Summary:Small `missing scenes' throughout Amanda
& Lee's relationship.
Disclaimer:These characters and all references having to do with `Scarecrow & Mrs. King' are the property of Shoot the Moon Productions and Warner Bros. The intent with my story is just entertainment, not money in any way shape or form. `Yesterday' was originally owned by the Beatles, I don't know who owns the rights now, possibly Michael Jackson (I know G. Harrison recently sold some rights to him) but it's not me, does anyone know?.
Author's Notes:This is a variation of Michelle's challenge to write chapters based on song verse. Each part is like a short story. Some fit as `missing scenes' for specific episodes, others fit in between episodes, and the last one is a possible future scene. I didn't try to make the song lines fit perfectly with the scenes, but used them as a general outline for the atmosphere I wanted to create in the corresponding section. Its kinda… like abstract art- it takes some personal interpretation by the reader.
Thanks very much to my beta readers: Wednesday(!) and
(around the time of `Waiting for Godorsky', L & A on a stakeout in motor pool car)
All my troubles seemed so far away…
"Are you hungry?"
Lee put down his binoculars, cocking his head to one side as if thinking about it. "Yes," he said finally.
Amanda smiled and twisted around awkwardly trying to reach behind her seat. "Hmmm… er- Lee?"
"Yeah Amanda?" He had lifted his binoculars to his eyes again.
"What'd you do with the little bag I brought with me?" She turned all the way around, kneeling on the seat, searching the tight dark space.
Amanda rolled her eyes, "Noooo, my purse is on the floor, I brought a bag- a canvas bag. With sandwiches and – what's this case?"
"Yes, case, this big black heavy case on the floor here in the back." She grunted as she tried to reach under the case. "Uh oh."
Lee put the binoculars down again and looked at her sharply, "What?"
"Um- the case… you put the case right on top of my bag." Lee just looked at her. " Our dinner was in the bag. The bag is under the case…. Our DINNER is under the case."
"Oh," Lee looked back at the case. "Hmm, yeah, I get your point." Lee assessed the situation. Amanda was still facing the wrong way leaning over the headrest of her seat, watching him impatiently. "Ok, well, you pull up," He mimed his plan,"– no, no, take hold of both those handles and I'll grab the bag out from underneath."
"All right, ready? One, two, three!" Amanda heaved with all her might. "Oh m'gosh!"
Lee started convulsing with laughter at the strained expression on her face and forgot to grab the bag.
Amanda dropped the handles and glared at Lee, "Lee! This is heavy! Are you going to help or not?" She struggled to keep a straight face.
"Yeah, yeah, wait a second." He wiped the grin off his face. "Ok, I'm ready… go!" Amanda resumed her position and Lee snatched the bag out from underneath the case.
Amanda turned and sat back down with a sigh, holding out her hands to take the bag as Lee offered it. Amanda reached into the bag, looking as if she feared the worst. She pulled out a large plate covered in plastic. Two very flat sandwiches lay pathetically with their innards spilling out. Red un-identifiable goo was smothered all over one side of the plate, creeping towards the chicken salad sandwiches.
"Oh my gosh!" Horrified, Amanda looked up at Lee who quickly covered his smile with his hand. She narrowed her eyes at him.
Obediently, he clucked sympathetically, "Oh, that's just terrible." Amanda carefully pulled back the goo covered plastic.
Lee stared at it, "Uh, what was the uh- red- stuff?"
Amanda was gingerly trying to extricate a sandwich without setting the oozing plate down. She grabbed a napkin from her purse with one hand and expertly tossed it open onto Lee's thigh. "Uh, pie…" In one deft movement she transferred the sandwich to the napkin, "strawberry pie."
Lee steadied the sandwich with one hand and with his other dipped his index finger into the mashed strawberry paste and tasted it.
"Hmm!" Amanda swatted at his hand as he reached for more. "It's very good." Amanda reached down to extract another napkin while Lee moved in for another finger full of pie, smiling.
"Would you stop that? Eat you sandwich." Amanda put the napkin down on the back seat and carefully placed the plate on top of it. "There, that should do it. No more mess."
Gingerly balancing her sandwich on her lap, she tried to keep the bedraggled insides from falling out. Lee raised his eyebrows at her but did not comment, concentrating on pushing his own dinner back together.
They ate in silence, watching the dark house.
(after `Affair at Bromfield Hall', L&A before their flight home)
Now it looks as though they're here to stay, oh I believe in yesterday…
"Amanda?" There was a knock on Amanda's hotel door. "Can I come in?"
"Yep." The doorknob jiggled as Lee tried opening the door. Getting it open a crack, he stopped as the security chain grabbed hold. "Just a second!" Amanda called.
Amanda crossed her hotel room and reached for the chain. Lee's face was pressed into the narrow opening, one impatient eye watching her. Shaking her head, Amanda put her index finger on Lee's protruding nose and pushed.
Amanda closed the door fully in order to unlatch the chain, then opened it again. Lee was standing with his hand covering his nose, a wounded expression on his face. Amanda put her hands on her hips. "Well how'd you expect me to get the chain off with your face in the way?"
She stood aside as Lee marched into her room. He looked around. "Are you ready to go?"
Amanda nodded vaguely, pointing to her suitcase propped next to the door. "Yep, all packed. Ready to go."
"You don't sound happy about it," Lee observed, still absently glancing around the room, "I thought you'd be dying to leave."
"Oh, I am," she protested without conviction. Amanda moved to stand in front of the huge window. "Beautiful sunset. I think it's the clouds that make it something special."
Lee moved next to her at the window, taking a moment to examine the view. As they watched, the brilliant colors of the sunset painted the clouds in broad strokes of light. Lee waited, watching Amanda watch the sky. Her eyes mirrored the sunset, defenseless and beautiful.
Amanda turned and met his gaze. Taking a deep breath she lowered her eyes. "Sorry, they don't really have them like this at home and I don't know when I might ever come back, so…" pausing, she shrugged and looked back up at Lee with a crooked smile. "You ready?"
Lee cleared his throat and turned away. "Yeah," he mumbled, hoisting up her suitcase and banging it against the doorframe on his way out.
Amanda took one more look at the diminishing sunset before
closing the door and following Lee down the hall.
(during `Ship of Spies', after solving the case, before the tag)
Suddenly I'm not half the man I used to be
"Amanda?" Lee paused, listening, "They don't have a plane for us."
Amanda winced and whispered, "Oh my gosh." She was sitting on the counter of the San Angelo police station, her feet dangling off the ground. She was holding the many folds of her tattered wedding dress closely, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. The station was swarming with policeman, suspects, and officials, all yelling at the top of their lungs in various languages.
Lee was bending over a rather ancient looking phone, plugging his ear with one hand; his eyes squeezed shut as he listened intently. Finally he hung up.
Lee moved closer to Amanda in order to be heard over the chaos. "Well, they're going to get us on a plane as soon as possible, but it's going to be at least three or four hours."
Reaching over to touch Amanda's hand reassuringly, he saw both hands consumed with wedding dress and patted her knee instead. He looked around the grimy station and back to Amanda. It looked like the police had picked up a fairy princess after a bad night. Lee felt the corners of his mouth twitch and caught Amanda's warning eye.
"Don't you dare-" Amanda glared at him.
"Oh, Amanda, I'm sorry," Lee said, turning away so that Amanda did not see him grin, "How was I supposed to know the boat wouldn't wait for us and you'd be stuck in… uh, that?"
Amanda sighed, staring down at her toes. Her nylons weren't going to last much longer. She had lost both of her shoes at some point on the beach. Lee had helped protect her feet most of the day by carrying her across rough ground. Hearing her sigh, Lee followed her eyes to her exposed feet.
Grabbing her around the waist, Lee picked her up and set her down on the floor. "Come on, let's get you some shoes."
"Something to eat wouldn't hurt either," Amanda mumbled, drawing herself up to her full height. With all the dignity she could muster, she let Lee lead her out of the station, ignoring the sudden quiet in their wake and the man who dropped his lit cigar on himself as she passed.
It was a humid night, and after finding some oversized sandals, Lee and Amanda chose an outdoor café with a view of the sea to wait the evening out. They laughed over margaritas and nachos, now oblivious to the attention they attracted.
Lee shook his head saying, "I don't think I'll ever forget this one Amanda."
"What?" Amanda asked, concentrating on getting a chip in her mouth without spilling the salsa on her dress.
"Sitting here, like this, with you in that- wedding dress…" he chuckled.
"Hmmm." Amanda scowled at him as she chewed. Swallowing her chip, she asked, "Do you think we can get some clothes before we leave? It's kind of a long trip to take in… Oh!" Amanda gasped as she felt a drop of water splatter on her hand.
"I already have clothes," Lee quipped, grinning. Amanda threw her napkin at him but kept a wary eye on the sky. "All right, all right- uh oh," Lee added, as more warm raindrops followed the first. Suddenly, the evening sky opened up and they were in the middle of a tropical downpour.
He helped her up from her chair and they dashed out of the café, Lee pausing to settle the bill. He lingered in the entryway, watching Amanda standing in the rain, the wedding gown tattered and clinging to her small figure, her wet hair dripping around her face. She wrapped her arms around herself, frowning up at the clouds.
Lee felt suddenly out of breath; there was a strange hollow spot growing in his chest and he did not notice the rain seeping through his clothes. Shaking himself, Lee glanced reluctantly at his watch, noticing it was fast approaching the time for them to check in.
Feeling his eyes on her, Amanda put her hands on her hips water streaming down her face. "Are you coming?!" she reached her hand out to him.
Feeling slightly intoxicated, Lee smiled and grabbed her hand, running with her to shelter.
(very early 3rd season-)
There's a shadow hanging over me, oh yesterday came suddenly…
"What Amanda?" Lee looked up at her.
"I'm going to have to leave in a little bit."
Amanda waited. Then she loudly started stacking the files she had been working on.
Lee looked up, "Is there something wrong?"
She opened her mouth but could not find any words, so she closed it again.
Lee glanced back down, involved in the report he was writing.
Amanda took a very deep breath and let it out before she trusted herself to speak. "Lee."
The break in her voice startled Lee. He put down his pen and looked at her with his eyebrows raised.
"I really don't think I'm asking too much here, do you?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean sometimes-" Her voice rose and she stopped abruptly, at a loss. She started more quietly, saying, "Look, Lee, sometimes you make me feel… like a piece of furniture. And I can understand that from some of the other agents, but Lee, you're supposed to-"
Lee sat stiff and immobile, glued to his chair.
"You're supposed to be my friend, Lee. And sometimes you don't act like it. Sometimes it feels like things are no different from when we first met. And then sometimes it's the opposite! Like you really-" She broke off abruptly as she heard the door to the office open.
Francine walked into the office, Amanda stood very still, trying to blink away the tears that had welled up in her eyes. Lee quickly looked down at his report as Amanda grabbed her purse and hurried out of the room. He closed his eyes for a moment trying to stop Amanda's words from replaying in his mind.
Ignoring the startled Francine, he snatched his jacket from the back of his chair and strode out the door.
Francine stood in the middle of the room, looking from Lee's desk to where Amanda had been standing. Shrugging, she left the room.
(after the time of `Utopia Now'- assumes Amanda is not the ace at poker that she is in roulette!)
Why she had to go I don't know she wouldn't say…
"How many cards?"
"Hmmm." Amanda stared at the fan of playing cards in her hand, as if they would tell her what to do if she only listened hard enough. Lee and Amanda sat comfortably on the floor in Lee's living room, using his apartment as a temporary casino.
Lee tapped one of his chips on his coffee table warningly. "Amanda… They won't let you take this long at the casino."
"Go fish." She looked up at him from under her lashes.
Lee put his hand over the deck, his eyes threatening to take her up on her offer, before she protested, "No, you stop right there!" She looked doubtfully at her hand again and back up at Lee resignedly, "Ok, Ok, I want three cards."
"All right, three cards for the lady." Lee dealt the cards with flourish. "Dealer takes two."
Amanda picked her cards up. Looking at what she'd been dealt, her face fell dramatically. She dropped her cards down on the carpet face up.
"Amanda!" Lee exclaimed, turning her cards back over quickly.
"What?! I didn't get what I wanted."
"Oh for crying-" Lee put his cards down onto the deck. "Amanda, you cannot just fold like that. Just because you didn't get what you wanted at first, doesn't mean you can't still win."
"Oh." Amanda did not seem terribly upset. "Well, what did you have?"
"I'm not going to tell you that! You didn't go far enough to get to see!"
Amanda, laughing at his earnestness, said, "Ok, fine."
"Look Amanda, unless you learn to bluff you are going to blow your cover tomorrow night SO fast…" Lee snapped his fingers at her.
Amanda rolled her eyes, but nodded her head solemnly. "All right, lets try it one more time." Lee narrowed his eyes at her suspiciously as she gave him the Junior Trailblazers' version of scout's honor.
"Ante up." Lee dealt the cards again, shaking his head, smiling.
Amanda donned her best poker face and arranged her cards in her hand. Lee picked up his cards and looked up at Amanda.
"Yes?" Her voice was muffled from trying to keep her face still.
"Is that your attempt at a poker face?" Amanda nodded seriously. "You look like one of those heads on Easter Island."
Amanda's face broke into a smile as she settled back with a more relaxed version of her poker face. "Ok, Dealer, I would like one card please." She slid her discard across the floor.
"Yes, one card."
"One? Are you sure?"
"Lee, are you going to do this tomorrow night?"
"Of course not, okay, ONE card for the lady." He took the card from the top and placed the card on the carpet in front of her. As she reached for it Lee covered her hand with his. "You're sure now?"
"Yes, I'm sure!" She covertly added the card to her hand, her eyes widening.
"What? I didn't say a word!" She looked at him with wide innocent eyes. "Aren't you supposed to take some now?"
"Dealer takes two."
"Two?" Amanda mimicked sweetly.
"Yes, two – hey you watch it." Amanda covered her mouth to keep from laughing. "Ok, what do you want to do now?"
Amanda looked at her hand and then looked at Lee, saying, "I'll raise you."
Lee raised his eyebrows. "Ok, go ahead and put in your raise." Amanda plucked two chips into the pot. "Ok, I'll see your two cents and raise you another two," Lee said, adding his two chips to the pot, "Now you can raise or call or fold."
Amanda looked at her cards again and looked at Lee. "I want to raise again."
"Oh you do, do you?"
Lee gestured for her to proceed.
Amanda pushed all her chips into the pot and looked challengingly at Lee. "Amanda that's a whole two dollars you are giving me."
"Ha. We'll see about that."
"Well I'll see your two dollars and raise you another two."
Amanda's mouth dropped open. "But I don't have any more chips!"
Lee shrugged mischievously, "Well, what else have you got?"
"All right Stetson," Amanda said, as she thought for a moment, "I'll bet one weeks' laundry." Lee shook his head. "Dinner?" He shook his head. "Vacuuming? Typing? Cleaning your apartment?" Lee was shaking his head adamantly now. "Fine, one free coupon for whatever…" Lee broke into a huge grin and she pointed a finger at him, emphasizing, "WITHIN reason."
"BUT- if I win…" Amanda bit her lip, continuing, "if I win, you have to volunteer to be the Agency Santa Claus this Christmas!"
Lee drew back in mock horror. He threw down his cards. "This is too rich for my blood, I fold."
Amanda threw up her arms in triumph, exclaiming, "Ha!" as she bent forward, and encompassing all the chips in the pot in her arms, slid them towards her on the carpet.
"Yeah, yeah. Don't gloat like this tomorrow."
Amanda started stacking up her winnings in neat rows. "Oh, I won't."
"So what did you have anyway?" Lee asked casually.
"I'm sorry, you don't get to see. You didn't get that far." She still had the cards in her hands and now she put both hands behind her back.
"Amanda-" Lee held out his hand as he said, "as your senior agent, I order you to show me those cards."
Amanda shook her head, inching away from him. "Never."
Lee moved towards her stealthily and made a lunge for the cards sending Amanda toppling backwards. Lee landed on top of her, one hand under her back and one propping himself up off of the floor.
"Whoops!" She was pinned. After a moment Amanda's laughter died as she tried to catch her breath. She did not dare look up at Lee who was not laughing.
Lee was leaning slowly down towards her, his face coming towards hers…
The shrill ring from the telephone startled Lee and he lost his balance, bumping heads with Amanda.
"Ouch!" Lee scrambled up from the floor holding his forehead and grabbing the phone with more force than necessary. "Yes?!"
Amanda stared up at the ceiling for a moment, a small smile forming on her lips. She rubbed her forehead, knowing they would have matching bumps the next day. Amanda pulled herself up from the ground and hastily gathered her things.
When Lee hung up the phone Amanda was standing near the door. "Lee, I'd better get going."
Lee followed her to the door. "Amanda?" he spoke her name hesitantly, searching her eyes.
Amanda smiled up at him and shook her head. There was a gleam in her eye. "I'll see you tomorrow, goodnight, Lee."
Lee watched as Amanda walked to the elevator. It wasn't until the doors closed behind her, though, that Lee realized Amanda still had the cards.
(after the time of `The Wrong Way Home')
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday…
"Lee?" Amanda's voice drifted down the stairs to where Lee sat in the living room. "Do we know what the weather is going to be like?"
Lee wasn't listening; he was looking at a large white book with gold- framed pages sitting on the edge of the coffee table and covered by a magazine. "Hey Amanda, what's this?" Lee shouted as he pulled the album closer to him, but she had already moved out of earshot.
Lee removed the magazine and opened the cover to reveal a yellowing title page, `Amanda West joined in Holy Matrimony to Joseph King.' Lee looked around the empty living room self-consciously and turned the fragile page.
From the pages of the album, a very young Amanda smiled up at him. Her dark hair was expertly twisted on top of her head, blending with the light veil that blew in the wind. She was standing on a lush green lawn, the shade of large oak trees shielding her from the sun. Her wedding dress was perfect in its simplicity, its ivory folds falling delicately around her slim figure. Her brown eyes seemed huge, looking up at him, overflowing with hope and joy.
On the opposite page, Joe stood proudly in black tux and tails, looking incredibly young and idealistic. Pictures of Joe and his groomsmen followed which Lee quickly skipped over.
Pausing, Lee stared at another image of Amanda, one of her looking over her shoulder at the photographer, almost as if she had been taken by surprise. A few pages later the bride was looking fondly at her mother in a sitting room. Dotty's eyes were shining with pride and unshed tears.
As Lee turned the next page there were several snapshots stuck in the binding between two pictures of the ceremony. Lee gently picked up the loose pictures. They were images of Amanda again. This Amanda was softer than the bride; she held in her arms a tiny baby. Amanda and baby looked exhausted but the mother absolutely glowed as she gazed down at the small boy who looked back up at her adoringly. The picture was a close-up and Lee could just make out a tear not quite formed in the corner of Amanda's eye.
The second snapshot was Amanda sitting in a pile of dirt between a toddler and an infant, both proudly covered in dirt. Each boy was looking up at Amanda who was laughing towards the camera, her face and clothing smudged with dirt. Lee turned the snapshot over. Amanda's hand had written, `gardening in the new house with the boys.'
The third snapshot captured Amanda and the boys again, this time all in Little League Uniform. The boys were smiling gap-toothed at the camera and Amanda was looking slightly down as she smiled, averting her face. Lee flipped the picture to read `the boys in uniform, we all miss you.' Lee grimaced, and put the snapshot down quickly.
In the next snapshot a curly haired infant ran clumsily towards the open arms of Amanda. The pure joy on the child's face was mirrored in the mother's. `Philip's first steps' the back of the snapshot announced proudly.
The last snapshot was earlier then any of the others. Amanda was standing sideways so that her protruding stomach showed. `Six Months' was all that was written on the back of it. In the image Amanda was smiling shyly, her hands supporting her back, holding her excess weight awkwardly.
His chest ached with restrained emotion as his mind wandered to his own memories of his family... the pictures of Amanda with her sons mingled with how he imagined his own mother must have been with him.
Lee flipped through the rest of the wedding album. Joe and Amanda as newlyweds seemed terribly nervous, holding tightly to each other's hands in every picture. Lee tried to suppress the irrational anger that rose to his throat. He wanted to protect the innocent bride from what was to come. He looked at the girl's hesitant smile and wished he could reassure her, wished that it was not Joe holding her hand, but…
Lee heard Amanda running down the stairs and suddenly didn't know what to do with his hands. She was hauling her overnight bag. "Lee, you didn't answer me, do you know what the weather-" she asked, pausing as she caught sight of Lee.
He looked up at her guiltily. "I uh- was looking through your pictures here," He gestured to the open album.
"Oh." She sat down on the opposite end of the couch from him. She watched him for a second before she spoke. "We brought out all the pictures before Joe left. I haven't seen some of these for years." There was a wistful note in her voice. "He wanted me to get a couple of them copied for him," she explained, smiling openly at Lee.
Lee swallowed hard and grabbed hold of her hand. "You are- were a beautiful bride," he said, smiling at her blush, then added, "and mother."
Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play…
"What?" Amanda seemed intent on scrubbing a pot already full of suds.
"Would you look at what you just did?" Lee spread out his arms still holding a wet plate; his shirt soaked and sudsy.
"Hmmm… I didn't do that." Amanda turned back to the sink to hide her smile. Lee gaped at her. She glanced back. "You'll catch flies with your mouth opened up like that." She pushed his chin up with a soapy finger, leaving a small beard of bubbles.
Lee reached behind her, scooping up a handful of bubbles and smearing them on the back of her neck.
Amanda squealed and grabbed another handful of bubbles as she twisted away from Lee. "Truce! Truce!"
They stood facing one another. Amanda had her hand raised, ready for a quick smear if Lee should move towards her. Lee's arm snaked out and grabbed Amanda by the waist, spinning her against him as he blew the delicate bubbles out of her outstretched hand.
Lee's arms went around her waist, holding her with her back to him. "Ok, truce," he said, in response to her cries of protest, giving her a penitent kiss on the cheek. He let her go and she leaned against the counter, giggling.
She glanced at the kitchen clock and did some rapid calculations. "Okay, Lee, the movie is over in twenty minutes which means with our luck mother and the boys will be back in less than five."
"Are you throwing me out?" Lee asked in mock indignation.
"No, of course not," Amanda replied, wiping her hands on a dishtowel and taking Lee's hand. "Come outside with me."
She grabbed a blanket from the back of the couch and led him through the back door and out to the back yard. She gave Lee two corners of the blanket and they wordlessly spread it out on the grass.
Amanda sat down on the blanket and patted a space next to her for Lee to sit. Then she pushed him down on his back and lay down beside him.
Lee smiled into the night, asking, "What are we doing?"
"We are watching the stars." Amanda held one of Lee's hands on her stomach. "It's called relaxing- no strings attached."
Obediently, Lee stared up at the blinking lights. He could feel Amanda's stomach move up and down slowly as she breathed. He had an overwhelming sense of her and unconsciously matched his breathing to hers.
"I love you, Amanda," Lee said, almost under his breath, "More than anything, you know."
Amanda smiled over at him, stretching up to give him a kiss on the nose. "Me, too."
The sounds of the night chirped and whispered and rustled around them. "Amanda?"
"Is this how you and…" Lee seemed unable to finish his question. "I mean- is this what it was like with Joe- in the beginning?" The thought in his mind had spilled out suddenly as if the night had loosened his tongue. Surprised at himself, he turned his head to look at her. "I'm sorry, I-"
"No, that's okay…" Amanda paused for a long time, not looking at Lee. "And no. I mean this is different," she stopped again, thinking, "This is somehow… fuller. It feels like my eyes are open this time. I think that makes me a better partner."
Lee squeezed her hand and sighed, tension leaving his muscles. "You were always a wonderful partner."
Amanda laughed. "Not THAT kind of partner!" She leaned over him and kissed him softly. "THIS kind of partner."
The sound of a car pulling up the driveway cut through the stillness of the night. The voices of Dotty, Jaime, and Philip soon followed.
Amanda and Lee looked at each other affectionately, the sparkle of the stars still alight in their eyes.
"Goodnight, sweetheart," Amanda whispered.
( 24 years after marriage, Christmas Eve)
Now I need a place to hide away, oh I believe in yesterday…
"Where are you?" Amanda's voice rose up through the opening to the attic where Lee sat on a small stool.
Amanda looked up, hands on her hips. "What're you doing up there?"
"Just looking through some things, am I late?"
Amanda started climbing up the attic ladder carefully. "Well you weren't until you got all dusty!"
Lee rolled his eyes. The attic might not have been immaculate, but Amanda certainly did not neglect it. With the children grown and moved away, she had set to organizing the entire house with a vengeance.
"I'm hardly covered with muck and cobwebs, Amanda." He smirked at her as she moved to his side.
"Close enough." She scrunched up her nose and ruffled his gray hair. She put her hand on his shoulder, kneeling down beside him. "Feeling nostalgic?"
Lee put his hand over hers and shrugged. "Maybe a little." He held a little wooden ornament made to look like an angel. It had been sitting on the top of the stool where Lee had almost sat on it. "Remember our first Christmas together?" he asked, holding the angel out to her.
"Of course," Amanda replied, smiling. She took the angel from Lee, momentarily losing herself in the memory. "But I can't say I miss the vodka!"
"And I still don't like beans"
"I've still got time to convert you!" Grinning, Amanda turned from him to put the ornament away. She had an appropriately labeled box ready for it in the gutted Christmas section of the attic.
Lee grinned, his eyes flashing mischievously. "I dare you."
"When you least expect it, Stetson," Amanda retorted as she inhaled deeply, glancing around at the mess Lee had created. "Were you looking for something specific?"
"I was looking for the pictures of Jenny's first steps." Lee glanced around him, raising his hands helplessly. There were columns of acid free plastic boxes three rows high. Each box was labeled carefully with Amanda's hand. "Your handwriting's too small."
"Grumble, grumble grandpa," Amanda teased as she leaned forward on her hands, reading the inscriptions. "One of these days I am going to get all of these in albums. But I'm stuck at our wedding. Its difficult- ah, here it is!" Amanda took a small box from the pile, flipped off its lid and quickly sifted through the pictures. "It's difficult to capture an elopement in an album." She pulled four pictures out from the neatly filed pictures and handed them to Lee. "It's especially difficult when you only have one picture to work with!"
Lee sat with the pictures in his hands, staring at them. Lee's favorite image showed Amanda, her arms open wide, encouraging the little blond girl to leave Lee and walk to her. But the little blond girl was looking up at Lee, unsure, not wanting to leave her daddy's supportive arms.
The next few chronicled the little girl's first steps, stumbling, tilting towards Amanda, Lee in the background with hands together and a silly, huge grin on his face.
Amanda fondly watched the emotions across Lee's face. "Come on, sweetheart, I'll get that one framed for you- it can be a late Christmas present."
Lee touched his wife's face softly. "All right, I'll be down in a minute."
Amanda kissed him on the forehead and made her way down the ladder again. "Don't be too long," she advised, concentrating on finding the next rung, "or else I'll tell the grandbabies Santa will be making an appearance."
Lee laughed and stretched in contentment as the warmth of his memories and the love of his family surrounded him.