Whatever Tomorrow Brings

by Tera

Prologue

February 12th, 1990

Petersburg Prison – Virginia

It was an unexpected visit, but if from nothing other than curiosity, Byron Foster allowed himself to be escorted from the secluding walls of his tiny cell by the guard to the visitation area.  It was rare that anyone came to visit him these days, unless it was the family lawyer in regards to the divorce that his soon-to-be ex-wife had hastily put into motion the very second that Federal agents had arrested him back in December of 1985.

His lawyer, while excellent in his profession, could only do so much to stall the proceedings.  Byron steeled himself for the latest development in what had become a hostile series of legal battles as the guard herded him throughout the facility.  The long walk through the corridors of the prison gave him ample time to think about his existence, or rather what was left of it these days.

Every day, from the very first one of his arrival had been an almost identical repeat of the one prior.  He was told when to begin his day and when to end it.  For the long hours in between he was instructed when to eat, when to shower and even when to exercise.  He was allotted a small amount of time to enjoy entertainment, which he found to be a rather peculiar sort of joke based upon what the prison system deemed appropriate for the poor souls who now found themselves to be residents within Petersburg.

The only variety, if it could be called that, had been the sporadic visits from his personal lawyer.  It was through him that he maintained any sort of contact with his now very distant family.  Oh yes, once the discovery was made that he had indulged in some rather questionable employment, they had all but abandoned him and now seemed intent on draining away everything that he had amassed for their own selfish gain.  Let his very greedy wife take what she wanted.  Let her have the divorce.  He possessed an ace up his sleeve that none of them knew about, not even her excellent lawyer.  All he had to do was sit back and bide his time like a good little prisoner.

Once arriving at the visitation area, the guard wordlessly prompted him to have a seat on the battered stool that was positioned in front of a small wired glass window.  Then Byron waited patiently as the gruff man used the telephone hanging on the wall to issue instructions to those on the other side of the heavy metal door that the visitor was to be admitted.  Byron took advantage of the short period of time during the walk to mentally steady himself as he awaited yet another legal headache in his now almost deplorable life.

However, when the door opened, Byron was faced with a visitor that he had certainly not expected to see.  He watched in silent surprise as the young woman was escorted in and shown to her seat.

Then, almost in unison, the guards on both sides of the dividing wall took up silent but ever-watchful positions near their respective doors.  This was as much privacy as the inmates were allowed during visitation.

Byron waited until the young woman on the other side of the wall picked up her telephone before doing the same.

“Hello Byron.”

Her voice sounded slightly garbled over the telephone line despite the short distance between them.

“Same to you.”

“I have news from home to report.”

He could actually feel his eyebrows rise at her words.

“Really?”

To say that his interest in this unforeseen visit was now elevated would have been an understatement.

Before continuing on, she nodded to him through the glass.

“I’ve word that Father will be visiting in a few weeks.  The family wanted to know if you would like the standard arrangements?”

Understanding quickly dawned on him.  She had paid him a few visits since the beginning of his incarceration, conversations brief with seemingly innocuous but always enlightening updates.  For this one though, Byron had to pause to think for a moment, carefully, before giving her his response.

Finally, he knew what he wanted to say.

“I believe normal arrangements will be most suitable,” he slowly instructed her.  “But spare nothing at ensuring a completely satisfying visit.”

The woman nodded once.

“Oh, and please give my best regards to your sister.”

Byron smiled at her and was gratified by the increased unease that he saw settle into her eyes.

Hastily she hung up her telephone.  Then, she stood up and motioned to the guard on her side that she was ready to be escorted out.

Byron watched her departure for a brief moment before he stood as well, giving his guard an indication that this visit was now complete and that he was ready to return to his hideous cell.

From seemingly out of nowhere had come the brightest ray of sunshine that he had experienced in quite a long time and Foster was determined to do nothing now but back and bask in the glory of it, all while being completely detached from what would come.

February 27th

Inside the Emergency Aid Organization

Boxes surrounded Joe King.  They were everywhere – on the top of his desk, propped beside his desk and scattered about the office on the floor.  They were even piled up along the far wall of the office.  It was a disordered clutter that the normally neat and organized man found to be somewhat disturbing.  Of course, it was all in the name of renovation, or so he continually kept reminding himself.

With the onset of the New Year had come funding that was allowing the Emergency Aid Organization to undergo some much-needed interior remodeling.  Joe had pleasantly found himself to be among the lucky recipients who were being granted new work areas.

More spacious than his previous office, this one boasted a fresh coat of paint and plush new carpeting as well as upgraded and highly polished office furniture.  Unfortunately, Joe’s fortuitous acquirement of additional space and varnished new desks had come with a price tag, of sorts.

Before all of the new alterations, the area that was now his new office had been two rather large side-by-side storage areas jammed full of discarded files.  But, after a long period under the skillful hands of the carpenters and electricians, they had been transformed into a more modern office with not only new furnishing but also spacious windows that actually gave him a pleasant view.

With all of the construction now complete, Joe was left to sift through and unpack the scattered multiple boxes that were teeming with files and other office paraphernalia that needed put back into place.  Normally, he would have had the aid of Kendra, his secretary to assist him but as she had just been married on Saturday, he was left alone to deal with the rearranging and organizing.

His first order of business then, to help get the morning off to a good start, had been to set up the coffee maker and to restock the small refrigerator.  Much to his delight, it had not taken long for the aroma of the freshly brewed coffee to fill the room.

Joe poured himself a cup and then looked around the room, setting up his game plan while the hot drink cooled enough for him to drink.

The boxes on his desk were going to be easy enough to handle.  Despite the confusion and hectic last minute needs of planning her wedding, Kendra had somehow found the time to pack and label most of them in the last few days before going on honeymoon.  After reading the labels, Joe picked each one of them up and carried them across the room to sit on the floor beside the appropriate filing cabinet.  Once he had some of the other major things taken care of he would come back to them and file them away properly in their rightful drawers.

He then moved to his new desk and began organizing the top of it just the way that he liked it – family photos, desk calendar and all of his other items right where they belonged.  In just a short time, he was actually able to find the top of the desk and his much-needed coffee was sitting exactly in arm’s reach, on a coaster by his telephone.  He was already beginning to feel more relaxed and at home in this new space.

A quick scan of the room had Joe choosing the next group of boxes to tackle, a small group sitting off in the corner.  He moved over to them and immediately noticed that none of them were labeled.  Somehow, they did not seem to quite fit in with the rest of the boxes.  Given that they were smaller than the rest, he initially assumed that they might belong to Kendra.

He took the smallest box off from the top of the pile and then took it back to his desk so that he could go through it while he drank his coffee.

After slicing through the packaging tape that had been adhered down the middle to keep it closed, Joe quickly found that his original assumption of it probably being personal belongings of Kendra’s was incorrect.

He did not recognize the few manila folders that were on the top nor did he recognize the bright blue plastic computer disk holder that lay beneath them.  None of the interior contents were labeled and, knowing that Kendra was as precise as he was in matters of record keeping, he began to wonder if perhaps this box had been from one from the storage closets rather than from his old office.

Curiosity got the better of him so he flipped open the first folder only to find a few pages containing nothing but a list of numbers that meant absolutely nothing to him.  With a shrug, he opened the disk holder and inserted it into his computer.  Thank goodness the IT fellows had already moved it in and set it up for him so that all he had to do was sit back and wait, able to enjoy his coffee while it loaded.  Then he would be able to track down where the items really belonged and get them to their proper place.

His enjoyment of his beverage was short-lived however.  The ringing of his telephone, the first call in the new office, demanded his attention instead.

Joe set his coffee mug down and picked up the telephone.

“Joe King speaking.”

An unexpected but very welcome voice spoke into his ears.

“Good morning to you as well, Joe.”

“Mr. Prime Minister!  It is good to hear from you.  How are you?”

Joe listened to his old friend chuckle over the line.

“Oh, I am doing quite well my friend, quite well.  I called because I have some good news to share with you.”

“What’s that?”

“I wanted to let you know that I am coming to your country.”

“That’s great,” Joe responded enthusiastically.  “When?”

“We’re just now completing the final arrangements and we shall be arriving on Friday.”

“We?”

“Oh yes, yes,” the Prime Minister said with a laugh before continuing.  “Imagine, will you?  Ja’Shaun has continued toe express his interest in attending school in America.  I finally had to relent and promised him that on my next trip he would accompany me and we would, how do you say, scope them out?”

Joe laughed in response, remembering quite well just how determined Ja’Shaun could be when he settled his young mind on something.

“That’s wonderful.”

“Yes, yes.  He is very excited, both to see the schools and to see you again.  May we count on you to pick us up at the airport?”

Joe did not even hesitate to answer the question.

“Of course, of course.  This is wonderful.  I look forward to seeing you and your son again.  It’s been a long time.”

“Too long, my old friend, far too long.  I must go now for I have a few other matters that need attending to before our departure.  I will have my secretary call you with of the details a little later in the day.  Until then, as they say, may all the cows in your field eat happily.”

Joe could not help but laugh again.

“I’ll talk to you soon.  Have a good flight.”

Joe could not help but smile as he hung up the telephone.  He was very much looking forward to the opportunity to visit with his old friend, but first, as he took a glance around his office, he realized that he still had a lot of work to get done.

“Well, all right then, let’s get back to it then.”

He returned his focus back to the computer screen; fully expecting by now to see something that was easily recognizable and that would allow him to get these unknown items properly filed away.  He was a little dismayed when nothing but meaningless squiggles and peculiar characters appeared on the screen to greet his eyes.

“That’s odd,” he murmured as he stared at the monitor.  He was completely puzzled at what he was seeing.

Thinking that perhaps the computer had had a momentary glitch, he tried reloading the disk but like before, the same odd display of gibberish greeted his eyes.

The rational part of him wanted to assume that the disk was simply damaged and that perhaps the box had not been labeled because the contents had been slated for discard.  But, even as he continued to stare at the screen in an attempt to make some sort of sense of the display, his gut reaction was telling him that the mysterious squiggles meant something, perhaps even something of importance.

The only problem was that Joe King did not have a clue as to what the display might be trying to tell him.

4247 Maplewood Drive

By the time that Lee Stetson pulled his vehicle alongside Joe King’s sedan in the driveway, it was dark and sputtering a fine flurry of wet snowflakes from the cold front that had moved into the area.

Of course, Lee had known that Joe had been planning to stop in after dinner to discuss several of the boys’ school-related items with Amanda.  Lee had hoped to get home early enough to participate but unfortunately, he had been needed at the Agency for far longer than he had originally anticipated.

Lee keyed off the ignition and slid out of the vehicle, more than ready to relax at home with his wife and family.  As he walked up to the door, several cold snowflakes fell on his nose, tickling it with their cold wet texture.  For some odd reason he could not help but smile and by the time that he had closed the front door behind him, the tensions from his long workday were already easing.

Once inside, he found Joe and Amanda seated on the couch.  A pile of papers and brochures, as well as several beverage glasses were scattered on the coffee table before them.  From the looks of it, there had obviously been a lot to discuss.

Amanda looked up at him and gave him a warm smile.

“You’re home late.”

Smiling apologetically at his wife, Lee shrugged out of his coat and placed it over the back of the couch.

“Sorry.  I meant to be home earlier but you know how it goes.”

“That’s okay.”  Amanda smiled reassuringly up at her husband.  “Joe and I were just reviewing some of the brochures that Phillip brought home from the guidance counselor.”

“Really,” Lee asked as he took in the sight of all of them.  For some odd reason, looking at the many brochures made Lee recall the time that he and Amanda had planned to take their first small vacation away, together as a couple and with no Agency business attached to the agenda.  In the hopes of giving her the best vacation possible, Lee had amassed a similar array of them.  Representing a multitude of options, it had actually proven to be a bit overwhelming and now Lee wondered if Phillip might feel the same way.

“There’s a lot of them,” he remarked as he sat down on the couch beside his wife.  Lee then scooped up a handful of the brightly colored brochures that highlighted everything from traditional colleges to technical institutes; all promising the future graduate a bright and promising career.

Suddenly, Lee’s attention became focused on several that were from the United States military.

The Air Force,” he questioned incredulously.

Both Joe and Amanda nodded.

Lee looked down at the folders that he held in his hand and then back up to Phillip’s parents.

“You’ve got to be kidding me, right?”

“No,” Joe replied.

Lee looked first at Joe and then back to his wife.

Amanda shrugged before explaining.

“Apparently at school they’ve been having a series of different guest speakers giving presentations to the students about planning their future careers.  A few weeks ago a recruiter from the Air Force came in and evidently Phillip has now taken quite an interest.”

“I see,” Lee replied slowly.  His emotions were certainly mixed, to say the least.  Given his own experience of growing up as a military brat under the Colonel’s care, a thousand questions began forming in his mind.  Nevertheless, Lee knew that they had to start with the most important one.

“Just how serious is he?”

“Well,” Joe replied, “apparently serious enough to be interested in enrolling in the delayed entry program.”

He handed over another pamphlet to Lee who then raised his eyebrow questionably at Amanda.

Her voice, when she spoke, was slightly softer than normal and although she had not exactly voice her opinion on the matter, Lee had to wonder how she was feeling in regards to all of this.

“He’s asked our permission to have the recruiter come over one night in the next week or so, that way we can all sit down and discuss it.”

Lee immediately realized that Phillip was more than a little interested.

“I’m shocked,” Lee admitted.  “I mean, up to this point, Phillip’s main interests seemed to be cars and girls.”

“I know,” Joe said in agreement and Amanda simply nodded.

“Where is he now?”

Amanda tilted her head upwards.

“Upstairs.  He actually brought home his schoolbooks.  All of them.  He mentioned something about the recruiter recommending that his grade point average should go up by the end of the term.”

“Phillip’s actually studying?  Seriously?”

Again, both Amanda and Joe nodded.

“I don’t believe it.”

“I’m not sure I do either,” Joe said with an amused chuckle.  Then he stood up.  “It’s getting late and I really should be going.  As for Phillip, I guess we’ll just have to meet with the guidance counselor and this recruiter and go from there.  You know with Phillip, there’s no telling what he’ll be thinking by then.”

“Agreed,” Amanda said.

Lee stood up as well.

“I’ll see Joe out,” he told Amanda as he leaned over to kiss her lightly on the cheek before looking down lovingly at her tummy.

“Oh,” Joe paused and then turned around to look back at Amanda.  “Will you call me at the office tomorrow?  If you can let me know about the appointment with the guidance counselor, I’ll note it on my calendar.”

Amanda smiled up at him from her comfortable position on the couch.

“I will.”

“That will be great.  Goodnight.”

“Drive safely.”

Lee followed Joe to the front door.  As Joe was putting his coat on, he turned to Lee.

“I was really glad that you came home before I left.  I know I shouldn’t really be asking you this, but I was wondering if you could do me a favor?”

“Depends,” Lee replied.

“I was going through some old files this morning and I found a computer disk.  It wasn’t labeled so I tried to see what was on it and all that I got was some sort of strange garbled text.”

“Did you have anyone from your office take a look at it?”

“Call me crazy,” Joe said as his shook his head.  “Or maybe I’ve been hanging around you and Amanda for far too long.  I can’t explain it, I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s just something about it and until I actually know what’s on it, I’d appreciate keeping it just between us.”

Joe was right, Lee thought.  It did sound somewhat crazy.  After all, it was just a computer disk.

Initially, Lee would have responded with a no to Joe’s request.  However, there was something about his expression that made Lee give it a second thought.  More than a few times he had seen a similar look on Amanda’s face.  It was that same look that could jiggle his internal sixth sense and have him going off in an unexpected direction in the blink of an eye before he even realized it was happening.

“Ah, what at the heck,” Lee relented.  “I’ll have someone in the IT department take a look at it.”

Joe reached into his coat pocket and retrieved the disk case.  He then handed it to Lee.

“You know, it’s probably nothing but I sure do appreciate it.  Well, I’d better be going.  Carrie will have a fit.  You know how she is when they’re predicting freezing roads.”

“No problem,” Lee told him.  “Have a good night”

“Thanks again Lee.”

Lee locked the door behind Joe.  Then, he glanced down at the innocent looking case that he now held in his hands.  At the same time, he felt a sudden cold chill go down his spine.

Lee dismissed it as he walked back to Amanda, assuming it to be nothing more than a backlash of the cold air that had come through the open front door.

That same night – an apartment somewhere in DC

The crackle and smell from the burning log inside the fireplace, along with the warmth from the blaze helped to take the chill out of the air inside the cozy apartment.  Despite the added heat, the young woman sitting on the black leather couch in front of the fire was draped with a colorful afghan as she chatted on the telephone.

“I know,” she agreed to the complaining female voice on the other end.

For several very long moments she had been listening to the agitated voice and right now, she really wished that the conversation would come to a welcome end soon.

“I said I know but you have to see it from my end,” she tried again.  “Besides, I promised to share with you.”

“Well.  My, oh my, how greedy can one be?”

Again, a litany of complaints assailed her ears.

“Dangerous?  Not for you,” she retorted to the listener.  “I’m the one in danger here.  Not you.  All that you have to do is listen and observe what goes on around you and then fill me in.  Simple.  No danger.”

This time she pulled the phone quite a distance away from her ear and sighed rather loudly.

“Look, it’s late and I’ve got to get up early in the morning.  Just keep me updated, okay?”

“That’s all I’m asking you to do.”

“Right.  I’ll talk to you soon.”

When the loud click echoed in her ear informing her that the call had ended, she was secretly relieved.  This was a lot harder than she had originally thought.  And, for the thousandth time or so, she wondered…what exactly had she gotten them into?

Late that night – Maplewood Drive

After Joe had left, Lee had thought that maybe they could discuss Phillip’s latest interest in furthering his education.  Busy with their homework, the boys had stayed upstairs and Amanda had focused her energy on cleaning up after dinner while Lee ate his leftovers.  By the time that Lee had finished and the kitchen had been tidied, Amanda had declared that she was exhausted, leaving Lee to realize that they had never gotten around to it.

Now that everyone in the house had settled down for bedtime and Amanda was snuggled next to him under the warmth of the blankets, Lee figured that this was as good an opportunity as any and if Amanda was open to the conversation, then so was he.

When Amanda initiated conversation though, it did not take the direction he had been preparing himself for.

“Did I tell you that the Prime Minister from Estoccia is coming to the States,” she asked as she scooted even closer to him in the darkness.

“No.  When?”

“He’ll be arriving Friday afternoon.  Oh, he’s bringing his young son along as well and Joe and I thought it would be nice if we invited him over while Phillip and Jamie are home on winter break next week.”

“I didn’t know that he had a kid,” Lee remarked.

Amanda laughed softly in the darkness.

“You would have been if you ever took the time to completely read all of your files or remembered things that I told you.”

“Hey, that’s not fair,” Lee protested.  “I always read everything and I always listen to everything that you say.”

“Sure you do,” Amanda teased, her voice telling him that she didn’t quite completely believe him.

“Okay, so the Prime Minister has a son and he’s coming along.  Mind sharing some details with me?”

Amanda’s voice turned very playful.

“It’ll cost you.”

“I’ll pay, I promise.”

“Okay.  His son’s name is Ja’Shaun and he’s eight years old, he’ll turn nine at the end of April.  For the last year or so he’s been saying he wants to go to school in America and finally convinced his father to look into it.  So, while the Prime Minister is over here for business, he’s going to look into several schools.  Joe thought it might be nice if Ja’Shaun could meet the boys and spend some time with them as well and I agree.”

“Sounds like a great idea to me,” Lee replied as he leaned over and kissed Amanda’s forehead and then, seeing the perfect opening for further conversation, he forged ahead.

“I also think it sounds like Ja’Shaun isn’t the only one thinking about future plans.”

Amanda sighed.

“I know.”

She rolled over a little in the bed, obviously trying to get comfortable.

“Lee, what do you think?”

He reached over in the darkness and began rubbing Amanda’s belly.

“Well, much as I know you’d like it, they can’t stay little forever.  Sooner or later, they have to go out and experience the real world.  We both know it isn’t easy trying to decide where you want your life to go and between those brochures and what Phillip’s been told, it all probably sounds exciting and maybe even a little glamorous to him.  We’ll just have to do our best to keep him grounded and focused until he makes his decision.”

“It was a lot easier when I was the one making the decisions on what they did,” Amanda grumbled back.

Lee could not help but smile.

“It’s a big decision, I know.  But, we’ll all sit down with the recruiter and listen to everything.  That way we can help Phillip sort through it all.  Besides, we have to make sure that he doesn’t make a rash decision.  Once he signs on the dotted line, the military doesn’t exactly understand backing out at the last minute.”

Amanda rolled back over and laid her head on his chest.

“I knew that this year was going to bring a lot of changes but I guess I wasn’t prepared for this one.”

“Phillip’s a great kid, Amanda.  He’ll be just fine, trust me.”

“Always,” she whispered as she leaned in closer and kissed Lee lightly on the lips.  “I guess it’s whatever tomorrow brings, huh?”

Lee reached over with his hand and caressed her cheek lightly before kissing her back.

“I’ll love you tomorrow and the next day and the next day.”

Amanda placed her fingers over his lips, effectively silencing him.

“If you don’t want me grumpy tomorrow, I suggest we go to sleep.”

Lee settled back into a comfortable position, drawing her close to him.

“Good night Mrs. Stetson.”

Feb. 28th – The Agency

Very early the following morning and first thing before even heading up to the Q-Bureau, Lee casually strolled into the IT department.  The questionable computer disk was stashed safely inside his jacket pocket.

He knew the perfect person that he could sway into doing him this little favor.  Tucked away in the back cubicle, the one that had colorful posters of the galaxy posted on the outside walls of the cube and miniature spaceship models from an array of science-fiction shows and movies hanging from the ceiling above her desk, was the perfect person for the job.

Given her tendency to dress in black from head to toe on a daily basis, most of the Agency believed that she belonged to some sort of secret coven of witches, but Lee knew better.  Long ago he had learned that Aimee Delozier, despite outward appearances, was one of the sweetest individuals that he had ever had the pleasure of meeting, next to Amanda.  He had even learned to somewhat appreciate her almost crazed fascination with sci-fi and tiny little model spaceships.

Plus, she also owed him a favor and he knew, without a doubt, that she would keep this little off-the-record assignment totally confidential.

He stepped into her cubicle, only to find that Aimee was holding one of her models in her hand and spinning it around while she stared at it with an almost frightening intensity.

“Hi,” he greeted her.  “Am I interrupting anything?”

“I think they’ve got the nacelle length proportions incorrect on the starboard side.”

She then placed the little model gently down beside her keyboard before swinging her chair completely around so that she could give him her undivided attention.

“Hey…long live and prosper, my man.  What can I do for ya today, Man of Straw?”

Before Lee could even answer her, Aimee proceeded to swing her legs up and tuck them beneath her, Indian style.  It was a movement so quick that it actually made his knees ache as he watched.

Her movements had indicated that she was now ready to give him her total attention, so…in a hushed tone, Lee spoke to her.

“Do you recall Grayston Forty?”

Aimee’s bright blue eyes lit up with obvious inquisitiveness.

“Whatcha got?”

Lee pulled out the disk case and then handed it to her.

“Can you tell me if this disk is irreparably damaged or if the problem is something else?”

Aimee swung the case up and down in the air a few times before answering him.

“Sure.  By the way, have Amanda’s boys seen that new movie yet?  Tremors?”

Lee shook his head.  Since the name was unfamiliar to him, Lee didn’t think that they had seen it.

“Not yet, that I know of.”

“Well,” she beckoned Lee to lean closer with slender fingers that were covered in a multitude of rings, her black metallic nail polish bouncing light back into his eyes.  Then she whispered to him.

“On the QT, I’ve got a VHS.  Ya think they might want to see it?”

“Isn’t that sort of illegal?”

Aimee chuckled.

“Not in my galaxy.  Okay, here’s the procedure Straw Man.  I’ll toss it up to the Q in the A.M. and then I’ll get back at ya on this little gem…ASAP, of course.”

“Thanks Aimee.  I owe ya one.”

“Running balance dude, running balance.  Now make like a particle and scatter so that I can apply some Spock thought to this, would ya?”

With that, Aimee swung her chair back around to face her computer screen and Lee took the hint to depart and leave her in her zone, whatever dimension that might be at the moment.

As he headed back to his office, he glanced at his wristwatch.  He would need to hurry if he was to get things done in time and make Amanda’s appointment later with the OB.

*** SMK ***

Joe King was flipping through folders when a knock on his door made him look up.  A young black woman stood there, looking quite shy and hesitant.

“Can I help you?

“My name’s Tanesha, I’m the temporary secretary that was assigned to Mr. Carlton.”

“Oh, well hello.  What can I do for you?”

“Well, Mr. Carlton was called away to an unexpected meeting and he mentioned that your secretary was away on her honeymoon.  Since he wasn’t able to get me started on his projects he thought that I could maybe help you until he gets back?”

“Oh,” Joe said as he stood up, surprised and more than grateful at his coworker’s gesture.

“That would be wonderful.  How are you at word processing?”

Tanesha smiled.

“Just show me what you want me to do.”

“Great.”

Joe walked over to what would normally be his secretary’s desk and pulled some files from her in-bin.

“I really could use help with these.  The final reports just have to be reviewed for accuracy, edited and then printed. ”

Tanesha took the folders from him and opened up the top one.

“I don’t think these will be a problem at all, Mr. King.”

“Great.  Kendra has the computer files labeled; let me know if you have any trouble finding them.”

“Thank you,” Tanesha said.

Grateful for the extra hand, Joe returned to his desk to continue his own work without a second thought.

*** SMK ***

Lee and Amanda sat in the Jeep Wagoneer, shivering together as they waited for the vehicle to warm up inside while the engine ran.

Despite the bone-chilling cold, Lee was feeling extremely happy.  He turned towards Amanda; unable to hid the huge grin on his face.

“Guess it won’t be long now, huh?”

Amanda gave him an indulging smile.  While she was just as excited as he for their baby to arrive, she wasn’t eagerly looking forward to the actual delivery part.  She knew what to expect, after all, she had done this twice before.  However, that had been then, this was now, and despite the reassurances from the doctor that everything was just fine, she couldn’t help but worry.  She kept thinking that she was not as young and naïve as when she had had the boys.

“You okay?” Lee asked her.

She reached over a gloved hand and stroked his cheek.

“Yeah.”

“That didn’t sound very convincing, Mrs. Stetson.”

Amanda shrugged.

“I know that I’m just being silly.  You know, worrying about everything.”

Lee reached over and squeezed her hand reassuringly.

“Everything’s normal, you heard the doctor.  We’re almost there Amanda, almost there.  March 24th will be here before we know it.”

Amanda watched as he suddenly frowned.

“What?”

Lee shook his head.

“Now I guess I’m being silly.  I mean, at first it was months away.  All the time in the world to prepare and now, wow!  It could be anytime.”

“I guess we can’t back out of this now, can we?”

They both smiled.

Lee turned in the car seat to face her.

“Have I told you that I love you?”

“Yes, but you could show me,” Amanda teased.

Amanda sighed as Lee’s lips touched hers.  The passion that she felt from his touch warmed her, completely erasing her worries and thoughts about the cold weather outside.

Then, in the middle of the sweet moment, a thought suddenly struck her and she pulled away from him.

“Hey,” Lee protested.

She smiled apologetically at him.

“I’m sorry.  It’s just that I remembered that I forgot to call Joe and remind him about the meeting at school.  It seems that lately I can’t remember everything and I did promise him that I’d call to remind him but I guess with getting ready for the baby and Mother getting all settled and the boys and all of their school stuff…”

Amanda looked up at him, a slightly embarrassed expression on her face as she realized that she had begun to ramble away.

Lee chuckled as he took her hands in his, squeezing them lightly.

“Well, for that you can be forgiven.  But I expect you to make that kiss up to me.”

“Oh, I will.”  Amanda nodded her head.  “On that, I promise.”

“I’ll hold you to it.  Now, why don’t we call Joe while we wait for the car to warm up?”

*** SMK ***

Several hours after Tanesha’s arrival, Joe glanced down at his watch and sighed.  He was scheduled for a lunch meeting in just a few minutes.  He glanced over at Tanesha who had been quietly and diligently working away.

“How’s it coming?”

“Very good,” she responded.  “I’m on the last file now.”

“Great,” Joe said happily.  “I’ve got a lunch meeting with Rogers, so I need to leave.”

“Not a problem.  Mr. Carlton hasn’t called yet to let me know he’s back and I’m estimating it will only take about fifteen more minutes for me to finish.”

“That would be wonderful.  If you can just print out the final copy for each and then put the folders on my desk for my approval and then lock the door behind you, I’d appreciate it.”

“Not a problem, Mr. King.  Enjoy your lunch.”

“Thanks.  Oh, when you see Carlton, let him know that I said thanks for your help.”

“I will.”

Joe grabbed his jacket and headed out of his office, leaving Tanesha alone.

She quietly and quickly finished her task.  Once she had the final reports printed, she did exactly as Joe had instructed and took the folders over to his desk.  Just as she had placed them down, the telephone rang.

Picking up the receiver, she spoke professionally to the caller on the other end.

“Mr. King’s office, Tanesha speaking.  How may I help you?”

“Is Joe there?”

“No, I’m sorry, sir.  He’s left for a lunch meeting.  Can I take a message?”

“Yeah, let him know that Lee called.  Oh, could you have him call me later?”

“I will.  Does he have your number, sir?”

“He’s got it.”

“Okay, I’ll give him the message.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

Tanesha hung the telephone up and jotted down the message on a post-it.  Then, she happened to notice a black appointment book lying open on the desk.

“Perfect,” she whispered.

She glanced down at and saw an outline of Joe’s appointments for the week.

Some of what she saw was work related and some of it personal in nature.  While after-school activities did not seem of much interest, she was definitely intrigued with the one for Friday afternoon.

2:00 p.m. – Pick up Prime Minister at the airport.

Tanesha smiled.

Even as she closed the office door behind her, her mind was spinning on how to get back into his office again this week.

Somehow, some way, she was going to have to get back into Joe’s office.

Later that Evening

An apartment somewhere in DC

Tanesha Williams was sitting on her black leather couch, legs curled beneath her while she sipped her tea.  The man sitting across from her looked far less comfortable as he spoke to her, a very stern expression etched upon his face.

“You do understand what’s riding on this, don’t you?”

Tanesha sighed.  How much more clarification did he think she needed?

Her annoyance over his unexpected and unwelcome intrusion into the quiet privacy of her night was rattling her nerves.

“Give me a break, would you?” she snapped at him.  “Contrary to popular belief, I am listening.”

“Then you do understand that our top priority right now is for you to get back into Mr. King’s office.”

“I’m telling you that it won’t be a problem.  His secretary’s out for two weeks.  I imagine he’ll be grateful for any help that he can get.”

The man leveled his steely gaze upon her.

“You will be the next one out if you are not able to do what we need.  Remember what happened to our trusted carpenter?”

Tanesha shook her head.  How could she forget?  The gruesome photographs that had been literally shoved under her nose had certainly left a lasting impression.  Even if she had not seen them, she was fully aware of his implications.  She reminded herself that all she had to do was hang in there a short while longer because the rather generous payback would more than make up for all of this.

“I don’t need any more reminders,” she informed her visitor.

Then, she leaned over and placed her cup of tea down onto the glass coffee table in front of the couch.  Before bringing her gaze back up to her visitor, she summoned all of her inner courage.  Then she looked straight into his merciless dark eyes.

“I understand what I have to do.  You send Riley over tomorrow afternoon and by the time he leaves, you can be assured that everything is going to according to plan.”

Continued

WordPress Themes

Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King and its characters belong to Warner Brothers and Shoot the Moon Enterprises. No infringement is intended. This is written for entertainment purposes only.