Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Division
Steeling a New Life
Part 3
A Sequel to "Steele in the Mood" and "Bonds of Steele"
Debra Talley, with Thekla Kurth
Written Summer, 1988
Laura, meanwhile, was alone in their empty honeymoon suite, tossing and turning in her own lonely bed. Earlier she had gone to the jail to see Remington. She'd been quite persuasive, but the police captain hadn't let her see him. She'd had no choice but to go back to the honeymoon suite and wait until morning to try again.
Why hadn't she just gone with Remington for questioning?
For that matter, why in the world had she insisted on taking that consulting contract with Vigilance Insurance? That was when the whole mess had started. Even though Keyes hadn't actually become their shadow until after their wedding, his ugly presence had haunted Remington since he spoke out against them at that first consulting meeting with Vigilance. Remington had been leery of Keyes ever since.
She felt terrible about her display of anger when she first arrived in Las Hadas. Remington certainly had enough on his mind at that point without her getting mad because he wasn't jealous of Tony! And then she'd pranced around in front of him, purposely trying to entice him before, she'd stormed into the bathroom. Recalling her behavior, she covered her face in embarrassment. How could she have been so childish? It certainly wasn't the ideal way to start a marriage, was it?
Until she talked with the hotel manager after Remington's arrest, Laura hadn't given a lot of thought to what her husband had gone through during their brief separation. He let her to believe his trip to Las Hadas had been a breeze. But then, she really hadn't given him much of a chance to explain, had she? She had jumped on him first thing and twisted his words. Why couldn't she have seen the relief of his face when she first arrived? Of course he wasn't jealous--he was just glad she was safe. Why didn't she see that? Why couldn't she have just followed her first instinct and thrown herself into his arms when he answered the door? Why had she taken her frustrations of the day out on the man she loved?
Now was not the time for self-pity, Laura decided. It was time to use some good detective know how and come up with some answers. First question: What was Keyes doing in their room? She was positive Remington hadn't invited him by for a nightcap, and she was equally certain he hadn't come by to sell them an insurance policy. Had he broken into their room to ransack their belongings in hopes of finding evidence their marriage was a fraud? If that was the case, Laura mused, he'd have been better off going to the Hotel del Amor. After all, that's where their luggage was. She made a mental note to retrieve it first thing in the morning.
Perhaps Remington discovered Norman ransacking their room. Perhaps they had fought and, during the struggle, Keyes struck his head on the broken lamp. That made sense, didn't it? But was it also possible that Remington had lost his temper and hit Keyes with the lamp? Or that he had attacked their adversary in a rage and killed him before he realized it? Laura knew Remington had never killed anyone. He had been devastated when he thought he had accidentally killed the elusive Henry Spellman with the Rabbit. But Remington's nerves had to have been on edge --she'd certainly made sure of that!
Laura looked deep into her heart and quickly reached a decision. She loved her husband, and she knew he was a decent and honorable man. Even if he had over reacted and his anger had resulted in Keyes' death, she would stand by him. After all, she had contributed to Remington's frame of mind, so she shared the responsibility for what happened to Keyes.
Laura tossed and thumped her pillow in frustration. The bed was too big. Too big and lonely. She got up and wandered around the room. She picked up Remington 's champagne glass and caressed it She then ran her fingers across his hair brush that lay on the dresser and smiled as she noticed a few strands of dark hair among the bristles. Her mind returned to his comment four years earlier about how he was forever plucking stray hairs from his brush.
Had it really been four years? Laura shook her head. Sometimes it seemed like yesterday. She had never felt so alone. They were on their honeymoon, for heaven's sake! They were supposed to be staring into each other's eyes and sharing a magical moment in worthy surroundings.
Laura wandered into the bathroom and splashed cold water on her face.From her reflection, she could see she was pale. She gently placed her hand on her abdomen, smiling at the thought of the baby that hopefully was inside her, beneath her troubled heart. She said a silent prayer that her tumble over the waterfall and her walk through the hot and steamy jungle hadn't done any harm. First the Unidac case and now this. If her baby survived, it was because he was already a scrappy little fighter, just like his father.
Her thoughts then turned to darker things. She found herself wondering what it would be like to raise a child alone. How would it feel to bring him or her to visit Remington in jail? She knew how cruel children could be--would they say unkind things to their child about having a jailbird for a father? Laura shook herself out of her horrible imaginings, vowing they would never come true. If necessary, she'd break Remington out of jail herself!
She glanced in the mirror again and noticed the reflection of Remington's black and white striped shirt hanging on a towel rack. He had apparently washed it after his earlier shower. She tenderly picked it up and rubbed the soft cloth against her cheeks. It was still damp, but she didn't care. The coolness felt wonderful against her face. Besides, she needed a security blanket tonight.
If she couldn't hold Remington in her arms as she slept, at least she could hold a part of him close to her heart. Exhausted, Laura climbed back into bed. She had her work cut out for her tomorrow, and she knew she needed to rest. Her sleep wasn't peaceful, though, as she was haunted by dreams...
"With all due respect to the Hotel del Amor, we've waited far too long not to capture the moment in a more worthy setting."
"If Las Hadas has phones, it must have other amenities," Laura said, thinking of a king-sized bed with silk sheets, a hot tub for two, Dom Perignon, and room service.
Remington grinned. "I'll get the bags."
"And I'll check us out," Laura offered..
She turned to go, but then suddenly and grabbed him. "Oh, what the hell," she muttered, dragging him deep into the jungle.
"Laura, really!" What has gotten into you? Oof!"
Before he could protest further, Laura shoved him down into a soft patch of greenery.
"You'll find out," she whispered seductively into his ear.
Remington squirmed as she nibbled on his ear. "Laura, I hate to put a damper on the mood, but exactly what sort of bushes are we wallowing in?"
She didn't even bother to look. "I don't know and I don't care," she said as she pulled off his shirt and tee-shirt and began smothering his chest with kisses.
"Laura, you will care if these bushes are poison ivy. Remember the Pipers' back yard?"
"Oh, don't be such a wet blanket, Mr. Steele." She kissed him deeply, stopping only long enough to work off his pants.
Remington was still concerned about the greenery, but those thoughts were quickly being pushed to the back of his mind. Laura's hands and lips were all over him.
Still, he had to offer one final word or warning. "The bushes..."
"...are not poison ivy." She pulled a flower from them to prove it. "Margaritas. See?"
Remington took the flower from her and tucked it into her hair. Then he kissed her.
Laura moaned, urging him on. "Oh, hurry. I'm too hot."
"It's the jungle. It's supposed to be hot."
"No, that isn't it. I'm still wearing all of these clothes," she hinted.
Remington wasn't dense. He rose to her bait and began inching off her dress, feeling her shiver as he touched her thighs.
Seemingly out of nowhere, a bullet whizzed past them, lodging itself into a tree behind them.
"What the bloody hell?" Remington exclaimed. He tried to sit up, but Laura held him down fast
"Always something," she muttered, annoyed by the disruption. "You worry first about bushes and now about a bullet."
"A bullet?" he squeaked.
Another one whizzed by.
"Malvados," she said.
"Malvados?! But I thought they only shot at the bus."
"Apparently not." She was doing her best to distract him from what she thought of as merely a mild annoyance. "Just ignore them," she said as she planted tiny kisses on his face.
"But, Laura, they're shooting at us!"
"Someone always shoots at us when we're kissing. Let's be daring for a change and forget about them. Now come here and kiss me."
"Laura, really." Remington could hardly believe his ears. Was Laura actually saying to ignore a shooting?
More shots rang through the jungle.
"Laura, if we stay here much longer we could get our buns shot off!"
"Oh, we couldn't have that, could we?" she said, caressing him.
A bullet passed dangerously close to them.
That was Remington let it slip out. "Laura, if the event we don't live though this, I have to clear my conscience. I want you to know our marriage is legal and I love you!"
"I know. And I love you, too, Mr. Steele," she said as she kissed him, covering his body with her own.
He went on with his confession. "And I'm really sorry our wedding and honeymoon turned out to be such bloody disaster!"
"Somehow, I never imagined our marriage would be consummated any other way," Laura exclaimed, setting his mind at ease so they could get on with things.
There were some things he could ignore and some things he couldn't. At that moment, he could not ignore Laura. They reached the height of their passion and their cries mingled with those of the other jungle animals.
Laura, drenched in perspiration, hugged Remington's damp shirt even closer and smiled. At least in her dreams, she and Remington were together.
Laura's morning sickness was worse than ever the next morning. She yearned for Remington' s comforting presence, but had to settle instead for hot tea and toast by way of room service. As she lay propped up on her pillows forcing down the dry toast, she realized just how very much she missed waking up with Remington. True, they had not really slept together since their wedding, but he had been by her side almost as soon as she awoke each morning. His gentleness and concern had made being sick bearable.
But that wasn't all there was to it, Laura admitted to herself. Not by a long shot. She just enjoyed the intimacy of Remington's presence. Laura smiled to herself, almost surprised that it hadn't hurt a bit to admit she enjoyed having her husband near her. She prayed that by the next morning, she would awaken in his arms. She needed him far too much for him to be rotting away in jail.
Feeling less queasy, she showered and dressed in the white pants outfit Remington had bought her the night before. It was still early, but she wanted to retrieve their luggage from the Hotel del Amor before visiting hours began at the jail. It was going to be a long, hot day, Laura surmised, but she had hopes that she and Remington would be together by nightfall.
Laura's prayer to awaken in Remington's arms the next day came true, but not quite the way she had hoped. Never in her wildest dreams had she imagined they would spend an entire night of their honeymoon spying on Keyes' niece from behind a wall. But then, this was Mexico. Why should she have expected anything different?
Laura didn't entirely approve of Mildred breaking Remington out of jail, but was too relieved to see him to put up much of a fight about it. By the time she found him changing undershirts in their bedroom she was already a time bomb. She appreciated Tony's help with the case, but being near him only served to make her want Remington more. After all, she was just a girl trying to have a honeymoon. It was only natural that being near any man in her anxious state would turn her thoughts to what she and Remington were missing.
If the police had not arrived when they did the day before, Laura suspected she would have pushed Tony out the front door and tackled Remington then and there. But the police did arrive, and the magical moment was once again put on hold. Laura tried not to concentrate too much on what they were missing as they sat amidst the bushes behind the wall, but it a lost cause. The bushes and nearby vegetation just served to remind her of the dream she'd had the night before. It took all of her restraint not to drag Remington beneath the bushes and have her way with him.
Somewhere in the deep recesses of her mind she remembered a song that perfectly expressed her feelings. How did it go? Something like...
Let me love you like my dream last night;
Let me hold you: let me hold you so tight.
Love or desire, my heart's on fire--
Let me love you like my dream last night.
Laura didn't realize she had been humming until Remington interrupted her.
"Nice tune. What is it?" he asked.
"I'm not sure," Laura lied. She could feel her face getting hot and knew she was blushing. "I was just, uh, thinking about our situation and it came back to me."
"And exactly what were you thinking about our situation?"
"Oh, just that we'd have been better off if we'd stayed at the Hotel del Amor."
Laura diverted her eyes, afraid that Remington might think she was crazy. Instead he squeezed her shoulder.
"I know what you mean. I found myself thinking the same thing as I lay in jail last night. I even dreamed that we did stay there."
"You did?" Laura was touched that Remington would admit to dreaming about her. She wondered if his dream had been as erotic as hers, but she didn't dare ask.
"I dreamed we stayed there, too," she finally admitted.
"Well, then," Remington said. "It appears we were together in our dreams last night, anyway."
"But I don't want to just *dream* about a honeymoon--I want to have a real one!" Laura wailed, her eyes quickly filling with tears. "I'm sorry. This isn't like me."
Remington tenderly wiped her tears away with his thumb and kissed her. "I know, I know. You've been crying a hell of a lot lately. But with any luck, tonight we'll be able to make those dreams of ours come true."
The luck of the Irish was indeed with the honeymooners. They tracked down Keyes and proved he wasn't dead after all. Keyes, however, was not so lucky. While running from Remington and the police, he was shot and killed by Malvados. Everyone concerned felt that justice had been served.
Laura and Remington agreed to cancel the remainder of their Las Hadas honeymoon and return to Los Angeles. They vowed never again to set foot in Mexico. Somehow they didn't think the Mexican authorities would mind.
Laura didn't want their honeymoon to be a total waste, so she suggested they spend their last evening dining and dancing at the elegant outdoor restaurant moored just off shore. She had been by there with Tony the night of Remington's arrest, and now she found herself wanting to share it now with her husband. She wanted to share memories of that lovely romantic setting with Remington, not with some stranger.
The evening was perfect The dinner was delicious and the wine was superb. Laura managed to only drink a few swallows by sipping slowly. Remington, caught up in the magical spell of the evening, he didn't even notice. All he knew was that Laura was radiant. She was wearing the blue jeweled gown she had worn to the Earl of Claridge's wedding in London. It was Remington's favorite gown and she knew it. His eyes reflected his admiration.
The decorative lights danced on the water. A soft, cool breeze caused the wind chimes to tinkle merrily. A small band was playing a medley of Barry Manilow songs as a singer softly crooned the lyrics. The adjoining open-air dance floor was peppered with slow dancing couples.
Laura was puzzled when Remington excused himself and made his way over to their waiter. He whispered something in his ear and then handed him what Laura assumed was money. She smiled as her handsome husband his way back to their table. She couldn't get over how handsome he was. Even after all these years, she was still sometimes overwhelmed by the perfection of his features.
"Could I have the pleasure of this dance?" Remington asked as he took Laura's hand and kissed it, giving her a smile that turned her legs to mush.
"I'd love to," she finally managed to reply. She allowed him to pull back her chair and escort her to the elegant dance floor.
They danced in silence until the medley ended and everyone politely clapped. As the applause died down, their waiter walked up to the vocalist and whispered something in his ear.
After giving some instructions to the band members, the vocalist returned to the microphone and announced, "On behalf of Richard, we dedicate this next song to Ingrid."
Laura glanced at Remington.
"Shall we dance, Ingrid?" he asked, gathering her into his arms again.
Laura recognized the song immediately as Who Needs to Dream by Barry Manilow. She lost herself in the beauty of the words as she and Remington glided her over the dance floor.
You were in my dreams, always in my dreams -
That was long before I ever saw you standing there.
When I felt afraid of the choice I made
I would close my eyes and hope my dreams would comfort me.
But now I'm free.
Who needs to dream when there is you?
Who needs a heaven to look forward to?
For my whole life through, who needs to dream?
You're my dream come true.
In my fantasy you believed in me.
And as long as you were there, then I believed in me.
Now you are my dream,
You are my only dream.
I'll hold you in my arms forever!
Who needs to dream?
Who needs to dream?
When I see you there
Then I see my every dream come true...
Laura's heart was overflowing. Since she could not find the words to express what she was feeling, she simply threw her arms around Remington's neck and let the tears flow.
Remington understood how Laura felt and held her close. He knew this was one time she didn't expect words. His deed had been enough.
Mildred was asleep on the couch when the honeymooners returned to their suite after a leisurely moonlit stroll on the beach. Actually, she was pretending to be asleep. She had felt guilty about intruding on the newlyweds, but they had insisted she share their suite. After all, they said, it wasn't her fault there were no available rooms.
Laura and Remington quickly prepared for bed. Laura turned back the spread and crawled beneath the cover while Remington finished in the bathroom. She was wondering how they could make their dreams come true without disturbing Mildred when Remington joined her beneath the sheets. He quickly gathered Laura in his arms and kissed her.
"Hmh, this is more like it," Laura muttered. "You can't imagine how big and lonely this bed felt last night."
"I think I can," Remington confessed. "This may sound crazy, Laura, but that tiny flea ridden pile of lumps I slept on last night felt just as big and empty to me as this bed must have felt to you."
"That's not crazy at all," Laura said, rubbing her hand over his chest.
She stopped when he suddenly began kicking his legs wildly.
"What th...?" Remington abruptly sat up and tossed aside the sheet.There at his feet beneath the covers lay the shirt he had worn on their first day in Mexico. He held it up, puzzled. "Now how in the world did that get there?"
Laura looked sheepish. "I, uh, slept with it last night."
"You slept in my shirt?"
"No, I didn't sleep in it; I slept with it."
"Come again?"
"I missed you. The shirt reminded me of you, so I sort of used it as a security blanket."
Remington said nothing for a moment. Then he tossed the shirt to the floor, saying "Good thing I washed it first, eh?"
"This hasn't exactly been the honeymoon of our dreams, has it?" Laura asked.
"Oh, l don't know," he said with a yawn. "I'd say my dream last night certainly fulfilled my fantasies. And I suspect yours did, too."
"Want to see if reality can exceed our wildest dreams?" Laura suggested.
Remington muttered something unintelligible and then became quiet.
"I'm sure we won't disturb Mildred. She's been asleep for hours, and you know what a heavy sleeper she is," Laura continued, wishing he hadn't stopped playing with her hair.
Remington smacked his lips.
"Mr. Steele?"
"Umh .Yes... Anthony..."
"What about Anthony?" Laura asked. Receiving no answer, she poked his shoulder. "Mr. Steele?"
"Hmh. Anthony's right- have to start calling your husband... something besides... Mr. Steele."
Laura could tell Remington was asleep, so she tenderly kissed his cheek. "Pleasant dreams, Remington," she whispered as she stroked his hair.
She settled herself against her husband and relaxed. Time enough later to consummate their marriage. For now, she was content just to be in Remington's arms.
As Laura settled back against the plush seats of the limo the next day, she smiled as she remembered the toast she and Remington had shared on the plane during their morning flight home. With any luck, tonight would be the night they finished what they had started in Mexico. Laura was excited about that prospect, but she was also looking forward to the evening for another reason.
After they had finally gotten rid of the horde of clients awaiting them at the agency, Laura had left the office so she could return to her loft and pack. She had assured Remington that by the time Gladys Lynch arrived for dinner, they would be the picture of wedded domesticity and her clothes would be safely stashed in his closet.
But before she went to her loft, however, Laura had Fred stop at a nearby grocery store, where she purchased a home pregnancy kit. It was for sentimental reasons that she had returned to this particular store to make her purchase. She and Remington had shopped there for Aveeno during the aphrodisiac cola case just the month before. He had been worse than a child, trying to get her to buy everything in sight. He had even suggested she buy a home pregnancy kit, so it had seemed fitting that she return to the same store to make her purchase now.
She had been so excited when she got a positive reading that she almost called Remington straight away. She finally turned her attention to filling her suitcase with the odds and ends she needed to convince Gladys Lynch that she and Remington were indeed living together. She wondered if she should show the results of her test to Gladys. Surely that would convince her!
Fred had loaded Laura's clothes and suitcase into the limo. But before they headed for the condo, she had him make one final stop. It only took her a few minutes to purchase the baby backpack she had put on hold before their trip to Mexico. She insisted the sales lady wrap it in a large brown bag. After all, she couldn't have Fred learning her secret before Remington knew.
As she relaxed against the plush seats of the limo, Laura tried to think of how she would tell him the news. Since nothing sounded quite right, she changed her focus and instead tried to imagine how he would react when she broke the news to him.
She was lost in thought when Fred finally stopped on Rossmore and opened her door. As they got her clothes out the limo, Laura couldn't help but notice the fur-wrapped tall, slender, dark-haired woman entering the building. Laura noted that the mystery woman would probably have been Remington's type several years ago, but she didn't dwell on it. Instead, she gently touched her abdomen and thought about the new life Remington had given.
Laura's steps were light as they carried her clothes up to the fifth floor. She had the definite feeling that tonight would be very special. If Mildred had been there, Laura would have taken her by the shoulders and exclaimed, "Tonight's the night!" just as she had done in Cannes.
Of course, *that* night had turned out to be a disaster, but tonight would be different. She and Remington had both matured since that ill-fated night. If they could just get rid of Gladys Lynch they would have a night to remember.
Laura was sure of it.
It was a night to remember all right, but for all the wrong reasons. Before Laura knew it, she was walking on yet another beach with Tony. As she walked along, she tried to make some sense of the evening's happenings. Actually, it wasn't the events that concerned Laura--it was the way she had reacted to them.
It certainly wasn't the first time she'd found a strange woman in Remington's apartment. After all, there had been Felicia, Joelle, Clarissa, and even the bimbo in Las Hadas. As it turned out, Remington was totally innocent each of those times, and Laura had no doubt he would be just as innocent this time. The bimbo in their bed was probably just another ex-lover with lousy times who needed a favor.
Laura had wanted the evening to be something really special, and Shannon had ruined everything.
Well, that wasn't exactly true, she realized. Shannon wasn't the one who had lashed out at Remington. Shannon wasn't the one who had kissed Tony within an inch of his life. And Shannon wasn't the one who probably had given Gladys Lynch all the evidence she needed to prove that the Steele-Holt marriage was a indeed a sham.
Laura was ashamed of her immature behavior. They could have explained Shannon's presence to Gladys' satisfaction if she hadn't decided instead on doing whatever she could to hurt Remington's feelings. She wondered how Remington had explained her actions to Gladys. What possible explanation could he had given?
Laura had a sudden, overwhelming urge to apologize to her husband. She should never have walked out and left him to the wolves, and she wanted to tell him so. She just hoped it wasn't too late to pacify Gladys.
She gradually snapped out of her reverie and was immediately aware of the sand between her toes and the surf pounding beside her. She realized that Tony was walking with her and that he had apparently been talking for quite some time. Was that something about following her from Las Hadas?
Laura really didn't care what he had to say. She only wanted to hurry back to Remington.
Assuming, of course, that he hadn't been deported.
Remington had spent a miserable evening. He had explained the whole rotten truth to Mildred, and surprisingly enough, she had been sympathetic. He chastised himself for not kicking Shannon out in the first place. At the very least, he should have introduced her to Laura when she first arrived. Mildred agreed with him there, but assured him that Laura would forgive him. All he had to do was be honest with her.
Well, honesty had never come easily to him, but he realized Laura deserved nothing less. So Remington was sitting up on the couch, waiting for Laura to return home so he could apologize. He didn't even bother to make the couch into a bed. With any luck, they just might end up in the same bed after all.
It was now 2 a.m. and Remington's patience had worn thin. For heaven's sake, where could Laura be? Surely she wasn't still with Tony! It still made Remington's blood boil when he thought of Laura kissing Tony at their front door. What kind of woman was she, anyway, to throw herself at another man while she was still on her honeymoon?
He knew Laura had once displayed a sort of bizarre attraction to Neanderthal types, but he had hoped that was behind her now. After all, she was a married woman! Well, maybe she didn't know she was a married woman, but that was a mere technicality.
Remington's anger and jealousy grew in direct proportion to the increasing lateness of the hour. What were they doing? In fact, what had Tony been doing at their doorstep in the first place? There certainly weren't many ruins to excavate in Los Angeles. Could it be he had designs on Laura and had followed her? Had she unwittingly led him on, as she had done with numerous men in the past? Could it be that right now they were in each other's arms? Could Laura really be so upset that she would let Tony take advantage of her?
Laura's cruel words still rang in Remington's ears: "I don't care what you do, you miserable swine!"
His foot still ached, but not as much as his heart.
Remington knew it had been Laura's anger and hurt speaking, and he also knew he was to blame for that anger. Could it be that he had unwittingly sent her into Tony's arms with his thoughtlessness? Just like Mexico, he thought. Some coincidence that Tony always seemed to be around when he'd let Laura down lately. Or was it perhaps *more* than a coincidence?
Where were they? Remington wondered angrily. His jealous mind conjured up images of the adulterous couple behind the Observatory at Griffith Park. He imagined them high atop a Ferris wheel at an all night amusement part. He pictured them in the wooded depths of McCullum Park. And with each new image, his blood pressure rose.
He heard a noise at the door and jumped to his feet as Laura entered. The room fairly sizzled with electricity, but neither spoke for a few moments. Remington carefully gave Laura the once over and noticed the sand clinging to her legs and ankles.
"I'm surprised you came back. I figured you and 'damned attractive' Anthony were really getting to know one another. So what if you have a husband at home? Easy come, easy go, eh?"
"Where's Shannon?" Laura countered. "I figured the two of you would still be reliving old memories. What's the matter? She didn't find our bed comfortable enough? Surely you could have found a bed somewhere to relive old times."
"I don't know where she is, and I don't care! Mildred kicked her out right after you left!"
"What I 'd like to know, is why *you* didn't kick her out?" Laura demanded in anger.
"She was an old friend-- you don't just kick an old friend out when they suddenly appear after five years!"
"What did you do? Hide her under the bed with the lint?"
"Actually, I stuffed her in the closet."
Laura couldn't believe what she'd just heard. "In the closet? Our bedroom closet? You mean she was watching while we were rolling around on the bed --when we almost--Why, you pervert!"
"I'm sure she would have closed her eyes if we'd --you know--well, if anything had happened."
Laura stormed into the bedroom and jerked open the mirrored closet door. Giving a quick kick to her pile of clothes lying on the floor, she quickly grabbed some covers and a pillow for the couch. Clutching them to her chest, she turned and stormed back into the living room with Remington still at her heels.
"If you think I'm sleeping in that bed tonight, you're crazy!" she snapped as she popped a sheet in Remington's face.
"But I changed the sheets," he assured her. Then realizing her mind was made up, he sighed and said, "Here, I'll take the couch."
She ignored him, so he grabbed the sheet from her. "Laura, give me the sheet. I said I'd sleep on the couch."
"Nooo!!!" Laura yelled as she struggled with him for the sheet.
Remington finally realized the futility of their struggle and relinquished the sheet to her. "Okay; you can sleep on the couch. But I'd rather we share the bed, like a normal married couple," he said in a quiet voice.
"Since when have we ever been a normal couple?" Laura's voice was calmer.
Remington just sighed. "Good night, Laura. I'm sorry tonight turned out to be such a disaster."
"I'm sorry, too," Laura said quietly.
They stared at each other awkwardly for a moment, but neither made a move. Finally, Remington walked dejectedly into the bedroom. Laura sadly watched him go, wanting desperately to stop him.
"I'll, uh, leave the door open," Remington said nervously. "If you need anything, call me."
I need you! Laura's heart cried.
Remington heard her silent plea, but ignored it. This was one time *he* needed to hear the words. His blue eyes reflected the pain in his heart as he bade Laura good night and walked away.
Laura frantically finished making her bed. Angrily tossing the couch pillows across the room, she crawled under the sheet. What was that old saying about making your bed and then having to lie in it?
She thumped her pillow a few times and then crossed her arms across her chest.What was she so mad about, anyway? She was the first to admit she deserved a tongue lashing for what she had done to Remington earlier. He had every right to be angry after the cruel things she had said. So, why had she jumped on him when she really wanted to make things right between them?
Laura felt her eyes sting and vowed not to cry. Just because she was pregnant was no reason to turn into a blithering idiot, she told herself. She thought of Remington alone in their bed and realized he was probably as miserable as she was. It would be so easy just to slip in beside him. So easy, yet so hard.
Laura thought how differently things might have been in Shannon had just stayed in that bathroom in Paris. Gladys would have been convinced she and Remington were the happiest married couple in America and Remington would now be excited over the prospect of fatherhood. If only things could have been different, Laura thought to herself as she drifted off to sleep. If only things could have been different...
Remington grabbed Laura in a big embrace as she tried to open the closet door and gave her a big kiss.
"What's gotten into you?" she asked, puzzled.
Remington tumbled them into bed, pinning Laura very effectively beneath him."Have you forgotten Mexico?" he asked. "Let the chips fall where they may? Up, periscope?"
Remington went in for another kiss, but Laura rolled him to the side. "What about Gladys Lynch?" she asked, struggling for air.
"Well, she said she wanted proof!" he said, pinning her down for another kiss.
Laura quickly rolled him back to the side, saying, "I don't think this is what she had in mind! "
Remington was back on top of her again. "Let's live dangerously," he said, giving her another passionate kiss.
By now Laura had stopped fighting. "Why not?" she exclaimed as she sent both of them rolling onto the floor.
The Magical Moment had finally arrived. Remington forgot all about Shannon hiding in the closet. He forgot about Gladys Lynch and her much dreaded visit. Nothing mattered to either of them now except the fact that they were in each other's arms. Clothing was quickly shed as their passions rose.
Shannon turned her head in embarrassment and put her hands over her ears. This was certainly not what she had in mind when she had arrived to see Dougie!
Laura and Remington were oblivious to their surroundings. The wool carpet burned their exposed flesh, but they didn't notice. Their entire bodies were on fire and burning out of control--
but they weren't the only things burning.
Shannon suddenly noticed a strange smell coming from somewhere in the apartment. Had Dougie said something about cooking a duck? Was that what she smelled? Suddenly nervous, she decided to sneak out of the bedroom and run for her life. She slowly removed her hands from her ears and listened. The moans had subsided a bit, so she slowly eased the door open a bit and peeked out at the newlyweds.
Good Lord! Now she had seen everything. The room was thick with smoke, but Dougie and Lu Lu hadn't even noticed! They were too busy starting their own fire! Still, in spite of the desperate situation, Shannon couldn't help laughing. Wouldn't Dougie and his bride make a lovely picture running from their burning apartment in their current state of undress?
"What was that?" Laura asked, in between kisses.
Shannon quickly clapped her hand over her mouth to muffle her laughter.
"Just my heart bearing in rhythm to yours," Remington muttered as he once again captured Laura's lips.
"Oh, good Lord! They're at it again!" Shannon muttered to herself. "We're going to burn to death, and they won't even notice!"
Just then she heard the doorbell ring. She breathed a sigh of relief, assuming that rescue was merely moments away.
Shannon's relief was short lived, however. Apparently Dougie and Lu Lu were still too caught up in the moment to hear anything except each other. Shannon started praying--and amazingly the bell started ringing.
Still the newlyweds heard nothing.
Finally there was a loud crash and Shannon assumed that the front door had been kicked in. Then she made out the sounds of a several, people coughing and stumbling about.
"There's a fire extinguisher in the kitchen!"exclaimed a woman's voice.
Obviously they had all run into the kitchen, because Shannon didn't hear anything more for a few minutes. She dared to take another quick peek at the honeymooners, figuring that the racket would have brought them back down to earth.
But no; they were still at it.
The sound of footsteps returned and a different woman said, "I'll check the bedroom."
Shannon heard the door open and close in record time. Somewhere in between, she was sure she had heard a gasp.
"Ah...ah... the kids are sorta ...busy... right now," a woman's voice said. "I don't think we should bother them about the fire."
Shannon had just settled down for a nap when she heard Laura and Remington moving around. She breathed another sign of relief, hoping against hope that they were finally getting dressed.
"Do you smell smoke?"Remington suddenly asked, sniffing the air.
"Now that you mention it...yes," Laura admitted.
"My duck!" Remington yelled as he frantically began pulling on his slacks and shirt.
Laura barely had time to shrug into her dress before Remington took her hand and they raced into the living room.
There, sitting on the couch, were Mildred, Tony, and a strange woman they assumed to be Gladys Lynch. Tony was scorched from head to foot. The trio stood and faced the newlyweds.
"Mildred!" Remington exclaimed. "When did you all get here-- and how did you get in? And why is it so smoky in here?!".
"You mean to tell me you didn't hear the doorbell?" Mildred asked.
"No! The only bells I heard were the ones ringing while we were, uh...kissing," Remington explained awkwardly. "After all, we are on our honeymoon," he added with a grin.
"Well, we got a little concerned when we saw smoke billowing out from beneath your door, so Tony here kicked the door in," Mildred continued.
"Annoying little habit you have there, Anthony," Remington replied, waving the smoke away from his eyes and coughing.
"Next time, I'll just let your duck burn," Tony said.
"My duck burned?" Remington exclaimed in horror. "Oh, no...!"
Before anyone could stop him, he ran into the kitchen to mourn his dinner.
Laura smiled nervously at her guests as she waved smoke from her face.
"Nice dress, Laura," Tony said. "But I think you've got it on backwards."
Laura looked down at her dress. Tony was right; she did indeed have it on backwards.
Before she could reply, Gladys spotted Shannon crawling on the floor behind Laura and heading toward the remnants of the front door.
"I've got just one question for you, Mrs. Steele." Gladys said briskly.
"Please, I prefer be called Holt-Steele. You know, Laura Holt-Steele."
"All right. Mrs. Holt-Steele, just exactly who is this woman crawling toward your front door?"
Laura turned, confused, and saw Shannon.
Shannon smiled weakly as she stood up.
Laura quickly looked back to Gladys. She had to think fast to come up with an explanation. She couldn't very well tell her that Shannon was probably one of her husband 's ex-lovers who had undoubtably been hiding in their bedroom.
"Uh, oh... she's the cleaning lady," Laura finally said.
"Then why is she wearing a formal gown and a fur coat?"
"Uh, she was cold," Laura said lamely. "I loaned her my coat. And, well, she always wears a formal gown when she cleans. It's the, uh, uniform of the company. They have a lot of clients in Beverly Hills."
"Okay. How about this one--why is she crawling around on the floor?"
"Oh, her contact! She lost her contact and was just trying to find it."
While Laura was explaining, Shannon made a run for it and sprinted through the splintered doorway.
"Her time was up," Laura said, realizing how ludicrous she must sound. "She was due at her next appointment."
Gladys turned and clomped to the to the front door--or what was left of it.. "Don't bother to have this place cleaned up, Mrs. Holt-Steele. You and your husband will have cozy, little jail cell to live in for the next five years."
"Wait!" Laura screamed. "I can explain! I know it looks bad, but I can explain! Please wait!"
Laura awoke found herself lying face down on the floor. Thanks to her dream, she had rolled right off the couch. Rubbing her aching head, she climbed back onto the couch and huddled under the covers.
She had been better off in Mexico, she decided. At least there, she had been able to use Remington's shirt as a security blanket Here, she had nothing but empty arms and an empty heart.
To be continued...

Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Div.

"Life in the Steele Lane" Index


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