a sequel to "The Spy Who _____-ed Me"
by Cheryl B.
April in London. It had been several months since Richard and Sarah teamed up to bring down the odious Colin St. Claire, and Sarah was now Richard's partner, both in business and in love.

And love was definitely in the air that day. The trees were showing off their new, colorful spring clothing - tender new leaves and buds and flowers in every imaginable hue. Unwilling to waste such a perfect day, Sarah and Richard had spirited away in his silver Astin Martin for an impromptu picnic in the English countryside.

Richard set out a loaf of crusty bread, a wedge of aged sharp English cheddar, crisp green apples and a bottle of wine on the plaid wool blanket he'd laid out on the grass.

As they ate, the spring sunshine bathed them in its warm glow, which only added to what they felt just being in each other's presence. Sarah wore a robin's egg blue pantsuit with a long ivory lace scarf casually draped around her neck, and Richard admired her with a smile, the way the color set off her eyes, and how the sunlight shimmered through her blonde hair.

Sarah was equally taken with Richard, so handsome in a cobalt blue sweater and black slacks, his black hat and overcoat folded neatly beside him, unnecessary in the afternoon warmth. He never ceased to take her breath away, and she just couldn't believe her luck in finding such a man.

But her love and appreciation for him went far beyond his dashing outward appearance. With all that she'd gone through - losing her beloved husband Jonathan, dealing with St. Claire's treachery and mind control, the tortured dreams she had for weeks after being forced to kill him to save Richard and herself - Richard was her utter salvation. His love and kindness and patience and humor had won over her anguished heart, and she felt happier and more at ease than she had in years.

As she remained deep in her thoughts, Richard leaned over and gently touched her lips with the tip of his finger. "You've got a little crumb of bread, right there..." He brushed it away with a tender smile.

Sarah, gentled back to reality once again, giggled and playfully tousled his slightly-greying hair. "Who are you, my mum?"

"Hardly," he quipped, "My inner child has yet to progress past the age of ten."

"Now there's an understatement if ever I've heard one" she retorted, continuing to enjoy her lunch and their gentle teasing.

Richard chuckled heartily. "Hey! I heard that!"

"That's because I said it right at you and real loud, you idiot!" Sarah said with a grin as tart and sassy as the apple she was crunching on.

"Cheeky little wench, aren't you?" he smiled seductively, his pale green eyes sparkling with mischief.

Sarah leaned close with a grin. "Oh, that's rich, coming from you!"

Richard was as enamored with her sense of humor - something else she had rediscovered in his compassionate presence - as with her beauty. He smiled and looked at her with tender amusement. "Now, look at you... you've got juice dribbling down your chin."

And before she could come up with another witty response, Richard began to kiss away the sweet, sticky juice, his mouth slowly making its way across her chin and upper lip before coming to rest on her mouth. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the sensations he was stirring within her.

"Who's your mum now?" he asked with a playfully wicked grin, deepening his kiss.

"Oh, do shut up," she smiled, pulling him closer as she kissed him back, "All this talk is begining to bore me...." Sarah sighed as she raked her fingers through his hair.

After a few minutes, they returned to their food, finished up lunch, and then Richard smiled at Sarah. "There's something else in the basket, why don't you get it out?"

"Oooh, dessert?" Sarah asked hopefully, her shameless sweet tooth showing as she rifled through the cloth napkins that lined the picnic basket, finally coming across a couple of small wrapped packages.

Intrigued, she looked at Richard. "For me?"

"Of course," he smiled, "Open them..."

Sarah smiled brightly and eagerly unwrapped the first one. Inside, she found a long cylinderical item, heavy, shiny and black.

"What's this?" she asked with a smile. "A secret spy camera? A tape recorder? A weapon of mass destruction?"

Richard laughed. "It's a new invention called a pen, perhaps you've heard of it?"

Giggling, Sarah crumpled the wrapping paper into a ball and threw it at Richard. "I know what it looks like, you daft boy, but I thought perhaps, given our line of work, it might be something else..." She rolled her eyes and admired the pen with a smile. "Despite your pathetic attempt at sarcasm, it's lovely, thank you."

Amused, Richard motioned for her to open the other box. Inside, she found a secret decoder ring, the sort a child would have found in a cereal box years earlier.

"Did you say ten?" Sarah said with a grin, shaking her head, "Let's give seven a go, shall we?"

"Oh, come now," Richard smiled, "it took me a long time to locate one of these things in a antique toy shop! Besides, there's a message inside to go with it. Hence the pen, oh ye of little faith."

Sarah found a neatly-folded piece of paper with a few nonsensical words written on it, and room enough on the page below to transcribe the decoded version.

She looked at Richard with a raised brow, took the pen and the decoder ring, and got to work.

"You need a hobby, truly," she teased Richard as she found the first two letters.

S - A

"Yeah, yeah, be quiet and decode," he grinned.

R - A - H

"That's my name, how very clever of you!"

"Just keep going, Jane Bond," Richard chuckled.

I - L - O - V - E - Y - O - U

Sarah smiled. "Likewise, I'm sure," she said as she leaned over to kiss him.

She kept twisting the center circle of the ring and finding the corresponding letters on the outer ring, writing them down as she went along.

W - I - L - L -Y - O - U

As she felt her her blood pounding in her ears, Sarah stared blankly at the paper. She blinked, swallowed the lump that was in her throat, and looked at Richard.

"Keep going..." he whispered with a soft smile.

With trembling fingers, she finished.

M - A - R - R - Y - M - E

He couldn't read her expression as her eyes, intense and serous, bored deeply into his. Sarah took the decoder ring, twisted it around with shaking hands and wrote down a message, handing it and the ring to Richard.

With his face pale and taut, he took the paper and looked. His heart sank when he saw a mere two-letter response, rather than the three he'd so desperately hoped for.

Just to play it out, he quietly turned the wheel twice.

S - I

"It's Spanish," Sarah giggled, "shall I translate?"

The weight of the world lifted from his strong shoulders, Richard sighed with relief and gave her a mock stern look. "I believe it roughly comes out to 'I'm an extremely cruel woman who looks forward to tormenting you every day for the rest of your bloody life...'"

"Close enough," Sarah giggled. "Now why don't you come here and kiss your new fiance like a good lad?"

"Si, mi angel bonita..." he whispered, pulling her close, his mouth tenderly seeking hers.

"Te amo, mi corazon..." she whispered breathlessly, returning her beloved's kiss with joy.

He touched her cheek. "I promise to take care of you, Sarah. I'll always be there for you, and I'll love you until I breathe my last breath.

"But I'm afraid that no wife of mine is going to go around wearing that," he continued, pointing to the decoder ring and laughing softly. "So here's the real thing."

With that he pulled a small black velvet box out of his pocket, opened it to reveal a perfect, elegant diamond solitaire ring.

"Oh Richard, it's beautiful," she gasped. But as he removed it from the box to place it on her finger, she stopped him.

"Wait, Richard, please..."

He looked at her, the fear that she'd suddenly changed her mind crossing his features. "What is it, Sarah? Are you having second thoughts already?"

She looked into his sparkling green eyes and shook her head. "Oh no, no Richard. I do want to marry you, so very much. I've never been so certain of anything. It's just that... well, I need to do something first."

"Of course, love," he replied, relieved yet confused. "What is it?"

She sighed softly. "I just need to pay a visit to an old friend..."

He took her arm as they walked back to his car, Sarah stopping along the way to pick a bunch of purple wildflowers. Richard started the engine, and they were off.

As they drove back to town, Sarah looked over at Richard, then out the window. Quietly, she placed her hand on his knee and leaned her head back as she stared out at the lush green scenery, yet not really seeing anything.

About fifteen minutes later, she sat up as they arrived at their destination. Richard parked the car and switched off the engine. "I'll be waiting here for you, angel," he told her, kissing her gently and squeezing her hand.

"Thank you," Sarah replied, taking the flowers and walking down the stone path of the cemetery to a spot she knew all too well, her heels clicking in time to the silent dirge within her heart.

Stopping in front of a large gravestone, she exhaled heavily and knelt down before it, lovingly tracing the etched lettering on the cold, carved marble:

Jonathan Wentworth. Beloved husband and hero. Born August 13, 1950. Died November 3, 1999.

Lost to any sense of time, she finally kissed the top of the stone and laid the flowers beside it. "These are for you, sweetheart. You always used to bring these to me..." Tears began to form in her eyes.

Sarah swallowed hard and fought the urge to break down. "Jonathan, I... I've met somebody. A man. A good man who loves me, and I love him. He's asked me to marry him, and I've accepted."

Caressing the stone again, she smiled softly. "It's been a long time since I've been happy, and he helped me find that again. I just wanted to come and tell you... Oh Jonathan, I hope you understand that I haven't forgotten you. Ever..." With that, she lost her battle to keep control and dissolved in tears, burying her face in her hands.

She felt a hand on her shoulder. "It's alright, Sarah, I'm here. I'm here..." Richard helped her up and held her in his strong arms, stroking her hair and comforting her.

"You were gone for quite a while, I thought you might need me."

"I do...Thank you..." she replied through her tears.

When she'd calmed down and dabbed her eyes with the linen handkerchief he offered, Richard turned to face the gravestone, removing his hat as he knelt down on one knee.

"Hello Jonathan, I'm Richard. I never had the pleasure to meet you, sir, but from everything I've heard about you when I was working on your case, you were a top-notch spy and one hell of a man, and I truly wish I could shake your hand." The sweet sincerity of his words caused Sarah's heart to swell with love and gratitude for this amazing man who loved her so.

"I want you to know how very much I love your dear Sarah," Richard continued, "and although she misses you terribly, I promise you that I'll do everything in my power to make her happy and keep her safe from harm, as long as I live. You can be assured of that, on my word as a gentleman."

As he arose, seemingly out of nowhere, but surely from heaven itself, came a tiny little black bird. It landed on top of Jonathan's gravestone, and cocked its little head to the right, looking at Sarah, then to the left, looking at Richard. It then began to warble the most beautiful, joyous tune that any bird had ever sung. And with what somehow looked like a smile on its jolly little beak, it flitted away, disappearing into the azure skies.

Sarah looked at Richard, a sense of peace and warmth washing over her, and she smiled at him.

"I'm ready now," she said softly.

"Yes my love," Richard whispered, reaching into his pocket and slipping the diamond ring onto her long, slim finger, looking into her eyes with a loving, reassuring smile, kissing her hand gently.

Sarah held Richard's hand as they walked back to his car, the sun warm on their backs. "Thank you so much," she said softly while they were driving away, her head on his shoulder.

Richard smiled and kissed her forehead. "I am always here for you, whenever you need me, my love. Always..."

Sarah looked at him and touched his face. "In that case, I could really use a little of your TLC right about now. Could we pull over again, please?" His compassionate smile assured her she needn't ask twice.

Richard found a lovely spot to park beside a field of oak trees. He unhooked his seatbelt and took her in his arms.

Weaving her fingers into his hair, she looked deeply into his eyes. "I love you so much, Richard."

"And I love you, Sarah," he replied softly, his gentle gaze warming her heart.

As her eyes pleaded with him, he understood and placed his lips on hers, kissing her deeply. "Is this what you need, my love?" he whispered in her ear.

"Oh yes, please..." she replied, tears forming in the corners of her eyes, "Kiss me Richard. kiss me and never stop. Never let me go..."

"I won't, I promise you that..." he assured her as his kisses, as slow and sweet as molasses in her mouth, tenderly sealed his vow,

After they sat cuddling together for several minutes, Richard brushed a stray lock of blonde hair from her beautiful face and kissed her cheek.

Sarah looked at him with a smile. "Shall we go get our registrar's certificate so we can get started on our wedding plans?" she asked.

"There's only one problem with that," he said, smiling at her.


"With a certificate, we have to wait for three weeks," Richard replied, "But if we get a license, we only have to wait for a day..."

Sarah grinned. "Anxious for our wedding, are you now?"

Richard looked at her, his eyes flashing dark with desire, and kissed her. "Yes, and even more anxious for our wedding night..."

"Richard," Sarah breathed as he trailed soft, feathery kisses down her neck. "I can't wait to give myself to you completely, to show you how very much I love you. I want to fall asleep in your arms every night, and wake up to see your face every morning, for the rest of my life."

As the heat of the moment drew him to take her mouth in another deep kiss, she clutched him tightly.

"I want to give you everything, Sarah." his low, raspy, seductive voice teasing her ear as his hands ran slowly up and down her back. "I want to give your body the most exquisite, glorious pleasure it's ever known, your heart all the joy it can possibly hold, and your soul the peace of knowing that I love you, and will love you forever..."

She embraced him with a long, languid sigh. "Mmmmmm, tell me again, how soon can we gat that license?"

He chuckled. "Is right now too soon?"

Back in the city, they got the legal paperwork completed and made arrangements to marry the day after next at the register office.

"Here's a thought," Richard said. "Why don't we head to my place, then you can take my car and go on a little prenuptial shopping spree? You can meet me back home when you're done."

"Sounds like a marvelous plan," Sarah smiled. It didn't take long to get there, and as they parked in front of his estate, she got into the driver's seat. "I'll see you soon, Richard."

"Here, take my credit card" he said, pulling out his wallet, "It would be dreadfully tragic for you to run out of funds just as you get to the lingerie shop." She grinned with a wave and a blown kiss, driving through the gates and heading out to the busy streets of London in search of the finest clothing shops and boutiques in town.

A few hours later, she returned, a huge shopping bag in one hand, a very small one, no larger than a lunch sack, in the other. Sarah set them on the floor and plopped down beside Richard on the large, comfortably overstuffed sofa, kicking off her shoes and cuddling close.

"What's in the big bag?" he asked with boyish curiosity, putting his arm around her.

"My wedding clothes and accessories," she replied with a peck to his cheek.

"And in that tiny one?"

Sarah shot him a sly grin. "Oh that? That would be my complete honeymoon trousseau...."

He stared wide-eyed at the bag and swallowed hard, much to her great amusement. "You cold, cruel woman," Richard chuckled, tantalized. "Good lord, I'm marrying the Marquessa de Sade!"

She burst out laughing. "Oh, quit your whining, You won't be complaining when I model them for you..."

"Well," Richard said softly, pressing against her, "I hope you model them quickly, because I've a feeling that, once I see you in them, I won't let you keep them on for very long..."

She'd confess the truth later - that the small bag merely contained a new lipstick, compact and a vial of perfume, and that all her lovely little lace and silk unmentionables were still in the trunk of the car. But she was in no rush to end his sweet torment quite yet.

"Promises, promises..." Sarah whispered as Richard's tongue skated into her mouth, tasting the smooth waxy flavor of her raspberry-colored lipstick as his insistent kisses flooded her senses.

Their moment of bliss was cut short by the ringing of the telephone. "Hello?" Richard said. "Yes, yes, I understand. Right now? Can it wait until... Oh, I see... Alright, we'll be there. Thank you." He replaced the receiver and looked at Sarah.

"That was the government. I'm so sorry, angel, but something's come up of vital importance. The prime minister's daughter has been kidnapped, and we have to go get her back."

Disappointed but understanding, Sarah replied "Of course, Richard. We'll just have to postpone our wedding for a little while. It sounds like it's Raven and Lenore to the rescue again..."

Richard touched her cheek. "Yes indeed, my beautiful, sexy little spy." And he kissed her again before they turned their attention to business and headed to the government office to receive their assignment.

Richard and Sarah sat in the office of their boss, Peter Lancaster, a 60-ish gentleman, always impeccably dressed and serious in tone, but completely kind and friendly at heart. He sat at his grand oak desk looking at the newly betrothed couple.

"Well, well," he said in his usual blustery voice after Richard told him the happy news, "I guess that congratulations are in order." He shook their hands. "But now, let's get down to business."

Richard grinned at Sarah, both feeling like schoolchildren plagued with the giggling fits, knowing that, except to the criminals he sought to bring down, Peter was far from the imposing figure he wanted so terribly to appear to be.

"Yes," Richard said, "You said the prime minister's daughter has been kidnapped. Do we know by whom?"

"And is there a ransom request yet?" Sarah added.

"Here," Peter responded, tossing a large manila folder on the desk. "All the information you need is in here." Sarah and Richard perused the paperwork.

Katelyn Powers was 9 years old, the only child of Prime Minister Edward Powers and his wife Rose. Apparently, she was apprehended earler that afternoon at the birthday tea party of her older cousin Alice, a grand, catered affair at a downtown hotel.

"How did it happen?" Richard asked. "Didn't they prepare the ballroom with the usual security measures?"

"Yes," Peter said, "but the guard who walked her to the ladies room was discovered knocked unconscious, and Katelyn missing. An hour later, the prime minister received a phone call demanding five million pounds for her safe return."

He looked at them. "I don't have to tell you how delicate this situation is. This little girl's life is at stake, so you must be clever, and you must be careful. Bring her back safely..." His soft side was hopelessly showing, obviously emotional over the fate of an innocent child.

"You can count on us, sir," Sarah assured him.

"I know I can." Peter arose from his seat. "But I've got to go out for a couple of hours, so feel free to use my office while I'm gone." He left, and Richard fetched some tea while Sarah spread out the papers over the desk and got out a notebook and pen.

"Hmm, this is a strange case." Richard pondered aloud as he read through the case papers.

"Why?" Sarah asked.

"I don't know," he replied, "Something just doesn't add up."

"Like what?"

"Well," Richard explained, "how did someone slip into the hotel ballroom unnoticed? There were other guards on duty, but apparently, according to the report, none of them reported anyone suspicious."

"I don't know," Sarah sighed. "At least we can be glad that the kidnappers asked for money. It's obviously not a political ploy by terrorists, thank God, just someone out for the cash. Terrorists are known for playing rough..." The thought of someone harming the little girl weighed heavily on her heart.

Richard, sensing her thoughts, took her hand and squeezed it gently. "Don't worry, Sarah. We'll get her back."

After spending the rest of the evening studying the paperwork and taking notes on possible leads, Richard made arrangements for them to attend a charity ball the following evening, which was to be attended by the prime minister and his wife. Perhaps the kidnapper would make an appearance, or at the very least, they could talk to some people and get some clues. Richard drove Sarah to her house and kissed her at her doorstep before heading home himself.

The next afternoon, a deliveryman arrived with a package for Sarah. She sat on the sofa with a smile and read the card.

My darling Sarah, a little something for tonight, my love. I know we should be getting married tomorrow, but I promise you, as soon as we rescue the damsel in distress, we shall have our day. See you at eight. With my eternal love, Richard

Opening the large box, she discovered a pale shell pink satin ballgown, with off-the-shoulder puff sleeves and a lace overlay on the bodice. She tried it on. Of course, it fit perfectly.

Later that evening, after bathing and doing her hair and makeup, Sarah dressed, feeling like a princess in the exquisite dress. Richard arrived, stunning in black tie finery, and they headed to the ball.

"Raven" and "Lenore" arrived at the elegant ball, filled nearly to bursting with people. An orchestra played as dancers circled the dance floor. They discovered that the prime minister and his wife had not yet arrived, but were expected shortly.

As they waited, Richard took Sarah's hand and bowed grandly. "May I have this dance, my beautiful lady?"

"Of course..." she replied with a smile as they danced to a lilting waltz, catching the admiring glances of many of their fellow partygoers, but too wrapped up in each other to notice.

As another dance was about to begin, the announcer suddenly spoke. "Ladies and gentlemen, Prime Minister Powers and his wife."

Solemnly, the couple stood by the podium, and the prime minister addressed the people when their respectful applause had quieted.

"Thank you. Rose and I want to thank everyone for their well-wishes, kind words and prayers at this time. We have every faith that our precious daughter Katelyn will come home safely to us, very soon. Although we cannot stay very long this evening, as I know you'll understand, we did want to make an appearance to let you know how very important this cause is to us. Have a good time everyone, and please continue keep us all in your prayers. God bless you."

As Edward and Rose shared their obligatory dance for the media cameras, Richard and Sarah split up and went out amongst the crowd, hoping to catch any snippets of conversation that might give them some insight on the case.

After a while, finding each other again at the bar, they compared notes over champagne.

"Nothing," Sarah sighed, emptying her glass in one gulp out of sheer frustration.

"Same here," Richard replied.

He smiled. "Don't worry angel, the night is still young."

With a kiss to his cheek, Sarah said "I know, so I'm off to powder my nose. Save my seat for me?"

"Of course, love."

Heading around the corner and through a narrow hallway, Sarah neared the ladies' room when she heard a noise coming from a crack in an almost-closed door. Intrigued, she peered in quietly, and saw two figures in a passionate, frenzied embrace. Looking more closely, she could see that it was none other than the prime minister himself.

But it wasn't his wife.

As quiet as a mouse, she retrieved the tiny camera from her evening bag and snapped a few photos, tiptoeing away as fast as she could.

Finding Richard still waiting at the bar, she grabbed his hand. "Do you have your laptop in the trunk?"

"Yes," he replied quizzically.

"Then let's go out to the car."

Sitting in the front seat, she downloaded the photos from the camera. "Do you know who this lady is?" she asked.

"No," Richard replied. "But let me fax them over to Peter, and he can match the photos with the computer database."

He did so, and in half an hour, Peter called Richard on his cell phone.

"The woman in the photo is Penelope Stephens. A close family friend of the Powers' and the widowed mother of 8-year-old Tristan. Both mother and son were at the birthday tea party."

"Thanks, Peter," said Richard.

"Thank you, Richard," he replied. "Keep me posted." With that, the two spies returned to the party.

Sarah found the prime minister, having finished with his little tryst, standing in the corner with a drink as his wife was speaking to some friends across the room.

"Hello, Prime Minister, sir." she said sweetly. " I'm Lenore, and I just wanted to say how very sorry I am to hear about your daughter's kidnapping."

"Thank you, Lenore. And do call me Edward, please."

"Edward, a pleasure," she replied, turning on the charm. "I was wondering if I might speak with you? Privately?" She gambled that he was as hormonally driven as St. Claire had been, and it paid off, noting the oily smile that crossed his face as they stepped into a little side drawing room.

"You're a pretty little thing," he said, offering her a bourbon from the wet bar, which she refused with a shake of her head. "I don't think I've ever seen you before. Believe me, I'd remember a tasty little crumpet like you."

"Thank you," Sarah giggled, playing the part of the blushing young ingenue. "I'm new in town, and a friend gave me her ticket when she couldn't come tonight."

"Well," Edward said, stepping close, "I'm glad you did."

"Me too. You're a very handsome man... please forgive me. You're married, and besides, you're going through so much right now."

He slipped his arms around her. "My wife and I have an understanding of sorts. I'm a man of many needs, Lenore, more than one woman can fulfill..."

Oh please...

"So you have a girlfriend too?" Sarah asked.

"No, nobody important," he said as his hands began to wander. "But I'd like to get to know you better. Much better...."

Sarah fought the urge to slap him, instead putting on the shy, playful act. "Edward, please... I don't know about this..."

"I do, Lenore. I do..." With that, he kissed her hard.

Again feigning coyness, Sarah gently pushed him away. "I need a glass of champagne, Edward, and to clear my head. I"ll be back in five minutes, okay?"

"Alright," he said, "hurry back."

Soon, she came back in, finding him sitting and leafing through a book. "I'm back," she said with a forced smile.

"And more lovely than ever," Edward said. "Now, where were we?" He grabbed her again, obviously under the assumption that the caveman approach was the way to a girl's heart.... or at least into her knickers.

She looked at him with a cold grin. "You were about to tell me about your mistress Penelope. And about your daughter's mysterious kidnapping."

Pushing her aside and glaring at her, Powers pointed a finger at her. "Who are you? And what the hell are you talking about?"

"Where's your daughter, Powers?" Sarah demanded. "What did you do with her?"

As he approached her with a menacing look on his face, the door opened, and Richard came in.

"If he's not cooperating, love, it's alright." he said with a grin. "I've got someone here who will." He opened the door, and in stepped Penelope.

"Nobody important?" shrieked the 30-ish redhead. "You told me you loved me, Edward! You told me that if I helped you with this plan, it would make the people sympathetic to you, assuring you of your party's re-election. You said because I was an invited guest at the party, it was such a perfect, foolproof plan. Nobody suspicious would ever be seen there. And then," she paused. "And then you said that when it was all over, you'd leave Rose, that we'd be together."

"Shut up!" he demanded, "Shut your mouth!" He took a step toward her, but Richard stood in his way.

"I don't think so, old boy," Richard said firmly, his hand patting the pistol concealed in his jacket.

Penelope continued, near tears. "When Raven played me the secret recording of his conversation with Lenore here, I knew everything was a lie." As Sarah shot Powers a smug glance, Penelope turned to Richard. "Katelyn is at my house, in a soundproof room in the basement. She's safe. I'll tell the authorities everything, just... just let me tell my son goodbye first." She began to weep.

Sarah glared at Powers. "If your daughter's kidnapping would gain the sympathy of the people, just imagine how much emotion you could wring out of them if she never came home. If she were dead..."

Edward merely looked at her with a smirk that spoke volumes of the drastic measures he had been prepared to take to succeed, had he needed to.

Her gaze was colder than the iceberg that sank the Titanic, and just as deadly. "You dog... using a child, your own child, as a political pawn. You make me sick." She looked him up and down, as if to decide how to hurt him first.

"No, love," Richard said in a calm voice, gently taking her hand. "He's not worth it. He'll pay, in prison. I don't need you going there too."

When he was certain that Sarah was calm, he stepped away to make a phone call, and the authorities soon arrived to take away Edward and Penelope, after taking Katelyn home to her stunned, saddened but relieved mother.

Back at Richard's place, they finally got the call from Peter.

"Everything's fine. Penelope made a full confession, and will most likely be treated with leniency for her cooperation. Edward is going to be put away for a very, very long time. And Katelyn is sleeping soundly in her own bed tonight. All she knows now is that she's home, and that her friend Tristan is going to be staying with her for a little while. Rose hasn't told her anything else yet. Dear woman, I hope she'll be alright."

"I'm sure she'll be fine in time," Richard said. "She's a strong woman."

And a fine prime minister, as the people of England would learn come election time a few months later.

"Well, that about wraps things up," Peter said. "You two worked so fast on this one that you still have time to make your wedding tomorrow!"

Richard repeated his words to Sarah, who burst out laughing. "Yes, that's right! Except that it was cancelled, so we may not be able to make another appointment tomorrow."

Grinning, Richard told her, as Peter listened in, amused, "I didn't cancel it, love. I had faith, well, hope at least, that we wouldn't have to miss it."

"Oh, Richard!" she squealed with delight, hugging him.

In her excited embrace, Richard said "Peter, I think I have to go now before Sarah tears me to pieces.... see you after our honeymoon."

"Where are you two going?" Peter asked, chuckling.


"Richard? Richard? Bollocks, the bloody bastard hung up on me!" A smile crept across his gruff face.

The next evening. 8 p.m. Newlyweds Richard and Sarah stood outside the restaurant where they just finished sharing their post-wedding celebration dinner, he in a black suit and tie, she in a champagne silk and lace sheath with matching shoes and sheer hose, a peach-hued rose in her hair, a single strand of pearls at her neck. They shared a kiss before getting into the waiting limousine.

"Oh Richard," Sarah sighed, nestled beside him in the plush seat, sipping champagne. "Two weeks in the French countryside sounds divine. What a lovely honeymoon it's going to be!"

"I have absolutely no doubt about that," Richard said as he took her into his arms and kissed his bride deeply.

"Driver," he said through the small divider window, "There's a most generous tip in it for you if you'll double-time it to our hotel." The look in his eyes told her that he had one thing on his mind at that moment. And it filled her heart with joy.

Richard carried Sarah across the threshold of their hotel suite, managing to lock the door behind them without letting her go.

"My beautiful, beautiful spy..." he whispered as he kissed her deeply. Sarah wrapped her arms around his neck and breathed a contented sigh.

"Thank you," she said softly.

With gentle amusement, Richard replied,"No need for thanks, my angel. But if you insist, I can think of a few ways to express your gratitude..." His kisses demanded her immediate, unconditional surrender, and she was all too happy to send up the white flag.

After reveling in her new husband's lips for several moments, she pulled away slightly, still in his arms, and looked at him. "No, Richard, that isn't what I meant."

Setting on her feet, he looked at Sarah with a slight frown of concern. "What is it, love?" They sat on the edge of the bed, her hand in his. She traced his rugged, gentle face with her fingers, as if to reassure herself that he, that this moment, were real.

"Richard," she began, "after Jonathan was killed, I never thought I'd ever love again. He was my whole life. When he was gone, I closed myself up to the possibility of ever being happy again, and St. Claire's influence over me just helped to push me completely over the edge of despair.

"But, you..." Sarah continued, looking into the sparkling pale green emeralds of her beloved's eyes, "You pulled me back into life, made me believe in love again. You helped me believe that I was able to give it, and that I was worthy to receive it."

She smiled softly. "And it's for that I thank you. And it's for that I love you. So very much."

"And I love you." Richard swept his hand through her river of flowing blonde hair. "Sarah, you are a gentle, caring and utterly amazing woman. If anyone deserves to be loved, it is you." His voice turned low. "And I think it's about time I proved to you just how much..." He buried his face in her neck, inhaling the scent of her perfume with a quiet moan.

His words and the sensation of his soft, wet mouth on her skin shot a shiver of excitement and anticipation through Sarah's body. "Wait....let me go get ready," she whispered, "I want to please you."

Richard continued to tantalize the tender flesh of her neck with fiery kisses. "Then I beg of you," he said in a voice hoarse with desire, "Don't make me wait one moment longer..."

He took her hand and they moved, until they knelt facing each other on the bed. Richard embraced her and slowly began to unbutton the tiny pearl buttons on the back of her dress, her head on his shoulder as she ran her fingers through his hair.

"You do please me, Sarah. So.... very.... very.....very... much..." He punctuated each torturous pause with a kiss blazened upon the soft, creamy skin of her throat, and ended with his mouth taking hers deeply.

"And you please me," she sighed, struggling with his shirt buttons, teasing his chest with kisses when she finally managed to remove it, tossing the garment to the floor.

"My love," he said in a low growl, taunting her with the most sweetly wicked gaze, "I haven't even begun to please you..." Pressing her close, Richard's lips curled slightly as he unfastened her last button, his free hand slipping down to touch her gently, swallowing her sudden whimper of pleasure within his kiss.

"But will this do for a start?"

Sarah sighed and clung to him, leaving the rhetorical question suspended in the fragile, crystalline silence of the moment. Neither dared to breathe, lest they break the glorious spell they'd begun to weave.

As he continued his sweet seduction, Richard slipped the dress off of her milky-white shoulders, leaving it pooled around her waist as he clothed her bare skin with kisses. They finished undressing each other, his tongue dancing deep in her mouth, matching the rhythm of his slow, masterful caress.

Sarah's world began to spin in sweet, surreal delirium like a carousel in a Fellini film. "Richard..." she gasped, every feeling, every emotion, every sensation she was experiencing wrapped up in that one beautiful word.

Sensing that she was as desperately in need of him as he was of her, Richard placed his hands on her shoulders and gently pushed her back onto the bed, covering her body with his.

As he leaned in to kiss her, Sarah suddenly blinked, a strange expression crossing her delicate features. Richard stopped and looked at her.

"What is it, my angel? What's wrong?" Still above her, he studied her face, brushing a lock of hair from her cheek.

Her blue eyes gazed into his. "Richard, for so long, I've had to be strong, always independent, always in control. I'm not used to allowing myself to be swept away like this."

"It frightens you to give up control," Richard said softly.

"No," Sarah replied.

Richard cocked his head to one side, slightly confused. "Then what is it, love?"

Her eyes turned soft and glowing. "What frightens me is how good it feels to trust you so completely that I feel safe enough to let myself go." Tenderly, she pulled him close. "I like it very much, Richard. So very much..."

He smiled softly at her. "Then tonight," he said quietly, his icy green eyes penetratng hers, "Just lie back and let me take charge. Let me please you, Sarah. Let me love you...."

As he claimed her body, she held on tight and closed her eyes, letting the sensation of every kiss, every movement, every word, wash over her.

"There are no barriers tonight," he whispered as he loved her, "No suit of armor. No shields. No walls. Just you and I, nothing else exists tonight.

"Come to me for protection from all the world's pain, Sarah." he offered sweetly, sincerely. "Let me be your fortress. Let me be your strength..."

"Yes, Richard... yes...." she breathed as she allowed him to set her free, her heart feeling his words as deeply as her body felt the passion he was creating within her.

Her pulse quickened from her own frenzied desire, and from the sound of Richard's deep, low groans in her ear. She looked into his eyes. No words now, for none were necessary, and surely none were sufficient.

Wide-eyed and trembling, she searched his face, silently pleading for the answer to her overpowering need, Mercifully, the world soon began to make perfect, exquisite sense as the carousel made its final wild, dizzying spin. The sheer physical and emotional intensity of that glorious moment dragged his name from her lips in a flurry of tears, and she buried her head in his chest, weeping as he held her.

Soon, Richard rolled over and Sarah rested her head on his shoulder, lying together in a tangle of linens as they settled. After a few minutes, she looked at him, shaking her head in wonder and smiled softly.

"What are you smiling at?" Richard said with a sweetly satisfied grin, stroking her hair and kissing her forehead.

"You," Sarah repled, caressing his flushed, damp face as she snuggled beside him, naked and vulnerable and very, very happy.

For on this night, she was not Lenore, super spy extraordinaire. She was just Sarah, a happy bride bathed in the beautiful afterglow of sweet wedding night passion, safe and warm within the arms of the man she loved. And as time hung unmoved for them, all was right with the world.

She kissed Richard's cheek and sighed contentedly before closing her eyes to sleep.

"Just you..."


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