sorry."
There was a noise behind her, and she turned to see Billy enter the room. He took in the scene, sharply inhaling as he saw what looked like Lee's body on the floor, then visibly doing a double take when he noticed Amanda with an arm wrapped around Lee. "Scarecrow?"
"She seems positive it's him, and I'd take her word for it." Francine shrugged. "I'm sure he can provide the details to any intimate questions you'd care to ask, not that we'd necessarily want to hear the answers."
"Francine," Lee started.
She grinned. "You see, Billy? No one else could say my name with just the right mixture of aggravation, warning, and affection. It must be him."
Amanda smiled and shook her head. Lee pulled her closer and said, "Look, whatever questions you want to ask me, here or at the Agency, I'll answer them. I know this must look strange."
"What looks strange, Scarecrow, is to see you down there with two bullet holes in your chest, and you up there, looking just fine." Billy shook his head as if to clear it. "You're right, we'll need to take some precautionary measures, but if Amanda says it's you, I'll take her word for it."
"Thank you, sir. Oh, is Redding still unconscious out there?"
"No, he tried to make a run for it, but I stopped him before he could get too far." The elevator dinged again, and Billy went on, "That must be the rest of the team. Believe me, we'll make sure he doesn't get out of Loudon again."
"You'd better," Lee threw after him as Billy exited the office. Then he dropped a kiss on the top of her head. "Who would have thought a little thing . . . "
"Like, 'Oh my gosh,'" she finished. "We got him for good this time."
"Third time's a charm."
"Wonder who's going to come crawling out of the woodwork next?" Francine piped up. When they glared at her, she held up her hands. "Sorry, I just thought that at the rate the two of you are going, you're giving the international prison system quite a workout."
"Well, I'm looking forward to some nice, normal cases for a while." Amanda poked Lee in the ribs. "Can you find us some new bad guys for a change?"
He rolled his eyes. "Somehow, I think they'll find us."
"Well, I think that wraps it up." Beaman's voice was tinny through the speaker on the other side of the two-way mirror. "Perfect score on the questions, Lee." He gestured at the lie detector machine on the table. "And according to that, you are who you say you are."
"So can I take these things off now?" Lee pulled at one of the electrodes attached to his chest.
Beaman turned towards the two-way glass. "Billy?"
Next to her, Billy pressed a button on the intercom. "You're fine, Scarecrow. Thanks for your help, Beaman." He turned to her with a smile. "Go on in, Amanda."
She thanked Beaman as he passed by on his way out. "Need some help there, big fella?"
"Auggh!" Lee winced as his skin stuck to the adhesive on the electrodes. "Just when I was starting to like the guy again, too."
"Oh, Lee, you know he's just doing his job."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know." They finished detaching him from the polygraph, and he let out a whoosh of breath. "Can we go now?"
"There's just one or two more forms to sign. I called home, so Mother knows we're running late. I also told her we wouldn't have to worry any more about that little problem we discussed with her, and she was really glad to hear it."
"I bet." Lee buttoned up his shirt and looked up as Billy and Francine entered. "You got that last paperwork?"
"Right here." Francine handed him a folder.
He looked over the forms, scribbled his signature on them, and handed them back. "Say, how did you find us, anyway?"
Their boss grinned. "Your mother-in-law." Amanda raised her eyebrows. "She called my office, said something about a gun on the floor, and seeing two of you in the car, not just *the* two of you, and she had a bad feeling. She put two and two together really quickly. And once I understood what she was saying, things took off."
Francine took over. "Considering Redding's motives, we figured the first place to check would be where he tried to off you four years ago. Once we got there, we saw the car that matched Mrs. West's description, and we knew we had the right place."
Billy's eyes twinkled as he looked at Amanda. "You know, we are still looking for civilian workers from time to time."
"Oh, no, sir, I think two spies in the family are enough."
"I don't know, I think she'd be pretty good." Amanda turned to give Lee an incredulous look, and he went on, a smile playing at the corners of his lips. "She figured out something was wrong with us, she's already been kidnapped at least half as many times as you were in your first year . . . "
"She managed to send you that secret message when Gregory had her and Lee and Harry," Francine volunteered.
"And she was a real asset in Quebec. Even after being held at gunpoint for several hours," Lee added.
Billy joined in. "Then there was time she managed to tail you, Stetson. For two hours, wasn't it?"
He rolled his eyes. "You're never going to let me forget that, are you?"
"Depends how many more agents you manage to recruit for us."
Amanda opened her mouth, but their boss had already ducked out of the room, his chuckle echoing after him. "You don't think . . . " She turned to Lee.
His impish smile was his only answer before he dropped a kiss on her lips and headed after Billy.
"If it helps, Amanda, I think that one of you in the Agency is more than enough," Francine threw over her shoulder as she followed the men out.
"Yes, thank you, that helps so much," Amanda called after her. She shook her head. Her mother, working for the Agency? That was as ludicrous as, well . . .
As a housewife from Arlington being a spy.