Steele, Inc.-Atlanta Division
Steeling a New Life
Part 5
A Sequel to "Steele in the Mood" and "Bonds of Steele"
Debra Talley, with Thekla Kurth
Written Summer, 1988

Remington was a contented man as he sat in his first class seat with Laura's head resting on his chest They had raised the arm rest between them and Laura was sleeping comfortably against him. He kissed the top of her head, leaned back against his pillow and reflected on the progress they had made since take off.
Laura had given him the silent treatment ever since they'd left their apartment. He knew when she bought that crossword puzzle book at the airport that it was going to be a long flight. She suffered from Bulldog Terrier Syndrome, so that book wouldn't be out of her hands until she was finished with every puzzle.
After 30 minutes of the cold shoulder Remington could stand no more. Laura screaming at him was preferable to hearing himself breathe for 6,000 miles. Surely she'd keep her comments down to a hiss since there were other passengers nearby, he rationalized. So gearing himself for the worst, he bravely unplugged her earphones. Surprisingly, what followed was actually more of an apology than an argument. They cleared the air about Tony and Shannon and began anticipating a real honeymoon in London.
Then Remington had teasingly suggested they consummate their marriage on the plane. Admittedly the rest rooms were small, but hadn't they already practiced in the cramped confines of the Auburn? Before Laura could learn if her husband was serious or not, however, the plane hit an air pocket. Her face turned forty shades of green and she was lucky Remington handed her the air sick bag before it was too late. Soon after that she had fallen asleep in her husband's arms.
Remington decided he had better get some sleep, also. So with Laura still in his arms, he closed his eyes and soon joined her in dreamland.
The flight attendant walked past them and smiled as she turned off Laura's overhead light. She prided herself on being able to recognize newlyweds, and she didn't need to see the stars in Laura and Remington's eyes to realize they were newly married. The trusting way they slept in each other's arms told her all she needed to know. She quietly moved on and left them to their dreams.
Remington knew they had been set up by someone when he learned that Boy with Flute was in a Moscow museum and was then forced to run for his life from a gang of cut throats who called him a bloody copper. It didn't take him long to figure out who that someone was.
Remington had run straight into the arms of Immigration when he ran from The Red House. And Immigration then led him straight to Mr. Anthony Roselli. Remington didn't know what to think when Tony started discussing his marriage to Laura, but he had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. Something wasn't as it appeared; he would have bet on it.
Remington had been very careful to file all the necessary papers regarding their marriage. He had thoroughly checked and double checked the legalities of marriages performed in international waters by the captain, or acting captain, of a vessel. And then to make absolutely sure there could be no question, he had picked a captain who was also a licensed minister. This was one con where Remington had made sure he had all bases covered.
So what was Tony's angle? He obviously had done his research, which meant he knew Shannon's sworn statement was as phony as her bad heart. And why had Tong bothered to show him the statement in the first place if he was then just going to turn right around and let him go? It didn't make any sense, and it was that very senselessness which scared Remington.
He wanted answers, so he waited in front of the American Embassy. When Tony left for the day, Remington would simply follow him and confront him. Trying to make some sense of their earlier meeting, Remington decided that blackmail seemed as likely a motive as any for the Italian stallion's behavior. Obviously, Tony thought he could intimidate him into doing something for him. That would explain why he had suddenly appeared in Mexico, then in L.A., and now in London. The bloody bugger had obviously been following him and had used Laura as a way to get to him.
But what was Anthony going to blackmail him with? Remington wondered. He obviously knew the Steele-Holt marriage was legal, so that was out... Or was it? Could it be that Anthony had talked with Juan and somehow figured out that *Laura* thought the marriage was a fraud?
Anthony certainly knew his Spanish; it would have been a simple matter for him to have talked with Juan before leaving for London. Even though Remington hadn't told Juan that Laura thought the marriage was fake, it was possible Juan had put two and two together. After all, he had made a big deal of the fact that Laura was not to know that Juan was acting captain; he only wanted her to know that Juan cleaned fish.
Would the Italian rat threaten to tell Laura the truth unless he agreed to do something for him? Remington realized it was a bit farfetched, but it was the best theory he could come up with. And if it was true, then Remington knew that Tony had him right where he wanted him.
Remington couldn't take the chance that Tony would tell Laura she had been tricked into a legal marriage. Regardless of whether she forgave him or killed him, *he* had to be the one to tell her the truth.
Remington's confrontation with Tony on the archery field later that day confirmed his theory that blackmail was indeed the motive. And because Remington couldn't take the risk of having Laura learn the truth from the wrong person, he agreed to Tony's "request." Tony would contact him later with more details.
As Remington later made his way into the St. John's Hotel to meet Laura in their honeymoon suite, he wondered if he should just go ahead then and tell her the truth about their marriage. That way, Tony wouldn't have a weapon to use against him. The question became moot, however, when he saw Laura get into a taxi with Shannon in front of the hotel.
Remington thought he had convinced Shannon to leave Laura alone, but apparently he was wrong. He didn't know what Shannon was up to, but he was sure it wasn't to Laura's advantage. Hopping back into his cab, he followed them. If Shannon pushed Laura into the Thames or shoved her into the path of a double decker bus, he intended to be there. Tony would just have to wait.
As it turned out, Remington didn't catch up with Laura until later that evening at the Flamingo Club. She was engaged in a very intimate conversation with Tony when he spotted her, but this time jealousy never even crossed his mind. Quite the contrary; he had seen the murderous look in Laura's eyes and he wouldn't have traded places with Tony for love nor money. Long before the resulting conversation was over, in fact, Remington knew both he and Tony were carne morte. He wasn't sure why, but he was sure he would find out
The ensuing game of "change partners" that occurred on the dance floor made Remington dizzy. He recalled something Mildred had once said about he and Laura dancing a dance around each other. Now he knew exactly what she had meant, both literally and figuratively. For four years he and Laura had danced a dance around each other, going around in endless circles but never really getting anywhere, just like now.
He wished he had more time to ponder this new insight, but international espionage waited for no man. He knew Mildred would keep an eye on Laura, so he tried not to worry about her as he received his calling card from Tony.
It wasn't until he was in a taxi and on his way to Paddington Station that Remington wondered exactly where Mildred had come from. Hadn't he left her in L.A.?
Remington and Laura made themselves comfortable in their private compartment on the train. They were on their way to Ireland to see first hand the castle Remington had just inherited from the Earl of Claridge. The ferry was four hours away and it would be just the two of them. No more Tony. No more Shannon. And no more Mildred-- at least temporarily.
Laura tossed aside her coat and gave Remington a took which promised that there would soon be more to follow. The honeymoon was finally beginning. With any luck, they would be oblivious to everything but each other for four glorious hours.
But luck once again was not on their side, for there in their doorway stood Tony. Remington didn't even attempt to be civil and Laura couldn't blame him; she just hoped the two of them wouldn't come to blows. The last thing she needed was for Remington to be thrown in jail twice during their honeymoon.
In a strange more, Tony turned Shannon's statement over to Remington. He and Laura both knew the statement was only an excuse; it was worthless and Tony knew it. They didn't know what he wanted with them, but chances were it wasn't good.
A bevy of bobbies boarded the train as it came to a sudden halt. Tony wasn't beneath begging for help, but Remington had no intention of saving his miserable hide this time. In fact, he was looking forward to watching the authorities drag him away.
Laura, however, had mixed emotions. The last thing she wanted to do was help Tony. After all, he had made shambles out of their honeymoon in three different countries! But if the police arrested Tony now, he might be just low enough to implicate Remington as a sort of revenge for their not helping him. And that would delay their honeymoon yet again.
Not wanting any more delays, Laura did the first thing that popped into her head. She threw her arms around Tony, pretended he was Remington and kissed him for all she was worth. After all, he couldn't get them into any more trouble if he couldn't talk, now could he?
Remington was none too pleased with Laura's actions, but he played along with her for the time being. He realized if he didn't, she would be arrested right along with Tony.
Laura tried to pull away as soon as she heard the bobby leave, but Tony held her fast. She knew if she made a scene, Remington would leap to her defense and tear Tony to pieces. So instead, she quietly bit Tony's lip. He released her immediately and she fell back against the seat in a daze.
She felt betrayed. She had saved Tony's life, and he had thanked her by taking advantage of her. And the worst of it was that she couldn't tell Remington. If she did, they'd be scraping Tony off the tracks and Remington would be arrested.
Remington sensed Laura's uneasiness, so he sat beside her and drew her close. He not only realized the kiss was just a ploy, but that Tony had taken advantage of Laura's kind heart. Obviously, Tony's promise to leave Laura alone had been worthless. Somehow that really didn't surprise Remington. After all, what else could one expect from a two-timing Italian muscle man who would make time with another man's bride while her new husband was tucked away in a Mexican jail ?
Remington tightened his embrace around Laura and mentally threw Tony through the window. The mental image of Tony bouncing off the tracks made him feel better and it was a hell of a lot safer than actually doing it. After all, no one could arrest him for mental murder. Could they?
Laura stirred in his arms, causing fantasies of a different sort. He lost himself in those more pleasurable fantasies as the train took them closer to Ireland and the fulfillment of their mutual dreams.
Life at Ashford Castle proved to be quite hectic. Remington and Laura were forced to put their magical moment on hold one more time. This time, however, it didn't seem to matter so much. Not that they didn't want each other; to the contrary, they wanted each other more than ever. But they had reached a new understanding during the flight to London, and they no longer felt their past insecurities. While they realized they still had some things to work out, but were confident they could tackle any problem together.
Remington didn't like the idea of harboring a possible murderer, but Laura assured him that Tony would explain things to their satisfaction soon. She just didn't expect his explanation to occur while she and Tony were locked in the master bedroom.
When she had first seen Tony bending over the bed in her shadowy bedroom, she had logically assumed him to be Remington. She did the only natural thing for a woman on her honeymoon--she tackled her husband onto the bed and kissed him. She realized her mistake immediately and couldn't push Tony away fast enough. Twice in twelve hours was just too much to bear. If Tony were any sort of a gentleman, he wouldn't have let her kiss him on a false assumption.
But then, he wasn't a gentleman. Laura was just too flustered to let that fact sink in.
Laura was sure Remington hadn't set Tony up. She trusted her instincts on that count. When Remington chose that moment to knock on the bedroom door, she even suggested they both simply ask him about it. Knowing she had nothing to hide, she had even started to unlock the door for him.
Unfortunately, she let Tony convince her she should feel guilty to have Remington discover them together in a locked bedroom. Against her better judgment, she helped Tony climb out the window and down the drainpipe. She almost pushed him out the window when he tried to steal another kiss, but decided a body beneath their bedroom window would probably arouse suspicion. And heaven knew they had enough to worry about without that!
She should have followed her instincts and let Remington find them together. He had heard Tony shimmying down the drainpipe and naturally went to the window to investigate. He even noticed the wrinkled bedspread. Laura tried to explain, but he shrugged off her explanation. He knew he could trust Laura. She might flirt with Tony, but that was as far as it would go. Besides, he had other matters on his mind at the moment. It seemed their uninvited guest was a Russian spy.
Nothing in the honeymoon manual had covered that development.
While Remington concentrated on locating Tony, Laura concentrated on discovering just exactly what their *other* uninvited guest was up to. Daniel Chalmers' claimed he was at the castle as Ashford's chief of security, but Laura was afraid there was more to it than that. He was obviously there to see Remington, and the last thing she needed on this honeymoon was for Daniel to drag Remington into some crackpot scheme!
Since Laura didn't know where Remington was anyway, she followed Daniel and one of the maids when they left the estate. To her surprise, they ended up at the Russian Embassy in Dublin. Consumed with following her quarry, she climbed right over the embassy wall--and straight into the arms of armed guards. She should have been grateful to Daniel for claiming she was an escapee from the kitchen, but instead she swore to get even one day. No one deserved to be sent to the kitchen to peel potatoes until dark.
While Laura whiled the day away peeling Irish potatoes, Remington and Tony passed the time by beating the living daylights out of each other in the village square. The fight had been destined to happen since Tony first planted his foot in the doorway of the Steele's honeymoon suite at Las Hadas.
Up until this point, Remington had done a commendable job of keeping his anger and frustration in check. But something had snapped in him when Tony said he was lower than a pimp because he had married Laura just to keep himself from being deported. Whether Tony knew it or not, he had insulted Laura with that remark--and that was the last straw. All the pent up frustrations from the past week came spilling out at once and Remington struck the first blow.
The town folks had no idea what the fight was about, but they didn't care. A fight was a fight and this one was a dilly. Several folks recognized Remington as the new owner of Ashford Castle and began cheering him on. Then just when it looked like Remington was the victor, he took a surprise flight through the window of O'Henry's Pub.
Remington vaguely recognized the irony of his present situation. Hadn't he fantasized about throwing Tony through a train window just hours earlier? Could this was his punishment for thinking such murderous thoughts? Before he could finish his thought, however, the fight was back in full swing again.
He got a second wind of sorts when he realized the bystanders were taking bets. For a brief second, he felt just like John Wayne in The Quiet Man. Problem was, he couldn't seem to remember how the scene ended.
Their fight ended with Tony in the water trough and Remington barely on his feet. He was too tired to even realize he had won. Strangely enough, the fight seemed to create a reluctant bond between them. When the house with the red door was blown into a million pieces, Remington and Tony decided to stick together. They may have disagreed on the terminology, but they agreed on the strategy.
They ran for their lives!
Tony realized he had been wrong about Remington setting him up, and Remington graciously accepted his apology. They deduced that Tony had dug up two moles for the price of one. Remington hated to see any innocent man suffer, so he agreed to help clear Tony's name. Besides, he wanted Tony out of his life for good and that seemed to be the quickest way to accomplish that.
Tony still thought Remington had used Laura merely to keep from being deported, but at least he admitted he had been out of line with his earlier remark. He still didn't know what to make of the Steeles' fishy marriage, but he knew there was more there than met the eye.
In spite of everything, Tony was still determined to get to the bottom of things. He might end up owing Remington his life, but that wouldn't keep him from trying to win Laura. Who had ever called him a man of honor, anyway?
Remington crashed the dinner party at the Russian Embassy that evening. He had intended to merely kidnap Kemodav, but ended up rescuing a bagged Tony at the same time. Remington couldn't figure how Tony had gotten captured. Hadn't he instructed him to wait in his room? Obviously, Tony hadn't listened. He'd probably been out looking for Laura, Remington surmised. And if that was the case, it served him right.
Luckily, Remington and Tony managed to sneak Kemodav's unconscious body out of the Embassy and into the car. As Remington drove the long miles back to Ashford and to relative safety, he couldn't help thinking of Laura. She was probably worried about him; he just hoped she missed him as much as he missed her.
Laura didn't have time to miss her missing husband. It was already dark when she returned to Ashford from KP duty. Upon discovering that Remington had put on his tuxedo and left several hours earlier, she decided to search Daniel's room. He wouldn't be bothering her, since he'd obviously put on his tux and left also. She couldn't help but wonder if either of them *ever* took a trip without taking their tux along.
Laura didn't know what she expected to find in Daniel's room. Perhaps floor plans to the Dublin Museum? A stolen painting? A fortune in stolen gems? Actually, none of those items would have surprised her. What she did find, however, took her breath away. There in Daniel's dresser drawer were enough medicine bottles to fill a drug store--and a pocket watch. A gold pocket watch. The very same one Remington's father had supposedly stolen from the Earl of Claridge.
The significance of her discovery made a great impact on Laura. Her detective's mind had already pieced the story together by the time Daniel returned from his night out. She had never felt so overwhelmed--not even when she had briefly thought the Earl to be Remington's father. That had been something out of the blue, but this was something that struck so close to home it shook her to the very core of her being.
Who would have thought she'd uncover the truth about Remington's father during their honeymoon? And who would have dreamed that Daniel Chalmers, the man Remington had loved like a father for 20 years, would turn out to be that father?
Laura thought back to all the times Remington had talked about his past. He had shared very little about the years he spent growing up in Ireland or of his dark days on the streets of London, but he had always talked freely about his years with Daniel. Well, freely for him, at least. And every time he talked about Daniel, there was a special tone of respect and love in his voice. At times Laura had been jealous of Remington's feelings for Daniel; she resented the fact that he loved the older man so freely, yet held back so much from her. Why couldn't he experience that same closeness with her?
Laura had never allowed herself to see Daniel as the decent, honorable man he actually was; jealously and fear had clouded her judgment. She had always been afraid Remington would leave her and return to his old life with Daniel. She had no such qualms any more, but unfortunately she'd never have the opportunity to make it up to Daniel.
Once the initial shock of her discovery wore off, Laura began wondering why Daniel had never told Remington the truth about their genetic connection. What had happened to cause him to carry that secret for all those years? Laura knew Daniel couldn't possibly have deserted Remington; he loved Remington as much as Remington loved him. Something of catastrophic proportions must have forced them apart all those years ago, but what?
Laura had always thought of Remington as her Man of Mystery. He had even told her once that parts of his life were as big of a mystery to him as they were to her. If only she had realized the truth behind that statement. If only she had trusted him more. If only she had loved him more. If only. . .
Laura had slowly accepted the fact that Remington had not purposely kept his past a secret to hurt her. Rather, he had guarded it to hide some of his pain. Hadn't she been she guilty of doing the same thing? Hadn't she turned her own father's desertion into an unapproachable topic? At the moment, there was nothing Laura could do to bridge the chasm left by her own father's leaving, but she could help bridge the chasm that had been left in Remington's life by Daniel's leaving. She determined to do just that.
Laura had no reason to doubt the story Daniel told her. Yes, she supposed the entire explanation could have been just another in his long line of scams, but it wasn't; Daniel's eyes were too full of emotion. She urged him to tell his son the truth; Remington deserved to know he had a father while that father was still alive. They deserved the chance to spend time together as father and son.
She didn't blame Daniel for not telling Remington the truth twenty years ago --she knew what it was like to fear that someone you loved would leave you forever. But time was precious now and if Daniel didn't tell Remington now, the opportunity could be lost forever.
Laura was feeling great affection for Daniel as they walked together across the great lawn of Ashford Castle. She no longer saw him as merely an aging con artist. She saw, instead, a man who had overcome great obstacles because of love. He had fathered the man she loved; he had suffered great heartache when that son was lost to him for fourteen years; he had diligently searched and found that son, loving him in spite of the fact that the streets had turned him into a bitter teenager with nothing ahead of him but a life of crime. And last but not least, he had taken that angry young man and turned him into a decent, honorable gentleman.
If Daniel had not found his son on the streets of London, Remington Steele would never have been born. The last four years would never have happened and chances were that Laura would never have met her Mystery Man, except perhaps in some police line-up. The man of her dreams would have remained in her dreams.
Laura realized she owed a great deal to Daniel. She wanted to throw herself into his arms and tell him just how glad she was that he was Remington's father. She wanted to, but she was afraid he wouldn't understand.
Laura needn't have worried; she wasn't the only one feeling sentimental at that moment. Daniel was close to overflowing with fatherly love and pride for her; he was proud that his son had fallen in love with such a lovely, intelligent woman. There was no doubt in his mind that Remington would be just fine with Laura by his side.
With a kiss to his daughter-in-law's hand Daniel was gone, leaving Laura alone with his secret under the lovely Irish stars.
The actual realization of Daniel's impending death didn't fully set in until Laura reached the master bedroom a few moments later. She threw herself on the bed and gave free reign to her feelings. The tears flowed freely and helped her to ease her aching heart.
It simply wasn't fair, she told herself. How could Remington's father walk into his life after all these years, only to be whisked away by the Grim Reaper? Where was the justice in that? The two of them deserved a chance to spend time together. They deserved the chance to spend a Father's Day together.
Laura felt a great sense of loss for herself as well; she wanted the opportunity of getting to know Daniel as her father-in-law. She wanted the chance to love and admire him the way Remington did. She wanted to spend time with him.
She put her hand on her abdomen and thought of the new life resting here. Every child needed a grandfather, Laura realized. Perhaps Daniel wouldn't have taught his grandchild typical grandfatherly things, but he would have been a loving grandfather; Laura had no doubt of that. It simply wasn't fair to any of them.
Suddenly Laura felt a desperate need to be with Remington. The years Daniel had been cheated out of haunted her. She and Remington had already let too much time pass without telling each other how they felt. And here they were, married over a week already, and not once had they experienced a magical moment. She didn't want to wake up fourteen years later and find that they were still afraid to love each other. She wanted them to love each other now.
Laura discovered Remington in the den with Tony. She quickly dismissed the Italian stallion and turned her attentions to her husband. She tried to speak, but found she was too overwhelmed with emotions. How could she be with Remington and not share what she knew? What if Daniel never found the courage to tell him the truth? Could she live with Remington day in and day out for the rest of her life and not tell him Daniel's secret? Could she watch Remington with their children on future Father's Days and not tell him about his own father?
The words to Barry Manilow's song kept repeating over and over in Laura's mind, haunting her. She couldn't seem to shake them, no matter how hard she tried.
"All the time,
All the wasted time;
All the years, waiting for a sign;
To think I had it all,
All the time."
Enough time had already been wasted, Laura decided. It was time to heal past wounds and bring father and son together. She would make Daniel tell Remington the truth, one way or another.
Laura should have realized that Daniel wouldn't have given in so easily. It just wasn't in his nature! By the time she realized he had been telling Remington about a deceased dog named Montague, he was already pulling his car out of the driveway. After a quick change of clothes, she jumped into the first available car she saw and followed him. She was determined to win this round with Daniel if it was the last thing she did. If this was going to be her last run-in with him, she was going to pull out all the stops. The stakes were high, but she had to win--for Remington's sake.
The master bedroom remained empty that night. Laura spent the night following her errant father-in-law, while Remington spent the night unconscious on the dungeon floor. And so another night of their honeymoon passed with no magical moment anywhere in sight. But passion was the last thing on the newlyweds' minds; there was work to be done before either could concentrate on more pleasurable pursuits.
Laura wasn't about to lose Daniel in the Russian Embassy. She pinned on her name tag and boldly walked right in. She grabbed a feather duster and set out to locate Daniel. To her surprise, she found a gagged Tony instead. Against her better judgment, she untied him and led him through the kitchen to safety.
If they had escaped through the front parlor, they would have run into Remington, who was searching for a lost lighter of Italian descent. As it was, however, they ran into Daniel as they were escaping over the rear wall. Laura sent Tony on his way to freedom while she joined Daniel on the ground.
It was the time for confrontation, Laura realized. Somehow she had to get through to Daniel. She just prayed she could find the right words.
The words she used were harsh, but they were the words Daniel needed to hear. Whether Remington forgave him or not, Daniel owed him the truth. For twenty years he had been afraid to tell his son the truth, but the time of reckoning had come. The truth could be withheld no longer.
If Daniel had known Remington was the Embassy's unwelcome guest at that very moment, he would have gone rescued him and any cost. Then, during their leisurely drive back to the castle, Daniel could have pulled off the road and told Remington the truth as they strolled beside some rippling Irish lake. But because Daniel knew nothing of his son's involuntary tea party, he decided to return to Ashford Castle and wait for him there. He squared his tired shoulders and walked with purpose across the Embassy lawn. He would tackle this final task of love with dignity.
When he finally faced the Grim Reaper, it would be with a sense of pride. Not regret.
After Laura unleashed her fury on Daniel, she scaled the Embassy wall and promptly became sick. Her confrontation with Daniel had drained her, both physically and emotionally. With each cruel word she had flung at Daniel, her own heart had ached a little bit more. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt him, but it was the only way she knew to reach him. Like his son, he was a decent and honorable man. By making him believe she thought otherwise, she hoped he would be forced to prove her wrong.
She also hoped he would forgive her.
Laura spent the next few minutes wandering through Dublin's fair city in search of Tony. She didn't intend to waste much time looking for him, but she needed the walk to calm her nerves. Her previous confrontation with Daniel still weighed heavily on her heart.
It wasn't until she noticed a young mother pushing her baby in a pram that heart grew lighter. Seeing the baby reminded her that life went on. The old died, the young married, babies were born and life renewed itself. She and Remington were standing on the brink of a new life. In a few months, Iife would renew itself because of their love. Daniel would die, but Daniel's son and grandchild would live. Didn't that somehow give Daniel immortality?
Laura smiled as she contemplated the miracle of life and death. Her steps grew lighter as she picked up her pace. She had a husband to hurry home to-- and a new life to begin. If she didn't find Tony very, very soon, she was going to leave without him. She had more important things on which to concentrate.
Unfortunately, Tony found Laura and engaged her sympathies one more time. Or was it selfishness on Laura's part that caused her to help him? After all, wasn't the best way to get rid of him to help him? As they walked along, Laura's mind was elsewhere. It certainly wasn't on Tony. That is, until he kissed her.
The kiss came out of the blue. Laura had wanted to pretend it had never happened. She wanted to tell Tony to get lost and let her get on with her life. She wanted to say those things, but she didn't. Instead, she heard someone saying that maybe things would have been different between them if they'd met a year ago.
Had *she* said that? Why, it wasn't even true! Since the day Remington had walked into her life four years ago, no other man had stood a chance. They had all paled in comparison to her Mystery Man. And Tony wasn't even her type! Whatever had possessed her to say he might have stood a chance a year ago? Who was she kidding?
Laura suddenly no longer saw Tony walking beside her. Instead, she saw Butch Beemis...and Clay Platt...and Bill Smith...and Creighton Phillips... and even Paul Dominic. All of them had one thing in common: they meant nothing to her, but she had used them in an effort to make Remington jealous. It was as if she were saying, "These men think I'm attractive. Why don't you? Why don't you fight for me? Why don't you tell me how you feel?"
Laura now saw herself in a different light and she didn't like what she saw. She saw an immature, insecure woman who manipulated men for her own selfish means. Was she really any better than Shannon or Felicia or Anna?
Laura then thought of Remington's past dealings with his various ex-lovers. In every case, they had come to him for help. They had tried to win back his affections, but he had remained faithful to her. He had helped them, but only out of a sense of loyalty and friendship. Her jealousies had never been founded.
But she, on the other hand, had betrayed Remington's trust at every turn. She had led men on for the sole purpose of forcing Remington's hand, to force him to say, "I love you."
Shouldn't his patience, gentleness and understanding have been all the proof she needed? Wasn't it more important that Remington had found the courage to stay with her and love her for four years? Did Daniel love Remington any less just because he had never found the right words to tell him the truth? Which was more important? The fact that Daniel had found the courage to spend 34 years of his life searching for and loving his lost son, or the fact that he had been afraid to verbally declare his love?
Laura returned to the present and took a good long took at Tony. What she saw was the latest in a line of men that she had used against Remington in the Battle of the Sexes. The only thing Tony had ever made her feel was flattered --Tony and all the others. For someone as insecure as she was, it had been easy to let other men's admiration go to her head.
But it would be different now, Laura vowed. The only admiration she desired now, or would desire for the next 50 years, was Remington's. It was time she put childish games behind her and started behaving like a married woman in love with husband. So what if they couldn't say the words? After all, words weren't everything.
Maybe words weren't everything, but the well-placed stomp on Tony's foot spoke volumes. He quickly removed his arms from around her shoulders. Questionable marriage or not, Laura left Tony no doubts as to where her loyalties lay.
Remington had no idea how long he had been walking by the lake. It seemed like hours. Daniel's revelation had left him angry, confused, and stunned. A tide of conflicting emotions was rolling over him. He had never felt as close to drowning as he did there by the shores of Lough Corrib.
Remington had started on his soul searching walk alone, but he was soon joined by a shadow from his past. It was Johnny Todd whom Daniel had rescued from the back streets of London, and it was Johnny Todd who now returned to help Remington sort through his tumult of conflicting emotions.
Remington picked up a pebble and angrily tossed it into the lake, causing a series of ripples to spread across the surface in protest.
"Damnit, Daniel! Why'd you wait 20 years to tell me?" Remington yelled into the wind.
"And what if he had told you 20 years ago?" asked Johnny Todd. "How would that have made things different?"
"Well, we wouldn't have wasted the last 20 years!"
"And were the last 20 years really wasted?" Johnny asked.
"Well, maybe not. But at least we could have spent those years together as father and son."
"Think again. Mate. If Daniel had told you the truth while you were picking his pocket, would you have stuck around?"
"What kind of question is that? Of course I would have stuck around! He's my father!"
"You're wrong, mate. Remington Steele may have stuck around, but he didn't exist then. You were Johnny Todd then, remember? Oh, Steele might have been hidden deep inside that skinny, angry, street kid, but that street kid would have run as fast and far as he could have when confronted with the father who had deserted him. If Daniel had told you the truth then, you would have lost him forever."
"Even if I had rejected him at first, I'm sure I would have come around later," Remington said defensively.
"Maybe. But do you really think Daniel would have stuck around? He'd spent 14 years trying to find you. If you had rejected him, think what a blow that would have been to him. As it was, he took you under his wing, provided for you, educated you--and loved you. And believe me, you weren't very lovable back then!"
"No, I wasn't," Remington agreed as he walked slowly along the lake shore, kicking pebbles out of his path.
"Just think about it, ole sport. If it wasn't for Daniel's love and patience and self-denial, you 'd still be Johnny Todd, hustling on the streets for a quid. Harry would never have been born, and Remington Steele would now be trapped inside the body of an angry, lonely criminal. Maybe you didn't know you had a father, but you did have your father's love."
"I used to pretend he really was my father," Remington recalled. "Once I even made that wish at a traveling carnival show. I never told Daniel, though; I was afraid it would scare him off if he knew how I really felt about him."
"Then maybe those 20 years weren't wasted after all, eh? You spent them with the man you wished was your father. You spent them developing traits that would allow you to become Remington Steele when the time was right. You spent those years becoming the man Laura Holt would eventually fall in love with. Sounds to me like those years were put to pretty good use, pal."
"Laura!" Remington suddenly thought. "What will Laura think of me when she finds out Daniel is my father? She'll probably think I knew all along and just wouldn't tell her! She'll never trust me again!"
"Don't underestimate that lovely wife of yours. Remember last night when she said she had misjudged Daniel? That he was a fine man?"
"She knew!" Remington suddenly realized. "She knew the truth even before I did! Which probably means that the only reason Daniel told me was because Laura bullied him in to it! Blast it, Daniel! What kind of bloody coward are you, anyway?!"
Remington continued to walk, unaware that his shadow self, Johnny Todd, had vanished. Johnny had done his part to help Remington sort through his feelings. It was Mildred's turn now.
To be continued...

"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.