Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Division
 

Steele in the Mood
Part 1
by
Debra Talley & Thekla Kurth

(This story is part of the Brendan Universe.)

 
 

 Written 1986

Revised April 1999
 
"Come on!" Laura urged as she walked into the office of 'the great Remington Steele' and addressed the man sitting behind the desk. "We don't want to be late."
 
"We won't be," Remington answered as he glanced at his watch. "We've got plenty of time."
 
"Where have I heard that before? You simply have no concept of time. Perhaps I should start keeping count of how many times you've been late to an appointment. "
 
"What is time," Remington mused, "but a man made concept for measuring..."
 
"Come on," Laura demanded as she pulled him from his chair. "We have to drive all that way out to the plant and you know what the traffic is like at this hour. I've already called Fred and he's downstairs right now with the limo."
 
"Expeditious, as usual, Miss Holt," Remington said as he followed Laura out of the office. "And exceedingly, fetchingly lovely," he added, enjoying the view as he walked behind her.
 
Laura, dressed in a smoothly tailored blue suit and matching fedora, ignored his comment.
 
"We'll be out at the soft drink plant for the rest of the afternoon and evening," Laura said as they passed Mildred's desk.
 
Mildred merely nodded as her employers walked out of the office and down the hall.
 
"I don't see what the big deal is about unveiling a new cola product," Remington admitted as they stepped into the elevator. "And I certainly don't understand why they had to hire a detective to guard their secret formula."
 
"The soft drink business is big business these days," Laura explained. "Rival companies are always trying to outdo the competition in order to gain the consumers' attention, not to mention their money. Some companies even pay big money to have celebrities endorse their products."
 
"Hmm," Remington commented as they stepped from the elevator and began walking through the lobby toward the main doors. "If I remember correctly, just the other night you had your eyes glued to the telly during every commercial break, hoping to see that new diet cola commercial with...
 
"I did not!" Laura denied. "I was hoping to see the new commercial for..."
 
"Corn Flakes?" Remington asked. "Hamburger Helper? That new Chocolate TV Dinner?"
 
Laura punched Remington in the arm and he yelped appropriately. After rubbing his arm gingerly, he helped Laura into the limo, which was waiting at the curb.
 
"Really, Laura. You seem to have a great deal of hostility toward me this morning. Perhaps you would treat me more kindly if I did a commercial," he mused. "I could hawk razor blades...or typewriters...or perhaps..."
 
"...pillows," Laura suggested.
 
"Pillows? Really, Laura; why would I hawk pillow?"
 
"Remember the doctor from the sleep disorder clinic who wanted you to promote his new line of pillows?" Laura spread her hands in front of her, as if seeing the slogan. "Sleep as safe and sound as Remington Steele."
 
Remington was silent for a moment. "Yes, well...I'm still sleeping on that one."
 
"It wouldn't have worked anyway," Laura said as she smiled enigmatically.
 
"Oh? And why is that, Miss Holt?"
 
"I have no intention of sharing your face with millions of adoring females."
 
"What's wrong with my face?" Remington asked, rubbing his left hand over his face.
 
Laura reached up and patted his cheek. "Absolutely nothing, Mr. Steele. Which is exactly why I have no desire to share it with anyone."

Remington captured her hand with his and slowly brought it to his lips. They stared into each other's eyes for a long moment before Laura withdrew her hand and picked up the file folder she had been carrying.

 
"Sometimes I'm so diligent, I even scare myself," Remington sighed, but he took Laura's cue and went into detective mode, going over the finer points of the case with her one last time before arriving at the plant.
 
*************

Remington and Laura were given a tour of the cola plant by the president himself. Their final stop was the room where the reception for the unveiling would take place.

"Very informative," Remington commented politely. "Intriguing operation you have here. But tell me, Mr....uh..."

"Mr. Pop-Top," the president reminded him.
 
"Ah, yes; of course. How could I have forgotten?" Remington asked with a laugh. "Tell me; doesn't your name get a little awkward at times?"
 
"I could ask you the same question, Mr. Steele," Mr. Pop-Top pointed out.
 
"So you could, Sir; so you could," Remington agreed good naturedly.
 
"Now, are you sure everything is set?" Mr. Pop-Top inquired nervously.
 
"Don't worry, Mr. Pop-Top," Laura reassured for the tenth time. "Everything will be just fine. You've put yourself in very good hands with the Remington Steele Agency. Mr. Steele will be overseeing every aspect of tonight's festivities. He will be here and on his toes all evening, You have nothing to worry about."
 
"The reception starts at eight," he reminded them, "and the VIPs will begin arriving at seven."
 
Both Remington and Laura nodded.
 
"What say we drink a toast to tonight's unveiling?" Mr. Pop-Top suggested as he walked to a nearby table and began pouring a dark liquid into three of the waiting glasses.
 
"Sounds delightful. I must confess, I was getting a tad thirsty," Remington explained as he took his glass.
 
"That's very thoughtful of you," Laura said, taking her glass and sniffing it.
 
"To a successful evening," Remington said as they raised their glasses and clinked them together.
 
Mr. Pop-Top guzzled his cola and carefully studied Remington and Laura as they cautiously tasted theirs.
 
"You are the first individuals in the general public to sample my masterpiece," he explained.
 
They took several more swallows.
 
"Ummm...it's quite good, for a cola," Remington conceded.
 
"Very refreshing," Laura said politely.
 
"Have another," Mr. Pop-Top offered, refilling their glasses before giving them a chance to refuse. "Go ahead. Help yourselves to all you want."
 
Waving to the cases being set up in a corner, he continued. "This is my pride and joy...The fulfillment of twenty five long years of testing and retesting until finally it was just right. What you're drinking now is the culmination of all my dreams and hard work. Have you ever had a dream, Mr. Steele?"
 
"Yes, indeed," Remington nodded, glancing at Laura with a trace of a smile on his lips.
 
"Then you understand how important this night is to me, Mr. Steele. Now if you'll excuse me, I have things to attend to," Mr. Pop-Top said, leaving the room.
 
Remington glanced around the huge room where the festivities were to be. The bare room was being transformed into a gala arena by a hive of busy workmen.
 
"You didn't tell me this was going to be a black tie affair, Laura. If you'll notice, we're not exactly dressed appropriately."
 
"Never fear, Mr. Steele. Your tux and my dress are in the trunk of the limo," Laura said, patting his chest. "We can change later."
 
Still sipping at their drinks, they began making a final check of the area.
 
"This stuff really isn't bad," Laura admitted, "but it's nothing to get excited about."
 
"You're right about that," Remington agreed, pouring them each a refill and glancing at the label. "I certainly don't see anything here that would make this cola different from all the others."
 
"I know you would prefer Dom Perignon to this," Laura said, giving Remington a quick kiss, "but somehow I don't think they'll be serving that tonight."
 
"Pity., but I guess we'll just have to make do with what is available, eh?" he said, returning her kiss before finishing the contents of his glass.
 
"Ummm...We better finish our inspection," Laura pointed out.
 
"Why?" he asked. "Everything certainly appears secure."
 
"One can never be too careful," Laura replied. "We need to check behind every crack, every crevice..."

"For what?!" Remington asked.

Taking his arm, she added, "....behind every table, every chair, every potted fern..."

To his surprise, Laura suddenly dragged him behind a large potted plant and and began kissing him passionately. Pulling away from her a moment later, he gave her a puzzled look.

Seeing his stunned expression, she managed to compose herself. "I'm sorry...I really don't know why I did that."

Laura's last words were lost, however, as Remington took her into his arms and began kissing her with equal passionate. It wasn't long before she was returning his kisses and they were lost in a world of their own.

Somewhere in their befogged brains, they heard Mr. Pop-Top's booming voice. "Is everything all right in here?" he asked, walking into the room.

Laura and Remington quickly came to their senses.
 
"Uh, just checking things out," Remington mumbled squeakily as he and Laura frantically began putting their clothing in order.
 
Mr. Pop-Top was mesmerized by the snatches of movement he had seen behind the wavering fern. He was quite sure it had been each other his private detectives were checking out.
 
With red faces, Laura and Remington stepped out from behind the large fern and faced their grinning client.
 
"Uh, everything appears to be quite secure. I can personally guarantee that there are no hidden bugs in the potted plants," Remington said as he ran his hand through his mussed hair.
 
"You never can be too careful about things like that," Laura sputtered as she fidgeted with the tie on her blouse.

"Indeed," said Mr. Pop-Top as he gave them an amused once over. "Well, I've got things to do. Carry on, please."

As soon as their client left, Laura quickly took Remington's handkerchief out of his suit pocket and wiped lipstick from his face in several places.

"What got into you?" she demanded as she rubbed his face raw.

"What got into *me*? You pulled *me* behind that potted plant, remember?" Remington pointed out with a scowl as Laura spit on his handkerchief and resumed rubbing.

"You're right. I don't know what happened. I was just suddenly overcome by an uncontrollable surge of passion which caused all reason to flee," Laura explained as she gazed deeply into Remington's eyes and began running her fingers through his hair.

"Those were my feelings exactly, Miss Holt," Remington agreed, gathering Laura in his arms and planting little kisses on her neck. He paused long enough to look at her and say, "To hell with the case; some things are more important, eh?"
 
"Indeed, Mr. Steele,"she whispered against his lips.
 
A sudden loud crash and a series of loud bangs brought them back to earth.Without a word they took off running, buttoning and tucking on the run.
 
Mr. Pop-Top lay on the floor, his leg trapped beneath a pile of tables which had toppled over on him. Several workmen lifted the tables, allowing Remington to pull him to safety.
 
"I'd say it's definitely broken," Remington announced after a quick examination of the leg in question.
 
"How can you be so sure?" asked Mr. Pop-Top, wincing.
 
"Broken legs are Mr. Steele's specialty," Laura explained with a grin, patting Remington's shoulder. "Believe me, he knows."
 
Remington merely grunted and addressed Mr. Pop-Top instead. "Do you think someone is trying to sabotage tonight's unveiling?"
 
Mr. Pop-Top looked embarrassed. "No...I, uh, slipped on an ice cube," he confessed sheepishly. "I had just knocked over a bucket of ice and wasn't watching my step very carefully."
 
"Very dangerous, those stray ice cubes. Why, I remember a night in a Marrakech bar when a carefully placed ice cube saved me from a grisly death at the hands of bloodthirsty assassins," Remington explained, getting a far away look in his eyes.
 
"Uh, Mr. Steele... The case at hand?" Laura reminded with a frozen smile.
 
Remington returned to the case at hand, but not before giving Laura a chastising look. Mr. Pop-Top insisted on being present for the unveiling, so after some discussion it was decided the gala would be postponed until the following weekend.
 
The paramedics agreed with Remington's diagnosis and were loading Mr. Pop-Top into an ambulance when the media arrived. Remington announced the postponement and shortly thereafter, he and Laura were in the limo sipping glasses of the new cola.
 
"This stuff really does grow on you, doesn't it?" Laura commented as she scooted closer to Remington, resting her head on his shoulder.
 
"Indeed," Remington agreed as he put his arm around her shoulder. "That was really quite thoughtful of Mr. Pop-Top to give us an entire case of the stuff."
 
They sipped in companionable silence for a few moments.
 
Then Remington had a sudden inspiration. "Miss Holt, the evening is still young. What would you say to a leisurely romantic dinner, followed by a night of dancing? I might even be persuaded to drink champagne from your slipper."
 
"It sounds wonderful!" she said as she snuggling closer and began nuzzling his neck.
 
"Swing by the office, Fred," Remington instructed. "We'll change there before we head for the restaurant,"
 
Seeing that Remington was lost in thought, Laura ceased her nuzzling. "Care to share your thoughts, Mr. Steele?" she asked.
 
"Ummm. Just thinking about Mr. Pop-Top's leg poor leg."
 
"Better his leg than yours," Laura said.
 
"I couldn't agree more," Remington said. "Although it did have its compensations last time. I never knew a sponge bath could be such an erotic experience."
 
They both laughed at the special memory. After Wally had rigged the elevator in Remington's building, Laura had knocked herself out trying to be an efficient nurse. Unfortunately, nothing she did seemed to satisfy Remington. He was upset about something, and Laura became more and more resentful that he wasn't more appreciative of her efforts. When she finally demanded an explanation of his attitude, his reply caught her off guard: "You give me powders, pills, baths, injections, enemas when all I need is love. William Holden to his nurse, Bridge Over the River Kwai, Columbia, 1957." From that moment on, Laura's nursing took on a whole new meaning.
 
"And don't you dare offer to play nursemaid for Mr. Pop-Top," Remington warned.
 
"Never fear, Mr. Steele. I'm saving my talents for your next broken leg," Laura promised, patting his leg.
 
As her hand began inching its way up his leg, Remington pulled her closer for another kiss. They were totally oblivious to Fred in the front seat. They did not even come up for air until the limo came to a halt in front of the twin towers. Retrieving their evening wear from the trunk, they entered the building and caught an empty elevator to their floor.
 
Laura and Remington took full advantage of their empty elevator. When the elevator door opened on the 11th floor, they broke their kiss and headed to the offices of Remington Steele Investigations. Remington's jacket was draped over his arm, his suspenders were hanging loose, and his shirt was unbuttoned and untucked. Laura was carrying her pantyhose and her jacket, and the bow on her blouse was hanging loose.

They caressed each other as they walked down the darkened, deserted corridor. Remington had a hard time unlocking the double glass doors because of the tiny kisses Laura was placing on his chest, but the door was finally opened.

Remington locked the door behind them but didn't turn on the lights. He and Laura headed to his office, dropping clothes along the way. Remington's jacket and shoes went first, followed by Laura's jacket and shoes. These were quickly followed by Laura's pantyhose, Remington's shirt, Laura's blouse, Remington's trousers and finally Laura's skirt.

"If any distraught clients come in, they'll just have to come back tomorrow," Laura sighed, closing the door to Remington's office with her foot.

************

Mildred parked her car in front of the dancing fountains and curiously eyed the limo, which was parked in front of her. She walked to Fred's window and tapped on it.

"I thought Mr. Steele and Miss Holt had that cola reception to attend tonight," Mildred said after he lowered his window.

"It was postponed," Fred explained. "Their client broke his leg,"
 
"Better him than the boss," Mildred said. "So, what are the kids doing here at his hour?"
 
"Changing clothes for an evening out."
 
"Sounds exciting. I'll wish them a pleasant evening when I go up. I forgot my checkbook."
 
"Ms. Krebbs, it might be a good idea if you use discretion when you enter the agency," Fred warned.
 
"What do you mean?"
 
"They've been quite...amorous...tonight," Fred explained.
 
"The Boss and Miss Holt?! In public?! You're kidding!"
 
"If I didn't know better, I'd say there's something in that cola they've been drinking. You know how reserved they usually are in public."
 
"Tell me about it!" Mildred exclaimed.
 
"Believe me, Ms. Krebbs; neither of them have any inhibitions tonight."
 
"Thanks for the warning. I'll keep that in mind," she promised.

Bidding Fred good night, Mildred entered the lobby. By pure chance, she entered the same elevator Laura and Remington had used a few moments earlier. While trying to digest Fred's startling announcement, she noticed something on the floor. Bending over, she picked it up and examined it. She recognized immediately that it was Remington's tie; she had given it to him last Christmas. Stuffing it into her purse, she cautiously stepped from the elevator and made her way to the agency.

Though the door was locked and the office was dark, Mildred could vaguely make out a trail of scattered items leading to Remington's red door. She opened the door with her key and retrieved the first item, which was Remington's jacket. Dropping it back to the floor, she followed the trail of clothing to its abrupt end at Remington's closed door.

Mildred grinned to herself. She didn't have to put her ear to the door to hear what was going on inside. Finally, her kids were mixing business with pleasure at the office. Of course, she had thought the same thing during the Dark Prince case and it had turned out to be merely an audio recording. But between the clothes strewn all over the carpet and Fred's observations, Mildred knew her assumption was correct this time.
 
It was about time, she thought with a chuckle as she retrieved her checkbook from her desk drawer. She quietly tiptoed to the double glass doors and opened them. Then remembering Remington's tie, she took it from her purse and tossed it onto the carpet with the rest of the scattered clothing. Grinning, she locked the door and left.

***********

Mildred made it out of the office and down the corridor just minutes before light suddenly spilled beneath the crack of Remington's door. Laura and Remington were both smiling as they hurriedly began dressing for their evening out.
 
"I can't believe it took us four years to finally have a romantic interlude in this office," Remington said as he shrugged into his white dinner jacket.
 
"I must admit, it was a stimulating experience," Laura agreed, standing in front of Remington so he could zip her dress.
 
"Let's not wait four more years to repeat the experience," he said, bending his head and planting tiny kisses on her bare shoulders.
 
"Hmm...It's a promise. But right now, I'm hungry."
 
"So am I," Remington murmured seductively.
 
"For food," Laura clarified.
 
Remington sighed. "Of course."
 
He kissed her ear lobe.
 
"And candlelight."
 
He kissed her cheek.
 
"And romantic music."
 
He kissed her lips.
 
"And dancing until dawn!" he said, sweeping her into his arms and swinging her around the room.
 
Their laughter echoed musically through the empty room. Remington ended their dance with a dip and for a few moments they were lost in each other.
 
With a loud sigh, Remington pulled Laura into a standing position and gave her a playful pat. "Don't forget your slippers," he reminded her.
 
"You're right, Mr. Steele," Laura agreed with a sigh of her own. "We'll be late for our reservation if we don't hurry."
 
They completed the finishing touches on their attire and walked into the agency's lobby. Seeing the trail of discarded clothing left in the wake of their rising passion, they burst into laughter.
 
"We'd better clean up. We wouldn't want to shock Mildred, now, would we?" Laura asked as she began retrieving her discarded clothing.
 
"Somehow, I think nothing we did would shock Mildred. That woman's imagination works overtime," Remington explained, picking up his own clothing. Suddenly he noticed his tie on the floor. "That's strange," he remarked, picking it up with a puzzled expression.
 
"What's strange?"
 
"I thought I dropped my tie in the elevator," Remington explained.
 
"Well, either you're mistaken, or someone came in here and returned it," Laura rationalized. "And we certainly didn't hear anyone."
 
"Laura, burglars could have carried off every piece of furniture and we wouldn't have heard them!" Remington explained.
 
"Well, nothing seems to be missing, so let's just forget it. We've got more important things to do tonight," Laura reminded him as she put her arms around his neck and kissed him.
 
Remington was more than ready to repeat their earlier performance, but Laura broke the kiss and led him towards the door. "Dinner awaits, Mr. Steele. And I can promise you a simply scrumptious dessert."
 
As they reached the door and Remington unlocked it, he suddenly took Laura's clothing and added it to his own. Grinning widely, he tossed the bundle into a nearby chair.
 
"Let's give Mildred something to think about, eh?"
 
******************
 
Laura and Remington sat gazing into each other's eyes in the dimly lit restaurant. Remington was stroking Laura's hand as it rested before him on the table. Laura's stockinged foot was slowly inching its way Remington's leg.
 
"Penny for your thoughts, Mr. Steele," Laura murmured.

"Frankly, my dear, I have a sudden, powerful and very ignoble desire to kiss you till your lips are somewhat bruised," Remington confessed.

"Oh, you sweet talking American," Laura said with a smile.

"David Niven to Maggie McNamara, The Moon is Blue, United Artists, 1953," Remington explained.
 
"I might have known it was a movie reference," Laura said.
 
Suddenly, a tall, thin young man with glasses walked vary excitedly to their table. "Laura? Laura Holt?" he asked.
 
Laura and Remington looked up in surprise. Laura smiled as she recognized their intruder but before she could speak, the young man grabbed her face and gave her a resounding kiss. Her eyes showed her shock as she began to make protesting sounds, pushing against his chest. Before she knew it, however, she suddenly felt herself giving in to the kiss, enjoying it more than she could ever have imagined. Her arms soon were wrapped around the his neck.
 
Remington was embarrassed and frustrated by Laura's passionate display, but managed to appear icy calm."Long lost brother?" he asked. "A cousin, perhaps. Your hairdresser? Furnace repairman? Your Calc professor!"
 
Laura slowly became aware of Remington standing beside her babbling incoherently and somehow managed to break the kiss. But when she tried to speak, she found she couldn't.
 
Remington, still babbling, fanned her with his napkin. "Your dentist? Maytag repairman? Your therapist?"
 
Finally, Laura caught her breath. "You've certainly shown remarkable improvement, Marty!"
 
"I just had to show off a little, Laura. I mean, I know what you used to say about me. 'He's a lousy kisser, but he sure knows where to do it!'"
 
"Oh, I'm so sorry you heard that. That was such an inconsiderate thing to say!" Laura apologized.
 
"That's okay; it was true. You were always nice to me, so I didn't mind."
 
Suddenly, Remington clapped his hands together with a resounding smack. "Of course! Marty Klopman! The Griffith Park Observatory!"
 
"Uh, Marty Klopman, I'd like you to meet Remington Steele," Laura said as two men shook hands.
 
"Finally, I get to meet the man who sends me a box of chocolates every Christmas," Marty said. "It's a pleasure, Mr. Steele."
 
"Indeed, Marty. It's always a pleasure to meet Miss Holt's old friends."
 
"I don't mean to be nosy, Mr. Steele, but why exactly *do* you send me a box of chocolates every Christmas?"
 
"It's a long story, Marty," Remington explained. "Pull up a chair and we'll tell you all about it."
 
Marty quickly located a vacant chair and dragged it to Laura and Remington's table. As he scooted himself closer to the table, however, he accidentally jostled Remington's champagne glass, spilling the liquid on his white dinner jacket.
Remington quickly excused himself, leaving Laura to explain the story behind Marty's box of Christmas chocolates.
 
Using his napkin to blot at the wet stain, Remington made his way to the men's lounge. He knew he had no reason to jealous of Marty Klopman, but he couldn't stop thinking of the way Laura had melted in Marty's arms during that marathon kiss. She had obviously enjoyed that kiss, and Remington didn't like that one bit.
 
His mind on other things, Remington was paying no attention to where he was going. He never once noticed the sign boldly proclaiming LADIES' LOUNGE as he walked through the door of what he assumed to be the men's lounge.
He was greeted by a shriek and then a scream as two ladies hurried past him through the door. Turning, he found himself facing half a dozen more women, each staring at him in shock.

He quickly collected himself and tried to find his tongue. "Ah, uh, ladies...So sorry. Please excuse me. I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere." Turning to leave, he added, "Carry on, ladies."

One rather belligerent lady suddenly charged forward, striking Remington with her evening bag. "You pervert! Barging in here...just so you could...you could..."

The enraged woman run out of words, but she didn't run out of energy; she continued to strike at Remington with growing anger.
 
Remington raised his arm to ward off the blows. "Madam, please! It was an accident. An honest mistake, I assure you!"
 
"Well, so is this!" she exclaimed as she gave him one final wallop. "Just you wait until I tell Herbert about this and report it to the management!"

With that, she marched past him and stomped off out of sight.

Remington reached up and gingerly touched his forehead. His fingers came away damp with blood. The jeweled clasp on his attacker's beaded assault weapon had left a gash on his right temple. He didn't think it was a deep cut, but it was bleeding freely, none the less.

"Ah, excuse me again, ladies," he apologized, reaching for some paper towels.
 
One of the women took pity on his predicament, saying, "Oh, you poor dear!"
 
She helped him to walk across the room and eased him down onto one of the vanity chairs in front of the mirrored wall. "Now just sit right here, young man. I'm a retired nurse and I'll have you fixed up in no time."
 
She was as good as her word. She stopping the bleeding, disinfected the wound and applied a small bandage, which she made by ripping a strip of material from her slip. She even sponged the spilled champagne from his jacket.
 
When Remington thanked her profusely for her kindness, she just patted his arm. "I'm sure you'll be fine now, dear. But if you feel any discomfort or dizziness, please don't hesitate to call me. Here's my number," she explained as she scribbled something on a spare paper towel.
 
Remington assured her he was feeling much better, thanked her again, and returned to his table. He gave a sigh of relief when he found Laura sitting alone. Marty Klopman was nowhere in sight.
 
Laura immediately noticed his makeshift bandage. "What happened?!!" she asked, her voice filled with concern.
 
"Oh, nothing, really," he said as he tenderly touched the bandage and winced. "Just a minor misunderstanding in the Ladies' Room."
 
"What in heaven's name were you doing in the Ladies' Room?"
 
"I, uh, wasn't watching where I was going. Took a wrong turn," he admitted sheepishly. "Marty leave?"
 
"Yes," Laura said, nodding. "His party was leaving when he spotted me."
 
"Must have been quite a surprise, seeing him again after all these years. I take it you two had a nice little chat."
 
"Oh, look! Our food's here," Laura exclaimed, grateful for the diversion. She quickly picked up her fork and began inhaling her pasta.
 
Remington followed suit and the subject of Marty Klopman was dropped until they settled in with their after dinner coffee.
 
"So, did you and Marty have a chance to catch up on old times?" Remington casually asked again.
 
"We pretty much caught up with that kiss," Laura absently replied.
 
"Yes, I could see that. Was that the extent of your relationship?"
 
"Yeah, pretty much so. I guess you could say that."
 
"Laura, how could you?" Remington suddenly asked.
 
She looked at him, confused. "How could I what?"
 
He leaned close to her and clinched his jaw for a moment before answering her. "Flaunt your past affairs in my face by passionately kissing another man! In a public place, no less! And was it necessary to be so enthusiastic about it? I mean, the two of you may have been close at one time, but was it really necessary to *fling* your past love affair in my face?"
 
"Now wait just a minute here," Laura interrupted. "I never said Marty and I ...we never. . . "
 
"You just admitted not more than two a minutes ago that kissing--and who knows what else-- was all there was to your former relationship," Remington hotly accused.

"I most certainly did not," she said defensively. "You just took it that way. You jumped to the wrong conclusion and just assumed..."

 
"Well, perhaps you'd care to clarify your sordid affairs, missy."
 
"My sordid affairs?! What about your sordid affairs? You're the one with the mysterious past, not me! My past is a open book!"
 
"That is not the issue here, Laura."
 
"No. The issue is that you're jealous. Jealous for no good reason, just because I greeted an old friend with a friendly kiss."
 
"Laura, that was *not* a friendly kiss," Remington clarified quickly. "And I am *not* jealous."
 
"Well, you're certainly giving a good imitation of it, " she pointed out.
 
Neither of them spoke for a moment.
 
"Well, perhaps I was a tad jealous," Remington finally admitted as he clasped Laura's hand "But just a tad, mind you."
 
"Apology accepted, Mr. Steele," Laura said, patting his hand tenderly. Then laughing, she added, "If you knew the truth about my relationship with Marty, you'd know there is absolutely nothing to get upset about."
 
"By all means, Miss Holt. Tell me the truth about your relationship with Marty. I mean, if I'm going to continue sending him chocolates every Christmas, then I really deserve to know the truth."
 
"Marty and I were lab partners in an advanced science class," Laura explained. "We were 15. We started going to the Observatory to do research for our science fair project. Well, one day he dragged me behind that wall and the next thing I knew, he was kissing me. "
 
"And did it fulfill your fantasies?" Remington asked.
 
Laura shook her head. "It was awful. So I offered to give him kissing lessons. And we continued going to the Observatory to practice. "
 
"You expect be to believe that?" Remington asked, staring at her from across the table.
 
"It's the truth, Mr. Steele, whether you believe me or not," Laura stated simply, taking a sip of her champagne. "You're always telling me to trust you; isn't it time you start taking your own advice?"
 
Remington drummed his fingers on the table for a few moments.
 
"I believe you, Laura," he finally said, lifting it to his lips and placing a kiss on it. "Just one question, though. If you taught Marty the proper way to kiss, who taught you?"
 
He grinned and ducked as Laura swatted at him. She heard a chuckle behind her and turned to find the couple at the next table watching them.
 
"Why didn't you tell me people were watching us?" Laura asked, feeling her face grow warm. "I'm blushing, aren't I?
 
"You look charming, Laura," Remington assured her.
 
Laura pushed her chair back and stood up, laying her napkin on the table.
 
"What are you doing?" he asked, perplexed.
 
"I think I need a few minutes to compose myself," she explained, turning to walk away.
 
"Laura.! Laura, wait..!" Remington pleaded, rising from his seat and gliding around the table to her side. "Come on; let's dance. I did promise you a night of dining and dancing, didn't I? Eh? "
 
"Mr. Steele, please. I'm just really not in the mood right now for dancing," Laura explained as she tried to shrug out of his grasp.
 
He held her firmly, however, and led her onto the dance floor. She stopped struggling as soon as he took her into his arms and began guiding her around the dance floor.
 
"Ah, this brings back memories, doesn't it?" he asked in an effort to divert her attention and improve her mood. "Our first dance at poor Mr. Hunter's unveiling. I remember it vividly."
 
She stomped on his foot to further bring back the memory.
 
He merely pulled her closer in response and whispered in her ear, "Come now, Laura. Be reasonable."
 
"I do wish you'd stop treating me as if I were your property or something," she hissed. "Jerking me around... getting jealous...coercing me into dancing when I don't want to... Sometimes you act like...like..."
 
"What?" Remington asked as they swayed together to the music. "Sometimes I act like what?"
 
"Like we're married or something. Like I'm your wife."
 
"Would that really be so bad, Laura?"
 
"It just makes me...I don't know, nervous," she admitted. "I mean, I'm still my own person and I don't foresee that ever changing, no matter what the future may or may not hold."
 
Remington swayed in place for a moment, still holding Laura in his arms. "Laura, I'm sorry," he finally said. "I didn't realize I was coming across that way. If I've hurt you, I'm really sorry, love. The last thing I want to do is scare you away."
 
Laura looked up into his contrite blue eyes and could see the sincerity there. More quietly, she replied, "I know. Look, we've both been through a lot of stress at work lately. Flare ups like this are bound to happen from time to time. We just can't let them get to us."
 
"But you meant what you said, didn't you?" Remington asked.
 
"Just forget what I said. Okay?" she encouraged as she gently stroked his cheek with the back of her hand.
 
Remington couldn't forget so easily, however. "Look, Laura; I know how much you love your independence, and it's one of the things I admire most about you. I would never try to take that from you. But would it really be so bad to put yourself in my hands once in a while? To let me take care of you... to protect you?"

He wanted to say so much more, but simply couldn't find the words to express the feelings which had recently been tickling his heart. Would he ever find the courage to say what was in his heart? Laura had even brought up the subject of marriage herself, but he was paralyzed with ...with...with what? Fear?

 
No, he realized ironically; he was paralyzed with hope.
 
"Okay; I'll let you take charge now," Laura conceded as they resumed dancing. "I'll let you lead."
 
Remington silently cursed himself for his missed opportunity.
 
They danced in silence for several more minutes before he idly commented, "You know, Marty was not at all what I expected."
 
"Oh? What did you expect?"
 
Remington half shrugged. "Oh, I don't know. Maybe some big bruiser. Some hulk of a football player."
 
Laura laughed, shaking her head. "Really, Mr. Steele. That's not my type. You should know by now that I've always fallen for men with the lean look." To emphasize her point, she gave his chest a pat.
 
"Really, Laura. My ego has taken enough of a beating tonight without you adding more insult to my injury," he replied in a wounded voice.
 
Suddenly, that one year membership he'd recently accepted at a local health club didn't seem like such a foolish idea after all. He'd been very self-conscious during his first few workouts, but if it would help turn Laura's head, he would gladly put up with it. A few more sessions and Laura should start noticing a change, he surmised.
 
Laura was lost in thought. "You know, it's funny. Marty really hasn't changed all that much. He's taller, of course, but that's really about all. He was a real brain in school. Some of the kids called him a nerd."
 
"But you never did, did you?"
 
"No," she admitted, shaking her head.
 
Remington began idly caressing Laura's back. "Out of curiosity, Laura-- just how long did you and Marty...ah, you know. ..continue with your private lessons?"
 
"A year--maybe less."
 
"That long, eh? Well, then I guess it's safe to say that it never went any further than those kisses. I mean, look at us. It took me three years just to get to first base with you."
 
"Oh, you," Laura exclaimed as she playfully swatted his arm.
 
After pulling her close to curb her actions, Remington couldn't resist bending over and lightly brushing his lips across hers. Laura caressed his shoulder, then tightly wound her arm around his neck and brought him down to meet her lips again. She began planting light, teasing kisses on his bottom lip until he finally captured her lips with his own, kissing her hard. Laura wondered if this was what he'd meant by kissing her until her lips were somewhat bruised.
 
Laura and Remington's kiss continued until they were brought back to reality by the sound of applause. Looking around, they realized they were alone in the middle of the dance floor and were being "serenaded" by the orchestra and the other dancers. They sheepishly broke their embrace and tried to hide their embarrassment as the gathered crowd continued to applaud.
 
Remington cleared his throat and managed a weak grin. "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen; thank you." Giving everyone a weak wave, he added, "Please, carry on."
 
Laura put her hands up to her face. She didn't see Remington as he turned to put his arm around her shoulder and escort her from the dance floor. Caught off guard she jumped, causing the jeweled brooch pinned to the center of her black strapless evening gown to catch on one of the studs of Remington's dress shirt. As she tried to yank it loose, as she wondered what else could possibly go wrong.
 
"Don't yank on it like that," Remington admonished "You'll tear it."
 
Easing her hands aside, he tried working it loose himself. "I've always have been stuck on you, love--but never quite this literally," he joked as his nimble fingers attempted to perform magic. "This is even more confining than Irish handcuffs, eh?"

"Just shut up and hurry," Laura said testily. She was already mortified and didn't appreciate the fact that Remington could usually find humor in any situation.

"Steady, Laura," he said. "I think I almost have it."

As he delicately reached inside her bodice to unfasten the brooch, his fingers came into contact with her skin, causing her once again to jump.

"Laura, please. I am merely attempting to alleviate this rather sticky predicament."
 
Positive that every eye in the house was fixed on her chest, Laura wilted even more.
 
"There. That should do it," Remington announced with a final twist as the brooch came free from his shirt stud.
 
Unfortunately, Laura stepped backwards before he had a chance to remove his hand. This action caused the top of her strapless gown to be pulled down. With his hand still there, it appeared as if Remington had been the one doing the pulling.
 
Laura gasped as she hastily tried to cover herself.
 
Remington gallantly came to her aid, only to have his hand slapped away.
 
"Haven't you done enough?" she hissed.
 
"Laura, it's not my fault."
 
"Where have I heard that before?" she asked as she tried to stomp on his foot.
 
Even though Remington managed to get his foot out of Laura's line of fire, neither of them could avoid the nearby photographer's line of fire. During their earlier struggles they had barely noticed him, but now they couldn't miss him. He was boldly standing on the sidelines, clicking away for all he was worth.
 
Laura somehow managed to pull herself together. She squared her shoulders and marched off the dance floor. Remington quickly followed her to their table.
 
As she sat down, she let her head sink into her hands. "I've never, ever been so embarrassed, so humiliated, so disconcerted, in my entire life!" she wailed.
 
"Come now, Laura, love," he said as he patted her back. "It was an accident. It could have happened to anyone."
 
"But it happened to me," she sniffled.
 
"There, there," he said softly as he continued his ministrations.
 
Just then the orchestra resumed playing.
 
"The night's still young. Shall we give it another go out there on the dance floor?" Remington asked. "Try to erase the memory from our minds?"
 
Laura raised her head to look at him, thinking he must be joking.
 
"On the other hand, maybe not," he wisely said.
 
"I want to go home," she stated.
 
He nodded and helped her up as he signaled for the waiter.
 
********
 
Fred pulled the limo around and Remington helped Laura in. She was grateful to sink back into the dark, plush interior. Remington instructed Fred to drive to Laura's loft and then scooted over close to her. Putting his arm around her, he pulled her close and enfolded her in his embrace.
 
"Laura, love," he said as he gave her a squeeze, "the evening wasn't a total loss. We had a nice dinner, you saw an old friend and we had a memorable dance. We came through relatively unscathed, I'd say."
 
"Pease don't tell me my little strip tease was nothing," she said. Lightly touching his bandaged head, she added, "And I wouldn't call your battle wound 'nothing', either. You know, you never did tell me what really happened to you in the ladies' room."
 
"Like I said, I took a wrong turn and mistakenly entered the ladies' room. One of the ladies took offense and hit me with her purse, calling me a pervert. Luckily, a retired nurse patched me up."
 
Laura leaned over and kissed his bandaged temple. "How are you ever going to explain if someone asks you what happened?"
 
"I'll just tell them you hit me," he joked.
 
"Don't give me ideas, Mr. Steele," Laura warned. "With the mood I'm in right now, I just might do it. But right now, I'm thirsty."
 
"Pity we didn't bring the rest of the champagne from the restaurant. All we've got here is that cola."
 
"I guess that will have to do," she sighed.
 
Remington poured them each a glass. Holding up his glass to hers, they clinked glasses, entwined their arms and drank.
 
"It just isn't the same without champagne," he said sadly, unwrapping his arm from hers.
 
"I suppose drinking this from my slipper wouldn't make it any better, would it?"
 
Remington shook his head. "Somehow, I rather doubt it. But I do know where else I'd like to drink this from."
 
He pulled her to him and whispered something outrageous in her ear. Even though she initially pulled back and looked at him in surprise, it wasn't long before she began to warm to his idea. She leaned into him and nuzzled his neck, her fingers undoing his bow tie and then going to the buttons of his shirt.
 
"Only if I can do the same thing to you," she whispered seductively.
 
Remington raised her head by placing one finger beneath her chin. Their lips met and within seconds their blood was fired. As they kissed, Remington reached over and pressed the button that raised the privacy shield. His fingers slowly began inching their way down Laura's back. Gently, he lowered her onto the velvet seat cushions and then lowered himself into her waiting arms.
 
**********
 
When Fred reached Laura's loft, he slowed down and stopped in front of the building. Glancing back at the raised privacy shield, he decided to circle the block. Then he circled the next block... and the next...Driving in ever widening arcs, he occasionally glanced backwards at the privacy shield, which was still in place. He shook his head and smiled. At this rate, he would soon be circling most of the greater downtown area.
 
*************
 
Laura rested in Remington's arms, trying to regain her breath.
 
"That was refreshing, eh?" Remington commented.
 
"Do you mean the cola or...?" she asked.
 
"Both," he laughed, kissing the top of her head. "A new taste sensation, eh?"
 
Laura laughed softly now. "Refreshing, but a bit sticky."
 
"No problem, love. We'll just use the shower in your loft," he amicably suggested.
 
Laura shook her head. "No. We both certainly need one, but I think I better take my own shower. "
 
"Are you sure you wouldn't rather...?" Remington inquired.
 
"Aren't we at my loft yet?" Laura interrupted.
 
Remington glanced out of the window into the darkness. "Ah, I believe Fred has been circling. We should be coming around to the loft again shortly. "
 
"Oh, no!" Laura moaned, burying her head in her hands for the second time that evening. "What will Fred think?"
 
"Nothing, I'm sure," Remington assured her. "He couldn't see or hear anything with the privacy shield up. If anything, he probably thought we were in a deep conference over a serious and pressing case."
 
"You don't believe that any more than I do."
 
"Okay; even if he does assume the worst, Fred knows enough to be discreet. He's a professional."
 
"If he's not a lot more professional than we've been tonight, we're in big trouble," Laura remarked as she began wiggling around, trying to straighten her appearance in the cramped confines of the backseat. Remington, always the gentleman, offered his assistance.
 
When she felt somewhat presentable, Laura leaned against Remington and sighed deeply. "I can't believe what we've been doing today...First on a case, then in the office and now here, in the limo."
 
"I must say, it gives a whole new meaning to the concept of 'Mixing business with pleasure.' And you must admit, it certainly adds an element of spice to our relationship, doesn't it?"
 
"That's just it," Laura wailed. "We've always been so careful, so discreet, so professional. No one would ever have guessed we were more than merely business partners. But now, I'm not so sure we'll be able to maintain our charade."
 
Suddenly, she was very aware of his closeness. She didn't care whether they could maintain their charade or not; she frantically began placing tiny kisses on Remington's throat, working her way down to his collarbone.
 
Remington inhaled sharply, vaguely aware they had come to a stop in front of Laura's loft. Gently holding Laura at arm's length, he said, "We're at your loft, Laura. Do you want to get out now or do you want Fred to circle L.A. again?"
 
Laura sighed reluctantly. "I guess I'd better get out."
 
"Wait!" Remington warned as he hastily began making himself presentable. "Don't open the door yet!"
 
With Laura's help, it was soon safe to open the door. When she finally crawled out of the limo, she turned back to give Remington a long, lingering look. Abruptly, she bent back inside and placed a light kiss on his lips. Pulling back, she turned and ran up the steps. Pausing long enough to blow him a kiss, she turned and ran inside.
 
Remington sat there for several minutes, waiting until he saw the lights go on inside Laura's third floor loft. Disengaging the privacy shield, he told Fred to take him home. As he settled back into the plush cushions and turned his head, he noticed Laura's pantyhose still laying on the seat. Retrieving them, he stuffed them into his jacket pocket and smiled.
 
**********

To be continued...

Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Div.

 
 
dtalley@mindspring.com

This story copyrighted 1982-2002 by Debra Talley. The characters of Remington Steele
are used without permission. It is purely for entertainment purposes.