The holding cell was filled with
wolf whistles as Remington entered the room with a guard. Laura
was sitting on a wooden bench, leaning dejectedly against the bars
of her cell. She quickly stood and rushed to the cell door as soon
as she saw her husband. Within seconds, Clarissa joined
Remington seemed to be in very
"Thank goodness you're here!"
Laura sighed in relief.
Remington grinned and addressed
the guard, asking, "Has she been fingerprinted?"
"Mugged?" Remington asked.
"Strip searched?" Remington
"Every nook and cranny."
"You're really enjoying this,
aren't you?" Laura asked testily.
"Indeed, it's a rare opportunity
seeing you behind bars, Mrs. Steele. But, all good things must
come to an end. Guard, I think you can let her out now."
The cell door was opened and
Remington held out his arm for Laura. She shoved it away and
crossed her own arms in a huff.
"Ah--you too, Clarissa,"
Remington said. "Although, from what I hear, this place is more
like a second home to you."
Clarissa just smiled sheepishly
and moved to stand beside Laura. The group of women still in the
holding cell called out their farewells to Remington as they left.
He merely smiled and gave them a wave. He was contemplating an
appropriate response when Laura turned, grabbed him by the arm and
dragged him out of the room. Everyone booed.
Police business taken care of,
Remington dropped off Clarissa and Mildred at Clarissa's condo. As
soon as Clarissa could locate a change of clothes, she and Mildred
would be heading to Mildred's apartment for the night. It was
Mildred's bowling night, but Clarissa would just have to go with
her. Mildred was determined that her bosses would have the evening
On the drive back to Remington's
condo, Laura sat moodily in the Rabbit with her arms crossed. She
and Remington had not spoken since leaving Mildred and
Finally, Remington could restrain
himself no longer. "Really, Laura. You hold me off for two years
and now here we are, married a mere three days and yet to
experience that ultimate moment, and I find you've been standing
on the street corner soliciting! Couldn't you have been patient
just a little longer?"
"Mr. Steele, please! I have a
headache!" Laura declared, rubbing her forehead. Then turning
angrily to face Remington, she glared at him and added, "You sure
took your sweet time showing up to bail me out! I called Mildred
"If you will recall, Laura, I was
doing legwork," Remington reminded her. "I came just as soon as
Mildred got in touch with me."
There was silence for a few
seconds. "I shouldn't have jumped on you like that." Laura finally
said. "I'm sorry."
"Yes, well, we've both been under
a lot of pressure lately," Remington admitted.
"And the sooner we nail Keyes,
the sooner we can do something to alleviate that pressure," Laura
said. "Any ideas?"
"As a matter of fact...yes,"
Remington explained with a smile. "What say we discuss it over
dinner at some quiet, out of the way spot. Candlelight, champagne,
Laura smiled. "An offer I can't
refuse, Mr. Steele."
"Good," Remington said with a
grin. "Now if I can just keep you away from street
Laura hit him with her
Later that evening, Laura and
Remington entered their condo laughing. Both were in evening wear,
having changed before dinner. Laura set her purse on the table by
the door while Remington loosened his tuxedo tie and unbuttoned
the first two buttons of his dress shirt.
"What makes you so sure Keyes
will join in on your little poker game tomorrow, Mr. Steele?"
Laura asked as she watched Remington light up the
"He's a compulsive gambler. He'll
play," Remington assured her. "I've got several of my friends from
the streets spreading word of the game to the proper
"And Vigilance Insurance really
offered you $150,000 to use as bait?" Laura asked. "They must want
Keyes as badly as we do."
"Oh, they do, but for entirely
different reasons. When I told them word on the street was that
Keyes had accepted thousands of dollars in jewels to keep mum
about an insurance fraud, they were most obliging," he explained.
"They thought my plan was brilliant: I bust him at the table, he
has to retrieve the jewels to pay off his losses and then we have
Keyes and the jewels."
"You're awfully cocky, Mr.
Steele," Laura remarked as she slowly made her way across the room
to Remington. "What makes you so sure you'll win?"
"My skills are endless, Laura,"
Remington explained huskily. "Poker is just one of the many areas
in which I have expertise."
"Is that so?" Laura asked,
putting her arms around Remington's shoulders. "You forget, I was
a math major at Stanford. I've always had a mathematical
appreciation for the game of poker. In fact, I had quite a
reputation in college."
"Really, now? That *is*
interesting," Remington exclaimed, cocking his head to one side
and studying Laura's face. "What say we play a few hands?"
"Are you challenging me to a game
of poker, Mr. Steele?"
"What better way to prove my
gambling skills are unmatched?" Remington asked.
Laura grinned broadly. "You're
on, Mr. Steele. Before this night is over, I'll have beat the
pants off of you."
"Do you mean that literally or
figuratively, my pet?" Remington asked, teasingly. "In fact, just
to make it more interesting, Luv, what say we make it a game of
"Strip poker?" Laura asked,
"Who knows? It could prove
different--simulating--a whole new experience!" Remington
explained, caressing Laura's arm.
She thought a moment and then
smiled, chucking Remington under his chin. "You're on, Mr. Steele.
Let's see just exactly who beats the pants off of whom."
Remington grinned rather
maliciously. This was going to be one very interesting
game--probably the most interesting game of his life.
He quickly fetched a deck of
cards and sat down across from Laura at the dining room table.
"Let's outline the rules, just to be sure there are no questions
later," Remington suggested. "It'll be regular 5 Card Stud. At the
completion of each hand, the loser must remove one article of
"Of their own selection?" Laura
"Alright," he conceded, eying
Laura. She couldn't be wearing much, he decided. He was sure it
would be a short game.
"And no cheating!" she
"I wouldn't dream of it,"
"And knock off the cute names,
Lamb Chop," Laura said, kicking him before he had a chance to move
his leg out of the way.
Remington dealt the cards after
fancily shuffling the deck. Laura finally sighed and told him to
get on with it. He purposely let her win the first two hands, just
to give her false confidence.
At least, he thought he was
letting her win. He removed a shoe each time.
When Laura won the next two hands
as well, Remington took off his socks.
She was quickly gaining more
confidence. In fact, she was becoming over-confident, Remington
thought smugly; that was sure to be her downfall. Then her four of
a kind beat out his three of a kind.
He shrugged out of his jacket as
Laura rubbed her hands together. She was just getting warmed
But then Remington started
getting a lead. He drew a royal flush and Laura obediently kicked
off a shoe.
Remington's luck was with him;
his full house beat her two duces. Laura kicked off the other
Remington drew another full
house, but Laura turned over a straight flush. While Laura watched
with a nasty grin, he tossed aside his loosened bow tie.
"No fair!" she protested. "That
was already half off."
"Ah, but it was still around my
neck," he countered with a smile.
"Just deal the cards."
He obliged. Peeking at his cards,
he thought he had a very good hand: four of a kind. Then Laura
bested him once again with a straight flush.
He stood up and snapped off his
Laura couldn't resist. She
spontaneously whistled until he grinned at her; then she
He sat back down and dealt
another hand. This time Remington had a full house. He knew it
could go either way with a hand like that, but luckily for him,
she only had three of a kind.
Laura then had a decision to
make: her top or her pants? She couldn't decide.
Remington tried to expedite
matters, saying, "Come on, Laura; we don't have all night."
"I thought we did," she shot
back, standing up and slipping off her white slacks. Since she'd
be sitting down, she didn't think it would be that much of a loss.
After all, her legs were still clothed in pantyhose.
But then she lost the next hand,
too. The pantyhose went, too.
Remington watched appreciatively
as she peeled them off slowly for his benefit. Impulsively, she
tossed them across the table to him. Remington caught them in one
hand, saying, "Now do you see the advantages of garters, my
"Yes. It would make three things
to remove instead of just one," she agreed glumly as she sat back
Remington chuckled, but didn't
laugh for long; he lost the next two hands.
First, he peeled off his white
dress shirt. Laura took in the sight of his bare chest and
imagined running her hands through that soft, thick, dark mat of
Noticing her preoccupation, he
asked, "Something the matter, Mrs. Steele?"
Shaking her head, she muttered,
"Uh, no. It's ...ah ... Never mind; let's just get on with it."
Then she rubbed her hands together in anticipation.
His pants went with the next
If Laura had thought the shirt
was fascinating, the pants were something else entirety. Remington
made a production of their removal, taking his own, sweet time and
making sure Laura had an unparalleled view. His legs were not
exactly PLAYGIRL material, but she didn't care. As far as she was
concerned, they were beautiful and he so was he.
Remington sat back down, saying
jovially, "Well, I certainly hope I win this next hand or it will
be all over, eh?"
As he dealt out a new hand, Laura
could only nod, thinking of the delights awaiting her if she
Remington had not expected the
game to go this way at all. He thought after purposely letting
Laura win the first two hands, she'd lose the others. He was quite
surprised to discover that she was such a good poker player. He
had never imagined that facet of her personality. She was as cool
a player as he was--perhaps even cooler.
"You know, Laura, your skills
have astounded and impressed me."
Laura nodded her head in
"I was thinking... maybe we'd
have a better chance of ending this case quickly if *you* play in
the poker game with Keyes."
"That's awfully big of you," she
said, surprised he was admitting she was the better player.
"Anything to get this case over
with in the most expeditious manner so we can move on to...other
things," he explained.
"On to what other things?" Laura
His look said it all. The devil
rose in his eyes as he looked at Laura across the table and she
smiled in understanding. As they gazed at each other in their
current disheveled states, all the tension and longing of the
previous two years surfaced.
Laura finally broke the silence.
"I think we better stick with your original plan. You play in the
game. Keyes might want to make it a game of strip poker and if
he's as bad as Clarissa described, I don't want to be anywhere
around," she explained with a laugh.
"Perhaps you're right. I don't
want anyone but me gazing upon your lovely form," Remington
"Don't be so domineering, Mr.
Steele," she snapped.
"Only looking after what's
"I'm not your property!" she
"Of course not," he said as he
again began dealing the cards. "You'll never be the property of
anyone. Merely an expression, Laura."
Laura slammed her cards down on
the table. "Let's see you top that."
He looked at his hand and saw
that it was a very good one. Gloatingly, he beat Laura's four of a
kind with a royal flush.
She sighed and put her head down
on the table.
"Well, Laura, what's it going to
be?" he asked with a sly smile.
"What do you mean?" she mumbled,
not even looking up.
"What piece of clothing will you
Remington was looking forward to
this and Laura knew it. Deciding there was no point in delaying
the inevitable, she stood up and in one fluid motion pulled her
black sequined top over her head. She shook out her hair in very
most provocative manner and her eyes met Remington's.
The temperature in the condo rose
to new levels.
Laura felt no embarrassment or
shyness standing before her husband's gaze clad only in her black
Remington thought he'd never seen
a more alluring sight. At that point, all he wanted was to gather
her in his arms, caress her soft skin and kiss her tender
Somehow he pulled himself away
from those dangerous thoughts and said, "I believe we have one
more hand to play, eh?" As he shuffled the deck, he asked, "What
say we make it a bit more interesting?"
Laura licked her lips and sat
down. "I thought it was already pretty interesting," she pointed
"I was contemplating raising the
stakes," he explained.
"Oh?" She couldn't imagine how
the stakes could be raised any further: they were each down to one
article of clothing.
"You once promised to show me a
certain exotic dance done with fans," he reminded her. "I propose
that if you lose this hand, you not only remove your lingerie, but
you also show me your fan dance."
"And if I win?"
"I'll let you do with me what you
will," he brightly answered.
"That doesn't sound like much of
a bet, Mr. Steele. I plan to do that anyway. What else do you have
to offer?" she inquired.
"That sounds like a suggestive
remark, Mrs. Steele."
Laura only smiled
"You drive a hard bargain, my
dear," Remington conceded. "All right. I'll give you a year. Pick
any year and I'll tell you all the gory details."
She took a few seconds to
consider the odds, then said, "A year of your life versus a fan
dance from me? OK; I think I can go for that."
Remington grinned and dealt the
cards. The stakes were high and he had to win this hand, but he
knew Laura felt the same way. He looked at his cards and then he
studied Laura. She was cool, calm, collected and as unreadable as
Then suddenly there came a knock
on the door. Remington and Laura looked at each other in
"Are you expecting anyone?" she
"No," he replied, rising and
heading for the door.
"Ah, Mr. Steele ..." Laura called
But he was already opening the
door, completely oblivious to his present attire.
Mildred, wearing her Dragon
Ladies bowling shirt, barged past Remington and exclaimed,
"Bosses, we've got big trouble! Clarissa's been kidnapped!" Then
she got her first good look at Remington. "Boss!" she exclaimed,
turning her head.
Remington noticed her embarrassed
look and glanced down at himself. For once, did not have an
Mildred then saw Laura sitting
nearby, similarly attired. "Miss Holt... I mean, Mrs. Steele! Oh,
I am so sorry...barging in here like this... on your honeymoon...
I'm so sorry if I interrupted anything."
Laura approached them and put her
arm around Remington's waist. "That's all right, Mildred. Now, you
were saying something about Clarissa being kidnapped?"
Remington chose that moment to
put his arm around Laura.
She quickly became very aware of
their skin contact --too aware. "Ah... Just a minute, Mildred.
Maybe Mr. Steele and I should slip on some robes... or something,"
"Excellent idea," Remington
agreed, slapping his bare chest.
They quickly retreated into the
bedroom. While they were gone, Mildred peeked around the corner
into the dining room. Seeing their clothes scattered around among
the deck of cards, she merely smiled to herself.
Laura and Remington reappeared,
he in his wine colored silk robe and Laura in her terry cloth
robe. They sat down together on the couch and Remington placed his
arm around Laura's shoulders. Mildred took a seat in one of the
chairs opposite them and began her story.
"You know it's my bowling night
and we're practicing for the league championships. I couldn't miss
it, so Clarissa had to come with me. Of course, she didn't want to
at first, but then I pointed out it might be a good chance to meet
some new customers."
Mildred shrugged. "Well, I had to
think of something. Anyway, the Ladies and I were down at lane #2.
Clarissa got bored watching us, so she wandered up to the snack
bar. I was still keeping an eye on her, but the next thing I knew
some short, bald guy was dragging her out the door! We all ran
after him, but by the time we got to the parking lot, he was
driving away in a green sedan. I got the license number,
She proudly handed Remington a
scrap of paper, which turned out to be a candy bar wrapper. "It's
all I could find on the spur of the moment," she explained.
Remington handed the wrapper to
Laura. She glanced at the number, held the wrapper close to her
nose and inhaled the aroma of chocolate which still clung to
Remington watched her actions and
smiled. "Chocoholic," he whispered to Mildred.
Laura kicked him. Of course, with
bare feet it wasn't quite as effective.
"Don't fret, Mildred," Remington
assured her. "You did all you could, given the
Laura spoke up. "Keyes must have
been following both of you. How else would he have known she was
at the bowling alley?"
"I guess so," Mildred said. "If I
had known what he looked like, maybe I could have stopped
"Well, what we've got to do now
is put our heads together and figure out where he could have taken
her," Laura explained. "Mildred, you get on the phone and see if
you can get an address for our Norman Keyes."
"Right!" Mildred exclaimed,
standing up and running to the phone.
"In the meantime, Mr. Steele and
I will get dressed."
When she and Remington once again
retreated into their bedroom, he closed the door behind
"Yet another missed opportunity,"
"The story of our married life,"
Then she did what she'd been
wanting to do ever since he'd taken his shirt off: she reached out
her hand and lightly stroked his chest. Remington put his hand
over hers, leaned forward and kissed her tenderly.
Mildred knocked on the door and
quickly entered. "Got an address from Vigilance Insurance."
Suddenly she became aware of their position. "Oops. I did it
again, didn't I?"
She hastily backed out, closing
the door behind her. Remington and Laura remained where they were,
their lips mere inches apart.
"It never fails, eh?" Remington
Laura nodded and reluctantly
walked away from Remington.