Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Division
 Steele for Better or for Worse
Part 5
Debra Talley and Thekla Kurth

"I'm Clarissa Cranston, a friend of Bernard's."
"Bernard?" Remington inquired.
"Bernard--Mildred Krebbs' nephew. He's a student from UC at Santa Barbara."
"Ah, yes! Mildred has spoken of him," Laura recalled.
"Isn't he a tax advisor on the side?" Remington asked.
"Yes; in fact, that's how we met. My brother met Bernard on a camping trip and now Bernard does my taxes. Anyway, he's always bragging that his aunt works for the great Remington Steele, so when my problem came up I naturally thought of you."
"Naturally," Remington echoed. "Uh, Clarissa, wasn't it? Why don't we continue this conversation in the living room?"
"Excellent idea," Laura said quickly.
The trio quickly moved to the living room. Remington sat on the couch with his arm around Laura while Clarissa sat in a nearby chair.
"Okay, Clarissa. Tell us your story. You can begin by telling us how you got in here," Laura suggested.
"You were gone when I got here, so I sort of told the doorman I was Mr. Steele's cousin."
"Of course. I noticed the family resemblance straight away," Remington declared with a grin.
Laura quickly wiped the grin off his face with a well placed elbow jab.
"Go on, Clarissa," Laura said, ignoring Remington's silent scream.
"Well, I've been having a problem with a dissatisfied client. He's been following me and making unpleasant phone calls. He even ransacked my condo."
"What about the police?" Laura asked.
"I'd really rather not involve the police," Clarissa explained. "I was hoping you could help me instead. Bernard speaks very highly of you both."
"Exactly what is it that you do, Clarissa? I mean, if this man is a dissatisfied client, we should know exactly what your profession is," Remington explained.
"I'm a, uh, broker," Clarissa explained uncertainly.
"Stock broker?" Laura asked.
"Yes, you could say that. And sometimes I... I tutor students from UCLA," Clarissa explained.
"Who exactly is this dissatisfied client?" Laura asked.
"His name is Norman Keyes. He's an investigator with Vigilance Insurance. One of my associates recommended my services to him, but the man was so obnoxious I told him to get lost. Seems he took offense to that."
"What does he look like?" Laura asked.
"He's in his fifties, I'd say. Completely bald, sort of short and stocky. He's constantly smoking cheap cigars with an atrocious odor, and he has a laugh that sends chills up my spine."
"You're sure he's the one doing these things to you?" Remington asked.
"I smelled his cigar smoke when I returned to the condo and found my things ransacked. It's him all right!" Clarissa assured them.
"What is it you want us to do?" Laura asked.
"I don't know. Just get that slimy sleaze bag off my back. Rough him up, shoot him, blackmail him--I don't care! Just get him out of my life so I can get on with my business."
"That's not the way the Remington Steele Agency handles things, Clarissa. We try to steer clear of violence," Laura explained.
"However you handle it is fine with me. I just know I can't go on looking over my shoulder. Please, you've got to help me. I'm really scared."
"Uh, if you'll excuse us for just a moment," Remington said, taking Laura's arm and leading her toward the bedroom. He left the door open so Clarissa could still see them, but at least they could talk freely.
"Well? What do you think?" he asked.
"She's obviously distraught. I know it's not our type of case, but she is a friend of Mildred's nephew," Laura rationalized. "I certainly wouldn't want it to leak out that we were taking on this type of case, but I think we have to help her. Not officially, of course; it will be more like helping a friend."
"Fine. Whatever you say," Remington agreed. "But does this mean she'll have to, uh, spending the night here? With us?"
Laura sighed. "I'm afraid so; it's obviously not safe for her to stay alone while this Keyes character is on the lose. But if it's any consolation, Mr. Steele, I share your disappointment. I was looking forward to being impressed by your charms."
"Well, we could always just try to be really, really quiet," Remington suggested hopefully.
"Sorry; we can't chance it. We'll just have to wait a little longer to experience that magical moment. We've already waited over two years; surely we can wait twenty four more hours," Laura explained.
"I suppose so," Remington agreed dejectedly.
Laura looked sympathetically at him, put her arms around him and gave him a kiss. It was thorough, albeit short.
"Just consider that a promise of things to come," Laura whispered as she pulled her lips from his. "Now, you go tell Clarissa we'll help her out while I get her some covers for the couch."
Remington gave Laura one more long wistful glance and then returned to the living room to give Clarissa their decision.
Within half an hour, all was quiet and dark in the Steele condo. Clarissa, wearing a pair of Remington's pajamas, was bedded down for the night on the couch. Laura and Remington were comfortably settled in Remington's bed, Laura in her sheer evocative negligee' of the evening before and Remington in his black silk pajama bottoms.
Remington lay thinking about this latest cruel twist of fate. He had vowed not to spend another night on the couch and he had achieved his goal. He was sharing his bed with Laura and she was as willing and anxious as he was to make this truly a Night to Remember. Everything was perfect-- except for the client sleeping in the next room.
It was all Remington could do not to gather Laura in his arms and give in to his desires. When it got too rough, he rolled over as far as he could on his side of the bed. But he could still picture Laura's hair spread across her pillow. He could still smell the aromatic scent of her perfume. He could even feel her soft curves haunting him through the sheerness of her negligee'. This was *worse* than sleeping on the couch!
Laura was experiencing the same sensations as Remington. Here she had finally decided to give in to him, and yet the inches between them might as well have been miles. It was all she could do not to throw herself into his arms and give in to her desires. When it got too rough, she rolled over as far as she could on her side of the bed. But she could still picture his dark hair spread across his forehead. She could still smell the scent of the soap from his recent cold shower. She could even still picture his beautiful lean body clad only in those black silk pajama bottoms. She was better off when he was sleeping on the couch!
Laura restlessly shifted to a new position at the exact same moment as Remington and their bodies were suddenly entwined. They stared at each other for a brief moment, both ready to explode.
"That tears it!" Remington suddenly exclaimed as he threw back the covers and crawled out of bed.
Laura sat up and stared as he grabbed his pillow and gathered several blankets from the closet.
"Where are you going?" she quietly asked.
"I'm sleeping in the bathtub. It's torture sharing a bed with you and not being able to even touch you. I'm only human!" Remington explained. "Just... go to sleep."
He turned towards the bathroom.
"Remington..." Laura whispered loudly.
Remington turned back around to see what she wanted.
"If you hadn't left, I would have," Laura explained. "I'm only human, too."
Remington's face broke into a million dollar smile. He walked back over to the bed, leaned across it and gave Laura a tender kiss.
"Thank you," he said softly.
"For what?"
"That's the first time you've called me Remington," he explained. He kissed her once more before straightening up and then silently walked into the bathroom with his covers.
Laura smiled contentedly to herself and closed her eyes. Remington may not have actually said he loved her yet, but his actions were loudly and clearly declaring his feelings. She could be satisfied with that for now.
Before the night was over, Remington found himself wishing he were back on the couch. It was definitely preferable to sleeping in the bathtub--at least, comfort wise. No amount of plumping his pillow or his blankets seemed to alleviate his discomfort. The worst of it, however, was the Chinese water torture. He swore to call a plumber as soon as the hour was appropriate. That drip had to go, if for no reason other than revenge.
Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, Remington heard voices coming from the direction of the front door. He quickly recognized Estelle Becker's voice and somehow forced his tortured muscles to spring into action.
The sudden sound of the shower running awakened Laura with a start. The next thing she was aware of was the knocking on their bedroom door.
"Mr. Steele, open the door. It's Immigration," Ms. Becker explained. "This is an official visit."
"Oh, no!" Laura screeched quietly as she scrambled out of bed. "Uh--just a minute, Miss Becker!" she hollered as she ran to the bathroom door and quickly pushed it open, running to the tub to grab Remington's covers. To her surprise, however, there were no covers to be seen. Turning frantically to locate Remington, she discovered him standing in the shower.
"It's Ms. Becker!" she screeched.
"Icy calm, Mrs. Steele," Remington said calmly. "Everything is under control. Just go and welcome her into our home."
"Right!" Laura said enthusiastically, leaving the bathroom in a rush.
She quickly returned, however, walking to the frosted sliding glass doors of the shower. "Uh, Mr. Steele, don't you think you should remove your pajama bottoms before you get out of the shower?"
"Ah, good point, Mrs. Steele," Remington agreed, bending over and removing them. Then opening the shower door, handed the dripping black silk to Laura.
"Here you go, my dear," he said with a grin. He knew Laura was staring and he was enjoying the attention.
Laura just stood there, mesmerized.
"Mrs. Steele!" Ms. Becker yelled again as she knocked loudly several more times. "I'm still waiting!"
Laura snapped out of her daze. "Uh, coming, coming!" she yelled as she opened the door under the vanity and tossed the soggy pajamas inside.
Running into the bedroom door and taking a deep breath, Laura suddenly found herself standing face to face with an impatient Ms. Becker.
Laura could have sworn Remington had locked the front door. In spite of her confusion, though, Laura was all smiles. "Good morning, Ms. Becker! What can we do for you today?"
Estelle craned around Laura to get a better look at the bedroom. She could see the rumpled bed with only one pillow. "Where is your husband, Mrs. Steele?" she asked.
"He's in the shower right now," Laura explained. "I was about to join him when you arrived."
"Mrs. Steele, can you explain to me why your couch has been turned into a bed?" Estelle asked. "If I didn't know better, I'd say it looks like Mr. Steele slept on the couch and that you two are not living together as man and wife."
Laura laughed nervously. "I assure you, Remington did not sleep on the couch. Actually, we had unexpected company late last night--a new client. She slept on the couch; not Mr. Steele."
Making her way into the bedroom, Estelle said, "I want to believe you, Mrs. Steele. But the fact that there is only one pillow on the bed only deepens my suspicions."
"Actually, Laura and I shared a pillow last night. Much more romantic that way. Right, Dear?" Remington asked as he positioned himself next to Laura and slipped his arm around her waist. He was clad only in a damp towel.
Neither woman had noticed him emerge from the bathroom and they were both embarrassed.
"To be honest, Ms. Becker, we didn't have much need of a pillow last night anyway. We never quite got around to sleeping," Remington explained.
Laura blushed.
"Busy night, Mr. Steele?" Estelle asked, smiling.
"Well, it is our honeymoon," Remington explained with a grin, cocking his eyebrows and squeezing Laura.
"So where exactly is this alleged new client that slept on the couch?" Estelle asked.
Remington sniffed. "Uh--is that coffee I smell, ladies? I do believe Ms. Cranston must be brewing us a pot. Shall we retire to the kitchen?"
Estelle, trying to avert her eyes from Remington's attire but not quiet succeeding, said, "Uh--why don't we regroup there in a few minutes?"
Remington glanced down at himself, became aware of his slipped towel and blushed. Adjusting it, he slapped his chest with his hand and said, "I'll just, uh, slip into something a little warmer."
Estelle turned and closed the bedroom door behind her as she left.
Laura and Remington, now attired in their robes, soon joined her in the living room. Before they could head to the kitchen, however, Clarissa appeared carrying a hot cup of coffee.
"Coffee, anyone?" she asked.
After assuring Immigration that all was well in the Steele household, Laura and Remington once again entered their bedroom. With a deep sigh, Laura closed the door and began choosing her clothes for the day's activities.
"That was close," Remington agreed as he watched Laura putter around the room. "If I hadn't been awake anyway and heard the manager let her in, we would have had a lot of explaining to do."
"Having trouble sleeping, Mr. Steele?" Laura asked with a grin as she slowly removed her robe.
"Laura, I swear to you, I will not sleep in the bathtub again," Remington declared. "Some honeymoon. First the couch; then the bathtub."
"Well, toward that end, I suggest we solve Clarissa's problem as soon as possible. With any luck, we'll have the apartment all to ourselves tonight," Laura said, stroking Remington's cheek. "What say we check out Clarissa's ransacked apartment first?"
"Hmm. What say you check out her apartment while I check out Keyes?" Remington suggested.
"You're offering to do legwork, Mr. Steele?" Laura asked him in mock surprise.
"Hmm--in this case, the price is right," he explained with a grin. "A day of legwork in exchange for a night with you."
They exchanged a kiss, which quickly deepened.
Finally, Laura forced herself to pulled away. "Why don't you shave while I shower?" she suggested, pulling Remington into the bathroom with her.
"On second thought, why don't I just join you?" he asked huskily as he opened the shower door.
Laura looked into the shower and laughed. "Don't you think it might be a tad crowded?"
There on the floor of the shower lay Remington's pillow and a huge soggy pile of blankets.
Looking embarrassed, he bent over and gathered the saturated pile in his arms, quickly depositing it in the tub. The floor was quite wet by this time.
"No problem. I'll just, ah, run these by the cleaners," Remington explained. "The pillow needed fluffing anyway."
A couple of hours later, Laura was examining Clarissa's condo for evidence they could use against Keyes. The place was a mess. Vases and mirrors were smashed; the mattress was lying on the floor; plants had been overturned and the dirt spread everywhere; books were scattered around the room; and the dishes in the kitchen cabinets were smashed. Even the clothes from Clarissa's closet and drawers had been slashed and then thrown about haphazardly.
Laura was surprised by the unusual variety of Clarissa's wardrobe: cheerleader outfits, slinky evening dresses, sheer negligees, black leather dresses, corsets and vests, black fishnet stockings and leather boots, fancy hostess gowns--and the strangest thing of all, a daring outfit made of feathers. The decor of Clarissa's apartment also caught Laura's attention--especially the giant mirror over the king sized bed and the oversized heart shaped tub in the bathroom. But since Laura wasn't there to comment on Clarissa's unusual tastes, so she turned her attentions back to the case.
Clarissa then pointed out the cigar ashes were scattered throughout the apartment--on the carpet, on the couch, even on the ripped nightgowns. Seeing a cigar butt in a pile of dirt beside an overturned rubber plant, Laura exclaimed, "Pay dirt!" As much as she hated to, she wrapped it in a Kleenex and placed it in her purse.
Laura then glanced out the window and noticed two well dressed young men leaning against a street light beneath her. They were looking up towards Clarissa's apartment, but quickly turned away when they saw Laura watching them. She had a nagging feeling about them, so she quickly decided to pump them for information.
She and Clarissa left the apartment building and walked onto the sidewalk. When the two men saw, them they looked alert.
"Let's just walk a ways," Laura whispered to Clarissa. "I think those two have been watching us. Maybe they know something about this case."
To Laura's delight, the two men began following them. Deciding she could catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, she changed her stride into something more provocative. Then glancing around slowly, she smiled seductively at their two shadows. Clarissa took her cue from Laura and behaved likewise.
When Laura paused at the next street corner and leaned against the street light, Clarissa struck an provocative pose beside her.
"Hello, there," Laura said softly. "I'm Laura and she's Clarissa."
"We're familiar with Clarissa's work," the taller man said.
Clarissa smiled.
"How convenient," Laura said. "I'm new around here, but Clarissa's an old friend and she's promised to show me the ropes, so to speak."
Laura walked over to him and smiled broadly. Clarissa nonchalantly smiled and took his companion's arm.
"What say we find someplace private and get acquainted with each other," Laura suggested as she slowly took his arm.
Sensing that he seemed a little reluctant, she decided to try a new tactic. "I'm sure for the right amount, we can make everyone happy," she offered. She hated offering a bribe, but she was desperate. She was anxious to wrap up this case as soon as possible so she could finally get down to business with Remington. Well, perhaps business wasn't exactly the right word...
Suddenly the taller man flashed a badge in Laura's face and clapped a pair of handcuffs on her. "Maybe for the right amount, you can make bail," he said with authority. "You're under arrest for soliciting. Prostitution is illegal in this city."
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you..." droned the officer.
Laura looked at Clarissa in shock. Clarissa, also in handcuffs, just shrugged and smiled.
Laura felt decidedly ill. This case was simply not progressing the way she had hoped.
To be cont.... part 6

Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Div.
This story copyrighted 1982-2005 by Debra Talley. The characters of Remington Steele
are used without permission. It is purely for entertainment purposes.