Layla Rayez never had a better lover than Lee Stetson. There were many times when she would replay their magical encounters in her head. Breathless and spent from hours of unbridled passion, she and Lee could always connect. That was eight years ago when Lee was young and wild, and she was whatever he wanted her to be. Layla was a Brazilian aristocrat with connections to the South American underworld. Her costly American education coupled with her exotic beauty coaxed men to tell her anything from sordid sexual fantasies to who was making the next hot weapons deal. Lee Stetson was interested in her for what she knew; she was interested in Lee Stetson.
Layla met Lee in a D.C. bar ten years ago when she was a senior at Georgetown and he was a rookie agent still wet behind the ears and ready for some excitement. She dropped his some information about some Nicaraguans and it led to Lee’s first big bust. Ever since Lee would now and then use Layla for information and other things-quite a bit more then and that upset her.
She had heard about Amanda. She had met her before briefly and had despised her the moment she saw her. So wholesome, so sweet, so connected with Lee. It drove her into a jealous tailspin. Now it was payback time. She had waited for years for him to return her affections. It never happened. She wanted to be his wife, the mother of his children. She would make him happy. She would have to. He had no choice.
“You wanted to see me?” Lee sat down in front of Billy’s desk. He was perturbed. It was late in the evening. He needed to get home.
“Listen, I know you wanted to keep your hours to a minimum until Amanda had the babies but I got a call from Layla Rayez. She has got some info on a Brazilian weapons ring.”
“Layla huh? “ Lee hadn’t thought about her in a long time. A glimpse of a rainy night on a beach in Buenos Aries slipped in his mind. He smiled in spite of himself then shook it off. “Wow. She’s in town huh?”
“I know you two have some… history”
“ Does that bother you, I mean will it bother Amanda?
“Wait a minute, what’s up Billy? Lee was confused about all this sudden interest.
“Well the point is there is a party tonight at the Mirror Lake Hotel and she wants to meet you. She’s called. You don’t pick up messages.” Billy threw a pile of pink slips of paper in front of him. ”So it won’t be a problem?”
“ No! Don’t worry Billy. I can control myself.” Lee laughs as he heads for the door.
“And tonight will be O.K. with Amanda?”
“I guess. I just hate leaving her alone now. She’s so uncomfortable. She gets so tired. Carrying two babies for seven and a half months with that tiny frame, and coming into work nearly everyday…she amazes me.” Lee smiles.
“That’s our Amanda”
Lee sighs and is quiet for a moment. Billy senses something is bothering him.
“Everything O.K. Lee?”
“Yeah,” Lee hesitated and decided to spill it. He sat back down in front of Billy. ”I always feel guilty taking late night assignments especially with the babies coming but I have to. With Amanda’s two boys and two more on the way…”
“A lot of mouths to feed.”
“Yeah, and well you know how much a field agent makes and I think Amanda wants to stay home with the babies at least for a little while. I don’t know I guess I am feeling a little strapped.” Lee rubbed his temples. He felt a headache coming on.
“Lee I told you you should have taken that promotion at the State Department over a year ago. It would have meant a lot more money and a desk job is always safer for a family man. I’m sorry, there is simple nothing here.”
“Oh well.” Lee gets up, already over it. ”Well I guess I’m on the clock. Amanda will be pleased, she always in such a good mood these days.” He says sarcastically as he leaves.
“ You got another month to enjoy it.” Billy calls after him laughing to himself.
“Amanda?” Lee called as he came through the back door her house. He kissed her on the cheek as he passed her. She was unfazed and continued digging through the freezer.
“Are you hunting for hidden treasure? Lee asks playfully as he thumbs through the mail on the counter.
“ Close, my Brownie Fudge ice-cream. Did you eat it?” Amanda closed the freezer door with feigned anger and waddled to the couch.
“No, I didn’t eat it. Don’t you think I know better? How you feeling?” Lee follows her to the couch.
“Exhausted, your children are very heavy.” “Listen why don’t you go get in bed and I will run to the store and get you your ice- cream.”
“Why are you acting like you are in such a hurry? Sit down for a minute.”
“Sweetheart I can’t..” “ You got work don’t you?”
“ Yes, I’m sorry. Billy…”
“Lee its O.K. let me change my clothes and I can back you up…” Amanda starts to get up from the couch but Lee stops her.
“No, Amanda you rest. I promise I will be back early.”
Amanda had been noticing Lee had been so uptight and anxious lately. She started to worry about him. “ Sweetheart get over here a minute. I want to talk to you.”
Lee knelt down on the floor in front of her. She took his face in her hands. ”I know you are a little concerned about providing for your family.”
“Let me finish. Don’t be so tense. The babies are fine. I’m fine. Everything is fine. Its not like we’re destitute.”
Lee smile and kissed the palm of her hand. It amazed him how Amanda always knew what he was thinking. “I know I just want you to be comfortable and right now I feel like I should work as much as I can before you really need me.”
“I always need you Lee.” Amanda leans down and kisses him. ” And I love you too.”
Lee smiles. “And I love you” He got up and started for the door again. “So what am I getting? Brownie Fudge?”
“Yeah and don’t forget the peanut butter”
“What?" Lee’s head peaked around the corner confused.”
“You mix the two together. Its like a cold peanut butter cup.”
“Amanda, that’s disgusting!
“That’s what you think!” …………………………………………………………………
Lee walked in to the Mirror Lake Hotel planning on a quick meet. He scanned the crowd. It was just another garden variety D.C. function. The same people with different outfits every time. All trying to impress one another with their tastes and status some trying to give and get information and still some to find a companion for the night. Lee used to enjoy these little get-togethers. The drinks were free flowing, the women were beautiful and he was the life of the party. He smiled to himself. My how some much has changed. As he glanced around the room, some his fellow agents, he felt sorry for them. He felt lucky he had a family life now and that he had Amanda. “So Scarecrow, you got a note from your mother to come out and play tonight?” Dr. Smyth quipped as a cloud of expensive cigar smoke invaded his face.
“Hello, no I’m working sir.” Lee struggled with a smile. ”Have you seen Layla Rayez? I was supposed to meet up…”
“Well if this is not a sight for sore eyes.” a breathy voice purred into Lee’s ear. “Lee Stetson, you get better looking each time I see you.” Lee turned to see Layla and despite himself, she took his breath away. Quick flashes of rainy nights and imported champagne popped in his mind but were quickly banished. She was tall with mocha skin and silky long dark hair that seem to catch the light just perfectly. Her tight red dress hugged her at all the right places revealing a well-toned and proportioned body. Layla was every man’s idea of perfection and she knew it. Suddenly self-conscious he licked his dry lips and tried to look her in the face. Her deep green eyes, were prisms clear and bright; pristine and calculating.
“Layla, it’s wonderful to see you.” Lee’s voice shook as he gave her a kiss on the cheek. You know Dr. Smyth right?”
“Dr. Smyth smiled with his cigar carefully pursed between his lips taking the whole scene in. Same old Scarecrow. He does love his women. “ Excuse us sir, Lee and I have much to discuss…upstairs… “She slid her arm around Lee and led him up the staircase to her sweet. “ Many curious eyes followed them as they went.
“ Layla’s sweet was just as made up as she was. Roses everywhere with scented candles strategically placed all over the room. Champagne was chilling beside the bed and soft music came from the stereo. The four post brass bed was turned down a fact not lost on Lee. She knew he was married. She would respect that. I respect that. He said to himself, as his eyes wondered back to the bed again.
“So tell me, how married life? What’s her name? Ameleia? Would you like a drink?” She poured some champagne, lit a cigarette, and sauntered over to Lee.
“Amanda. She’s fine. Listen can we get down to business. I don’t have a lot of time. So what’s this about arms information.” His voice trailed off. It was suddenly apparent to Lee that he did not trust himself in the room with her. She was trying to seduce him. She was right in front of him now. They could feel each other’s breath. Lee caught a whiff of her perfume. Mingling with the scented candles. His head was swirling. Their lips were inches away.
“Layla please. You know I’m a happily married man.” He said with conviction. I even got kids on the way. My wife is having twins. He smiled at the thought. He wished he were home right now. This was too sticky of a situation.
“Married or not. We can still have a little fun.” She sprawled out on the bed. “It can be our little secret. Think back Lee. Remember how good it was between us, how good I made you feel. I always thought that we were meant to be together. “
“ Layla that was years ago. We have moved on. I love Amanda. Please can we get down to business.” Lee sat down on the bed. He felt more in control of the situation now. He said no and he meant it. “I really have to get home. Layla, I had no idea that you felt this way about us. I’m so sorry.”
Layla was getting angry. What did he see in this Amanda woman? She could please him and make him happy. She wanted to have his children be his wife. Lee Stetson was all she ever wanted and if she couldn’t have him, no one else would. She would have to destroy him and everything he loved.
“O.K. I understand.” Layla got up off the bed and headed to the bar. “At least have a drink and we’ll talk. “
Lee shrugged. He was proud of his self-control. “O.K. but just one drink.”
Layla coyly smiled as she mixed him a martini. Lee didn’t notice her slip anything into it and he was out could by the time she turned the video camera on.
End Part 1 Part 2
Minutes after Lee left, Layla sat up in her satin bed exhausted and satisfied. Smoke from her cigarette wafted and mingled with the dancing candlelight. Her plan could not have gone any better. The hypno drug had worked. By tomorrow the agency including is darling wife Amanda would be greatly surprised. She got up and reached into a huge flower arrangement on the table across from the bed. Inside was a camcorder carefully concealed and witness to the evening’s events. Her blood red fingernails removed the tape then reached for the phone.
“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.
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.
In Billy’s office, 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. END PART 2
After Lee waited in vain for Amanda to reappear from the bathroom for twenty minutes he decide he should just leave. He didn’t know what hurt him more, leaving her like that or the thought of her feeling better that he did. When he got back to the agency at 4;00 the blood test results had already come back. He was right. Layla had pumped him full of a Brazilian hypno drug that left him highly suggestive. Putty in the enemy’s hand so to speak. Even Dr. Smyth began to understand. After the four hour debriefing it was clear to all that Lee was set up. He had not committed treason. The sex part was still a mystery. Ironically, that was the only part Lee was concerned about. Billy knew that too. He knew that Lee would never intentionally betray Amanda. Lee would sell his soul for his wife if it came down to it. Lee needed a friend and Billy was ready to listen.
Lee was reluctantly getting ready to go home at 10:30. He was about to leave the Q-beuro when Billy came in. “Long day huh?” Billy sat down in front of Lee’s desk signifying this was going to be a serious talk. “Yeah.” Lee forced a smile and sat back down. Deep down grateful he didn’t have to go home and face her just yet. “Well, at least I’m cleared.”
“Amanda’s really upset isn’t she.” Billy got right down to business.
“What do you think. She’s seven months pregnant, her hormones are crazy, she’s self conscious of how she looks, then she sees a tape of her husband in bed with another woman. How do you think she feels?”
Billy shrugged. He could tell Scarecrow was close to the edge, so he proceeded with caution. “Look Lee, Layla obviously has a problem with your life with Amanda. She tried to do it through you and failed. Do you think she could be after Amanda next?” Lee got up and turned to stare out the window. “I don’t know. I’m so confused. Layla tries to ruin my life and career. Some way to get me to be with her.”
“That what I mean. She’s a stalker and I think since she failed with you Amanda could be next.”
Lee pondered what Billy had said. He sat back down at the edge of his desk. “No, Laylas not into hurting anyone. She’s into head games.” Lee looked at his watch.” I should go home. Amanda should be sleeping now.” He rubbed his forehead remembering the confrontation of earlier today. He grabbed his keys and wearily walked to the door.
“Scarecrow wait.” Billy stayed seated and faced away from Lee. “Take good care of Amanda. She’ll come around. But I think you are underestimating Layla. I have a bad feeling about this.”
“Lee paused at the open door. “Thanks Billy. I will.”
Amanda looked at the clock on the bed room wall. 11:00. With the exception of the TV on in front of her, the house was so quiet. With Her mother and the boys gone for the whole moth the hose was all hers and Lee’s. She had looked forward to the time alone with him. Pretty soon they would be spread pretty thin with twins coming.
She turned down the volume to be alone with her thoughts. Maybe Francine and everyone else were right. Lee is and forever will be a playboy. She was a fool to think he could be strapped down to a mortgaged house in the suburbs with four children. She set her had on her belly. These kids would be here in less than two months. Her eyes began to tear up. I wonder if they will have a father?”
Suddenly she remembered her vitamins. She forgot to take them after dinner. Recalling they were all the way downstairs she groaned and lifted herself out of bed. As fast as she could move in her condition she went down stairs took them and went back to bed. She wanted to be asleep when Lee got home. Or at least pretending to be. She couldn’t handle seeing him right now. Knowing that he had been with another women kissed her, touched her… she pushed her eyelids shut. Hurry! Fall asleep! And indeed she had by the time Lee got home ten minutes later. He silently climbed the stairs and came in the bedroom. He was relieved to hear her even breathing deep In sleep. He carefully sat down next to her and studied her for a moment by the blue light of the muted television. He soft brown hair framed her head on the pillow a few stray hairs touching her cheek. He lightly brushed them away. He could feel the moistness of her cheek. Trails of tears that had yet to dry. It was like a slap in the face. He shook his head. Mad at himself for hurting her. Slowly he lowered his lips to hers and lightly touched them She didn’t even flinch. He lightly set his hand on her growing stomach. He was so incredibly in awe of Amanda. The thought of her carrying their children was still surreal to him. He thought he had to be the luckiest man in the world.
“I love you Amanda. I would never hurt you. I love our life and our soon to be family and how you make me feel when I’m with you. ..” A tear rolled down his cheek. It landed on Amanda’s face. Still she didn’t flinch.
“Please don’t leave me.” He began to sniffle and whimper. Quickly he got up and went out in the hall. He didn’t want his sobs to wake her. It was a moot point.
It took all the strength she could muster not to kiss him back when he had touched his lips to hers minutes earlier. And she knew what he said was sincere. She could feel his salty tear on her face when it fell. It broke her heart all over again. But despite what he said and how she felt she didn’t go console him in the hall trying hard to muffled his sobs. In a way she felt better knowing he was as upset as she was. Maybe there was an explanation in all this. He probably was drugged. But that wasn’t the point. The point was she didn’t know if she could get passed him being with another woman. . He thoughts crowded her head making her eyelids push shut. She was truly asleep by the time Lee crawled in next to her three hours later. Amanda woke at 5:00 in the morning with a strange pain in her stomach. It wasn’t labor pains, no quite a cramp. But like a pressure. The dr. told her she might expect this. Carrying this much weight on her tiny frame was a huge strain on her body. But it was worth it. She shifted to a more comfortable position.
“You Ok?” a groggy voice came from the other side of the bed.
“Yeah fine.” Her voice was mechanic. " Just a little uncomfortable.” There was silence a few long moments until he rolled over to look at her. He propped his head up on his head. He reached out to touch her arm but then thought better of it. Then got up to look out the window.
“We need to talk you know.” He ventured.
‘I know.” “We got the tests back from the lab. I was drugged. They have cleared me with everything else. It seems this was just a personal vendetta. She’s trying to break us up …Did she succeed?” He held his breath waiting for an answer.
“Listen, maybe, we can put this on hold until the babies come huh?” She avoided the question. She shifted again still feeling that odd pain. Lee turned and saw the grimace she made as she moved. He could tell she was in pain. He strode over to he to take her in his arms. “Honey what is it? “
“Don’t touch me!” She ordered barely louder than a whisper. “I can’t handle you touching me right now.” Her words were like poison. Lee drew back in shock.
“I’m sorry.” He stammered.
“So am I.” She was about a lot of things.
Lee showered and got dressed while Amanda lay there concentrating on willing her pain away. Neither spoke. Both were too afraid of what the other might say.
As Lee turned to, he realized he couldn’t leave it this way. He turned around at the bedroom doorway and looked Amanda in the eye. She studied him, wondering what he was thinking. “Amanda, I can’t handle this. I love you more than life itself. There is nothing more I want than to spend the rest of my life with you with our family. Layla tried to frame me. Please you have to believe me.” He sat down next to her on the bed. In spite of her self, she reached out to tough his face. “I love you Lee. But the thought of you sleeping with another woman whether you wanted to or not. She stopped the words choking her. “I can’t go into this now.” She flinched again in pain. “Amanda are you in labor.” He urgently asked her, eyes wide.
“No. I’m just a little stressed.” Maybe you should go to work. “O.k.” Lee agreed reluctantly. “But one last thing.”
“What?” she was exasperated.
“It’s entirely possible that I never actually slept with her. It just looked like we were. Maybe you could give me the benefit of the doubt.” He looked in her eyes staring at him with disgust. He said nothing more and left.
Amanda didn’t mean to look at him that way. She was more concerned with the pain that had now metamorphisized from a dull ache to a shooting cramp. As she heard his car pull away. She knew she shouldn’t have let him go. There was something definitely wrong.
She struggled out of bed. He legs felt like lead soar and swollen. He head began to pound. With all the strength she could muster she staggered downstairs to find her doctor’s number. No luck. Frantically she grabbed for the phone. She could page Lee. That’s when she saw the pager lying next to the phone. O all days to forget it. The room was spinning now; She could barely see the buttons on the phone as she weakly punched out the digits to IFF.
“Melrose Please. Its urgent.” She croaked. She was holding on to the counter now. Holding herself up. “Melrose here.”
“Sir, its Amanda is Lee there?” Her words were barely audible.
“Amanda? What’s wrong? You sound terrible.”
“Something is wrong with the babies. I’ve got to get to the hospital….” She dropped the phone to the floor. She looked down to get it, but what she saw horrified her. The receiver was lying in a pool of her blood. Suddenly her eyes blinked shut and she fell to the floor., unaware of Billy yelling at her to respond. End Part 3
Lee didn’t know quite where he was going when he left the house. He didn’t want to deal with the Agency right then, and it was too early to go anywhere else. It took all his strength not to turn the Vette around and head back home. He knew Amanda needed space but for Lee to remain idle, doing nothing to rectify the situation was tearing him apart. He had to make things right. He looked at his watch. 7:00. Maybe he would be Layla Rayez’s wake up call. ………………………………………………………………………………………. Francine and Billy got to Amanda’s house and were horrified at what they found. Amanda lay in a small pool of dark blood on the kitchen floor. Her breathing was erratic and light. Her chalk white skin l warned them death wasn’t far off. She was barely conscious her eyes kept rolling back into her head. Francine held her hand until EMS got there.
By the time they got her in the Ambulance and to the hospital, the prognosis was pretty grim. They would keep Billy and Francine posted but they needed to see her husband. Where was he? Billy left messages everywhere. He hoped that just this time he would pick them up.
…………………………………………………… Layla was jarred by pounding on the door.
“Who ever it is, do you have any idea what time it is?”
“Yeah, time for me to get some answers. Open the door Layla!” Lee’s voice was urgent .
With an evil smile Layla slithered out of bed and threw on her red satin robe. Quickly she glanced into the mirror , her man had come to his senses. She wanted to look as good as possible.
“Coming Darling!” She cooed . She opened the door and Lee flew in.
“ So you figured the way to get me in your bed was to ruin my life. “
“Lee honey please..” she rushed to put her arms around him . He pushed her away.
“Don’t touch me.” His eyes were stone. Layla was livid. She was not going to be played for a fool. Not this time. She no longer wanted to be with him, she wanted to ruin him. Her face turned red as Lee stared at her in disdain.
“Don’t try to deny it! You miss me! You miss how I make you feel! I could please you better than that stupid whore your with now!!”
Lee shook his head speechless, hurt and maintaining his self-control. He had never hit a woman but this time he really wanted to. He took a step toward her. She stepped back. Her words hit him like bullets. She wouldn’t be quiet. “You know what your problem is Lee Stetson. You couldn’t handle a woman like me. You had to go slumming . Amanda your wife, please! You settled for her. She’s nothing but dirt.!”
“Shut Up!” He took a few more steps toward her. Her back was against the wall.
“ …Common Trash!! What did you do knock her up and out of honor marry her. “SHUT UP!!” Their faces were inches apart now.
“Amanda’s a whore! “ She hissed. She trapped you just like you are accusing me of doing. She in nothing but a dirty, pathetic whore.” Lee felt his fists clench and his teeth grind. It took all the strength he could muster not to smack her in her spiteful face. Their faces were so close now. He felt her venomous heat. All of a sudden Layla furiously pressed her mouth on his. She kissed him hard. Sickened, Lee pulled away. “There was a fleeting silence. Both looked at each other disgusted and confused.
“Layla you are the one who’s the dirty whore.”
Thwack! She slapped him. Her claw like nails leaving tracks across his face. She was hysterical. She ran to the dresser threw the vase against the wall, her belongings to the floor. “You deserve what you get Lee Stetson! I hope you wife is dead right now. I hope those pills kill her!" Lee’s head jerked at what she had said. His eyes widened and his heart sank.
”What did you say?”
“That’s right. I paid a visit to your little suburban house and changed her vitamins with KJS. She’s supposed to take them in the morning and at night right? You might just be too late.”
“Oh my god.” Lee staggered to the door in a state of shock . He was torn. He needed to get to Amanda but he couldn’t let Layla get away. “If anything happens to her, I will follow you to the ends of the earth and kill you with my bare hands. Do you hear me? You will live in fear for the rest of your life.” With that Lee bolted out the door. He had to get home. If she took those pills he would never forgive himself. Lee screeched his tired as he pulled in the driveway. He hastily parked and threw open the front door. “Amanda!?” He ran in the kitchen and nearly slipped. His shoes were crimson red. He had stepped in Amanda’s blood. His eyes darted and fell on a note on the counter. It was from Billy. The ominous words choked him. Memorial hospital. Hurry. ……………………………………………………………. Lee sprinted to the nurse’s station crazed and belligerent. “Where is my wife? Hey!" Somebody!”
Billy grabbed his shoulder. “Hey Scarecrow. ..”
“Billy! How is she I saw the blood on the floor. Is she all right? I have to see her!
“We’re waiting for the Doctor. He should be right out. They were looking for you. They want to speak to you.”
As if on cue, Francine walked in to the waiting room with Dr. Reed. He was an older man with serious eyes. They could tell by his face that it wasn’t good news. “Mr. Stetson. I’m glad you’re here. I was just talking to Mrs. Desmond… “
“What’s going on Doc? Come on?!” Lee’s voice was strained.
“Well, about ten minutes ago your wife gave birth to baby girl. She seems to be doing all right. She’s breathing on her own.” Lee let a smile escape his tightly pursed mouth.
“What about the other baby?” Lee ventured, afraid of the answer.
“I’m sorry the baby boy was stillborn.” Lee fought back tears while Billy and Fraincine both placed comforting hands on him.
“ Amanda must be going crazy. Is she OK? I’ve got to be with her.”
The Doctor stopped him. ”She doesn’t know. She is still asleep. We took the babies by cesarean.
“Why? Why did this happen? Lee already knew. Layla.
“ That’s the thing. We found KJS in her system. It’s a derivative of the French abortion drug. But it was mixed with something else, we think we’ve identified as rat poison.”
“What?” Billy spat. “Billy, Francine . Layla did it. She told me she poisoned Amanda with her vitamin pills. She told Me..” Lee was becoming disoriented. He sat down staring at the floor. Billy could see the pain and guilt in Scarecrow’s eyes. He had to take over.
“Listen. We are federal agents. I need all of Amanda Stetson’s records and reports immediately! This is an attempted murder. Francine, call Dr. Smyth and send a team to go to the Mirror Lake Hotel. I can hold down the fort here.” The orders were given and everyone dispersed. Lee sat aside a spectator unable to do anything else. End Part 4 Lee pulled himself together and at the nurse’s suggestion he went to go see his daughter in the nursery. Staring in the window wide eyed and weary his gaze fell upon the words ”Baby Girl Stetson.” Below them rested a tiny little figure wrinkled and pink sound asleep. A smile wove across his lips . He took a deep breath and exhaled. “Oh, Amanda , she’s beautiful.” He wipes a tear that had escaped his eye. Amanda will be so happy. Suddenly a flood of brutal reality washed over him. His other child was missing. His son. Stillborn. He cleared his throat suddenly feeling choked. He had to see Amanda. “She’s beautiful! Congratulations.” Billy offered solemnly. His voice startled Lee.
“I remember when Jeanie had our girls. I was scared. So much responsibility. But then you think what huge gifts children are.”
“Yeah. Gifts. Lee mulled it over for a second. “How the hell am I going to tell my wife that one of those gifts was taken from her because of me? Our son is dead because of me. “ Lee words were stifled and barely audible.
Billy nodded. He knew Lee would blame himself. “Listen this may seem heartless and cold but you need to be strong for Amanda now. I know you lost a child, and that’s a terrible thing but you have your daughter. Focus on the positive.”
“Aren’t I supposed to grieve? Lee voice rose “The head shrinkers at the agency told me for years that squelching my emotions isn’t healthy and now you’re telling me to do just that!! “I’m not telling you to squelch them I’m telling you to be rational ..”
“ Well excuse me Billy! I’m not feeling rational right now. My son is dead, my wife is sick and my daughter may face her whole life without a mother because of a lunatic. I caused that. I am supposed to protect my family. I led Layla Rayez right to them. How’s that for rational thought?” Lee stormed off. Billy stood there oblivious to the stares the scene had rendered. He should have known better than talking with Lee then. Lee always blamed himself when anything happened involving Amanda. Well, maybe on some level, this time he was right.
The team assigned to pick up Layla pounded on the door to her Sweet. They weren’t surprised. She probably took off. Half-heartedly, they broke the door down. When they entered they were surprised at what they found. There Layla was still dressed in her red satin robe, makeup perfect, her hair carefully brushed. Her body was limp as it swung gently by a scarf around her neck carefully tied to the bar in her wardrobe. Her skin was ashen and her eyeballs protruded red and irritated. She hadn’t blinked in a few hours. One of the agents found a note on the bed. He immediately brought it to Francine who was waiting outside. To whom it may concern- I loved Lee Stetson with all my heart. I was willing to live only for him but he denied me that. By the time someone reads this I, as well as Lee’s wife and children. will be dead. I hope I have brought him the misery he has brought me.
It was my dream for him to make love to me again. When he refused I framed him for treason. I lied , I drugged him. I wanted him. Unfortunately, the brain is not the only thing the hypno drug I used made soft. Sine I can not spend my life with Lee Stetson. I have no choice but to end it. I look forward to the day I see him again.. In Hell
Francine read the note, and shook her head. Women willing to die for Lee Stetson. It baffled her. This woman was definitely nuts. Solemnly, she called Billy and passed on the information. Billy informed Lee that Layla was dead and responsible for Amanda’s condition. Also, Lee was totally free and clear. …………………………………………….
When Lee was finally allowed to see Amanda he thought he knew for sure what he was going to say. He had rehearsed it. But when he saw her glazed eyes and tear- streaked cheeks, his mind went completely blank.
He walked over and carefully took her hand as he sat down beside her. He was relieved that she didn’t protest his touch.
“Hey, you OK?” His voice wavered.
“Yeah.” Her lips barely moved. “I have to tell you some thing. This is going to be really hard…”
“I know..’ Her words were slow and deliberate. A mother always knows when some thing happens to their child. He head turned toward the window, grateful for something else to look at other than her husband’s sad eyes. ‘Our daughter? She’s Ok right? “Yeah, Beautiful.” His voice shook. He held her cool palm against his cheek. An uncomfortable silence crept in. Lee gave in first.
“Amanda I know we have things to workout…” “Don’t. She lifted a shaky hand and placed it over his mouth. “ I don’t care anymore bout Layla. Maybe I’m being selfish, or maybe just stupid. But I need you right now.” Her words were barely more than whisper. She licked her parched lips and continued. “I don’t want to know what happened with her. I don’t care. I love you more than anything and we have a daughter now as proof of that. All I know is I am scared to death to leave this hospital with only my daughter and not my son.”
Amanda’s voice broke off as fresh tears brimmed over and spilled down her face. Lee kissed her palms, straining not to cry himself. “Amanda, I love you more than anything. It’s going to be alright. I’m going to be with you every step of the way. We will get through this together. “
Amanda nodded, her voice failing her. Lee placed his head in her lap. He was oddly comforted in the fact they were crying together. Epilogue
Amanda stayed in the hospital for a few more days, and dotty and the boys were called home. She grieved for her son but relished every moment she spent with her daughter. Despite everything, this was a happy occasion. Billy informed them both about the progress of the Layla Rayez investigation. Amanda was relieved to hear that Lee hadn’t in fact slept with Layla but by the time she left the hospital it was a moot point anyway. They were eager to get on with their lives together with their family. They had a tough road ahead. But then again, Life for the Stetsons had never been easy.
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