"Yes Dr. Smyth is attending the cocktail party downstairs. Could you tell him that Layla in sweet 234 would like to see him? It's a matter of national security."
Layla smiled and drew a deep drag from her cigarette then exhaling through her nose like an angry dragon. She'd show Lee Stetson all right. No man would ever use Layla Rayez again.
TUEDAY MORNING AMANDA'S HOUSE
Lee woke up the next morning feeling like his head was about to burst. Through crusty eyes he glanced at the clock. 10:30. Amanda was already up and gone. Why did she let me sleep so late? Sitting up quickly he was suddenly aware of how nauseous he felt. And why the hell did I drink so much? He tried to remember the night before but it was a blur. He did not even know how he got home. He rubbed his temples and pushed his eyes shut. Must have been quite a party. Just then the phone rang.
"Lee what the hell were you thinking last night?" Billy voice sounded serious.
" Oh did Dr. Smyth see me or something. Yeah I guess I had to much to drink." Lee croaked into the receiver.
"Listen, get down here. I will try and keep this from Amanda but I don't know how long I can. Just get down here. Top priority." Billy grunted in disgust and hung up.
On the other end a confused Lee negotiated the crust he had just dug from his eyes. He shrugged. I must have embarrassed myself. What's to keep from Amanda? Still racking his brain for any morsel of memory from the night before, he stumbled his way to the shower careful not to upset his already pounding head.
BILLY"S OFFICE LATER THAT MORNING
Lee was still foggy-eyed and cotton mouthed despite a shower and the passage of a few hours. He had decided that what he had was definitely not a hangover. He had felt this way before. He had been drugged. That seemed to be of some comfort to Billy and Francine who were waiting for a logical explanation.
"Lee I've known you for a long time and we both remember how you were before Amanda but frankly we were shocked. Being drugged makes a whole lot more sense.. We will send blood samples to the lab for conformation but you should at least review the tape, or the parts we are concerned about."
" Hold it, what tape?" Lee slumped on the couch.
"Layla Rayez gave Dr. Smyth a tape of you two in.. well, a compromising position so to speak. She must have given you a hypno drug, tell you what to say before hand and then taped it."
"What the hell did I say? Lee ran a nervous hand through his hair. Francine who had yet to say a word slid the tape in the VCR.
"You watch it and tell us what we are supposed to think.'
It was cued up to what was supposed to be a key part in the tape. He focused on two bodies kissing passionately in bed. It hit him like a ton of bricks. It was he and Layla.
"So Lee, I thought you were happily married"
"I am married but you make me happy."
"So will you get me those weapons plans? You could use the money for that bloodsucker wife of yours."
"You aren't kidding. I can get the plans but I need 2 million dollars up front. Then I want you." They shared another deep embrace. The tape turned off.
Billy, Francine and Lee were all quiet for a moment. Each waited for the other's reaction.
Dr. Smyth wants to see you about this." Billy carefully began. "I suggest you go have your blood drawn so we can identify what drug was used before he gets to you so we have some solid answers."
Lee nodded in agreement. He was afraid to look anyone in the eye. Ashamed and mad at himself for being so stupid.
"She tried to seduce me Billy."
"It looks like she succeeded" Francine spat. She couldn't hold it in any longer.
"Amanda has seen this, Lee. Dr. Smyth is debriefing her now since you are her partner. How could you do this to the mother of your children?"
"Amanda has seen this?" Lee sprung from the couch. He glanced ate Billy who stared nervously at the floor. He tried to keep it from Amanda but Smyth could be so hard-hearted.
" Does she know this is all a lie. I was drugged and set up! "Lee was screaming now. Almost on cue, Dr. Smyth burst through the door. Dramatically taking a drag from his Cuban, he addressed Lee.
"So, Scarecrow. I never did think you were the kind of man to settle down. But let's get to the point. I don't care who you sleep with. I only care if you commit treason, and your little B-movie performance from last night shows you planning just that." Cigar smoke lingered in the air. Dr, Smyth took another puff. We have debriefed your partner. Of course that's standard. But I must say that she was none to pleased." He smiled as he spoke. The Bastard was enjoying this.
" What kind of man are you? Upsetting my wife who is stressed out as it is. I was drugged! There is no way I would sleep with Layla, or say those things."
"I saw you go willingly to her sweet."
"She told me she had information. Nothing else. She is trying to set me up!"
"Why?" Billy asked.
"She wants me. She tried to seduce me. Don't you see, I refused her so she is trying to derail my life." They all stared at him for a moment. Lee panted in exasperation. Billy approached him and put a supportive hand on his shoulder. " Go get your blood drawn and then we will take your statement."
"I got to find my wife first." Lee bolted from the office. He was disgusted. This was going to kill Amanda. She had to know this was all a set up. He would explain to her, what kind of woman Layla was and what her motives were. But then it occurred to him, maybe that would make her feel worse.
In a fog Amanda drove home. After the morning she had at the agency combined with the growing discomfort of her condition all she wanted to do was go to sleep. Her eyes burned from hot tears and her body shook with ambivalence. There had to be some explanation. That's what she said in the debriefing with Dr. Smyth and that's what she kept telling herself. Soon she might start to believe it. She needed to talk to Lee. But she was afraid what would be said. She let out a breath she didn't know she was holding and sighed. What a mess.
She wearily climbed in to bed, not bothering to change out of her clothes. If she slept she wouldn't have to think about it. She even tried to ignore the slam of the front door and Lee's urgent voice.
"Amanda?" He bounded up the stairs and she brace herself for their confrontation. She wasn't prepared for her heart to jump as it did when his figure appeared in the doorway.
Lee saw his wife, red eyed and dazed and his heart sank. How could he do this to her? This was his entire fault. Instead of rushing to her and take her in his arms like he so desperately wanted, he leaned against the door frame nervously fingering his car keys ashamed to meet her gaze.
"Amanda I can explain... "
"Don't" Amanda's voice was strained and barely audible. "You know, I know I am seven months pregnant and huge and ugly…" she was starting to cry.
"Amanda please!" Lee started cautiously.
"Please! " Amanda's voice rose "Let me finish!" She spoke softer again. " I'm know you are feeling pressure at work and at home, but I never figured you could do this to me." She swallowed hard and continued. "I have been your partner, now your wife and soon the mother of your children. We have put our lives on the line for each other countless times, and sacrificed a lot to be together. How could you betray me like this?
Lee's face was red with hurt and tears began to form in his eyes. "Can I talk now?"
Amanda started to hoist herself out of bed. "You can talk all you want but I can't guarantee I'll listen." She tried to get out the door but Lee stopped her.
"Please let me explain." His voice was a whisper."
Giving in she leaned on the corner of the dresser, arms folded. Lee kept his distance standing by the nightstand.
"I went to that party last night to meat Layla Rayez. She said she had information. I went upstairs to her sweet and..she tried to get me to sleep with her."
Amanda rolled her eyes and through her gaze up to the ceiling. "And?" she croaked afraid of the answer.
"I declined but after that is all a blur. I don't remember. I was drugged Amanda. That's the only thing I know."
"What do you mean you don't know, There is a VHS tape that can jar your memory." Her voice grew louder now and was surprisingly steady.
"Lee sat on the bed his back to Amanda. He couldn't bear to look at her. He was telling the truth. She had to believe him. He rubbed his temples as he starred at the floor.
"Amanda you got to believe me. I would never do anything to hurt you."
"Why would she drug you? Tell me the motive Stetson." He cringed at how cold her tone was.
"She wants me and is jealous of you. She's crazy. A fatal attraction."
Amanda shook her head, a disbelieving smile crossed her face. She rubbed her forehead. "I don't believe this is happening" she murmured to herself. There was silence for a moment and then the million-dollar question that neither wanted to address.
"Lee, tell me the truth. Did you sleep with her?"
"Lee squeezed his eyes shut at her words he had to answer. He wrung his hands and swallowed a lump.
"I don't know."
"Wonderful! Amanda quipped. "Listen this is too much right now." Amanda moved toward the door.
"Sweetheart, I know what you are thinking. You have got to know that I love with all my heart. You are my life."
Amanda' hand was frozen on the doorknob.
"I know I was drugged. She is trying to split us up and ruin my life.. Let me prove it." Amanda shook her head unable to believe this was really happening. "Fine than prove it but I can't talk anymore. I'm feeling a little sick." She bolted out the door and in to the bathroom. The sound of the door slamming nearly knocked Lee over.
Layla could hear the bitter lovers quarrel from the closet at the foot of the stairs. She had crept right through the front door a few minutes after Lee whom in his haste to get to his wife forgot to lock it. Everything was going pretty much as planned except the agency figured out he was drugged and set up already. Well, no matter. Maybe Lee could still have his career, but there was no way he could have his family. After all she would be his family. Amanda wouldn't have him much longer and just to make sure there were no more ties between them; She would make sure Amanda wouldn't have his children either. On her way out she grabbed Amanda's vitamins off the counter. She poured out the pills and replaced them with one from her pocket. They looked identical. She smiled evilly as she slipped out the door. Murdering Amanda and his children wasn't in her original plan. She should have known getting Lee would require a high price. But hey, she could improvise.
To Be continued...
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