Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Division

Steele in the Mood
Part 4
Debra Talley & Thekla Kurth

(This story is part of the Brendan Universe.)

Once they were safely outside on the porch, Remington looked at Laura. "I assume you wanted us to be alone?" he asked.
"Shut up and kiss me," Laura said, pressing herself against him.
"Laura, far be it for me to complain about kissing you, but that porch light is awfully bright. Don't you think we can find someplace just a tad darker and cozier?"
She nodded in agreement. "Okay, where? The car? The garage? The backyard?"
"Umm...The backyard..." Remington mumbled against her lips. "Don't the kids have a tree house back there ?"
"They had a tree house, but Frances made Donald take it down," Laura explained. "Said it was too dangerous."

"Well, I'm sure we can find a nice secluded spot back there someplace," Remington assured her, emphasizing his point with a quick kiss.

They raced to the backyard, barely making it to a clump of bushes near the fence.

"Oh, Mr. Steele," Laura sighed.
"My sentiments exactly, Miss Holt," Remington sighed in return.
The clump of bushes quaked and shuddered.
As Laura removed Remington's jacket, she came upon the flea collar in his pocket. "What's this?" she asked, puzzled. "Whatever it is, it's pretty."
"It's Max's new flea collar. Don't you remember? Donald wanted to put it on the dog, but he flew the coop."
"Donald flew the coop?"
"The *dog * flew the coop! Really, Laura," Remington chastised. "Donald is the Duke of Devotion! He's too devoted to Frances and the children to even *consider* flying the coop!"
"Regardless of who flew what coop, we don't need this," Laura said as she started to toss the collar aside. "Now shut up and kiss me!"
"Just a minute, love," Remington said as he took the collar in his hand, turning it slowly as he studied it. "It really is quite lovely. Something about it reminds me of Doolittle, though obviously this one isn't worth a small fortune. "
"Well, maybe Donald can't afford a diamond encrusted collar, but the kids love Max just as much as Kevin Masters ever loved Doolittle," Laura told him.
"Love him that much, do they?" Remington asked, gazing at Laura. "In that case, we better take very good care of this until we can return it."
"Mr. Steele. Just *what* are you doing?" Laura asked as Remington tried to fasten it around her neck.
"Just trying to shake things up a bit," Remington explained.
The next thing Laura knew, she was wearing the flea collar.
"Mr. Steele," she protested. "I'm not so sure this is the way to go about 'shaking things up'."
"Call it a whim, Laura. A momentary aberration... Something unique for a change."
"But Mr. Steele," she said as she ran a finger down his chest, "I believe we've already mastered the corner on uniqueness."
"Umm...yes, I do believe we have, Miss Holt. Now shall we master it again?"
"Oh, yes, Mr. Steele," Laura assured him.
Once again the bushes shivered.
As Laura and Remington were walking back to the house with their arms around each other, Laura tugged off the flea collar. Looking at it carefully, she suddenly had a nagging thought.
"Didn't Danny say Max got into some poison ivy in the backyard?" she asked.
"Yes, I believe so. Somewhere over by the fence," Remington absently replied.
"Do you suppose...?" Laura asked, worried.
"Oh, no," he assured her. "It was probably clear over on the other side of the fence. Chances are we were no where near it."
"Would you even know poison ivy if you saw it, Mr. Steele?" Laura asked pointedly.
"Would you?" Remington asked.
"I was a Girl Scout. Remember?"
"Yes, I remember; but I also know you're a city girl. You were drummed out of the Girl Scouts because you couldn't make it through an over nighter. In other words, Miss Holt, you probably wouldn't know poison ivy from cannabis."
"I would, too, know cannabis," Laura hotly contested.
As they entered the house through the back door, Laura tossed the flea collar onto the counter. "Next time you give me something to wear around my neck, buster, the jewels had better be real."
"I'll keep that in mind, Miss Holt," Remington promised, drawing her close and putting his arms around her. "But you must admit, we'll never look at a flea collar again in quite the same way."
"That may be," Laura agreed as she straightened his collar and brushed stray bits of grass from his hair. "But it's a bit disconcerting to know a flea collar will bring back fond memories of an intimate moment between us."
Remington only chuckled. "Come on," he said, breaking their embrace. "We better go check on the kids and relieve Mildred."
Laura sighed. "Yes, I suppose we'll have to face her sooner or later."
"You're a fiend for saddling poor Mildred like that with the kids," he pointed out as they walked towards the swinging doors. "You didn't even give her a chance to defend herself."
"Well, that's exactly what Frances did to us," Laura said defensively
"And you didn't like it, did you?" he reminded her.
"Whose side are you on, anyway?" she asked hotly. "And speaking of Frances, shouldn't she and Donald be back by now?"
Remington shrugged. "I don't know. I wouldn't count on it, though, considering the condition they left in. And if they're feeling even half as amorous as we've been feeling for the last two days, it could be hours yet... days, even... maybe weeks."
Inching closer to Laura's lips until he met them with his own, Remington reminded her once again exactly how "amorous" they themselves had been feeling recently.
"Hmm...They may never be back, Mr. Steele," Laura conceded.
After one more kiss, they walked through the swinging door and set off to find Mildred. The sound of the TV led them to the den, where they discovered her watching a nature show with Danny and Mindy.
"Where's Laurie Beth?" Laura asked.
"She and that neighbor kid went to her room to play," Mildred answered.
Laura nodded and was about to sit down when Remington said, "Don't you think we should go check on them?"
Laura didn't seem overly concerned. "Why? We know they're in her room. What trouble could two little kids possibly get themselves into?" Noticing his disbelieving expression, she added reassuringly, "They're just kids, Mr. Steele."
"Be that as it may, I think I'll look in on them," Remington explained. "*Some* of us take our parental responsibilities seriously."
To Laura's surprise, he was back in the den almost immediately.
"Ah, Miss Holt, remember what you just said about two little kids being alone in a bedroom? Perhaps you'd like to have a look."
"Mr. Steele, really," Laura said as she reluctantly followed him down the hallway. "I think you're making a mountain out of ..."
Putting his finger over her lips, he motioned for her to be quiet as he carefully opened Laurie Beth's door. They both peeked around the corner for a better view.
"What's going on?" Mildred whispered as she and the other kids joined them.
Remington and Laura quickly motioned for everyone to be quiet. If Laurie Beth and Tommy had glanced up, they would have seen 5 faces peering around the edge of the doorway. There was small chance of that, however, as they were totally involved with their own actions. Sitting on the edge of the bed swinging their legs in unison, Laurie Beth and Tommy were holding hands. Danny snickered as Tommy suddenly leaned over and gave Laurie Beth a wet, sloppy kiss. Luckily, the sound of Laurie Beth's giggle covered up the sound of her brother's snicker. Tommy then pulled a stick of gum from his pocket, broke it in half and gave half of it to Laurie Beth. There they sat, perfectly content to pass their time together swinging their legs, sharing a stick of gum and holding hands.

Laura looked at Remington. "What is the big deal, Mr. Steele? Like I said, they're just kids."

"That may be, Miss Holt," Remington explained, "but he did kiss her. And I'll wager it was more romantic than your first kiss with Marty Klopman."

Tommy stole another kiss before Laura could reply. That was when Mildred took charge and hustled into the room.
"Alright, you two. Break it up," she demanded. "I'm declaring that play time is officially over. Tommy, think I hear your mother calling you."
"She's not home," the 8 year old explained. "She's at a seminar."
"A seminar? What kind of mother runs off to a seminar and leaves her kids home alone at this hour?" Mildred questioned. "I suppose it's all about growing your own herbs, or what to do with leftover pasta or how to make clothes out of old curtains."
"Mildred, this is the eighties," Laura reminded her.
"She's teaching a seminar called "Children in the Boardroom," Tommy explained. "It's about how to combine a high-powered career with child raising."
"Figures," Mildred muttered.
"Sounds like something you might want to attend, Miss Holt," Remington commented, suddenly very interested. Turning to Tommy, he asked, "Will your mother be conducting any more of these seminars?"
"It depends on how her client's trial comes out next week. She's a lawyer."
"Mr. Steele, really," Laura retorted. "Why would...?"
"You never know, Miss Holt," Remington explained. "There's certainly no harm in being prepared, is there?"
Mildred quickly decided she needed to change the subject. "Is there anyone at home now, Tommy?"
"Sure. My sister's there," he explained. "But I got tired of listening to her talk on the phone to her boyfriend, so I came over to play with Laurie Beth."
"Okay, kid; you're outta here," Mildred demanded, leading him out of the room.
"Okay," he said. "Bye, Laurie Beth. See you at school tomorrow."
Laurie Beth giggled as she waved goodbye to Tommy. Then jumping up from the bed, she ran out of the room with her siblings.
"What am I going to tell Frances?" Laura asked, throwing up her arms in frustration.
"Nothing," Remington advised her. "There was no harm done. It's best to just ignore these things."
"What makes you an expert on these things?"
"Experience, Miss Holt. Watching them reminded me of the early days of our relationship, except they didn't have any of the playful hostility that we so enjoyed."
"Really, Mr. Steele," Laura admonished. "How could what we just saw possibly remind you of us? We never shared a stick of gum!"
"That may be, but it was just as harmless," Remington explained.
"Mr. Steele is right, honey. Tommy seemed perfectly satisfied to merely share a piece of gum and steal a kiss. Nothing happened, so just forget it," Mildred advised. "Now come on. We've got to get back out there and keep an eye on the munchkins".
Mildred left, but Laura and Remington lagged behind.
"Playful hostility, huh?" Laura asked with a smile. "That's an interesting expression."

"Indeed, Miss Holt, " Remington explained. "I'm an expert on...expression."

"You can practice 'expressing' yourself later, but right now we better get back out there with the kids."

As they left the bedroom, Laura noticed two empty glasses on the nightstand. Picking them up, she carried them into the kitchen.

"What were Laurie Beth and Tommy drinking?" Laura asked Mildred as she placed the glasses in the sink.
"Oh, I gave them some of that new cola. They seemed to really like it."
Remington and Laura looked at each other and then at the empty glasses, and a seed of an idea began to form.
"Kids that age don't normally behave like that--unless something *makes* them," Laura said.
"And let's not forget Donald and Frances," Remington pointed out. "They weren't exactly acting 'normal' at supper tonight."
"That's right, and they were drinking cola with their dinner," Laura realized. "And don't forget Mildred and Ralph..."
"Wait a minute!" Mildred piped up. "Ralph was just fixing the coffee maker..."
"Nice try, Mildred," Laura said, "but we don't buy it. The two of you had a couple of glasses of that cola, didn't you?"
Mildred shrugged and nodded.
Remington looked at Laura. "And don't forget about us, love."
Laura actually blushed.
Remington began counting their escapades on his fingers. "The office...the limo...the Auburn...the ferris wheel.. the bushes..."
"Bushes?" Mildred asked pointedly. "Ferris wheel?"
"Mr. Steele, really," Laura admonished, "You don't have to enumerate each and every one of of frivolity."
"Flights of frivolity, huh?" Mildred repeated, cocking her head to one side and raising her eyebrows.
"Mr. Steele and I have been drinking the cola for the past two days," Laura explained.
"And quite a bit of it," Remington added. "You don't suppose there's something in it that, ah, makes one feel more ...amorous?"
Laura shrugged. "I don't know, but I definitely think there's *something* suspicious about it. It's the only thing that makes any sense."
"So, what are we going to do about it? Remington asked.
"We go see Mr. Pop-Top again."
"But, Laura," Remington wailed, "just being around that man gives me the urge to scratch!"
"Then wear the flea collar," she said, marching past him to the front door.
Remington started to follow, but Mildred grabbed his arm.
"Flea collar, Boss?" she asked.
"It's a jungle out there, Mildred," he explained. "Lots of fleas in a jungle."
"We'll be back as soon as we can, Mildred," Laura said as Remington opened the front door and held it for her. "Don't give the kids any more of that cola-- and don't drink any of it yourself, either!"
They hurried to the station wagon and Remington got behind the wheel.
"I thought you didn't want to be seen driving this symbol of suburbia," Laura reminded him.
"Yes, well," he said, starting the car. "I suppose if it's good enough for Donald, it's good enough for me. Besides, maybe I won't be so tempted to scratch if I'm busy driving."
"We need to be careful how we broach the subject to Mr. Pop-Top," Laura pointed out. "We can't just point blank accuse him of something he might be totally innocent of."
"Perhaps we should do further testing," Remington suggested hopefully. "You know, drink a little more cola and...well, see what happens. Let nature take its course, so to speak."
"Just drive, Mr. Steele," Laura instructed.
"Ah, yes, business beckons," Remington sighed, backing the car out onto the street.
"Not always," Laura whispered, the smallest trace of a smile forming on her lips. When she realized Remington was watching her, she blushed.
A short time later, Laura and Remington were walking away from Mr. Pop-Top's Bel Air home.

"He certainly had a lot of nerve, falling asleep on us like that," Remington declared.

"Where's your sympathy, Mr. Steele? I seem to recall you falling asleep on me quite a few times after you had taken a pain pill for a broken legs."

"Ah, what a delightful picture that conjures up," Remington said dreamily, pulling Laura close.
"What are you talking about?"
"Me, falling asleep on you," Remington explained.
"Yes, it does bring back pleasant memories, doesn't it?" Laura said softly as her lips met Remington's. They stood kissing on the porch, locked in each other's embrace until the porch lights flickered several times.
"Perhaps we'd better carry on elsewhere, Miss Holt," Remington suggested.
"Good idea," Laura agreed huskily as they broke their embrace and sauntered down the drive to the station wagon.
Remington opened the passenger's door for Laura and then made his way around the car and behind the wheel. Starting the car and checking the traffic, he backed into the street.
"This car reminds me of you in the good old days, Miss Holt," Remington commented as he tried to pick up some speed in the sluggish vehicle.
"In what way?" Laura inquired.
"You both required an awful lot of coaxing to carry on."
"I'm not so sure I like being compared to a sluggish family station wagon," Laura declared.
When car died and coasted to a complete halt, Laura and Remington just sat in silence for several moments.
"Well, Laura; it appears we are out of gas," Remington finally said. Breaking into a huge lopsided grin, he added, "I've always wanted to say that to you."
"I'll just bet you have!" Laura laughed as she slid beside him and put her arms around his neck. "Actually, I've wished we would run out of gas quite a few times myself. Then it would have been just you and me, all alone, stranded on some lonely deserted road...Hmm--I still get cold chills just thinking of the possibilities."
Remington tenderly brushed Laura's hair from her forehead. "As much as I'd like to remain right here and explore those possibilities, we do have to get back to the kids,"
"Must we?" Laura pouted.
"Afraid so. We wouldn't want Mildred to quit, now, would we?"
Laura reluctantly slid back over to her side of the car. "Children can be such a nuisance," she complained.
"I suppose, sometimes..." Remington hesitantly replied, "but still..."
"Still what...?" she asked.
There were several moments of awkward silence while Remington struggled with himself once again. Finally, he just grinned and said, "Nothing. Nothing at all. Why don't we call a service station from that phone over there and ask them to deliver some gasoline?"
"Fine. And if we're lucky, maybe it'll be hours before they get here," Laura said hopefully.
"And what do you propose we do to pass the time, Miss Holt?" Remington asked as he raised an eyebrow.
"We can probably find a bus stop. After all, what else does one do on the streets of Bel Air besides..."
"...neck?" Remington said, finishing her statement. "Indeed, Miss Holt. What else?"
Luckily, Laura had change for the phone. After placing the call to a service station, she and Remington strolled arm in arm to a nearby bus stop. Remington was unusually quiet, content to merely rub Laura's shoulder and chew his thumbnail. Laura wondered what was on his mind, but decided to let him keep his thoughts to himself.
Actually, Remington was silently cursing himself again for passing up another perfect opportunity to discuss marriage with Laura. He had never thought of himself as a coward before, but now he was beginning to wonder. What was he so afraid of, anyway? He knew Laura cared for him equally as much as he cared for her.
No, that wasn't quite true. He didn't just care for Laura; he loved her. He had loved her for years. Why was it they could admit to caring for each other, but not to loving each other? What exactly was it about the word 'love' that scared the hell out of both of them? They'd been dancing around the issue for so long that they were both experts at it.
But Remington was tired of the game playing. He was tired of the dizzying dance he and Laura had been dancing around each other. He was tired of saying, "I care for you" when what he really wanted to say was, "I love you." If only he could find the right words and the right time to say them. If only...
"Penny for your thoughts, Mr. Steele," Laura said as they arrived at the bus stop bench and sat down.
Remington decided it was now or never. He took a big breath, swallowed hard and took Laura's hand in his own sweaty one. "Laura, ah, forgive me for startling you with the impetuosity of my sentiments. But it cannot have escaped your notice that for some time past, the friendship I have felt for you has ripened into a deeper feeling. A feeling more beautiful, more pure, more sacred...Dare I name it? Can it be..."
"Pucker up, Mr. Steele," Laura ordered as she put her arms around him. "Police car at 12 o'clock."
Remington reluctantly puckered up, disappointed. But in spite of his initial reluctance, he and Laura quickly became lost in each other, neither giving a second thought to the observing squad car. But this kiss was different from the numerous ones they had shared in the last two days. Before, they had been overcome with frenzied feelings of urgency. It was almost as if they had no choice in the matter. But there was a sweetness about this kiss, a tenderness that had been missing earlier. They were both aware of the change and it aroused them even more. But rather than causing them to rush things, it caused them to slow the pace; to savor the taste and feel of each other.
Remington came to his senses as he suddenly became aware of Laura's roving hands. Clasping them, he brought them slowly to his lips. Laura opened her eyes, giving him a quizzical look.
"Laura, love, I don't think a bus stop on the streets of Bel Air is the best place to continue this conversation," Remington explained regretfully.
"I suppose you're right, Mr. Steele," she sighed regretfully, caressing his cheek one last time. "But you must admit, it would have been a unique experience!"
"Yes, well, that may be, but one must leave some experiences for later on in life."
"That's what you said about eating sushi, " Laura reminded him..
"Was it?"
"If you stick around long enough, who knows how many unique experiences we can share?" Laura asked teasingly.
Remington took Laura's hand and stroked it as he stared into her eyes. Putting his hand under her chin, he said softly, "I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not going anywhere, Laura. And I'll keep saying it until you don't need to hear it anymore."
Laura took his hand and tenderly kissed it. Pulling her into a close embrace, Remington just held her tightly. She had never felt more secure or more loved than she did at that moment, locked in Remington's embrace.
Remington gave her a quick peck on the forehead and pulled her to her feet. "I feel the urge for a brisk moonlight
stroll," he explained.
"You feel the urge for legwork?" Laura teased.
"What I feel the urge for has nothing to do with work, I assure you."
"And exactly what do you feel the urge for, Mr. Steele?"
"Oh, something daring, something stimulating, something totally unexpected... A whole new experience," Remington explained enigmatically.
"Are you sure this 'whole new experience' is something that can be done on the streets of Bel Air?"
"Absolutely, Miss Holt. I've even seen children do it."
"Children do it?" Laura asked, puzzled.
"Certainly. Children do it, yet you and I never have. I think it's time we remedy that horrendous situation."
"Give me a clue, Mr. Steele," Laura pleaded.
"Laurie Beth and Tommy? Tonight? In the bedroom? Alone?" Remington prompted, studying Laura carefully as they strolled along.
She laughed as realization suddenly dawned on her. "You're not suggesting we share a stick of gun?"
"Well, I did detect a certain note of regret in your voice when you pointed out that you and I had never...That we hadn't...You know..." Remington wiggled his eyebrows at Laura and gave her his most endearing smile.
Still laughing, Laura opened her purse and rummaged through it for a few seconds. "How does spearmint sound?" she asked, holding up a piece of gum.
"Positively erotic," Remington whispered seductively. "Here; allow me, Miss Holt."
Taking the gum from Laura's hand, he began unwrapping it very slowly. When the piece was finally ready, Remington pulled Laura close and said,"What say we each take an end and, uh, meet in the middle?"
"Sounds delicious," she whispered breathlessly as he began inching the gum slowly to its final destination.
After their lips parted. Remington took Laura's hand and they resumed their moonlight stroll. They walked along in contented silence, sharing a stick of gum and holding hands. Occasionally Remington scratched himself in various places, but the mood was not broken. They realized they were sharing a special moment and they savored it accordingly.
"What do you mean Donald and Frances won't be back tonight?"
"Calm down, Laura, please! You'll wake the children," Remington cautioned.
"I'm sorry, Miss Holt," Mildred explained. "But Frances called about an hour ago and said something had come up and they'd be back early tomorrow morning. What could I do?"
"It's all right, Mildred. Don't worry about it," Remington said. "Miss Holt and I will handle things; you go on home. We've imposed on you too long as it is."
Mildred just shook her head and gave a wary laugh. "No way am I going home and leaving you two alone in this house with those kids."
"And what exactly does that mean?" Laura asked.
"How can I put this?" Mildred asked, pausing briefly as she studied the two of them. "The two of you have been pretty, uh, uninhibited and spontaneous these last couple of days. So I think I'd better stick around tonight to be sure you don't expose those children to something they're not quite ready for yet."
"Mildred!" Laura protested. "We've already deduced that our, ah, amorous behavior is a direct result of that cola we've been drinking. I assure you, we haven't had any for hours and we don't intend to touch another drop of it tonight. Right, Mr. Steele?"
"Oh, absolutely.You can count on us to be good role models, Mildred," Remington promised with a smile. "We won't even look at each other!"
Mildred just laughed, her arms folded across her chest.
Seeing her expression, Remington dropped his smile.
"Let me get this straight. Mr. Pop-Top wasn't home, but you were gone two hours?" Mildred asked.
"That's right!" Laura explained indignantly. "We ran out of gas!"
"Yeah, right. And you passed the time chewing gum and holding hands?"
Remington wiggled his eyebrows outrageously and grinned. "Boggles the mind, doesn't it?"
Mildred tried to suppress her laugh, but didn't quite succeed.
"Mildred, it really doesn't matter whether you believe us or not. But I promise you, Miss Holt and I will do nothing tonight to cause the slightest embarrassment to anyone. I give you my word," Remington declared, putting his hands on Mildred's shoulders.
"Just the same, I'm staying the night," Mildred calmly said. "Just think of me as your back up, your look out, your..."
"...chaperone?" Remington asked.
"It sounds so tacky when you put it like that," Mildred said. Laura and Remington glared at her, but she merely ignored them and plunged ahead. "The Quiet Man starts in 20 minutes. What say I fix us some popcorn and cola before it starts?"
"Cola, Mildred? You're suggesting we drink cola?" Laura asked in disbelief.
"Oh, not that kind of cola, honey!" Mildred insisted. "I poured the rest of that nasty stuff out as soon as you two left."
"You what?!" Laura and Remington asked together.
"I poured it out! What choice did I have? You saw what that stuff did to Laurie Beth and Tommy! Sharing gum sounds innocent enough, but the next thing you know, they'll be hiding in the bushes playing 'you show me yours and I'll show you mine'!"
Laura and Remington both turned red.
"Can't put one over on you, can we, Mildred?" Remington asked with a slight smile.
"Well, perhaps you're right, Mildred," Laura reluctantly admitted. "That stuff is pretty potent."
"Just ask Donald and Frances!" Remington said.
"Actually, I think all of us can vouch for its potency, Chief," Mildred pointed out.
"You poured all of it out?" Remington inquired sadly.
"Well, there are a few bottles left at the office," Mildred remembered.
Remington broke into a big grin and rubbed his hands together. "Well, come along, ladies! Only 18 more minutes before John Wayne asks for directions to Innisfree.Oh, I can already smell that popcorn! What better way to spend an evening, eh? A great movie, great food and great company!"

"No need to overdo it, Boss," Mildred warned. "I realize I'm persona non grata here tonight, but I can live with that."

"You can?" Remington asked.

"Absolutely. But let's get one thing straight right now," Mildred said in a no nonsense manner. "Tonight, it's age before beauty. I'm in charge and what I say goes. Got it?"

Remington finally found his tongue. "Oh, absolutely, Mildred. Whatever you say. Yes, indeed. You're the boss tonight. Right, Miss Holt?"
"Ah, of course. Whatever you say, Mildred," Laura echoed.
"Good. Now that that's settled, let's get that popcorn popping before the movie starts," Mildred suggested.
To be continued...

Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Div.

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