Laura was greeted by five little
voices yelling, "Hello, Mummy!"
Laura scooted Brendan, age seven,
over to the middle of the front seat and climbed in beside
"Why did you bring the kids?" she
Remington swung the limo out into
the street into the early evening traffic. "I really had no
"I couldn't find a
"You're kidding. Who all did you
"Everyone in the Western
hemisphere," he sighed. "Now, exactly where is it we're
Laura realized that she hadn't
yet briefed him on the case. "L'Ornate," she said.
"L'Ornate is under new ownership
and management," she informed him. "Don't you remember how things
had changed when we had that lovely candlelight dinner we had
there?" she reminisced.
"Seems like ages ago," Remington
wistfully sighed as Rory, sitting in the window seat directly
behind him, kicked his seat.
"It was only two weeks ago,"
Abby, age two, begin to cry. The
four-year-old twins, Remy and Laurie, who were arguing over a
window seat, had shoved her out of the way.
"There, there, Darling.," Laura
murmured as she reached over the seat and hauled Abby up beside
her, holding her while the tears subsided. Laurie and Remy didn't
mean to hit you."
When the tears stopped Laura
placed Abby on the seat next to Brendan, who took her chubby hands
in his and kissed them. Abby laughed at him and started
Laurie and Remy were still
fussing, so Laura turned around and settled the window argument by
giving the twins alternate fifteen-minute intervals at the window.
With the children quiet again, she returned to the case at
Remington perked up and the
sudden calm. "Well done, Laura! You managed to stall the storm
before Megan joined the fray!"
Laura glanced at Megan, a mere
three months old, who was still sleeping soundly in her car seat
in the backseat of the limo.
"I supposed she's learned to
catch her sleep when she can," Laura commented. "Now, about the
case...Mrs. Henry Higgins from Modesto has hired the services of
the Remington Steele agency to get proof of her husband's
infidelity. He sells insurance and has been making frequent--too
frequent--'business' trips down here to L.A. She thinks he's been
having an affair."
"That doesn't sound too
suspicious in itself," Remington couldn't help commenting.
Laura continued. "After his last
trip she found bills for a suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel, room
service for two, flowers from the hotel florist and ladies'
clothing from a boutique in the lobby. Poor Mrs. Higgins was
adamant. I told her I'd see what we could find out."
"Really, Laura, must you take
these sleazy marital cases?" Remington asked. "Especially without
consulting me! I mean, the reputation of the agency is at stake
"Reputation, my foot. You're just
sore because I took this case without first consulting you. That's
it, isn't it? "
"I thought we were partners," he
reminded her in a hurtful tone.
"We are," Laura agreed.
"But some partners are more equal
than others, eh?"
Brendan had been watching his
parents. He spoke up now, asking, "Are you and Mummy having a
"No," both Remington and Laura
replied at the same time.
"We're having a discussion,"
Remington added, glancing Laura.
"You sure have a lot of
discussions," Brendan said.
"Adults do sometimes, Honey,"
Laura said as she stroked her son's dark hair. "It's nothing to
worry about. Someday you'll understand. Now, is there anything
else you want to talk about?" she sweetly asked Remington.
"We're here. L'Ornate. What now?
Do we go in?" Remington asked, grateful for the opportunity to
change the subject.
"No; just park across the street
where we can see the entrance," Laura instructed. "As discreetly
as you *can* park with a limo, that is."
"And then what?" Remington asked
as he did as she instructed.
"We sit and watch and wait. Mr.
Higgins has a 7 p.m. reservation. Did you remember to bring the
"Rory, please hand me that case
on the floor of the back seat," Remington said as he turned to
look at his son.
Rory grabbed the pink gingham bag
laying at his feet and handed it to his father.
"That's the diaper bag,"
Remington pointed out.
"Sorry, Daddy," Rory giggled as
he put back Megan's bag. "Maybe it's under the seat," he said as
he undid his seat belt and crawled to the floor of the car.
"Are you sure you brought it?"
Laura asked impatiently.
Remington shot Laura an irritated
look, but before he could respond they heard Rory exclaim, "Here
Remington took the camera bag
from Rory with a satisfied smirk. Taking out the camera, he began
fiddling with it, finally putting on a zoom lens.
Laura took the opportunity to
continue filling him in on the case. "Mildred did some checking on
the computer. She discovered Mr. Higgins' bills usually come to
his insurance office, but somehow the hotel bill that his wife saw
was inadvertently sent to his home address instead. The other
bills sent to his office are more of the same--suites and room
service for two at expensively discreet hotels, flowers, jewelry,
"Perhaps his partner is the one
having an extra-marital fling," Remington suggested, recalling the
time he first met Donald and Frances at the dentists'
"He doesn't have a business
partner," Laura pointed out.
"Oh. Well, so much for that
"Mrs. Higgins said her husband is
in L.A. now. This afternoon I tracked him down at the Beverly
Wilshire. He was alone then, though."
"Well, while you were tracking
down our Mr. Higgins, I was tracking down two escaped gerbils,
waiting for the plumber after Abby tried to flush four Lego blocks
and watching the chandelier in the dining room vibrate as Remy and
Laurie used the bed right above it for a trampoline," Remington
explained as he occupied himself taking pictures of her, Brendan
and Abby. "Then I spent thirty minutes on the phone, trying to
explain to the principal at Brendan's and Rory's school how we use
lock picking as an exercise in manual dexterity."
"Why in the world were you
talking to their principal?" Laura inquired.
"Oh, he called me--right after
Brendan and Rory were caught picking the lock of an equipment
locker," Remington explained.
"We needed to get another ball,"
Brendan tried to explain. "Some big kids threw our other one up on
Laura looked at him. "But that is
still no excuse..."
Remington interrupted, saying,
"I've already talked to them, Laura. They know that what they did
was wrong. Right, mates?"
"Yes, Sir!" they both
"Well, all right, then. Did you,
ah, convince the principal of your theory?"
"He wants me to give a lecture on
it at the next PTA meeting," Remington grunted.
"What?" Laura gasped.
"Don't worry, Laura. I politely
declined, saying the press of business matters was too great.
Besides, we probably couldn't get a sitter for that evening,
either. By the way, here's the bill from the plumber."
Remington dug a piece of paper
from his jacket pocket and handed it to her.
Laura gasped again when she saw
it. "This is more than Henry Higgins' florist bill! Couldn't you
have just used a bent hanger or something and tried to retrieve
the Lego blocks yourself?"
"Laura, really. Are you
suggesting that the great Remington Steele..."
"Forget I even said it," she said
as she shoved the bill into her purse.
Looking up, she quickly pointed
to a blue Thunderbird at the entrance." That's Mr. Higgins' rental
car!" she exclaimed.
They watched a doorman hold the
door open for a little gray haired man with a scraggly mustache
and the blonde who was with him. A valet parked the car in the
Remington snapped a few pictures
of the couple.
As soon as they went inside, he
put down the camera. "Okay; we've got the pictures as proof. Now
let's go home."
"Not just yet," Laura said.
"Sure, we saw him with a woman, but that doesn't prove
"You think he's in there selling
insurance to her? Come on, Laura. That woman has bimbo stamped all
over her. Money-grubbing bimbo!"
"I saw nothing of the sort. We'll
have to wait until they leave and then see where they go. If he
takes her to his hotel..."
"What's a bimbo?" Remy
Remington turned to Laura. "I
believe I'll let you field this one, Mummy."
Laura turned around to the
backseat to explain just as a hungry Megan woke up. Laura
unstrapped her from the car seat while Remington got a bottle and
burp cloth out of the diaper bag and handed them to Laura.
The other kids were starting to
get restless, too. Remington produced a bag of cookies for
"Did you feed them dinner before
you left?" Laura asked.
"We had hamburgers, French fries
and milkshakes on our way home from the pet store," he answered,
"The pet store?" she
"Umm...yes. You recall those two
gerbils that went A.W.O.L. earlier today? Well, we never did find
them so we replaced them with two goldfish and a turtle. We can't
find the turtle now, either."
Laura just glared at him.
"Well, you're the one who thought
the kids should have pets!" he reminded her.
Laura felt like screaming, but
took a deep breath and forced herself to remain calm. "So you're
telling me that we have two rodents and a turtle running loose in
"Um, I think that about sums it
up. Now, what say we concentrate on the case at hand so we can
hurry home and enjoy... better things? We can start with the
lovely veal paprikish that I spent the afternoon cooking. I got
the recipe from an Austrian countess," he explained as he leaned
closer to Laura and wiggled his eyebrows ."And then later on, we
Laura cleared her throat, darting
her eyes at the children. "I catch your drift, Mr. Steele. And it
sounds lovely. But for now, how about some music to set the proper
Remington smiled and switched on
the radio. Loud rock music bellowed out, causing Megan, who was
almost asleep again, to wake up and start crying. Abby soon joined
Remington turned the radio down,
gave Brendan a scathing look, and switched stations to something
quieter and more soothing. He picked up Abby and began to calm
her. Eventually, the two younger ones were rocked and lulled to
sleep by their parents. Laura placed Megan back in her car seat
and Remington placed Abby on the backseat between Megan and
Remington leaned his head back
and stretched his arms. "You know, this reminds me of the time
Felicia and I were waiting for an older couple to leave their
villa so we could go in and..." He looked at Laura, and then at
Brendan. "Well, you know. Anyway, we were parked a short distance
down the road in the hills above Cannes. The radio was playing. It
was a beautiful, balmy night--the kind the South of France is
known for. Then Felicia scooted across the seat toward me
"I don't believe I care to hear
the rest," Laura remarked.
"Who's Felicia?" Remy wanted to
"A bimbo," Laura automatically
"Now, Laura, really. I wasn't
going to say what you thought I was going to say. It was perfectly
innocent. I was--"
"Isn't that the car you're
watching?" Brendan asked, pointing. "It's leaving."
They saw the tail lights turn a
corner a block ahead.
Remington quickly pulled out and
"Turn right," Laura said,
indicating the way he should turn at the corner. "Another right at
the next corner... Left at the stop light."
They drove on a few more blocks.
"Now left, I think."
Laura wasn't sure. She couldn't
see the car anymore. They had been too far behind and had lost
"No, right," Remington said,
turning the corner.
"How do you know?" Laura
"When in doubt while tailing,
always turn right."
"Where did you hear that?" she
"I read it in last month's issue
of the Policeman's
"Since when do you have a
subscription to the Policeman's Gazette?"
"Jarvis gave me one for
Christmas," Remington explained.
"Really?" Laura asked. "That's
fascinating. And since when did the two of you become chummy
enough to exchange Christmas gifts?"
"Since I gave him our tickets to
the all-star baseball game where Tommy Lasorda was
"I wanted to go to that game,"
"Couldn't. You were nine months
pregnant at the time. I didn't want to take the chance that our
child would be born on first base."
"Is that the car you're looking
for?" Brendan asked, pointing again. "In that parking lot over
There it was, parked in the lot
of a sleazy motel.
"Why would they come here instead
of going to the Beverly Wilshire?" Laura
"I'll go in the office and see
what I can find out," Remington said as he got out of the
"I have to go to the bathroom,"
Laurie suddenly announced.
Both Remington and Laura looked
around at their sleazy surroundings and groaned.
"Uh, can't you wait until we get
home, Darling?" Remington asked.
"You can't ask a child to wait,"
"Women!" Remington exclaimed,
exasperated. "That's just what Felicia said that night in Cannes!
Of course, you've said it, too, on more than one stake out," he
"I was eight months pregnant at
the time!" Laura explained."What was Felicia's excuse? Never mind.
I don't want to know. Sheesh! I'll bet other women don't have to
hear about their husbands stealing jewels in the South of France
with their ex girlfriends!" Laura yelled.
"Well, for your information,
Missy, it just so happens it wasn't jewels that night," Remington
"I don't care what it was! I
don't want to talk about it!"
They were both talking loudly
now. A couple got out of their car and were about to go into the
motel office when they heard Remington and Laura shouting at one
another.They got back into their car and left, deciding that this
place was too noisy.
Then a bare chested man poked his
head out of a nearby doorway and yelled at them to shut up, but
Remington and Laura barely heard him.
"I'm beginning to understand why
you take cases involving marital problems. Is it because in your
little neurotic mind you still believe that one day I will leave
you or have an affair? Well, for your information, I don't have
time for an affair! Not between cooking and washing and cleaning
and caring for the kids and putting in appearances at the
"We agreed to divide the
responsibilities," Laura reminded him. "You *volunteered* to take
care of the house and the kids so that I could continue to run the
"Hey, buddy!" the guy in the
doorway yelled. "Take the baby doll to another motel if all you
two are gonna to do is argue."
The noise woke Megan and Abby
again. Megan began to cry.
"You brought the baby, too?" The
guy was incredulous. "I should have just stayed at home with my
old lady and brats!" he muttered, as he slammed his door.
"And as for leaving, the only
thing that I'm afraid of is that you'll leave and not take any of
the kids with you!" Laura said angrily.
"You know you don't mean that,"
Remington said more quietly now, looking intently at her.
Laura put her hands to her face.
"Look, I don't know what I mean anymore. Let's just forget about
it, or discuss it later at home, when we've both calmed
"I have to go to the bathroom,"
Laurie reminded them. She had been waiting for a break in the
Laura thought for a moment before
saying, "I noticed a McDonald's a couple of blocks back. I'll take
the kids there in the limo and then meet you back here. In the
meantime, you can check in the office."
"Good idea, Love. I'll take the
camera with me, just in case," Remington said as he opened his
Laura awkwardly climbed across
the seat and got comfortable behind the wheel. Remington gave her
a kiss and started to close the door. Before he could close it,
however, he turned back to Laura.
"Wait a minute," he explained.
"Hand me the diaper bag."
"Daddy, I've got to go *now*!"
Laurie exclaimed indignantly.
"This will only take a second,
Sweetheart," he promised as he rummaged around in the diaper bag,
finally locating another camera which was small enough to be
concealed in the palm of his hand. He slipped it into his jacket
pocket, gave Laura another kiss and waved to the kids as Laura
At McDonald's, between taking all
of her brood to the bathroom and getting all of them more drinks
and French fries, Laura tried to satisfy Brendan and Rory's
curiosity regarding the motel and its patrons. Where was Remington
she needed him?!
Remington was at the motel,
getting the absolute proof that Laura had insisted upon. He had
passed himself off as a TV repairman to gain entrance into Mr.
Higgins' room. Once inside the room with his quarry, he nodded
pleasantly to the blonde who was reclining on the bed clutching a
bed sheet to cover herself.
He went to the TV and quickly
disconnected the antenna.
"Is this going to take long?"
Higgins barked. He had pulled on his pants to come to the door,
but that was all.
"Ah, not long at all," Remington
answered, disguising his voice. "See, here's your problem." He
held up the loose ends of the antenna wire. "Disconnected
"We don't need it fixed. We
aren't planning to watch TV anyway," the blonde explained
Remington connected the antenna
anyway, taking pictures the entire time with the tiny, palmed
"There," he said as he edged
toward the door. "All taken care of. Wouldn't want our customers
complaining that they couldn't get a decent picture.
"Wait a minute,buddy," Higgins
said, suddenly suspicious. "What's that in your hand?"
Remington shoved his hands into
his jacket pockets. He dropped the camera into one and searched
for something else he could show instead. Luckily, he found
"Ah, nail clippers. Useful little
gadgets, eh? Always come in handy in my work."
"Hey, that wasn't ... Are you one
of those P.I.guys like Magnum? Did my wife hire you?"
"If you'll excuse me, I really do
have to run now," Remington explained quickly as Higgins advanced
Knowing he needed a head start,
Remington balled up his fist with the nail clippers and put
Higgins out for the count. The blonde screamed and jumped off the
bed, charging at Remington.
Remington calmly opened the door.
"Sorry, Love, but you're hardly dressed appropriately to be
chasing me through the parking lot. Not even at this motel.
Besides, I don't think my wife would like it very much."
He slipped out the door, praying
Laura would be back with his means of escape.
Finding the limo parked at the
farthest end of the lot, he quickly hopped in.
"Okay, Love; let's get out of
here. I got the pictures," he explained breathlessly.
"You what?" she asked, kneeling
over the backseat and trying to mop up a drink one of the kids had
spilled. "You did?"
"I'll explain on the way home,
but I suggest we leave now," Remington explained quickly as he
looked nervously over his shoulder.
"Why?" Laura asked as she turned
around in the driver's seat and started the car.
"Because any minute now, I'm
going to have one very angry and upset lady on my tail."
"Really? Who is she this
As if on cue, the door of the
motel room flew open and out stomped the blonde, fully dressed
Remington glanced at his watch.
"Forty-five seconds to get dressed. Must be some kind of record.
When I left her, she was without a stitch."
"Maybe she's had a lot of
practice," Laura dryly said.
She drove out of the lot and away
from the motel.
"Now, do you care to explain
before I start jumping to the wrong conclusions?" she
Remington explained everything on
the way home. Laura was impressed with his daring scheme, but she
couldn't help chastising him a bit after they pulled into their
"It was far too reckless for you
to go barging in there alone without any kind of backup," she
explained as she poked her finger into his chest.Then leaning over
with a smile, she kissed him on the cheek and added, "But I love
"You do, do you?" he asked with a
sly smile as he returned her kiss. They had learned long ago to
steal their kisses whenever and wherever they could.
Remy was the one who interrupted
them this time. He was kicking the back of Remington's seat. Laura
and Remington just laughed.
Remington helped Laura unload the
limo as the children jumped from the car and started chasing
Bogart around the yard.
"Tell Fred the backseat
upholstery will need to be cleaned tomorrow,"Laura said as she
stuffed empty cups and soggy napkins and into the empty cookie
sack. "I did what I could to mop up the spilled drinks."
"It usually does need to be
cleaned whenever the kids have been in it," he remarked.
Remington carried a sleeping Abby
inside, followed by Laura carrying Megan, who was also asleep. The
other kids trailed behind them.
"After we put the kids to bed,
I'll reheat the veal," Remington offered.
"And then you can tell me about
the Austrian countess,"Laura hinted.
"Ah, yes," Remington sighed as he
began putting Abby to bed. "It was spring. Spring in Vienna is
always lovely. I was leaving the opera one night when..."
Brendan tugged on Laura's arm.
She bent over so he could whisper in her ear.
"I've already heard this story.
Daddy told it to us last week for a bedtime story."
Brendan nodded. "The countess is
a sixty-year-old lady. She was an opera singer."
"... when I saw this most
stunning creature," Remington went on, oblivious to the whispering
going on behind his back.
He turned and took Megan from
Laura and gently placed her in her crib. "Has she been changed
recently?" he asked.
Laura nodded. "At McDonald's. But
you better check her again."
She then turned to Brendan,
asking, "And who was the stunning creature?"
"The countess," Brendan
"The countess? He calls a
sixty-year-old lady a stunning creature?" Laura found this hard to
Brendan continued, imitating his
father's accent perfectly. "She was wearing a necklace of faceted,
square cut diamonds. The largest in the center had to be at least
Even though Laura knew Brendan
was just imitating Remington, it gave her cold chills to hear her
son describe diamonds so accurately.
"Are you telling my story?"
Remington asked his son when he finished giving Megan a good night
Brendan just shrugged and gave
him a lop-sided grin.
Remington continued, "Actually,
it wasn't just the necklace. As I spent time with the lady and got
to know her, I discovered that she was a fascinating
"And you shared recipes?" Laura
teased. "Of course, the necklace meant nothing to you, did
"Well, I wouldn't put it quite
like that," Remington admitted.
"Then how would you put
"Believe me, Laura. The countess
is one woman you have no reason to be jealous of."
Laura just looked at him for a
few moments and then sighed. "Look... I'm sorry about what I said
earlier in the motel parking lot. I didn't mean what I said about
you having an affair. I know you would never do that."
Remington put her arms around his
neck. "Know me that well, do you?"
"Yes. I know you that well," she
Their lips were about to touch
when Rory, Remy and Laurie came running into the nursery and up to
"We found the turtle swimming in
the toilet!" Remy exclaimed. "But then Laurie flushed."
Remington just groaned.
"We found the gerbils, too," Rory
said. "In Daddy's closet. They made a nest in one of his shoes
with the scraps they chewed from his suits."
Remington groaned again.
Laura laughed. She tightened her
arms around him and kissed him. The kiss she gave him was designed
to make him forget all about gerbils and turtles and plumbing
Remington began responding,
kissing her in a way to make her forget all about his past
exploits and old ex flames and criminal tendencies.