Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Division

Steele in the Mood
Part 8
Debra Talley & Thekla Kurth

(This story is part of the Brendan Universe.)


Laura had been contrite when she walked into the office the next morning and returned Remington's keys. She apologized for running out on him, but made no mention of his marriage proposal. Following her lead, he did not bring it up again, either.
Remington was rather ashamed of himself, however, that he could not find the courage in the next few weeks to have another serious marriage discussion with Laura. He desperately wanted to sit her down and pour out his heart to her, but kept using the old excuse that the moment wasn't right. He realized the right moment might never come on its own, but still he kept hoping some unforeseen circumstance would force the two of them to face their feelings.
Several weeks had passed since that fateful night. It was now May--and Remington was still waiting for that unforeseen circumstance. He was feeling quite hopeful as he walked out of the elevator at Century City and made his way down the corridor to Remington Steele Investigations. He paused outside the double glass doors and studied his reflection in the glass, straightening his already straight tie.
After a few moments of silence, he looked himself squarely in the eye and said, "I'm not giving up on us, Laura; I promise you that. If I've learned nothing else from you, I've learned patience." Smiling at his reflection, he continued. "This isn't the first time I've taken two steps forward and one step back, and I suspect it won't be the last."
Mildred shook her head when she noticed him standing outside the agency doors talking to himself again. He had been doing that a lot lately, she realized. It had almost become a morning ritual. When she had asked him about it, he had merely said, "We all could do with a little pep talk each morning, eh, Mildred?" After that, she hadn't mention it again.
He was whistling when he entered the office a few moments later, greeting Mildred with his usual, "Morning, morning, morning."

"Morning, Chief."

"Miss Holt in yet?" he asked, pointing to Laura's door.
"Not yet," Mildred informed him.
"Bit unusual for her to be this late, isn't it?"
"Oh, she called a while ago. She had to schedule an emergency appointment, so she's going to be a little late."
"An emergency? Is she all right?"
"Oh, sure, Chief," Mildred assured him, giving him a pat on the shoulder. "There was just something she had to take care of. Why don't you handle this message while you're waiting for her to get here."
Remington glanced at the message as soon as Mildred handed it to him. "Estelle Becker. Do I know an Estelle Becker, Mildred?"
"Not that I'm aware of, Boss. But she was very insistent that you return her call as soon as possible. Said it was extremely important."
"That's what they all say, isn't it?" he idly remarked, studying at his watch and then holding it to his ear.
"Don't sweat it, Boss," Mildred instructed him. "Miss Holt probably got held up in traffic or something. You just go on and make that call to Ms. Becker and I'll buzz you know just as soon Miss Holt gets here."
"Alright, Mildred," he said, turning towards his office. "The paper in yet?"
"It's on your desk, Boss," she said.
Walking into his office, Remington pocketed the message and never gave it another thought. Settling himself behind his desk, he picked up the morning paper and turned to the entertainment section. Mildred came in a few minutes later with coffee and then left, carefully closing the door behind her. He was just turning the page when he heard his door open again.
"I could do with a spot more cream," he said without looking up, assuming it was Mildred.
"I don't believe it!" Laura screeched as she burst into the room and slammed the door behind her.
Startled, Remington jumped. "Laura, really! It's only cream. If you feel that strongly about it, I'll get it myself," he said as he stood up, coffee cup in hand, and moved around the desk. "By the way, it's nice of you to finally join us."
"You wouldn't believe the morning I've had!" she explained breathlessly. "I'm still having trouble believing it myself!"
"A bit trying, eh?" he asked, putting on a manner of concerned sympathy. "Mildred told me you had an appointment. Did something happen?"
"Yes, something happened!" Laura declared indignantly. "The Rabbit died!"
"What?" Remington exclaimed, dribbling a mouthful of coffee down the front of his jacket.
"You heard me! The Rabbit died!" Laura repeated.
"Oh, my God," Remington muttered, slowly walking across the room and sitting down heavily on the couch.
"My exact words, Mr. Steele," Laura told him.
Remington's cup dropped onto the floor, but he just sat there in shock.
"How?" he finally asked. "How did it happen?"
"Oh, I suppose it was just one of those things," she airily replied.
Remington studied Laura carefully for a few moments before suddenly jumping to his feet and escorting her over to the couch. "Here, you shouldn't be on your feet. In fact, why don't you lie down?"

"Mr. Steele, really!" Laura protested. "I'll be fine just as soon as I recover from the shock."

"Of course you will," he agreed, nodding his head as he watched the coffee stain spreading on the carpet. "It certainly is quite a shock, I must say. As much for me as it is for you."
She looked at him, puzzled. "Why should you be concerned?"
"Really, Laura. I *did *have a part in it, didn't I?"
"You did?" she asked, even more puzzled.
"Well, yes. Oh, come now, Laura. You surely can't be that ignorant about...these types of matters."
"No, I'm not," she declared as she stood up. "But now I've got to decide what to do about it. "
Remington stood also, putting his arm around her. "Now, Laura, let's not make any hasty decisions. There's plenty of time for us to weigh all the alternatives. Just remember, love; I'll always be here for you."
"Thank you, Mr. Steele," Laura mumbled, baffled by Remington's overt concern."But I've already made my decision."
As she reached for the phone, Remington caught her arm. "Laura, are you sure? I mean, have you really thought it over carefully?"
"Yes, Mr. Steele. I've already make up my mind. Now give me the phone; I don't want to waste any more time on this inconvenience. "
Remington took Laura into his arms and began rocking her back and forth. "Don't think of it as an inconvenience, Laura. Think of it as a gift. I mean, this could work out so perfectly for us. You'll see. Just trust me on this."
"Mr. Steele, would you please stop rocking me?" Laura demanded. "It's making me dizzy."
He stopped immediately. "Oh, of course it is. I wasn't thinking. Here, sit back down." He ushered her back to the couch and pulled her down with him. "Do you feel faint? Nauseous? Can I get you anything? Perhaps a glass of water? No, milk! You need milk! Lots of milk. I'll send Mildred out for some," he exclaimed, starting for the door.
Laura just stared at him. "Mr. Steele, get a grip on yourself! Really, I'm fine! I don't need anything--least of all milk! And I certainly don't understand your sudden solicitousness."
"Oh, Laura," Remington said as he sat back down beside her and gave her a hug. "I intend to do nothing but pamper you. Whatever you need or want..."
"Thank you, Mr. Steele, but that isn't really necessary," she said, totally baffled by his behavior. He had acted strangely before, but never *this* strangely.
"Oh, but of course, it is," Remington insisted. "I know your independence has always prevented you from accepting pampering, but things are different now. You can just sit back now, take things easy and relax."
"I can't take the time to relax," she snapped.
"But you have to," he insisted.
"I don't have to do anything," she argued.
"Laura, be reasonable. It's not just you we're talking about now," Remington reminded her. Then suddenly throwing his arms around her and breaking into a big grin, he said, "Oh, Laura, this is so exciting! The rabbit died! Do you know how overjoyed I am about this? I mean, this the solution to everything!"
Laura stood up and stared down at him. He had clearly gone berserk. "Mr. Steele," she said sharply. "I don't know why the news that the Rabbit died thrills you so much, but I don't find it the cause for celebration that you obviously do. And for the life of me, I can't figure out why *you* are excited about it!"
Remington was stunned. Slowly, he rose to his feet. "You're not happy with this turn of events?" he carefully asked.
"Of course I'm not happy!" she declared, flinging her hands into the air. "Why in the world would you think this would make me happy?! I'm frustrated, upset and...and...mad as hell! My morning has been ruined. My whole day has been ruined. No, my whole *week* has been ruined! Do you realize how long it will take to fix this problem? Or how *expensive* it's going to be?!"
"Laura, if it's expense you're worried about, you have nothing to worry about. I'm sure our insurance will cover it."
"Well, it certainly better!"
"I see no reason why it wouldn't offer full coverage. But don't worry; I'll check on it right away," Remington promised, walking to her side.Then taking her hand, he said, "Really, Laura. I never realized you would feel this way about it. I mean, I always assumed this was something you wanted someday."
"Something I wanted?" she echoed incredulously. "Where did you get that idea?"
"Oh, come now, Laura," Remington said, putting his arm around her shoulders. "I'll admit it's a bit of a shock, coming out of the blue like this. But it's far from being the tragedy you are imagining. Can't you just try to think of it as a wonderful surprise? I feel sure that once you've had time to adjust to the idea, you'll be as excited as I am."
"I doubt it," Laura said, shaking her head.
"Trust me on this, love," he assured her. "And after you've cozied up to the idea, we'll still have plenty of time to make plans for..."
Just then Mildred hustled through the door, saying, "Boss, that Estelle Becker is on the phone again. Didn't you call her back?"
Remington was in such an excited state about Laura's news that he never even heard her. Instead, he planted a noisy kiss on her cheek, saying, "Miss Holt has some news, Mildred.
"Yeah, I know," Mildred told him.
"You know?" Remington asked, quite surprised. "I just naturally assumed Laura would have told me first."

"Yeah, isn't it tragic about Miss Holt's car? Stopped right there on the freeway!"

Remington's face dropped.
"You know, honey," Mildred said, turning to Laura. "I think the estimate they gave you is out of line. You should check around and get some more estimates before giving them the go ahead to do the repairs."
"You're absolutely right, Mildred. I'll get started on that immediately."
Remington just stood rooted to the floor. He opened his mouth several times and attempted to say something, but apparently he had forgotten how to speak.
"Your... your car?" he at long last managed to say.
"Yes, my car," Laura snapped. "What did you *think* I was talking about?"
"Yes, your car. Of *course*...your car!" he repeated foolishly, the reality of the situation suddenly dawning on him. "Certainly! The Rabbit died... and you're upset."
"Yes, my Rabbit died! On the freeway!" Laura explained as she suddenly started pacing around the room. "I had to flag someone down and have them call a tow truck. Then I had to wait at the garage for a repair estimate---which, by the way, is outrageous-- and *then* I had to call Fred to pick me up. I tried to reach you, but there was no answer. You must have left already."
"Miss Holt, will you please stop pacing?" Remington requested. "You're making me dizzy."
Laura glared at him, but to Remington's great relief, she did stop pacing. "So as you can see, Mr. Steele," she added, "I've had quite a morning."
"Indeed, Laura," Remington managed to respond. "Rest assured, I share your feelings of frustration."

Just five minutes ago, Remington had been filled with joy and excitement at the prospect of marrying Laura and becoming a father. Any questions Laura might have had about his ability to accept responsibility and make a commitment would finally have been settled. He had been looking forward to showing Laura what a wonderful husband and good father he would be. And now, just like that, all of those hopes were crushed.

Laura could tell Remington's thoughts were a million miles away. "Mr. Steele?...Mr. Steele? Are you okay?"

"Oh, Miss Holt," he said, trying to snap himself out of his disappointment. "You were saying...Ah, yes, you were saying your... Rabbit...died on the freeway."
"I certainly don't understand your glee about the situation," Laura complained. "Do you find some sort of perverse delight in my predicament?"
"Ah, no, Laura. Not at all," Remington said, attempting to explain his behavior. "Quite to the contrary. Like I said earlier, I sympathize with you in your...disappointment."
"Then *what* were you so happy about?" she demanded.
"Oh, ah, yes..." he stammered, trying desperately to think of something to say to explain himself. "I was just, uh, thinking of the fun we would have shopping for a new car."
"A new car?" Laura asked in disbelief. "Mr. Steele, I can't afford a new car! I can barely afford the repairs on this one!"
"Laura, let me take care of the repairs for you," Remington offered. "It's the least I can do, under the circumstances."

"Mr. Steele, I hate to interrupt, but Miss Becker is still waiting on line one!" Mildred impatiently reminded him. "At least, I think she's still waiting."

"Who's Estelle Becker?" Laura asked.

"I haven't the foggiest," Remington explained with a shrug. "But I'm sure it's nothing important."

That seemed to satisfy Laura and she headed for her office. Mildred returned to her desk, leaving Remington alone take Ms. Becker's call.
"How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes," Remington said to himself, thinking of Donald and Sheldon Quarry.
"What was that?" Laura asked before closing her door.
"It's Shakespeare," he explained.
Laura just shook her head and retreated into her office. Mr. Steele was certainly acting peculiar, but she didn't have time to dwell on it. There was work to be done.
Remington watched as Laura disappeared into her office and closed the door behind her. Still overwhelmed by the whirlwind which had just blown through his office, he sighed and sadly shook his head. Tomorrow, he told himself. He'd think about it tomorrow.
Then remembering his call on line one, he reached for the phone. "Miss Becker? Remington Steele here. Sorry to keep you waiting, but my associate had a matter which demanded my immediate attention. Now exactly how can I help you?...Well, yes, I suppose I can come down to your office...At my earliest convenience?...Certainly. Say, in an hour?...Splendid. I'll see you then."
Remington hung up the phone, wondering what the Department of Immigration and Naturalization could possibly want with him. He puzzled over it for a few moments, but finally convinced himself not to worry about it. He'd know the reason soon enough.
He finished reading the entertainment section of the morning paper and then made a final stop at the bathroom. Halfway to Laura's office, he paused. He had planned to ask her to accompany him, but after further consideration he changed his mind. After all, she had been through enough frustration for one day. He would just fill her in later.
Besides, he had a bad feeling about his urgent summons from the INS.
Bypassing Laura's door, Remington walked into the reception room.

"Tell Miss Holt I'll be out for a few hours," he instructed Mildred as he strode by her desk and out the double glass doors.

"Right, Boss," Mildred said, not even looking up. "Where can Miss Holt reach you?"

Remington never heard her. He was already gone.
Author's Note: "Bonds of Steele" would pick up here, followed immediately by my own "Steeling a New Life."
The End
Written 1986
Revised April 1999

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.