Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Division

Steeling a New Life 
Part 2
A Sequel to "Steele in the Mood" and "Bonds of Steele"
by 
Debra Talley, with Thekla Kurth
Written Summer, 1988 
 
 
Laura felt confident that her marriage with Remington was legal. Her partner had too much to lose to plan a scam marriage with her. Besides, if it was a phony marriage he wanted, why didn't he just rush her back to the fake minister at the Chapel? Why go to all the trouble of setting up a wedding in international waters? And besides, he'd left all of those clues for her. He had obviously expected her to stop his marriage to Clarissa, so wasn't it logical that he would have Juan and his crew on hold, just waiting for her to come through? 
 
The more Laura thought about how she had been manipulated, the less forgiving she became. By the time she arrived at the dock, she was ready to rake Remington over the coals once again. She realized her emotions had been on a roller coaster for the past 24 hours, but after all, weren't pregnant women allowed? 
 
Laura had no luck in locating Juan or his fishing boat All of the boats had left at dawn and would not return until later in the day. No one she questioned seemed to know Juan. Oh, they knew several Juans, not the one she wanted. She trudged around the pier until her nose and stomach could stand no more. She finally decided she'd better not press her luck--after all, her stomach had already been pretty queasy lately. 
 
Her new destination was the Hall of Records at the county courthouse. She didn't have to search long. Juan had gotten up bright and early and filed the papers on their marriage. She had been right in her suspicions about Juan, after all. 
 
In an underhanded sort of way, Remington was telling the truth when he said Juan wasn't the captain. He just failed to mention that Juan was the *acting* captain, with him all the rights and privileges of the captain. And as if that wasn't enough, Juan was also a licensed minister. 
 
Laura couldn't help smiling at the degree of Remington's thoroughness. He'd left nothing to chance. 
 
Laura was relieved that Remington had not actually lied to her about Juan and their marriage. She had come to trust him in the last year, and she was glad he had not betrayed that trust. She could accept--even forgive--his underhandedness regarding their marriage; after all, that was partly her fault, anyway. But she was very proud that even with Immigration nipping at his heels, Remington had not lied to her. In fact, he had been more honest than she had realized at the time. Hadn't he said they would be the happiest married couple in America? At the time, she thought they were just words, but now she was determined to make them come true. 
 
As she scanned the paperwork, she suddenly burst out laughing. She didn't even realize it until she noticed people staring at her. Well, Remington was certainly right when he said they'd laugh about everything some day. She wished she could explain it the poor, confused souls within earshot, but how could she make them see the humor in Remington Steele being married aboard a fishing boat named La Reina Africano --The African Queen? 
 
******* 
 
"I didn't think you'd be coming in at all today, Mrs. Steele. The boss said you were feeling under the weather this morning," Mildred explained, surprised to see Laura breeze into the office. 
 
Laura passed it off. "Oh, it was nothing. Probably just because of all the, uh, excitement yesterday." 
 
"Ah, Laura; I thought I heard your lilting voice," Remington said, coming out of his office. 
 
"I wanted to tie up loose ends here before we leave on our vaca...our honeymoon." 
 
"Well, there really isn't much," Mildred answered. "We've been taking care of all of those little loose ends. But guess what, kids?" 
 
"What?" Laura and Remington asked in unison an they exchanged a look. 
 
"I've been making arrangements for your honeymoon," she explained enthusiastically. "A driver will meet you at the airport and take you to a secluded, exotic and romantic hideaway in a lush, tropical, picturesque setting. It's the perfect honeymoon locale for lovebirds like you. My travel agent has never been wrong." 
 
"Mexico, wasn't it, Mildred?" Remington asked. 
 
She nodded, "Oh, but this is the perfect.." 
 
"So you've said, Mildred," Remington interjected. "But Mexico has not exactly been one of our favorite places. It's brought us nothing but bad luck." 
 
"Oh, but Boss, this will be different," she insisted. 
 
Remington and Laura eyed each other again and tried not to groan. 
 
Remington finally cleared his throat and extended his arm to Laura, saying, "Yes, well, if you'll excuse us, I believe Mrs. Steele and I will call it a day and go home." 
 
"But I just got here!" Laura pointed out. 
 
"Really, Laura, there's nothing more to be done here," he said. "We'll go home and I'll prepare us a nice, romantic, candlelight dinner. Steak oupovier, baked potatoes, green beans... a good bottle of vintage wine." 
 
It sounded wonderful to Laura, so she just sighed and took her husband's extended arm. They walked arm in arm out of the agency and down the hallway to the elevator. 
 
"Everything but the wine. I'm getting a headache and I don't think that would help," she lied, not wanting to tell him just yet the real reason she couldn't have any wine. 
 
As Remington drove them home in the Auburn, he asked,"What did you do today? " 
 
"A few errands," she said vaguely. 
 
"You did something different with your hair," he commented. 
 
She didn't think he would notice. "I had to," she explained. "Some of those snares just wouldn't come out." 
"I like it," he said honestly. 
 
She reacted with surprise to his compliment. "Thank you," she finally said, brushing her bangs aside. 
 
"You're welcome," he said pleasantly, giving her a big smile. 
 
Laura returned his smile and felt herself blushing. To her surprise, she was actually looking forward to the promise of what the evening might bring. 
 
*********** 
 
Dinner was for the most part a quiet affair. Laura was waiting for Remington to make the first move. Remington, noticing her quietness and remembering what she'd said earlier about having a headache, thought she wasn't in the mood for conversation. About the only thing they did commented on was the location of their planned honeymoon. 
 
"A secluded, exotic, romantic hideaway,''Laura mused. "I bet it's not secluded enough to hide us from all the Mexican policeman you've rubbed the wrong way." 
 
"Laura, just how many Mexican policemen do you think I've offended?" 
 
She didn't answer, but went on. "I'll probably end up having to bail you out of jail for some crime you committed in your deep dark past. Or I'll have to rescue you from the clutches of some authority with a long memory." 
 
"Laura, really..." 
 
"Exotic? Romantic? If it's any kind of resort, beautiful vacationing women will be throwing themselves at you-- n the lobby, in the restaurant, in the bar, at the pool. They'll probably even be in our room, hiding under the bed. You somehow seem to attract them like a magnet." 
 
"Laura, I'm hurt. How could you possibly even think that?" 
 
"Easy. It happens all the time. Here in L.A. and everywhere else we go." 
 
"My eyes will only be on you, my dear," he assured her. 
 
She wondered which movie that line had come from. Surely, he wasn't serious. 
 
"A magnet, eh?" Remington repeated, amused. 
 
Laura made a face. "And what do you want to bet that someone will be shooting at us every time we're kissing?" 
 
"If we get shot at when we're merely kissing, I wonder what will happen when we, uh, you know, when we..." 
 
"Lightning will probably strike us," she said ruefully, completing his thought as she rose and began helping him clear the table. 
 
They spent the next few minutes loading the dishwasher and cleaning up the kitchen. It felt so comfortable, so right, the two of them puttering around together in the kitchen. Laura tried to hold onto the feeling when they returned to the living room and sat close together on the couch. 
 
"On the other hand, our Mexican vacation might not be so bad," Laura said optimistically, taking up the conversation where they had left off earlier. "We'll be getting away from the hustle and bustle for a few days. We'll have a change of scenery, a chance to relax. The hotel is in a lush, tropical picturesque setting and should have all of the amenities.You must admit, it does sound lovely." 
 
"Around-the-clock room service and wine cellar to rival my own," Remington added, getting into the spirit things. "A French chef who serves only the finest cuisine. Satin sheets, 'Do Not Disturb' signs...and showers big enough for two." 
 
He paused for a moment and gazed out the window, trying to gather his courage. "Uh, Laura," 
he continued. "There's something I want to say- something I have to tell you before we begin our honeymoon." 
 
He reached to put his arm around her, but saw that she was curled up against the couch pillows, asleep. The day's events had exhausted her. Remington slipped his arms beneath her shoulders and knees and lifted her, gently carrying her into his bedroom. 
 
She stirred in his arms. "My turn...for the couch...tonight," she mumbled. 
 
"Uh-uh," he mumbled as he placed her on the bed, took off her shoes and tucked the covers over her. Pausing at the door, he looked at her longingly as he whispered, "Pleasant dreams." 
 
Laura awakened slightly and saw him standing in the doorway. "Don't go," she pleaded. Please, stay with me tonight. Just hold me. Tonight, I just need to be held." 
 
He could not resist her or her uncharacteristic request. Still fully dressed, he crawled in beside her and took her into his arms. She snuggled against his shoulder and was quickly asleep again, this time in his arms. It wasn't long before Remington fell asleep as well. He was too tired to even think about Laura, about her mood swings, about their future, or about what he had not told her yet. He just gave into his tiredness. 
 
********** 
 
The second day after their wedding, Laura again woke up feeling nauseous. Remington was still asleep beside her, but he awoke as she raced for the bathroom. 
 
He stirred, still half asleep, and mumbled, "Hum? Laura? Laura?" The sounds of her being sick caused him to come fully awake. Instantly alert, he threw back the bed covers and raced to the bathroom, pausing just outside the open doorway. "Laura? Laura, are you all right?" 
 
"I'm fine," she snapped. 
 
"No, you're not,'' he said as he hesitantly walked to her side and helped her back to bed. "This is the second morning in a row." 
 
"You don't have to remind me," she sighed as she rolled onto her side, fighting another wave of nausea that was threatening to engulf her. 
 
He rubbed her back consolingly. "How can I help, Laura? Can I get you anything?" 
 
"No," she mumbled into the pillow, turning her face away from him. Suddenly it occurred to her exactly what she was doing. She was shutting him out again. She turned to face him, saying, "Maybe some tea and toast? That seemed to help yesterday." 
 
"Okay. Coming right up." He bent and planted a quick kiss on her forehead, brushing her hair back. Then he left, heading for the kitchen. 
 
He couldn't help worrying about Laura. Her sickness, her tiredness, her constantly changing moods. What was wrong with her? Was the idea of marriage causing her all this distress? He continued to ponder the situation as he quickly prepared a tray and carried it into the bedroom. 
 
Laura was once again in the bathroom, but she walked back into the room as he placed the tray on the bed. She sat down on the bed and picked up a cup, sipping the hot tea. Remington studied her, trying to figure her out. He felt uneasy, knowing what he had to say to her. He knew it could not be delayed any longer, not with what it was doing to her. 
 
He cleared his sandpaper throat and tried to begin. "Umm... Laura..." 
 
She looked up, still nibbling on her toast. "Did...did you stay with me last night?" she asked. 
 
Her question took her by surprise. "Why, uh, yes. You fell asleep on the couch, so I carried you in here and put you to bed. I wouldn't have stayed, but you asked me to." 
 
She looked down at the napkin she was twisting in her lap and blushed slightly. 
 
He noticed and said, "Laura, is there something wrong with our sleeping together? I mean, it's not as if it's the first time." 
 
"No, maybe not, but.." 
 
"Laura, yesterday morning I started to tell you something..." 
 
"Ah, yes, your confession." 
 
"Yes, my confession. It all started with the Temptation Cola case.." 
 
"Oh, my God!" Laura exclaimed, flopping onto the pillows and holding her head in her hands. "Don't remind me of that. Days and nights of uncontrollable passion! All of the trouble that we encountered--all of the embarrassment!" 
 
"But it wasn't all bad, though. Was it?" he asked, looking at her. 
 
"No, it wasn't all bad," she admitted. "There were moments." 
 
"Yes, indeed; I remember those moments quite well," he reminisced fondly. 
 
"Okay. I'll bite. What the hell does the Temptation Cola case have to do with our fiasco of a wedding?" she demanded, sitting up. 
 
The phone rang then and Remington glared at it. 
 
"Have you ever thought of getting an answering service?" Laura sarcastically asked. 
 
"The thought has crossed my mind." 
 
"Let it ring," she said. "Now, you were saying..." 
 
Taking her advice and ignoring the offending instrument, he continued. "Yes, well, it all started the day that the Rabbit died and Estelle Becker summoned me to the immigration office. She informed me that I was an illegal alien --that I had some discrepancies in my passport..." 
 
When the phone continued to ring, he looked apologetically at Laura and finally grabbed the receiver. 
 
"Hello," he barked. "Leon?" 
 
He looked questioningly at Laura. 
 
Laura mouthed, "People magazine. The publicity agent" 
 
"Oh, yes. Leon, what can I do for you, mate?... A statement regarding my marriage to Miss Holt?... Yes, it was rather sudden. But it is something we 'd been contemplating for some time." 
 
Laura recalled Remington's recent attempted proposal and realized he was telling the truth. She smiled at him as he continued to give his statement over the phone. 
 
"No, Leon. Just say we were seized by the moment and eloped... Yes, Laura made a truly lovely bride... White dress? No, she wore a, uh, a suit." 
 
Laura made a face at him. 
 
"Honeymoon? Our secretary is making all of the arrangements. We're leaving tomorrow... Photos? Well, we never had the opportunity to have any taken... Yes, thank you, Leon. I know we'll be very happy together... Yes, I'll give Mrs. Steele your best" 
 
He replaced the receiver, "Leon sends his best wishes." 
 
"Wonderful," Laura groaned. "Now it will be all over the city...the country." 
 
"Laura, you have to expect that people will be interested," Remington reminded. her. 
 
Oh, no!" she said, groaning louder. "Frances! My mother! What will I tell them?" 
 
"The truth?" he suggested. 
 
"I don't even know what the truth is," she shot back. "Well, I suppose I can come up with sort of explanation if I can just have a few minutes of peace and quiet to think." 
 
No such luck. This time it was the doorbell. Remington went to answer it. 
 
"Your tux cleaned up real well, Mr. Steele," a delivery boy said, handing a plastic bag to him 
 
"Thank you," Remington aid, tipping the boy and sending him on his way. 
 
He was just about to close the door when he saw the elevator doors at the end of the hall open and discharge Mildred. 
 
"Mildred," Remington asked, surprised. "What are you doing here at this hour?" 
 
"The travel agency just delivered your tickets. I wanted to bring them by. You leave at 8 a.m." She handed him the envelope. 
 
"Thank you, Mildred, but was it necessary to book such an early flight?" Then ushering her inside the apartment he pulled her aside, making sure they were out of Laura's line of vision. "But there may be a slight problem." 
 
"Oh, come on, Boss. You can get up early if you have to." 
 
"It's not that. It's just that Laura's not feeling very well ." 
 
"Yeah, you told me yesterday that she was sick." 
 
"Well, she was sick again this morning," Remington explained. 
 
Mildred tried to be optimistic. "I'm sure that it's nothing. She probably needs a rest more than anything. She's been working awfully hard lately." 
 
He sighed. "That, along with every thing else.These past two days have put quite a strain on her. Maybe *too* much of a strain." 
 
Mildred patted his arm. "That's why a chance to get away and rest will do both of you a world of good. It's probably just tension. Nothing to be worried over." 
 
"All the same, perhaps we should postpone our honeymoon for a few days until Laura is feeling better. 

"But, Boss, the tickets are non-changeable and non-refundable. Besides, you heard what Miss Becker said about honeymooning as soon as possible. Mrs. Steele is going to be just fine once the two of you get away and have some time to yourselves. Now don't worry bout a thing." 
 
After dispensing her tickets and her advice, Mildred gave Remington a quick peck on the cheek and headed for the agency. 
 
When Remington returned to the bedroom, Laura was in the bathroom showering. 
 
"That was Mildred," he yelled above the roar of the water. "She brought by our tickets. We leave tomorrow morning at eight." 
 
"So early?" Laura asked loudly as she turned off the water. 
 
"Do you really want to go? I mean, do you really *feel* like going?" he asked, sitting on the edge of the bed. 
 
Laura emerged from the bathroom wearing a robe and walked to the closet. Pushing open the door, she selected one of two dresses she'd thought to bring from the loft the day before. 
 
"I'm fine," she stated, feeling much better than she had earlier. Once the morning's nausea passed, she always felt fine. 
 
"But this morning and yesterday..." 
 
"I told you; I'm fine," she snapped. "Look. I want to go on this trip." On his look, she quickly amended her choice of words. "Whatever! I'm actually looking forward to it. "In fact," she added as she headed back into the bathroom, "I thought I 'd do some shopping for it today." 
 
Remington tried to talk to her through the closed door, but he soon gave up. He hated trying to carry on a conversation with a door between them. Besides, Laura was back to changing her moods faster than he could turn his head. It was making him dizzy. One minute she was accepting of him and showing signs of submission, and the next she was mad at him for no good reason. Of course, he couldn't blame her. It was a wonder he was alive at all, much less in the same room with her. It was a wonder she hadn't killed him. But when she found out the truth she just might kill him, though-- especially if she was in one of her angry moods. His confession would just have to wait until she was feeling more receptive and forgiving. 
 
"All yours." she said, relinquishing the bathroom. "I'm off. First. I'm going shopping, and then I need to go to the loft to pack." 
 
"Okay," he sighed. "See you later." 
 
As she headed to the door to the living room, he suddenly stood and hurried over to her, saying, "Wait a minute." Then taking her into his arms and he kissed her. 
 
"Mr. Steele," Laura gasped, surprised when his friendly kiss began turning into something more passionate. 
 
"Sorry," he mumbled, breaking the kiss. 
 
"Sorry?" she asked with a bemused look on her face. "Sorry for kissing me?" 
 
"No. Yes. Like that. I didn't mean..." He tried to explain, but Laura was glaring at him now. "Oh, forget it," he said as he started for the bathroom. 
 
Then turning back, he asked hesitantly, "Dinner tonight?" 
 
"Here?" 
 
"No. I thought maybe a restaurant," he suggested. 
 
"All right; it's a date," she conceded. "Make a reservation, and call me later at the loft." 
 
"A date, eh?" he muttered to himself after Laura left. "I have to make a bloody date to see my own wife!" 
 
He ruefully realized that even though he had Laura right where he wanted her, his wooing of her had only just begun. 
 
************ 
 
Laura spent a busy and exhausting day shopping. She bought several new outfits, keeping in mind that she would be traveling to a tropical locale. It was also her honeymoon and she shopped with that in mind, as well. She even chose new lingerie--not too daring, but soft and feminine. 
 
She had high hopes for this honeymoon. She knew that once she and Remington were alone together, away from L.A., some of her inhibitions and fears would dissolve. They could take the first steps in truly becoming a happily married couple. Even though she'd had qualms about this honeymoon at the first mention of it, she was now believing it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. 
 
After several hours, Laura was about shopped out. Her feet hurt. She was looking forward to going home and soaking them. She even suspected that her feet and ankles were beginning to swell. "Wonderful," she groaned. If her feet could groan, they would have, also. 
 
Her attention was momentarily distracted from her feet as she passed by the baby and infant department. She couldn't resist stopping to look. She picked up a tiny, adorable blue sleeper, marveling at the smallness of the size. She held it in her hands and offered a silent prayer of hope that in a few months time she would have need of just such a tiny garment. 
 
As she refolded the sleeper and set it back on the shelf, something else caught her eye--a backpack for baby. Now that could come in handy one day, Laura thought to herself. She thought of all the advantage of having her baby close to her while she worked. On an impulse, she had a clerk put the backpack on hold. She could pick it up later, after she knew for sure she would have a baby to put in it. 
 
As she left the baby department and entered the maternity department, she couldn't help thinking of all the things she would need --a crib, baby clothes, diapers, car seat...and maternity clothes. She held up a dress and looked in a mirror, it was difficult to imagine herself in the full bloom of pregnancy. She selected a blouse with a full cut; she could wear it belted for now and, later it could be worn as a maternity top. 
 
Her shopping completed, Laura returned to her loft to pack. She placed the suitcases by the door and then made a mad dash for the shower. The phone was ringing when she came out of the shower. The hot water felt divine to her sore feet and her aching muscles, so she splurged and stayed enjoyed a longer shower than usual. She would have stayed longer, but the phone started ringing. Wrapping a towel around herself on the way, she headed for the phone and tried to ignore the puddle of water she was leaving behind her. 
 
Just as she suspected, it was Mr. Steele. 
 
"How soon can you be ready?" he asked. "Can I pick you up in an hour?" 
 
"All right,"she agreed. "But bring the limo. l have my bags packed and we might as well take them with us now, rather than have to come back for them in the morning." 
 
When Remington arrived, he carried Laura's suitcases down and loaded them into the limo's trunk. 
 
"Where are we going to dinner?" she inquired. 
 
"A place that should bring back some memories. Where I first took you to dinner." 
 
"I thought the Huntington Sheraton was closed for remodeling." 
 
"Laura. I'm shocked that you've forgotten. We had champagne there-- not dinner." 
 
"We had a magnum of Champagne," she wistfully said. 
 
He smiled. She had remembered. 
 
********** 
 
The name plate was not brass. It was solid gold. 
 
"A memento," Remington said as he presented it to her. 
 
Laura was touched by his gesture. She was even more touched when he excused himself to visit the men's room and, in his absence, a magnum of champagne was delivered to the table. 
 
Claude, the maitre'd, delivered it himself. "I once said to Mr. Steele that you were by far, the finest lady he had brought here. Let me offer you my best wishes on your marriage." 
 
"Thank you," she said, sincerely touched. Her curiosity was now piqued. "Just how many women did Mr. Steele bring here?" 
 
Claude waved his hand in the air as if to dismiss her inquiry. "Oh, a few. But he has never presented a solid gold name plate to anyone but you." He bent, took her hand and gallantly kissed it. "Happiness." 
 
Remington returned to the table at that point. "Claude," he said jokingly, "if I weren't a better man. I'd think you were trying to make time with my wife." 
 
Claude laughed. He shook Remington 's hand and offered his congratulations, then left the newly married couple alone. 
 
Throughout that evening, Laura was surprised and touched many times by Remington's thoughtful gestures. He was doing his best to remind her of their fondest memories together. A trio of Mexican musicians appeared at their table to play a rousing version of Guantanamera, followed by Feelings and then Laura. Laura thought the evening couldn't have been any nicer, but she was wrong. 
 
Just as she thought the evening was almost over, Remington placed a blue velvet box on her dessert plate. Opening it, she discovered a silver cross on a chain. Realizing it wasn't new, she waited anxiously for Remington to tell her the story behind it. 
 
"I was told it belonged to my mother." Remington said with a shrug. "Whether that's true or not, I don't know for sure. I've been told so many lies in my life." 
 
Laura leaned over and kissed him. She was truly touched. She lifted up her hair and had him fasten the necklace around her neck, over the heart necklace she was still wearing. Remington had already noticed she was wearing his heart necklace and took a moment to rub his thumb over it. Laura captured his hand with her own and slowly brought it to her lips for a whisper-soft kiss. Soft brown eyes connected with eyes of lavulite blue and the result was a fireworks display visible to no one except the two young lovers sitting at Claude's special table. 
 
Following their exquisite dinner, Remington surprised Laura by taking her to an oceanside carnival and circus. They watched the show under the Big Top and then took a ride on the Ferris wheel. 
 
Laura started laughing as she remembered their *last* ride on a Ferris wheel, when they were entertaining the Piper children. "How did we ever do it?" she gasped as she looked down from the top. "Up here? On a Ferris wheel?" 
 
"Where there's a will, there's a way, eh? Besides, the Ferris wheel we rode on with your nephew and nieces was enclosed. It had wire mesh cages instead of open seats like this," he pointed out. 
 
They capped the evening off with a stroll along the pier. 
 
"Ah, a moonlit night... A lovely pier... A beautiful woman by my side... What more could I ask for?" Remington asked. 
 
"Just this," Laura said as she put her arms around him, stood on tiptoes and kissed him. 
 
The kiss was just beginning to turn into something more interesting when Remington murmured against her lips, "Someone's coming." 
 
"Mr. Marnock?" 
 
"Arnock, Laura. Arnock. You still become flustered when I kiss you?" he asked, a note of pride in his voice. 
 
Laura shivered in his arms. 
 
"It's getting cold," Remington said as he removed his jacket and tenderly draped it around her shoulders. "We'd better go.'' 
 
Putting his arm around her, they began strolling back up the pier to the limo. 
 
"You know, Laura, we really owe Emory Arnock." When she looked at him questioningly, he went on. "After all, he was the one who suggested we become lovers, three full years before it actually happened." 
 
She corrected him. "Uh-uh. *You* were the one who suggested we pose as lovers.Emory only agreed with you." 
 
"Why argue the semantics now?" Remington asked, kissing her once more before helping her into the limo. 
 
************ 
 
Laura fell asleep on the way back to Remington's apartment. She awakened, however, when he tried to lift her out of the limo and carry her upstairs. 
 
"Sorry," she muttered. "I must have fallen asleep." 
 
"It's becoming a habit with you," he commented as he put his arm around her again and began helping her out of the car. 
 
"You don't need to carry me," she insisted. "I can make it." 
 
She made it, but just barely. Once inside their apartment, Laura headed immediately for the bedroom and changed for bed. 
 
While waiting for his bride, Remington belatedly realized he had not even broached his intended subject for the evening. Maybe now would be a good time, he thought. A nightcap, a roaring fire...What could be more conducive to the truth? Being optimistic, he lit the fire and poured out two measures of cognac. When 10 min. had passed and she hadn't come out, he drank one of the cognacs. When 10 more minutes passed, he drank the other one. When another five minutes passed and she still hadn't emerged from the bedroom, he decided to check on her. 
 
"Laura?" he called into the partially open bedroom door, pushing it open with a finger. "Laura?" 
 
He found her curled up on the bed beneath the blanket, fast asleep. He gazed down at her for a long minute. The sight of her in peaceful, contented dreamland always touched a tender spot in his heart. He leaned over, brushed back a lock of her hair and lightly kissed her cheek. Then he quietly left, not wanting to disturb her. 
 
Taking a pillow and a blanket from his closet, he made his bed on the couch. As he was putting the empty glasses in the kitchen sink, he reflected on the perfect evening he and Laura had just shared. It was an ideal way to begin their honeymoon. He was beginning to have high hopes for their trip to Mexico. Mildred was right. Getting away would be the best thing for them. They needed a chance to relax and be alone together. Surely there would be many perfect opportunities for him to tell Laura the truth during the course of their honeymoon. 
 
He went to sleep with that thought. 
 
********* 
 
Things just kept getting worse for the hapless honeymooners. In less than 12 hours, they had been squashed in tourist class and Remington had felt the ill effects from the chunky beef. Laura had luckily declined both the chunky beef and seafood surprise. She had experienced the usual nausea that morning upon awakening and the flight had only added to it. It was all she could to hold down her breakfast of toast and tea. 
 
And as if tourist class wasn't bad enough, their next flight companions were chickens. That was followed by a bumpy ride in a rickety bus, where they were shot at --and they weren't even kissing! But the final blow was the Hotel del Amor. Talk about adding insult to injury! After an endless climb up winding steps, Laura and Remington collapsed on the bed, laughing hysterically at the total absurdity of it all. 
 
"Surely this wasn't what Mildred had in mind when she mentioned a secluded, exotic, romantic hideaway in a lush tropical and picturesque setting!" Remington chuckled. 
 
"Secluded, yes; tropical, yes. But exotic? Picturesque?" Laura swatted a mosquito. "It depends on how one looks at it, I suppose. Romantic? I don't know about that." 
 
"We could make our own romance," Remington suggested, his eyes bright with passion. 
 
"I suppose," she slowly said. 
 
When but she made no move to encourage him, Remington decided to change the subject. "Well, here we are." 
 
Thankful for the reprieve, Laura took a quick look around at their penthouse suite. "Does this place even have a bathroom?" she wondered. 
 
"I think the locals call it the jungle," Remington said as he walked over to a closed door on the opposite side of the room and opened it. "Ah, it's in here, I believe. But you don't want to see it." 
 
He quickly closed the door. 
 
"That bad, huh?" 
 
"Positively ancient, or exotic, depending on how one looks at it," he explained as he took the mosquito netting from her and he tossed it aside. 
 
Then taking her hands, he pulled her to her feet and said, "This place is beginning to get to me. Come on; let's go for a walk." 
 
Laura started to protest, but then she heard a couple arguing in Spanish next door, a baby crying down the hall, and two kids yelling and running on the stairs below. Giving her husband a quick peck on the cheek, she walked with him to the door. 
 
Remington sighed as he pulled the door closed behind them and followed Laura down the stairs. This was not the place he had expected to win Laura's heart... to tell her the truth...to consummate their marriage. How could he do any of those things with a hotel for an audience? She deserved so much better than that. The Hotel del Amor only seemed to intensify a cheapness and shoddiness about their marriage which Remington was trying to eliminate. 
 
Their walk in the jungle aired out a few things, and their kiss fired an eagerness in Laura that was becoming more and more difficult to keep in check. Her motor was positively frenzied hours later when she found her husband swilling champagne and munching caviar in their Las Hadas honeymoon suite. Fighting always fired Laura's blood, so by the she breezed into their suite with Tony the Jungle Boy she was in overdrive. 
 
Remington tried the knob of the door she had just slammed in his face. Amazingly, it was not locked. He entered the bedroom behind an angry Laura, who was in the process of removing her tattered dress. She glared at him, wadded up the dress and threw it on the floor. 
 
"Still upset?" he asked calmly. 
 
It was the wrong thing to say. 
 
She walked over to him and looked him straight in the eye. "Upset? After what I've just been through?" 
 
"Yes. I believe I heard all about it Traipsing through the jungle with 'damn attractive' Anthony, wasn't it?" 
 
"There we were, two incredibly attractive people, alone in the deep, dark jungle." She finished undressing and began prancing around the room. "Don't you think he found me attractive?" 
 
"Like that?" Remington asked with a raised an eyebrow, privately enjoying his bride's impetuous display. 
 
Laura remembered the feelings she'd had at Claude's restaurant the night before when Remington had showed some good-natured, innocent jealousy.Why couldn't he have acted possessive in front of Tony?! But no! He had to be a good sport and invite Tony to dinner! 
 
"Don't you think Tony realizes how attractive I am?" she asked angrily. "Don't you even care that another man has spent as much time with me on our honeymoon as you have?" 
 
Stomping into the bathroom, she slammed the door in his face and locked it. 
 
Remington jiggled the knob. "Laura? Laura, now be reasonable! Of course I can see how attractive and desirable you are. I'm not blind!" 
 
"Too late!" she declared through the closed door. 
 
He jiggled the knob again. "This is beginning to resemble a honeymoon," he muttered loudly. "The honeymoon of my worst nightmares." 
 
"Good!" she screeched. 
 
The next thing he heard was the sound of water running in the shower. 
 
Laura belatedly realized, when she was halfway through her shower, that she had no clothes. She wondered what she could do. Go to dinner in a towel? Now that would raise a few eyebrows! It might even get her husband's attention! 
 
Remington leaned against the wall, wondering what he should do now. He knew a lot of things that he wanted to do--that he should have done. To start with, he should have shoved Laura into the pool to cool her off. Then he should have suggested Mildred's remedy for the emotional days --a long, hot soak, a herbal tea, and a romance novel. After all, wasn't that what Laura was having? An emotional day? 
 
He glanced about the room, seeing Laura's disheveled clothes scattered about on the floor. He reasoned that since their suitcases were still back at the ever-charming Hotel del Amor, she obviously had no other clothes for tonight. If Anthony did indeed find her as attractive as she continuously claimed, it would never do to have her wear a towel or less to dinner. 
 
So while Laura showered, Remington paid a visit to the hotel ladies' shop. There he found a lovely ruffled white dress. He also bought her a pants outfit for the next day and some lingerie. He enjoyed choosing intimate apparel for her and took his time making his selection. He wanted something that would not frighten or intimidate her, so he finally chose articles that were discreet and understated. The nightgown was soft cotton gauze, but not overly revealing. 
 
When he returned to their room, he spread the new clothes out on the bed where she wouldn't miss them. Then he returned to the living room, where he sat and waited for her reaction. 
 
Laura saw her new clothes when she emerged from the bathroom. Remington was no where in sight, though. He figured he was keeping a safe distance in the other room, within easy reach of the champagne and caviar. Laura was half glad for that She was really touched by his thoughtful gesture, but her hormones were on such a roller coaster that she wasn't 't responsible for her actions. 
 
She sat down on the bed and cried. 
 
Remington didn't know what to think when he heard Laura crying in the bedroom. He had hoped his thoughtfulness would ease her anger, but he had certainly not expected tears. He knew she'd been through enough in the last few days to reduce most women to tears, but Laura wasn't most women. He stood near the bedroom door and tried to decide what he should do. Should he take her in his arms and comfort her like he wanted to, or should he respect her independence and let her be? 
 
Before he could decide exactly what to do, Laura's sobs subsided and he could hear her puttering around. Deciding she was okay, the returned to his seat near the caviar and champagne. As he sat and sipped, he allowed himself to think ahead to later that evening, when he and Laura would return from dinner. 
 
Their Las Hadas suite was everything Mildred had promised, but until now his heavy heart had prevented him from appreciating his surroundings. After all, what good was a luxurious honeymoon suite when one had no bride to share it with? When he first arrived after his trek through the jungle on foot, he had spent what seemed like hours merely staring at the bed and dreading the time he would eventually have to sleep. By the time he finally got through to Mildred by phone, he had made his decision to sleep on the couch. He simply couldn't stand the thought of sleeping in that beautiful honeymoon alone. 
 
Remington was definitely grateful to Anthony for retrieving Laura from the Hotel del Amor, but his relief went far beyond that of a groom merely being reunited with his bride for a night of passion. The main reason Remington was thankful to Anthony was that Laura was safe. 
 
He had been hesitant to leave Laura behind as collateral until he returned with the necessary local money to pay their bill. He knew Laura was quite capable of taking care of herself, but he worried, nonetheless. He knew her well enough to know she wouldn't sit calmly in their penthouse suite and wait for him to return. No, if anything happened, she'd be right there in the thick of it. 
 
Remington laughed as the now-too-late perfect solution occurred to him. "I should have stayed have at Hotel del Amor and sent Laura back for the money!" he said aloud. 
 
He just wished he 'd thought of it sooner. Then there would have been no rescue by "damned attractive" Anthony and no fight because he wasn't have been jealous. And he wouldn't have felt obligated to invite Anthony to dinner. Instead, he and Laura could have stayed in their room and partaken of dessert straight away. 
 
Remington was just asking himself what type of low life would actually accept a dinner invitation from a man on his honeymoon when Laura emerged from the bedroom. Lost in thought, he nervously jumped up at her appearance, choking on his champagne in the process. 
 
"Ah, Laura," he coughed. "You look...well, you look lovely." 
 
Laura smiled as she walked to him. After setting his glass on the table, she wrapped her arms around his neck. "Thank you for the clothes. Everything is lovely; it was very thoughtful." 
 
Laura gave Remington a passionate kiss that promised even better things to come. 
 
"It's the least I could do," Remington muttered as he caught his breath. "I couldn't very well let you meet Anthony for dinner wearing a towel, now, could I?" 
 
Remington could tell Laura was currently in a very receptive mood. Within just a little encouragement, he was sure she would be willing to experience the magical moment then and there. But he didn't want to start something they didn't have time to properly finish. 
 
"Laura, love, as much as I would love to finish this, uh, conversation here and now, I'm afraid we're on a schedule." 
 
Laura sighed. "Yes, I know. Why don't you get ready? I'll just sit here and dream about things to come." 
 
"You know. I'm suddenly not very hungry at all. I suspect we should be able to dispense with dinner and Anthony in record time," Remington said. 
 
"Yes. I have the same feeling," Laura admitted. "Now go get ready." 
Remington started for the bedroom, but he didn't make it very far. He returned to Laura's side and gently kissed her again. 
 
"Thank you," he said simply. 
 
"For what?" Laura asked, amused. 
 
"For marrying me. For coming on this honeymoon with me. For not running off with Anthony and leaving me to fend for myself." 
 
Laura was truly touched. She felt the tears welling up in her eyes again. Remington saw the tears and was suddenly embarrassed. He quickly excused himself and left Laura alone with her hormones. 
 
Laura sat on the couch and dabbed at her eyes with a near by Kleenex. At the rate her tears where flowing lately, she decided she'd better keep some tissues handy. After all, she couldn't very well let Remington carry around a soggy pocket handkerchief. 
 
***** 
 
The dinner with Tony was a disaster, to put it mildly. Laura and Remington were at each other's throats before the appetizers were even served. Tony was amused by Laura's attempts to make her husband jealous, and even more so and by Remington 's refusal to play her game. If he were in Remington's place, he would have at least pretended to be jealous. The punishment Laura was giving Remington's feet was vicious. Tony didn't know how the man kept from screaming. 
 
Then the wine arrived from Keyes and things went from bad to worse. Remington could take a lot of personal insult, but he wasn't going to let Keyes insult Laura. Without even thinking, he knocked Keyes over the balcony into the pool. He felt a strange sense of satisfaction as he watched Keyes scramble out of the water. 
 
Laura immediately rushed to Remington's side. The time for games was over her husband needed her now. Even though both she and Remington knew a bit of Spanish, it took Tony to translate what the security guards were saying. She wanted to go with Remington, but she allowed him to convince her that he would be all right. 
 
She should have known better. After all, weren't they in Mexico? 
 
***** 
 
Laura listened to the band along the beach play
As Time Goes By and wondered what she was doing there with Tony. She was on her honeymoon. She should be with her husband, not with some jungle ruin-rutter. She stole a quick glance at her rescuer. He and Remington were both were tall and had dark hair, but that was were the similarities ended. Tony was loud, brash, and abrasive whereas Remington was gentle, sensitive, and soft spoken. 
 
Laura smiled to herself. No doubt about it...Remington beat Tony hands down in every category. There simply was no comparison. 
 
Laura politely thanked Tony for his concern and quickly excused herself. She desperately wanted to see Remington. She would check their room first; if he wasn't there, she would look for him in the hotel manager's office. Her place was beside her husband, wherever that might be. It wasn't beside some Italian archaeologist who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. 
 
As Laura returned to the hotel, the strains of
As Time Goes By followed her. She couldn't help thinking of the irony of the whole miserable situation she and Remington had encountered in Mexico. Their instincts about this place had certainly been correct. Laura had a sudden urge to grab Remington and catch the first plane back to L.A. 
 
If only she had acted on that urge... 
 
***** 
 
Remington sat in his lonely jail cell and chastised himself for moving Keyes ' body. What a bloody fool he had been! His only excuses for moving Keyes' body were that he had drank all that champagne before dinner, and he wanted the room neat and tidy for Laura when she returned. Clutter, especially *that* kind of clutter, tended to put a damper on romance. 
 
Some way to spend a honeymoon, eh? Here he was, stuck in the clink, while his bride and her vine-swinging hero were free to do anything they pleased. Why hadn't Laura come to visit him after his arrest? Was she really so busy with Anthony that she couldn't spare a few moments to console her incarcerated husband? Had his foolishness finally pushed her into another man's arms? 
 
Remington recalled what Mildred said to him when they were searching Harry Cranston's condo-- that Laura had stood by him and defended him time and time again when 99 out of 100 women wouldn't have. He realized the truth behind those words. Laura was definitely a very special lady. But even an angel could be pushed too far, and Remington was afraid that this situation might finally push her over the edge. 
 
He lay on his cot and thought of all the other times he had let Laura down. The list was endless, but even so, she had always stood by him. Surely she didn't really believe he had murdered Keyes. Or could that be the reason she hadn't been by to see him? Common sense told him that the local police probably wouldn't allow her to see him yet, but still he fretted. 
 
Once again Remington had an image of Laura and Anthony together. This time they were in the honeymoon suite. Anthony was just the sort of low life to take advantage of a distraught bride, Remington speculated, and Laura certainly hadn't been herself lately. Tears twice in one evening? She just might be upset enough to take advantage of whatever comfort Anthony would no doubt offer. 
 
Of course, deep down Remington knew he could trust Laura. But what better place to think dark thoughts than a Mexican jail? 
 
Remington chastised himself for sending Laura off with Anthony in the first place. He should have let her accompany him to the manager's office. Then they would have discovered Keyes' body together and she could have decided how to handle the situation. He was sure she wouldn't have suggested hiding the body in a tent on the beach. 
 
"Even the Hotel del Amor was better than this,"' he wailed. "At least there we would have been together." 
 
Remington drifted off to sleep, wishing they had had the foresight to stay at the Hotel del Amor. Sleazy or not, at least there would have been no Keyes and no Anthony. It would have just been him and his bride. He wouldn't have been in a stinking jail cell, either. Instead, he'd be safely tucked away beneath mosquito netting with Laura. 
 
Remington sighed...and slept..and dreamed... 
  
Remington and Laura lay on the bed at the Hotel del Amor and laughed hysterically at the ludicrousness of their predicament. A few more giggles passed before they gradually began to regain their composure. Laura lay staring at the ceiling. 
  
Remington broke the silence, saying, "Peso for your thoughts." 
  
"Nothing," she evasively answered. 
  
Through the paper thin walls they could hear a couple arguing in Spanish next door. A baby down the hall began to wail. 
  
Laura looked at Remington and then away again. "I was just trying to figure out why we're putting up with all this. Why it never seems to get any easier." 
  
"You mean why we both just don't give up and go our separate ways, eh?" 
  
She looked at him again, realizing he'd been thinking the same thing. "Have any answers?" 
  
"You sure you want to get into his?" 
  
"Try me." 
  
He paused for an extended beat. "Why do we keep drawing the line at the bedroom door?" 
  
Laura was slightly surprised by the forthrightness of his question, but she wasn't completely stunned. It was bound to come out sooner or later. 
  
"I don't know," she finally admitted."It just seems like the timing's never been quite right. When one of us was ready, the other wasn't." 
  
Remington thought of all the times in the past two days when she'd pulled away, when he'd pulled away, when they'd been interrupted, or when she'd fallen asleep. 
  
"But haven't we been avoiding it, afraid of what comes after the magical moment?" 
  
"What does come after?" she asked. 
  
"I don't know," he honestly answered. 
  
"That's the scary part." 
  
"But we'll never know unless we take the risk." 
  
Laura half-smiled. "Let the chips fall where they may?" 
  
"Be bold." 
  
"Rise to the occasion." 
  
"Up periscope," Remington insinuated. 
  
"You've convinced me," Laura said breathlessly as she rolled over on top of him, pressing her body against his as she kissed him deeply. 
  
"And you've convinced me," he said, licking his lips when she finally let him up for air. 
  
"Maybe this honeymoon will turn out to be a blessing in disguise after all," Laura said. 
  
That was the last coherent thing she said. They attacked each other with all of the rage of their pent up passions. Without the mosquito netting, the nasty, annoying little creatures attacked their exposed flesh, but Remington and Laura were too preoccupied with each other to notice. The air was charged with heat and electricity, but not just the oppressing heat of the jungle. 
  
As a particularly ugly bug inched up Remington's leg, Laura's foot knocked it away onto the floor. Laura's skin was covered by a sheen of perspiration in the heat and humidity, dampening the coarse sheets beneath her, which had probably never been changed. 
  
Following their night of endless passion, Laura awoke in her husband's arms. Sometime during the night they had managed to tack up the mosquito netting around the bed when Remington's mosquito-bitten buns became too much for him to bear. 
  
Light streamed in through the windows and the heat of the coming day was already baking the room. Laura reached up to turn on the fan beside the bed. It wheezed and clanked, but did a mediocre job of circulating the stale air. The noise also aroused Remington. 
  
Laura poked him and said, "I'm hungry." 
  
"Don't you ever get enough? I know it's tradition for a man to experience a tiring honeymoon, but... " 
  
She hit his shoulder. "I was speaking of food! Do you think we can get something to eat in this place?" 
  
"I wouldn't want to bet on it," he said with a scowl. "Somehow I rather doubt that they have any form of room service here. Besides, we couldn't call even if they did. No phones, remember?" 
  
"So what do they do for food around here?" 
  
"Probably catch their dinner in the jungle," he snidely remarked. 
  
For that, he received another punch. 
  
"Okay," he sighed, "I'll go down and see what I can find. But don't get your hopes up." 
  
"We need nourishment. We have to keep up our strength," she seductively reminded him. 
  
That was enough to get him shaking. He left the bed and began searching for his clothes, pushing aside the mosquito netting. 
  
"Bloody mosquitoes," he grumbled as he scratched the back of his thigh. 
  
"Maybe they're fleas," Laura suggested as she scratched her arm. "Actually, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find out we shared our bed with all sorts of unmentionable creatures." 
  
Remington watched a large bug scurry across the floor as he headed for the door. "Laura, my sweet, I'll be right back; hopefully with some food-- and perhaps a flea collar." 
"I told you, I refuse to wear to another flea collar!" 
  
He left before she could say another word. In the hallway, he nodded to the couple from next door. The man grinned knowingly at Remington and the lady studied him with more than a passing interest. Remington wondered what that was all about 
  
He returned to Laura in less than 20 minutes. "Good news, Love. Room service will be here shortly." He was breathless from his climb up the stairs to their penthouse suite. 
  
She stretched in the bed. "Room service? Really? How did you manage that?" 
  
"I believe it's part of the package deal. Meals come with the room." 
  
"Oh? Well, let's hope the food is better than the accommodations," she said as she rose and walked to her suitcase. Finding her robe, she slipped it on. 
  
A polite knock soon sounded on the door. Remington answered it. 
  
The desk clerk peered in with an oily grin, announcing, "Room service." 
  
He carried a tray covered with mosquito netting. The clerk looked Laura over from top to bottom, leering all the while. She held her robe closed at her throat. 
  
Remington accepted the tray. 
  
"Oh, and I forgot to give you these yesterday," the clerk said, holding out two plastic collars. 
  
"Flea collars?" Laura stared at them, incredulous. 
  
"Every jungle has fleas." The clerk shrugged apologetically as he handed her the collars. "Hardly used, either," he assured her. 
  
"What?" she muttered. 
  
Remington began pushing the clerk out the door. "Thank you very much. If we need anything else, I'll let you know." 
  
He closed the door, giving Laura an exasperated look. 
  
Laura tossed the collars over her shoulder. "Flea collars? Hardly used?" 
  
"Uh, Laura, I wouldn't be so hasty," Remington said, scratching the back of his neck. 
  
Laura uncovered the tray Remington had placed on the bed. The fruit didn't look too bad, considering, They passed up something that looked like custard, not trusting how safe it was. Remington sampled the tortillas and refried beans, but Laura also passed on those. 
  
When they were finished with their meal, Remington put the tray outside the door. A stray dog ambled up the stairs and began eating the scraps. Remington just shook his head and left the dog to enjoy himself. 
  
A radio was playing from somewhere in the hotel. They could hear it as clearly as if it were in their room. 
  
"Care to dance, my dear?" Remington asked. 
  
"La Bamba isn't really our song." 
  
But then a new song began. They smiled. Remington took her into his arms and they began dancing slowly to As Time Goes By. 
  
Laura leaned her head against her husband's shoulder. "Some honeymoon," she mused. "Yet somehow I never pictured our honeymoon any other way. Things always seem to go wrong for us." 
  
"Laura, really. Not all of the time. Last night..." 
  
"No. not all of the time," she agreed and kissed him. "Last night was wonderful. You were wonderful." 
  
The music changed again. They stopped dancing. "This may not be music to dance to," he said. "but while in Mexico, it is music to make love to." 
  
She heard the strains of Bolero and giggled as she realized the movie reference to 10. 
  
Remington swept her off her feet and carried her to the bed. "But first, Laura Holt-Steele, I love you." 
  
She gazed into his eyes. "And I love you, Remington Steele." 
  
She barely got the words out before his lips descended on hers. 
 
Remington swatted a particularly vicious mosquito on his neck. "Laura, Laura," he groaned, fully awake now. "How can I tell you that you're my wife if I'm rotting away in jail?" 
 
"Your wife doesn't know she's your wife?" the guy in the next cell asked. 
 
Remington rolled over on the cot and pretended to be asleep so he wouldn't have to answer. 
  
To be continued... 
 

Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Div.

"Life in the Steele Lane" Index

 
dtalley@mindspring.com
 

Disclaimer: The characters of Remington Steele are used without permission.
This story copyrighted 1988 by Debra Talley. It is purely for entertainment purposes.