This story takes place
in 1983 and is a follow up to "Woman of Steele
Remington Steele stood at his
office window, his eyes focused on the distant horizon. How long
he had stood there, he didn't know. Ten minutes? An hour? All
morning, perhaps? He tried to remember if he had eaten and finally
decided he must have, since he didn't seem to be hungry. He was so
tired--so very tired. It had been days since he had been blessed
with a good night's sleep. If only he could relax, clear his
mind...If only he could stop thinking about Anna...Anna, who had
swept him off his feet three years ago in Monte Carlo...Anna, who
had said she loved him more than life itself...Anna, who couldn't
wait to start a new life with him...
When had the Anna of his memory
become the Anna who had faked her own death and then returned from
the dead? When had she changed into someone who could manipulate
him and use him--and then set him up to kill and be killed? And
more disturbingly, when had he become so gullible that mere words
would cause him to risk everything he had achieved in his
hard-earned new life? Hadn't he always said there were too many
traps in words? That deeds were what counted?
Remington closed his eyes, took a
deep breath and released it with a sigh. Then shaking his head in
an attempt to clear the cobwebs, he covered his face with his
hands and began massaging his temples. He had not heard Laura
enter his office through the open connecting door. He had not
noticed her watching him as he stared out of his window. He hadn't
even heard her as she had quietly covered the distance to where he
was standing. Still, he knew she was there. He didn't even jump
when, standing behind him, she gently placed her hands over his
"I'm sorry," she said after a few
moments of silence. "I know how hard it's been for you. Did you
get any sleep last night?"
Remington took her hands in his
and brought them to his lips. "I might have dozed off briefly, but
I'm not sure."
"Perhaps you should consider
checking yourself back into the Sleep Clinic."
"Laura, please, I've barely
gotten over my nightmares about Nurse Blackell as it is. But I do
find the sound of your lilting voice most relaxing," he said,
leaning his head against her shoulder. "Perhaps if
you...could...read to me tonight...I could...relax..."
Remington's voice drifted off as
he snatched a few moments of much needed relaxation. Laura
tenderly put her arms around him and just held him, grateful that
he was able to steal even a few moments of peace.
That peace was short-lived,
however, as Mildred buzzed to announce the arrival of their next
Before he could rouse himself,
Laura took the call, saying, "Certainly, Mildred. Mr. Steele and I
are expecting them. Send them on in."
"Uh, Miss Holt," Mildred said
hesitantly. "Mr. Radaker says they need to speak with Mr. Steele
alone...That they're here concerning a, uh, personal
Laura sighed and counted to ten.
Then forcing a smile, she said, "Of course. Just give us a couple
of minutes and then send them in."
Remington shook his head and held
up his hands up, saying, "Laura, I'm not sure I'm up to meeting
alone with a client right now."
"Have you ever met this Mr.
Radaker?" Laura asked.
"Never," he assured her.
"Assuming, of course, that's his real name."
Laura gently squeezed his arm and
gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, saying, "You'll do fine, Mr.
Steele. Just be your normal charming self...and try your best not
to nod off. That always makes a bad impression on the
"I'll keep that in mind," he said
as he began straightening his tie.
"You can fill me in later," she
told him as she walked to the connecting door. Then with a wave,
she disappeared from view.
Remington motioned for the couple
to have a seat on the couch while he himself took a seat in the
adjacent chair. "Now, Mr. and Mrs. Radaker, why don't you just
make yourself comfortable and tell me how the Remington Steele
Agency can help you."
"Actually, we're not here to hire
the Agency," he man explained nervously. "We're here to ask a
favor of you."
"A favor? What sort of
After sharing a look with her
husband, the woman opened her purse and took out a
Speaking in a distinctly British
accent, she handed it to Remington and said, "Perhaps it would
help if you looked at this first."
Remington leaned over and took
the small color photograph, studying the image of the little girl
with shining blond hair and incredibly large eyes. He was sure he
had never seen the child before, but yet there was something
familiar about those large blue eyes...something haunting.
"She's lovely," he said. "Is she
"That's why we're here," Mrs.
Radaker explained. "Her name is Hope, and she's our foster
"We're in the process of filing
for adoption," Mr. Radaker explained. "We were just about ready to
sign the final papers when the news of Anna Simpson's arrest
"I'm afraid I don't understand,"
Remington said, unable to take his eyes from the photograph. "What
possible connection could there be between Anna and your adoption
"Anna is Hope's birth mother,"
the woman explained.
As the words slowly began to sink
in, Remington looked up. He started to speak, but suddenly his
throat was dry and the words wouldn't come out. He merely shook
his head in shock, took a deep breath, and returned his focus to
the haunting, beckoning eyes in the picture.
After a moment he somehow managed
to speak, saying, "I would ask if you're sure, but there's no
need. I have no doubt you're telling the truth. Those eyes...those
are Anna's eyes."
"Please...call us by our first
names," the woman implored. "I'm Madeline, and this is Jeremy.
What we have to ask you is so personal, it makes last names seem
"Well, you've certainly aroused
my curiosity, Madeline," Remington said. "Perhaps you should start
at the beginning ."
"Of course. Let's see...Where do
I begin?" After a brief pause, Jeremy continued, asking, "When did
you first meet Anna, Mr. Steele?"
"Please, it's Remington. I have a
feeling we *all* need to be on a first name basis with
"I first met Anna in 1980, in
Monte Carlo," Remington explained. He didn't even have to think
about the answer to that one; he'd been lying awake nights
recalling every little detail, trying to convince himself that
none of what happened had been his fault.
"Did you know about Hope?"
"No. Anna never said a
"We figured as much," Jeremy
said. "What *do* you know about Anna's past? Before Monte Carlo, I
"Very little, actually. She
didn't want to talk about the past, and that was fine with me. I
wasn't one to dwell on the past myself," Remington admitted. "I
know she was raised by her grandmother in the outskirts of London,
and that she left home as a teenager."
"Well, during the time Anna was
on the streets, Hope was born," Madeline said. "Anna knew she
couldn't take care of a baby, so she went back home. Her
grandmother didn't approve of her lifestyle, but she still loved
her-- and she loved Hope. A couple of weeks later, Anna was gone
again. No word...nothing...until her obituary appeared in a Monte
Carlo newspaper in 1980."
"And Hope...?" Remington
"She was raised by the
grandmother for a couple of years," Jeremy explained, "and then by
an aunt and uncle after the grandmother died. But when they were
killed in an automobile accident last year, she was placed with
"That's where we found her,"
Madeline went on. "We had become foster parents when we realized
we couldn't have children of our own, and we fell in love with
Hope as soon as we saw her. It was so easy to welcome her into our
home. We quickly realized we wanted her to become our daughter
legally, so we filed for adoption. And everything was progressing
"...until the news of Anna
Simpson appeared in the London press last week," Jeremy explained.
"Since it turns out Anna wasn't dead after all, the adoption is no
longer merely routine."
Remington, who had been listening
intently, shifted his position. "No. Anna will have to sign over
her rights to the child..."
"That's right," Madeline
admitted. "We tried to see her yesterday, but she refused to see
"Did she know *why* you wanted to
see her?" Remington asked.
"Of course," Jeremy said. "Our
lawyer has been in contact her lawyer. We knew there was no
guarantee that Anna would see us, but we had to take that chance.
We love Hope, Remington. We can give her a good home. We're not
rich by any means, but she'll be aptly provided for. And she loves
"Why wouldn't Anna want what's
best for her daughter?" Madeline asked. "What does she hope to
accomplish by retaining her parental rights?"
"I don't know," Remington
admitted. "And I hesitate to even speculate. I'm the last person
to pry away the layers of Anna's confused mind and make sense of
it. But what I wonder now is, what is it you think I can
"Anna's lawyer relayed a message
to us through our lawyer," Jeremy explained. "She says she won't
talk to anyone except you, Remington."
"But that's ridiculous,"
Remington declared. "This has nothing to do with me."
"We realize that. But if you
don't go talk with her, she won't relinquish Hope to us."
Remington's expression conveyed
his confusion...and his fear. Anna had been asking to see him for
days, but he had no desire to see her. What did the two of them
have to talk about? She had used him, misled him, betrayed
him--and even tried to kill him. He owed her nothing, just as he
owed Hope and the Radakers nothing.
Or did he?
The Radakers looked at each
other, Jeremy patting Madeline's knee. Then seeing her husband nod
his head in the direction of her purse, she opened it and withdrew
a video tape.
"We realize how hard it is for
you to think of facing Anna again, especially after all of the
horrible things she did to you," Jeremy said gently. "But you're
our only hope. You hold in your hands the future of our little
Madeline indicated the tape in
her hand, saying, "Hope is with my mother in London right now, but
we want you to meet her. We want you to see her smile and hear her
laugh; to watch her play at the park and go to the circus--We even
want you to see her temper- and believe me, she has one!"
"We want Hope to be real to you
and not just a name," Jeremy explained. "She deserves to be judged
for herself, and not merely as her mother's daughter. Believe me,
Remington, the child is worth ten of the mother."
Remington smiled in spite of
himself and the situation. "Belle Watling to Rhett Butler.
Gone with the
Wind. 1939. " Seeing their
confusion, he said, "I, uh, tend to draw inspiration from old
movies. I've found many hidden truths buried away in flea pits
throughout the world."
"Does that mean you'll help us,
then?" Madeline asked, tightly grasping her husband's hand.
Remington hesitated. Could he
really walk into Anna's cell and talk with her, face to face? Was
he up to it, emotionally? He simply didn't know.
Giving the Radakers a sad smile
of sorts, he said, "'Everyone thinks that detectives do nothing
but ask questions, but detectives have souls same as anyone else.'
Moroni Olsen to Joan Crawford. Mildred Pierce. 1945." Leaning forward, Remington took the
video tape from Madeline's hand. "I can't give you an answer until
I meet Hope later this evening. Will tomorrow morning be soon
enough for my decision?"
The Radakers smiled happily as
they rose to their feet.
"We can't thank you enough,
Remington," Madeline said as Remington escorted them to his office
Remington, still holding the
picture, asked, "Do you mind if I hang on to the picture for a
while longer? I'll return it tomorrow."
"Keep it, please. It's a
duplicate we had made especially for you," Madeline informed
Remington followed them into the
reception area and instructed Mildred to get the address and phone
number of where they were staying. Then bidding the Radakers good
bye, he returned to his office and closed the door.
Leaning against the door, he once
again found himself mesmerized by Hope's photograph. A few moments
later he walked over to the couch, where he leaned over and picked
up the video tape. He stood there for several moments, struck by
the realization that he literally held the child's future in his
hands. After a few moments, he broke his gaze and looked towards
Laura's door. He had temporarily considered leaving her out of the
situation, but had quickly reconsidered. If he wanted to build a
future with Laura--and he did--he had to start including her in
all aspects of his life. And this was as good a time as any to
start doing that.
Calling Laura's name, he walked
to the connecting door and looked into her office. Not finding her
there, he walked back into the reception area through her
"Mildred, have you seen Miss
Holt?" he asked.
"Oh, she had to step out for a
minute, Boss. Said to tell you she'd meet you at your apartment
tonight before dinner." Then raising her eyebrows, she asked, "You
two kids have a big night planned?"
"Uh, I'm not sure," Remington
explained as he walked towards her desk, taking out his wallet and
flipping it open to the picture section. "Something has come up
that necessitates a change of plans." Indicating the video tape,
he added, "Looks like we'll be watching a movie at home instead of
at the cinema."
"Rotten luck," she said
sympathetically. "Want me to get a message to Miss Holt?"
"No, no; that's not necessary.
I'll just tell her about it when she comes over tonight," he said,
turning around to return to his office.
"Hold it, Boss!" Mildred
exclaimed, reaching for a stack of file folders piled neatly on
her desk. "Miss Holt wanted me to leave these on your desk. Would
"Certainly, Mildred," Remington
said, taking the files from her and placing the video tape, his
wallet and Hope's picture on top of the stack. "I won't be using
my desk for the rest of the day anyway. Think I'll take a walk
down to the park."
"The park, Chief?"
"Yes, the park," he repeated. "I
have a sudden urge to get in touch with my inner child."
"Whatever you say, Boss. Just
watch out for muggers."
Giving her a look, Remington
carried his bundle into his office and deposited it on top of his
desk. Unfortunately, he set it down on top of Laura's empty coffee
cup and the items scattered in every direction. Cursing his bad
luck, he hurriedly gathered the files back together into a neat
pile, picked up his video, and headed for the reception
Before he reached the door
leading to the reception area, however, he slapped his head and
exclaimed, "Where's your bloody wallet, sport? You won't get too
far with that, will you, now?" Returning to his desk and not
seeing the wallet, he looked down and located it beneath his
chair. With a sigh of relief, he slipped it back into his pocket
He never noticed that Hope's
photograph had not made it into his wallet. Having been "lost"
during the coffee cup upset, it was now laying on top of the stack
As Remington strolled through the
park, he was struck by how active and alive each and every child
seemed to be. As school hadn't let out for the day, the only
children he saw were preschool age. Most of them appeared to be
with a care giver and were content to stay close by their side.
Some, however, strayed farther away, anxious to test their newly
developing skills on the slide or the swings or the monkey bars.
Remington wondered how it must feel to know that a caring adult
was always watching over you... protecting you... loving you.
Then his eye caught sight of a
disheveled, dark haired boy sitting all alone on the ground behind
the swings. Inexplicably drawn to him, Remington ambled closer.
The child was playing with a handful of toy soldiers and carrying
on an animated conversation with them, totally oblivious to the
activity going on all around him. When the boy finally looked up
and saw him standing there watching him, Remington lost himself in
the hollow eyes he saw there. It was like looking into a mirror
and seeing his own reflection as the memories of his own bitter
childhood engulfed him in a sweeping wave of loneliness and
despair. Once again he felt the hunger in the pit of his stomach,
as well as the even greater hunger which had filled his heart.
Suddenly aware of a small hand
tugging on his jacket, Remington looked down into the smiling face
of a little red haired, freckle faced boy.
"Well, hello there," Remington
"Are you crying, mister?"
"Ahh, no," Remington said,
rubbing his burning eyes. "Must have gotten some sand in my
"It makes me sad when grown ups
cry," the child said. "See ya!" And as quickly as he had appeared,
he was gone.
As Remington took a final look at
the boy who reminded him of himself, he rubbed his stinging eyes
once more. Then turning and walking in the opposite direction, he
"Home," he said aloud. Before he
knew it, he was engulfed in a warmth which spread all the way from
his head to his toes. "Home," he repeated, picking up his pace.
"'There's no place like home.' Judy Garland.
The Wizard of
Mildred was shutting down the
computer and gathering her personal belongings when Laura breezed
into the Agency at 5:15 that afternoon.
"Miss Holt," she said. "I didn't
expect to see you until tomorrow."
"I got finished earlier than I
expected, so I thought I'd be sure you had a chance to pull those
files I asked for."
"Miss Holt, have I ever not
completed a task you assigned me?" Mildred asked, giving Laura a
look of skepticism.
"No, I suppose not," she
"You and I both know you came
back to see if I learned anything about Mr. Steele's meeting with
"And did you?" Laura
"Sorry, Miss Holt," the secretary
said with an apologetic shrug. "All I know is the name of their
hotel and their phone number. And that Mr. Steele will be giving
them his answer to a question of some sort tomorrow
"It's okay, Mildred. I'm sure
he'll tell me all about it this evening at dinner."
"Oh, that reminds me--The boss
said something had come up and your plans for the evening would
have to be changed--that you won't be going to the theater after
all. He was going to tell you himself after you arrived at his
Laura sighed. "Well, in that
case, maybe I'd better take a few of those files home with me. If
I can't cozy up to Mr. Steele, I'll just cozy up to some
paperwork. If you'll wait a minute, I'll walk out with you," she
said as she disappeared into Remington's office.
She returned to the reception
area a few moments later, her arms loaded down with the stack of
file folders from Remington's desk. In her hand was a small color
photograph, which she was studying intently.
"What you got, Miss Holt?"
Mildred asked curiously.
"This picture was on laying on
top of the files," Laura explained, showing it to her. "It says on
the back that her name is Hope...Do you know who she is?"
Mildred studied it for a moment
before answering. Finally, she said, "No, I've never seen her
"Me, either, but there's
something very familiar about her," Laura said. "It's the
eyes...I've seen those eyes before..."
Realization dawned on both women
at the same time.
"They're *her* eyes, Mildred!"
Laura exclaimed. "This child has Anna Simpson's eyes!"
"I didn't even know she had a
daughter!" Mildred exclaimed.
"Neither did I."
Mildred's eyes suddenly widened
even more. "Oh, Miss Holt, you don't think that the Boss is
her...? That Mr. Steele and Anna...? That they, you
"Yes, Mildred, I know... But
jumping to conclusions won't do any of us any good."
Laura took a long look at the
file folders in her arms and then another look at the photograph
in her hand. Then taking a deep breath, she walked to Mildred's
desk and unceremoniously dumped the entire stack.
"On second thought, I don't think
I'll have time to cozy up with paperwork tonight," she explained.
"It looks as though Mr. Steele and I will be spending the evening
cozying up with the truth."
Since Remington hadn't left her a
message saying otherwise, Laura found herself driving to his
apartment at their agreed upon time. Since she had no idea what to
expect during the course of the evening, she had spent the
previous two hours imagining every conceivable scenario. But in
the end, it all came down to one indisputable fact: Remington's
past was just that--past. She had known when she met him that his
previous life had been...shady. She had known it--and she had
She and Remington could have no
chance at a future together until they could loosen the grip of
the past. And if that meant accepting the possibility that he had
fathered a child with Anna... Well, then she would just deal with
it. And likewise, if he choose not to disclose that part of his
past to her, she would just deal with that, also. Even she had
parts of her past that were too painful to bring to the
Laura pulled the Rabbit into a
vacant space near the elevator in the parking garage beneath
Remington's building. Turning off the ignition, she gripped the
wheel tightly and took a deep breath. "Okay, Laura," she said
aloud, giving herself a pep talk. "This is a case where trust is
more important than truth. Whatever happens, you have to trust
After taking three deep breaths
and releasing them, she stepped out of the car and headed to the
elevator. Before the elevator arrived, however, she changed her
mind and took off in the direction of the stairs. After all, it
certainly couldn't hurt to work off a little stress.
Laura was standing outside
Remington's apartment about to knock when the door suddenly opened
of its own accord and revealed a flustered Mr. Steele, keys in
"I thought we were still on for
tonight," Laura stated, confused.
"We are...I just realized I left
something important at the office and I'm on my way to get it...I
left you a note," he explained.
"I'll go with you," she offered.
"No sense in you going by yourself, since I'm already here."
"Sure. Just let me get the
door..." he said, inserting his key in the lock and turning
"Don't tell me you're this
concerned because you failed to bring home some paperwork," Laura
"Hardly. It's a picture," he
explained, leading the way to the elevator. "I thought I put it in
my wallet, but I must have dropped it when I knocked over that
stack of folders on my desk."
Laura stopped, opened her purse
and withdrew the photograph of Hope. "This picture?" she asked
He took it from her and gave a
sigh of relief. "Thank goodness you found it! Where was it,
"On your desk, on top of the
folders," she explained.
"What were you doing at the
office? I thought you had gone for the day."
"I got finished with my
appointment early and stopped by for a minute."
"Well, I'm glad you did,"
Remington said as he unlocked the door and motioned for her to
enter first. "Did, ah, Mildred tell you our plans for the evening
"She mentioned that our visit to
the movies was off."
"I, ah, thought we could just
watch a movie here instead. But first, how does a bowl of noodle
soup sound?" Remington asked. "I made it from scratch this
"You mean it didn't come from one
of those little foil packages?"
"That's exactly what I mean.
After I got back from my walk in the park..."
"You took a walk in the park?"
Laura asked, surprised.
"Yes, I did," he said, irritated.
"And I promise to tell you all about it later... But right now,
I'm telling you about the soup..."
"After I got back from the park,
I was overcome with this urge to cook up a warm, cozy pot of soup.
I wasn't much in the mood to go out for dinner, anyway," he
explained. "I hope you don't mind."
Laura moved closer and draped her
arms around his neck. "Mr. Steele, there's nothing I'd rather do
on an evening like tonight than share a bowl of warm, cozy soup
"Good," he said, kissing her.
"Because I have the feeling we're going to need all the warmth and
coziness we can use tonight."
The soup and hot home made rolls
were delicious, but the conversation was minimal. Laura had hoped
Remington's earlier melancholy had vanished, but that didn't seem
to be the case. Apparently, it had merely taken a brief leave of
absence. After the meal, they cleared the table and straightened
the kitchen in silence. Laura had the distinct feeling all evening
that Remington had something to tell her; she just wished he'd
quit beating around the bush and get to it.
Taking their glasses with them,
they retired to the fireplace. Laura excused herself, paying a
quick visit to the bathroom adjoining Remington's bedroom. When
she returned to the living room, she found him studying Hope's
photograph in the flickering light of the fireplace. He was so
deep in thought he hadn't even heard her return.
Lowering herself to the floor and
settling in close to his side, she plunged ahead. "You've been
awfully quiet tonight; I feel like you're in a place I can't
reach. I wish I knew what to do or say to help you."
He put his arm around her and
gave her a squeeze. "You are helping, just by being here. I
realize I haven't been very good company lately, and I just want
you to know...well, how much I appreciate the way you've stuck by
me through this whole mess. I'm not sure I could get through it
"We'll get through it together,"
Laura assured him, giving him a smile and a quick kiss.
Once again, he lost himself in
the picture of Hope.
"Would you like to tell me about
her?" she asked, hoping he would open up if given an
"I've been wanting to tell you
about her all evening," he admitted. "I just don't know where to
"She's lovely," Laura said as she
silently took the photograph from Remington and studied it
closely. "She has such haunting, sad eyes..."
"She has Anna's eyes," he said.
"Laura, Hope is Anna's daughter."
"Yes, I figured that. Those eyes
are a dead give away." Laura paused, wondering what to say next.
She had decided this was a situation where trust was more
important than truth, but Remington had brought up the subject
himself. The least she could do was try to make it easier for him.
"What do you know about...her father?" she asked, looking away
Remington smiled, put his finger
under Laura's chin, and turned her face toward him. "Laura, Hope
is four; I met Anna in 1980...Do the math."
Laura couldn't help giving a
little sigh of relief. Then looking him in the eye, she said, "It
wouldn't have mattered. That was long before you stepped into my
life as Remington Steele."
Remington kissed her and smiled,
grateful for her unconditional acceptance. Pulling her closer, he
continued. "As to who the father was, I haven't a clue; Anna never
even hinted that she had a child. Regardless of who he is, he's
obviously out of the picture."
"How do the Radakers fit into all
of this?" Laura asked.
"The Radakers have been Hope's
foster parents since last year, and they want to adopt her.
Everyone assumed Anna had drowned in Monte Carlo in 1980...
"...when her obituary appeared in
the newspaper," Laura said, fitting the pieces together on her
"Right. And then when the current
news about Anna hit the papers last week, it became apparent that
"...she hadn't died after
"Right again," Remington said.
"The Radakers adoption plans were put on hold until they could
convince Anna to revoke her parental rights. So they flew to LA
with their lawyer, but..."
"Don't tell me...Anna wouldn't
see them," Laura guessed.
"How could you possibly have
"Just a gut feeling."
"Anyway, Anna relayed a message
to the Radakers through their lawyer...It seems the only person
she will agree to speak to concerning the adoption is..."
"...you," supplied Laura.
Remington stared at her in
amazement. He started to say something, but quickly realized he
had been rendered speechless.
"It's not so surprising," Laura
explained. "Anna's been asking to speak to you for days. This just
gave her some leverage in getting what she wanted."
Remington turned his gaze to the
fire and was once again lost in thought. This time it was Laura
who placed her finger under his chin and turned his face towards
her. Looking into his eyes with understanding, she said, "Let me
help you get through this. Tell me what you're thinking."
"You want to know what I'm
thinking ?" he asked, his voice rising. "I'll tell you what I'm
thinking. How *dare* she try to manipulate me like this?! And even
worse, how *dare* she hold a four year old hostage? Who does she
think she is, to take a child away from a loving family? She
doesn't have a maternal bone in her body, Laura...How could she
even think about stopping that adoption? Hope has a chance to be
part of a family...to be fed and clothed and educated...to be safe
and secure and protected...to be loved...All the things that Anna
never had- that I never had- All those things are within Hope's
grasp...And Anna thinks she can just snatch it all away?!"
Remington's anger had rendered
him breathless and it took a few moments for him to calm down.
Finally, he took Laura's hand in his and brought it to his lips.
"Laura, the thought of standing face to face with Anna again right
now scares me half to death, but I have no choice. I'm that
child's only hope."
Laura smiled and touched his
cheek. "I know. You're her Daniel."
"Will you go down to the jail
with me in the morning?" he asked. "I need all the backup I can
Laura was thoughtful for a
moment. Then smiling tenderly as she stroked his chin, she said,
"Mr. Steele, no matter how crazy or complicated our lives may get,
I will always be the woman behind the man."
"Thank you," he said, pulling her
close for a serious kiss.
Breaking the kiss a few moments
later, he said, "I think this is as good a time as any to meet
When Laura looked puzzled, he
stood and helped her up. Then walking over to the TV, he picked up
the video he had received earlier.
"It's a video the Radakers made
of Hope," he explained. "They wanted to be sure I met her for
myself before I made my decision. I can't tell you how many times
I wanted to pop it into the VCR this afternoon."
"Then why didn't you?"
"I wanted us to meet her
together," Remington said. "Laura, I don't know how to say this,
but my old life, it's disappearing. One moment it surrounds me
like an ocean, but when I reach for it, it slips through my
fingers. You're the reason it's disappearing, Laura. You've taught
me that there's a better way. Without your understanding and
support, I wouldn't be able to face Anna tomorrow-- and I would be
condemning Hope to a life without hope. Thanks to you, she will
have a happy life. And because of that, I want you by my side when
I meet her."
Laura wasn't used to such praise
and could feel the tears welling in her eyes. In a vain effort to
cover herself, she said, "Well, don't just stand there! Put in the
tape and let's meet her!"
If Remington had harbored any
doubts about whether to grant the Radaker's request or not, the
video would have erased them all. He and Laura were captivated by
Hope--by her impish smile, her trembling pout, her contagious
giggle, her quick temper and her unbridled enthusiasm. They
watched her visiting the circus, playing in the park, pitching a
fit at bedtime, crying over a skinned knee, reading to a small
family of dolls and bears, falling asleep at the kitchen table
with her thumb in her mouth, playing dress-up in clothes ten sizes
too big, helping Madeline decorate a cake, and dancing with Jeremy
in the rose garden.
As they sat together on the
couch, Remington's arm around her shoulders and her body pressed
against his, Laura realized that he was more relaxed than she had
seen him in days. When the video ended after their third viewing,
she picked up the remote, turned off the TV and stood up.
"Where are you going?" he asked,
"It's late, Mr. Steele. And I
think tonight might just be your lucky night..." Seeing his silly
grin at her choice of words, she clarified, adding, "...and you'll
get some sleep."
He took her hand in his and
gently pulled her back down beside him on the couch. "Please
stay...just until I fall asleep," he pleaded. Seeing her
hesitancy, he continued. "If I'm going to face Anna tomorrow, I'm
going to need my wits about me. And if I don't get some
"Alright, Mr. Steele. I'll stay
until you fall asleep," she conceded. "Could you please hand me my
Puzzled, Remington leaned over,
grabbed her purse from the far end of the couch and handed it to
her. Opening it, she pulled out a paperback book and turned to a
previously marked page. Seeing that he was still puzzled, she
said, "I'm going to read you a bedtime story. Hopefully, the
combination of it and my lilting voice will ease you right to
sleep. Now, just put your head in my lap...That's right...Just
With that, she began
by Edgar Allen
It was many and many a
year ago in a kingdom by the sea
That a maiden there
lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel
Remington was asleep by the time
Laura reached the final lines of "Annabel Lee." Gently easing his head onto
one of the couch cushions, she stood up. Retrieving a blanket from
his mirrored closet, she tenderly covered him, tucking the edges
around him securely. Noticing Hope's picture on the coffee table,
she picked it up and smiled. Then giving Remington a kiss, she
walked through the apartment, turned out all of the lights and
left, locking the door behind her.
Remington couldn't help cringing
as the cell door slid shut and locked with a clank. He didn't want
to be here, in this place, at this time...but here he was. And the
sooner he faced Anna, the sooner he could close that chapter of
his life. Having made that decision, he took a long look at her.
She looked nothing like the Anna he had fallen in love with in
Monte Carlo; she was pale, with dark circles under her empty eyes.
And she looked lost. Remington surprisingly felt no contempt for
her, no hatred; rather, he felt compassion.
"Hello, Anna," he said.
Smiling warmly but warily, she
said, "Hello, Remington Steele."
"You wanted to see me?"
"Yes. I wanted to tell you...how
sorry I am things turned out the way they did."
Remington raised his hand to his
mouth and began chewing his thumbnail as he contemplated a
"I don't blame you for not
believing me. Walter doesn't believe me, either. He bought me the
best lawyer money could buy, but he refused to see me." She paused
briefly, then continued. "I don't know what prompted me
to...behave the way I did. No, that's not true; I *do* know.
Marleau was blackmailing me, and I don't take kindly to be
"Neither do I," Remington said,
finally breaking his silence. "But no matter how despicable I find
it, it doesn't give me the right to kill someone--or to ruin their
"You're referring to Hope, aren't
you?" Anna asked.
"She's the only reason I'm
There were several moments of
awkward silence, and then Anna slowly took a few steps in
Remington's direction. He didn't walk away, but his look told her
not to come any closer.
"I know you'll find this hard to
believe, but I do care what happens to Hope," she assured him.
"I've always cared about her welfare; that's why I gave her
"We all have to live with the
consequences of our actions, Anna. But don't make Hope live with
the consequences of yours. If you really do care about her, you'll
relinquish your parental rights and let the Radakers adopt
"I always intended to do that; I
only tried the blackmail gambit because I was so desperate to see
you...and I knew you wouldn't see me otherwise." Taking another
step in his direction, she said, "I really did love you, you know.
The days we shared in Monte Carlo were the happiest of my life. I
suppose... all the bad decisions I had made up to that point...
were just too much of an obstacle to overcome."
"Anna..." Remington said,
struggling to find the right words. "For whatever it's worth, I
don't hate you. I thought I did when I walked in here, but...I
don't any more."
"If I ask you something, will you
give me an honest answer?" she asked.
"If I can."
"Back in Monte Carlo...Did you
really love me?"
A small smiled crossed Remington
lips as he said, "Yes. I really did love you."
"Thank you, Remington Steele.
Now, if you'll send the Radaker's lawyer in, I'll sign those
Remington turned and called the
guard, waiting as the cell door slid open again. Then giving Anna
a final lingering, bittersweet glance, he turned and walked
To celebrate, Laura suggested
they take the afternoon off and go to a matinee. As they settled
into their seats in the sparsely filled theater with their popcorn
and drinks, Remington yawned.
"You're not going to sleep
through the movie, are you?" Laura asked.
"Perish the thought, Miss Holt! I
have never fallen asleep in the cinema...Well, not unless I was
hiding under the seats until the janitor left so I'd have a warm,
dry place to kip for the night."
"Well, thanks to your generosity
and kind heart, at least Hope will never have to do that," Laura
said warmly, popping a piece of popcorn into his mouth.
He yawned again. "You know? I
think I just might be able to sleep tonight."
"Amazing what facing your fears
can do for your state of mind. As a very famous man once said, 'We
have nothing to fear but fear itself.'"
"Not a movie quote, but uncannily
appropriate, Miss Holt," Remington said approvingly. "What say
after the movie, we..."
"Shhh!" Laura instructed, popping
more kernels into his mouth to hush him up as the lights went out.
"The movie's starting."
As Laura sat watching the movie
and munching popcorn, she suddenly realized hers was the only hand
dipping into the popcorn box. Glancing at Remington, she realized
he was asleep, his neck crooked at an awkward angle. Smiling, she
gently eased his head onto her shoulder and planted a kiss on his
"Sweet dreams, Mr. Steele," she
whispered. "You've earned them."