AMANDA TO THE RESCUE
Even after meeting Lee under the cover of darkness and being told not to get involved, Amanda is still thinking about the case as well as what was written on the card Phillip found. It’s while she’s doing the housework that a sudden thought hits her. Following her hunch, she pours through her mother’s numerous cookery books looking for the recipes for Mrs Welch of TV cookery fame.
Finally, she finds a couple of recipe cards and when she sits down with her mother to watch the show – which Dotty remembered to tape earlier that day – she knows she is on to something.
She knows that she cannot keep what she’s found from Lee. This, surely, is far too important a connection to remain silent about, even though he’s already made it very clear that he doesn’t want her involved in the case? The only problem is that when she tries to get hold of Lee on the phone, she finds that he’s not there to speak to.
Perhaps she could do a little further investigation on her own while she waits to speak to him? It seems like a good idea as it would add further weight to her discovery. She duly heads to the TV station with the names of the dishes to get the dates of the programmes, taking her entire Cub Scout group with her under the guise of them getting a new badge, even as she tries to get hold of Lee again without success.
Worst of all, upon double checking the programme dates against the murders, she is suddenly struck by the terrifying realisation that they do indeed match and that Lee may well be next: “Pilgrim’s Peach Puff today. Lee has a mission today.”
She knows it is none of her business, but she can’t help herself. She doesn’t want Lee to come to any harm and if she can prevent it she’ll find a way. However, there is the small matter of what do with the children. Right on cue her mother arrives to help out just as Amanda is heading outside and after, grappling for an excuse by saying she has an emergency at her club she leaves her mother to babysit.
Going to Lee’s aid is very much new territory for Amanda – a complete leap from the day to day life she knows so well. She has never had to do anything like this before, much less had any training concerning how to handle herself in such situations … especially when she has absolutely no idea what she might be walking into!
When she finds the house she approaches it cautiously. The desire to help Lee has propelled her here and now she has to decide how to go about finding him, if he is indeed here at all. It just seemed the most logical place to look first, although she soon spots a man making a delivery of fruit and vegetables whom she needs to get past before she can do anything else.
When she spots a rogue melon on the ground she picks it up, knowing that it was no doubt dropped by the delivery man who has conveniently opened the cellar door to take the stuff down into. That, she realises, has to be her way in – if she can get past him…
“I hope I can look back on this one day and laugh.” Certainly a few days ago she would never have contemplated doing something like this for someone who is, in effect, a complete stranger. She takes a deep breath and approaches the man under the guise of returning the melon and selling cookies.
The vegetable man doesn’t prove particularly friendly or interested and so, realising that he might not move far enough away from the cellar, she causes a distraction by tipping over a box of oranges and sending them flying across the ground.
That seems to get his attention and she quickly bolts down the cellar steps before he can see her, although it isn’t long before he comes rattling after her.
“Cub Scout lady!” he calls out as Amanda quickly hides so that he won’t spot her. Deciding that maybe she isn’t down in the cellar after all, he heads back upstairs after a moment or two, shouting out for her all the while, leaving Amanda feeling only a sense of relief at the near miss. What has she gotten herself into??
Left to look for Lee but ever conscious of running into trouble, she ventures along the cellar corridor. Perhaps she should have told someone at the Agency what she found out rather than come herself after all? There again, she’s here now and has to continue. As she comes upon one particular door she suddenly finds it opening and is forced to move quickly out of sight. However, she can hear whoever opened the door talking to another man inside – Lee! He’s alive!
Now she knows he’s here all she has to do is figure out a way to get him out. However, before she can think about how to go about this the service lift she has inadvertently stepped into suddenly whisks her upward. When it grounds to a halt Amanda finds herself peering into the kitchen where Mrs Welch is giving a private cookery class to someone. Francine! What is clear to Amanda is that this is no ordinary lesson – Francine has been drugged and is divulging the movements of an agent that Mrs Welch has designs on eliminating.
For Lee, time seems to have run out. He hasn’t managed to buy himself enough time to get himself out of the mess he’s in and instead finds himself being led to a waiting helicopter by the bad guys and Mrs Welch. Amanda gets upstairs in time to see this happening and only knows that she has to do something. But what? She spies a bag of sugar sitting on top of a box of fruit and suddenly an idea comes to her. It may not be something that a real agent would do but there again she has to do what she thinks might help…
Having dealt with the sugar, Amanda positions herself behind a parked car. She has a clear view of Lee and it isn’t long before she realises that he’s spotted her crouching there. He can’t believe his eyes when he realises it’s her. Didn’t he tell her that she should stay away from everything? That it was dangerous? Surely she doesn’t think that she can mount her own rescue of him without any sort of back up? What’s more if she’s spotted he doesn’t even want to contemplate what might happen!
The bad guy notices something in Lee’s face because he turns to peer curiously in Amanda’s direction, causing her to duck out of sight before he has a chance to see her, although when he turns back to Lee she decides to take a chance. It’s now or never!
Her sudden appearance is enough to cause a distraction and Lee, seizing his opportunity, reacts with a swift, decisive kick which sends the bad guy reeling to the ground. Amanda’s only thought is to get to Lee and quickly she runs towards him, forgetting that she is putting herself at risk by being seen.
“Freeze. That’s what you say isn’t it?” she yells at him above the sound of the helicopter noise.
“Yeah. Usually when you’re armed,” Lee shouts back. “Untie me.” If she can extract him from his ties then he can at least do something to get them out alive.
Amanda’s heart sinks the minute she sees the knot. She has absolutely no idea how to undo it!
Unable to release Lee from his bindings and now having been spotted, Lee yells at her to get into the helicopter. He immediately starts barking orders at her, telling her what to do. Amanda finds herself with very little time to react, mechanically following what he tells her.
“Feet on the pedals! Right hand on the stick! Left hand down on the throttle!”
She turns to him, suddenly uncertain. “Why?”
When she set out to find Lee this is the last thing she expected to have to do! She’s never flown a helicopter before, let alone one which is being fired upon by bad guys! With Lee barking instructions at her all the while, she finally manages to get the helicopter in the air although it seems at one point as though she starts to fly it back towards the house and the people they are trying to escape. The one saving grace, however, is that the bad guys’ car seems to have broken down.
“It’s lucky their car coughed out,” Lee muses, happy for at least one small silver lining, especially as his life is now in the very inexperienced hands of a housewife from Arlington!
“Lucky nothing!” Amanda responds, proving that even though she may not have any agency training she can still improvise when she needs to. “I put sugar in the gas tank. Phillip did it once to Dean’s car. It’s never been the same!”
Lee’s so unsettled by Amanda’s flying that he just shuts his eyes and prays – something she certainly doesn’t appreciate! After all, he’s the one who told her she had to fly the helicopter!
As Amanda does her best to keep them in the air Lee suddenly looks at her and finds himself unable to help wonder out loud what the hell she thinks she’s wearing. Amanda can’t believe it! Why would he care about that?? And at a time like this??
The stress of their situation makes them both edgy, their raised voices at the other belying the danger they both know they are in. And yet, despite making all kinds of weird manoeuvres, Amanda manages to somehow force the car carrying Mrs Welch and her sidekick into a ditch and save the day.
Her euphoria proves short-lived though as Lee apologises about her car now currently residing in the ditch. For Amanda, this is very much the downside of victory…
As far as Lee is concerned, he’ll just be happy to be back on solid ground again.