Author’s Note: Why yes, I am still on my 80s TV show kick. I adored Adderly when it was on during the 80s. I recently binge-watched all the episodes on YouTube and laughed my @ss. It’s cheesy and lighthearted and was a show that knew how to make fun of itself. I may just have to watch it again.
References events that happened in “Mirror Man” (The episode where we meet Adderly’s Russian doppelganger)
Adderly sat back in his chair and looked around his office in something very much like satisfaction. Miscellaneous Affairs was now his. Well, technically, part his. But, after three long, frustrating years, V.H. Adderly was now the Deputy Director of Operations for Miscellaneous Affairs and the whole department was about to be reborn into what it had originally been – a department that handled the unusual cases that fell outside the purview of the regular departments.
Beginning tomorrow, Adderly had a real budget and the approval to hire three more agents. More importantly, he had the authority to decide which cases Miscellaneous Affairs would engage in. No more missing motor oil. No more supply inventories. No more dog sitting duties.
It wasn’t a European posting, but it was field work, it was real, and more than anything else, that was what he wanted. Granted, his sunshine didn’t come without a little rain. Melville still remained as the director of the department. But then someone had to keep up with the paperwork and Melville excelled at paperwork and bureaucracy. They were still in the basement and there was still that weird smell coming from the south corridor, but none of that was going to dampen his mood. Unable to contain his grin, he propped his feet up on his desk and leaned back a little more.
Outside his office door, he could hear Mona talking with the tech ops people as they installed the computer systems necessary for her to have access to the ISI computer databases. That was another thing on the list of ‘no mores’ – no more begging for tiny scraps of information, no more cat sitting in exchange for files. His smile slipped a little as he thought – no more of Mona having to go on dates with Dave in order to get computer access.
Then his smile went back wide again. God, it was good to be taken seriously again .
Glancing at the time, he realized that if he wanted to continue to be taken seriously, he needed to finish what he was doing. Leaning forward, he grabbed the stack of folders on his desk. These were his old case files from the last three years. Most of them were complete wastes of time like the missing oil case and those he put off to one side. The others, few and far between, were the real cases that Miscellaneous Affairs had been involved in – involved mostly by accident or happenstance or sheer divine intervention. These files he flipped through, re-reading reports and scanning the photos attached in each file. Occasionally, he added additional notes into the margins. These files, after all, would be the core of what Miscellaneous Affairs would become.
Grabbing the next file, he frowned slightly as he read Mona’s neat script on the folder label. Mirror Man . Then it hit him, this was the case involving his double. That had been a complete mess and if it hadn’t been for Mona, he’d be dead and his double would be feeding ISI secrets to the Soviets.
Flipping open the file, he started to read back through the action reports and follow ups. He’d learned from Clack that his double had been spotted about six months ago in Morocco, but so far had not been causing any additional trouble. He scanned the lab analysis of the drugs they’d found in his system. His own report was standard, detailing everything he could remember, what was said and done. Then, he flipped over to Melville’s report. In between the overly complicated ‘office speak,’ Melville’s report was short. He’d noted that Adderly II had been more cooperative and accommodating. ‘Polite and deferential to higher authority’ had been Melville exact words.
Shaking his head, he began reading over Mona’s report. She too noted his double’s more cooperative nature, but she had also included the fact that she had asked him to be more polite to Melville right before his kidnapping. Then she skipped over to trying to lift prints and realizing that Adderly II was using his gloved hand to use the phone.
He stopped and went back to the beginning of the report, scanning through Mona’s descriptions – “more cooperative,” “taking Mr. Greenspan to dinner,” “forgetting that the phones had been taken away.”
He sat up slowly, his chair squeaking slightly as he straightened. Nothing in Mona’s descriptions should have tipped her off that Adderly II was a double. Make her suspicious that something was wrong with him – yes. Make her concerned that he was acting out of sorts – yes. But there wasn’t one solid piece of evidence that should have made her suspicious enough that she’d go to the trouble of trying to lift fingerprints. Fingerprinting meant that she’d already suspected that he’d been replaced by a double.
He glanced at his closed door. So how had she known? Cocking his head, he listened for a few moments. There were no voices or other sounds. The tech ops guys must have finished the job. Getting up from his desk, he tucked the folder under his arm and headed out into the small hallway that was Mona’s domain.
She glanced up as the door opened, a smile lighting her face as she ran her fingers over the casing of the newly installed computer on her desk. “Oh, V.H., isn’t it beautiful?”
He let himself linger just a bit too long on the curve of her cheek and the line of her neck. “Very beautiful.” But Mona missed the appreciation in his gaze, as he refocused his attention on the computer before she could catch him.
Propping himself on the edge of her desk, he held up the folder.
“Old case file. The one with my double. There seems to be some vital information missing from it.”
Mona’s attention was now exclusively on the file. “Are you sure? I’m positive I filed everything correctly.”
Adderly shook his head. “Not that kind of missing. The pertinent parts are all there. What’s missing is how you figured out the double wasn’t me. He fooled Melville. Not that that was hard. But he even fooled Major Clack. How did you know?”
Mona ducked her head. “You know, he just wasn’t acting right. It was obvious.”
“Obvious to you, but to no one else. Come on, Mona. Tell me. If it ever happens again, whatever tipped you off could be used by another agent.”
Mona got up from her chair and started fiddling with her plants. “Not likely.”
Adderly slowly got to his feet and took a quiet step towards her. Mona was acting out of sorts. Nervous. “Mona, this is important. It could save someone’s life. How did you know?”
She spun around, trying to put distance between them. “I just did, okay.”
He frowned, not knowing what to make of Mona’s evasions. He remembered now that she’d done the same thing after they had first written up the reports on the case. Something cold unfurled in his stomach. Keeping his voice soft, he asked, “Mona, did I – my double – do something to you?”
Mona’s face went white before red suffused her cheeks in a wash of color. “No. Nothing.”
That cold thing in his stomach started crawling up his throat as rage filled him. “God damn it.” He was already heading towards the stairs. Heading to Clack. Heading out to find a way to kill the bastard that had tried to replace him and hurt Mona. “I’m going to-“
“V.H., please. Stop. You didn’t . . . I mean, he didn’t . . .” She raced after him, latching onto his arm and pulling him to a stop. “Please. Stop.”
When he did, she clung to his arm for just a minute more before taking a deliberate step back from him. She still wouldn’t meet his eyes though. “It wasn’t like that. He didn’t hurt me. Not like that.”
He fought down the anger. Something had happened, something bad enough that Mona was still hiding it even now. He tilted her head up, his gentle touch at odds with the anger still pulsing through him. He brushed his thumb along her jaw line. “Then what?”
“Can’t you just let it go?”
He shook his head. “Mona, whatever he did, he did wearing my face. You can’t even look at me and tell me what happened. So no, I don’t think I can just let this go.”
She let out a soft sigh full of resignation. “He didn’t hurt me. That’s not why I . . . he just kissed me, okay.”
Had he heard that correctly? “He what?”
She tilted her head away from his hand before stepping away. Putting distance between them again. “You – I mean he – he kissed me. He thought you and I . . . he thought . . . .” She trailed off before taking a breath. “That’s how I knew. Because he kissed me and you wouldn’t do that because I’m not the kind of woman you . . . well, you wouldn’t do that.”
He was so stunned that he let her retreat from him, back to the relative safety of her desk. The anger that he’d tamped down roared back up again as he pictured the scene her words conjured – Mona pulled flush against him, her lips just barely parted as they both hesitated for just a split second before he caught her mouth with his.
His fist clenched at his side at the vivid images. Images so real because he’d imagined them a hundred times over the years. What would it be like if he kissed Mona? If he . . . . Abruptly, he spun around and headed for the stairs, the file still clutched in his hand.
He heard Mona’s concerned call but ignored her as he took the stairs upwards two at time.
Mona jumped when the doorbell rang. She’d been engrossed in her latest spy novel and the jarring noise had pulled her from the sun-washed beaches of the Bahamas where the heroic master spy, Derrick Weatherby, had just discovered that his ex-partner and sometime lover, Vivianne, was a Russian double agent.
Giving herself a good shake to reorient herself back in the real world, she glanced at the clock, only for her eyes to widen. It was almost one o’clock in the morning. It wasn’t unheard of for her to get lost in her novels, but – the doorbell chimed again – who the world was at her door at this hour?
Rebelting her robe around her waist, she went to look through the peep hole in her door. If working with Adderly had taught her nothing else, it was that you always had to be vigilant and opening your door blindly at one o’clock in the morning was never a good idea. At seeing who was on the other side, her dismay turned to real worry as she pulled the door open.
“V.H.? What are-” He was completely disheveled which sent her worry climbing into alarm. Long past a five o’clock shadow, the visible stubble on his face made her fingertips itch with the urge to touch. His tie was hanging loose around his neck; the first few buttons of his shirt undone revealing smooth skin. His hair looked as if he’d been running his fingers through it, a habit that he only indulged in when he was particularly frustrated.
“Can I come in?”
Realizing that he was still standing outside her doorway, she quickly stepped backwards. “Of course. V.H., what’s wrong? Do you need my help with something?”
He was watching her, a look of intensity on his face that she rarely saw outside of him working on one of their real cases.
“Did you mean it?”
She shook her head, completely confused. “Mean what?”
“What you said earlier. You said you knew it wasn’t me because you aren’t the kind of woman I would kiss.”
She felt the heat in her face as she flushed in embarrassment. She tried to duck away from him. “V.H. . . .”
He took a step forward, blocking her path and subtly pushing her further back into her apartment as she retreated in front of him. “Tell me, Mona, what kind of woman would I kiss?”
“I-” She stumbled over her words as he took another step. Unsure of what game he was playing, she found her courage and planted her feet. “You know what kind, Adderly. They are always smart and confident and beautiful.”
He didn’t miss her switch from the more personal V.H. to the use of his last name. It was something she did when she felt she was too close to him, that she’d crossed the line too far into his personal space. He’d always let her retreat in the past. For good reasons. Solid reasons. He’d done his own retreating as well, turning away when she got to close. Those reasons didn’t matter anymore.
He let his gaze swept her form starting at her feet and moving up, caressing the curve of her hip, her waist, and the swell of her breasts. He was obvious in what he was doing, his movements deliberate and provoking. He watched a crimson flush spread across her skin and jerked his gaze up to her eyes.
V.H. flicked his eyes back down to her throat and raised a hand to run one finger along the edge of the robe, the peach satin warm from where it rested against her skin. Feeling her shiver under his light touch, he stopped where the robe crossed over her chest, held in place by the tie around her waist. His voice low, he bent to whisper in her ear, "Don’t be fooled, Mona. You are beautiful and smart and confident and I have noticed."
“Y-You . . .” Her words stuttered, but she caught herself. “You’re just a tease, Adderly. You’ve never-“
He cut her off. “I have. I’ve noticed those silk stockings you like to wear with the blue skirt.” He dared to reach out and hook two fingers behind the knot holding her robe closed. “I’ve noticed how you undo the top two buttons on the orange blouse when it gets hot in the basement.” A twist and a gentle tug and the satin tie slithered free, the robe falling open to reveal the matching nightgown beneath. He leaned slightly closer so his lips brushed against the column of her throat when he spoke. “I’ve noticed you still wear that perfume I like.” Then he took a deep breath so that it was very obvious that he was taking in the scent of that heady fragrance. “The perfect blend of jasmine and Mona.”
“V.H.” His initials were a barely audible sigh before she jerked away from him, her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Who are you? What have you done with Adderly?”
He dropped his head with a chuckle. There was his always practical Mona. “It’s me, Mona.”
She backed away another step, putting a chair between them. “You aren’t. You can’t be. Adderly would never. . .”
She stopped, but he knew the rest of her words. “I would never want you.” As he said them, he caught her flinch, but she didn’t back down, her spine ramrod straight and her eyes full of determination. “I am me, Mona, and you know it.”
“You can’t be.”
“Is it so hard to believe?”
She didn’t answer his softly voiced question, instead turning the questions on him. “Why? Why should I believe you? You never did anything . . . anything before.”
He took a half step towards her. Nothing to threatening . “Because I wanted back in the field. I wanted that European assignment.” He took his ruined hand out of his pocket and held it up. “I needed to prove I was still good enough – to Clack, to the agency, but mostly to myself.”
She shook her head. “That doesn’t explain why?”
He chuckled again and sidled another step closer to her. She eyed him warily but didn’t back away, even when he settled his hands on the back of the chair and pulled it closer to him. “It does. Or, at least it did. You, Mona Ellerby, aren’t a woman who does casual. You’re for keeps. I’ve always known that. If I started something . . . and then got the chance to go back in the field, if I got that assignment . . .”
He saw her shoulders relax. “You weren’t sure what you’d choose.”
“Either option – you or Europe – I’d always wonder if I made the right choice. I couldn’t do that to you, Mona. I couldn’t do it to myself, no matter how tempting you were.” The grip of his good hand tightened. “I was at that crossroads once before.”
“With your ex-partner, Jennifer.”
He nodded. “We used to sit on the steps of the church, talking about it. But we never did anything more than talk. And when I was sent back here after my hand . . .” He took a breath and let it out. “I asked her to come back with me.”
“No. She didn’t,” he said with a shake of his head. “And Mona, it didn’t . . . it hurt, but we didn’t question or second-guess.”
“Don’t you see, Mona? We walked away from each other and neither of us looked back. Just the thought of leaving you . . . the new position, along with the changes to Miscellaneous Affairs . . . I’m getting almost everything I want. I know it’s been a long time. I’ll understand if I’ve missed my chance. I just-”
Once again, Mona surprised him as she leaned forward and kissed him. It was slightly awkward because of the chair but he didn’t care.
Mona was a practical woman. Her only real flights of fancy the trashy romance novels she loved to read and V.H. Adderly. If the plots of her books had always seemed outlandish, then the thought of ever kissing Adderly, of loving him, was almost beyond fantastical. Her dreams, she decided, had not prepared her for the reality of him.
He tasted of strong black coffee, both bitter and sweet on her tongue. Even as she wondered where he’d been all night, the thought vanished as he moved to deepen the kiss. Moving to kneel in the seat of the chair, she pressed closer to him to offer more of herself.
Then abruptly he was moving away from her, pulling back. Confused, her heart faltered as rejection knifed through her. Had she been mistaken? Then she caught sight of his hands. One was gripped tight around the top of the chair, his knuckles white where he fought to maintain his grip. The other, the black gloved one, was curled as far as damaged bone and muscle would allow.
His voice was low and rough. “I need to go.”
Go? She didn’t understand. He couldn’t say those things and then leave. Not now. Not when- “Why?”
“Because if I don’t leave now, I’m not going to. I didn’t come over here to-“
She cut him off. “Stay.”
He groaned and she watched his grip on the chair tighten even further. “Mona. For once in my life I’m trying to be good here. To be a gentleman.”
She laid her hands gently over his, one warm skin, the other soft leather. “Stay.”
The desire he heard behind her words laid rest any doubts he had, but it was still hard. He’d built up so many walls over the years. That was what he’d been wrestling with since walking out of the office earlier. Could he commit? Could he be the man that Mona deserved and not one that hid behind jokes and easy sarcasm?
Even knowing she wanted him, releasing his hands from the cool wood of the chair was like a drowning man letting go of a lifeline. For a single heartbeat, he was adrift, until with a step he was past the chair and his hands, both of them, curled around Mona to pull her into him.
His lips brushed against hers once again. The second kiss was harder, a quick stroke of his tongue across her bottom lip. As he brought his lips to hers for the third time, Mona wound one hand behind his neck, pulling him down to her. There was no more pulling away as her lips parted and his tongue stroked along hers, drawing her in, until with a gasp she tilted her head back to catch the breath he’d stolen.
When he ran gentle fingers over her eyes, she closed them with a sigh. Her cheeks flushed with passion as he smoothed thumbs across her cheekbones. She tilted her head and her hair slid across his hands. Slowly he sank his fingers into her hair, tangling the strands around his fingers until he cradled her head in the palms of his hands. He could feel her trembling beneath his hands and hear the rapid beat of her heart.
Pulling her closer he pressed her body against his. They had skirted around their attraction for so very long, moved and turned like partners in a dance where only they could hear the music. Now, the music was winding down. Leaning forward he placed a soft kiss on her brow, another followed on her temple, eyes, cheeks, chin and then he stopped, hovering over her slightly parted lips. He could feel the heat of her breath fan lightly against his own lips and the need grew in him until his own blood pounded with it.
If she only knew the temptation she presented to him, the long column of her neck an open invitation. He laved her throat with his tongue, dropping short kisses along its length, nibbled at the sensitive ridge of muscle that ran down the side to her shoulders. She was draped backwards over his arm, her weight supported completely. He found he liked that sensation; liked knowing that he was the only thing keeping her on her feet.
He kissed down along one shoulder until his lips encountered the edge of her robe. He nosed it aside, an unwelcome barrier that served to stand between him and what he wanted. The thin strap of her gown was next until with a whisper of satin, one side of the gown fluttered down to reveal the rounded curve of one breast.
He’d never been a man to resist temptation and now that he had permission, from himself and her, he found resistance all but futile. He ran his hands down her body feeling the sensuous slide of warm satin beneath his palm. She was so warm, the heat coming off her in waves. He traced her body with his fingertips – gloved and ungloved -- thighs, waist, the sides of her breasts. But his mouth, that followed the line of the fallen nightgown as his lips glided across her chest until the fabric stopped any further explorations.
He let out a groan of disappointment. “Mona.” It was all there in voice. Even he could hear it. I need you. I want you. I love you .
This time the groan was more frustration than disappointment. Once again he drew back. “No.” He raised a hand, two fingers brushing her lips. “I want you, Mona. But I’m going to do this right. For once in my life.”
She was staring at him and then she nodded. But then Mona always had been the one to know what he needed.
Removing his fingers, he traced along her jawline once again. “I’ve never done this part right. If you were any other woman in my life, I’d have you stretched out across your bed right now.” He chuckled softly as a soft blush heated her cheeks, but her eyes were steady and determined on his. “I want . . . I want dinners. And a movie with popcorn. I want to go dancing with you.”
“V.H . . . “
“All of it, Mona.” Leaning forward, he placed a delicate kiss against her lips. “And then I’m going to take you bed where I plan to keep for several days.”
When he pulled back, she arched a brow at him. “Several days?”
“Several,” he confirmed with a grin. “Melville can run the office and we’ll just have to hope nothing catastrophic happens.” Then he dropped the easy humor, his gaze searching hers. “Will you let me do it right?”
Her eyes closed briefly and she took a breath before she took a step backwards out of his arms. “It just so happens that I’m free this Friday.”
Author’s Note: I considered taking this the full smut route. Part of me really wanted to. But the other side really wanted Mona to get everything she deserved and to let Adderly set free his inner romantic. What can I tell you, I’m a complete mushball.