- Steele, Inc.-Atlanta
Steele Warm as ToastDebra Talley
This story is set in the Brendan Universe
- Monday, Nov. 10,
- "Finally finished with the
paperwork on the Heston case, Boss?" Mildred asked as Remington
breezed by her desk, headed for the outer door of Remington Steele
- "Indeed, Mildred, indeed," he
said, pausing in front of her desk to adjust his tie. "We really
must speak with our Ms. Holt about fabricating needless paperwork;
I mean, hasn't she heard that our forests are in danger of
extinction? Think of how many trees the Steele Agency could
single-handedly rescue if we...if we..."
- "If we what, Boss? Did all of our
paperwork on the computer?"
- "Well, it's about time the bloody
things proved useful for something," Remington griped.
- "If I'm not mistaken, that
'bloody thing' saved your neck a few years ago when Jarvis was out
to cook your goose," Mildred reminded him.
- Remington grimaced. "Yes, but
that's in the distant past. Perhaps it's time for them to prove
themselves again, eh?"
- "You *know* Mrs. Steele won't let
me put the Agency records on the computer. And even if we *did*
computerize the paperwork, you'd still have to *write* the case
summaries before you could input them."
- "Yes, I know," he sighed. "But I
*do* wish Laura wouldn't inform me out of the blue that she's
going home early and that *I'll* have to finish the paperwork
before I leave. We're having dinner with her family at 8:30, for
heaven's sake, and I've got things to do!"
- "I thought you *wanted* her to
take it easy now," Mildred reminded him.
- "I *do* want her to take it easy!
If I had my way, she wouldn't even *be* working while she's
- "So what's the problem? You want
her to take it easy; she's taking it easy."
- "Yes, but I thought the two of us
would be taking it easy together!" he complained.
- "Boss, you know Mrs. Steele and
her Bulldog Terrier Syndrome. You should consider it a compliment
that she trusts you enough to leave things in your capable
- "Thank you, Mildred," he said,
giving her a quick peck. "Only you could make mindless drudgery
seem like an honor to be cherished."
- "You better hustle," Mildred
ordered. "You and the missus don't want to be late for
- Remington smiled and headed for
the door, but then suddenly turned back around and asked, "You
*are* still meeting us at the restaurant, aren't you?"
- "I'm, uh, still waffling,
actually," she admitted. "I mean, you're having a family dinner,
and I'm not..."
- "Mildred, you are family to Laura
and me--and our child-to-be," Remington explained with sincerity.
"Truly, we will be hurt if you don't join us. We're anxious for
Frances and Abigail to get to know you better."
- There was a long pause while
- "Please?" Remington asked, his
blue eyes pleading.
- "Oh, alright. I guess it's time
all of us battle axes got to know each other better."
- Remington's grin would have made
any battle ax blush. Rushing back to Mildred's desk, he gave her a
kiss on both cheeks and was gone again before she could open her
mouth to speak.
- As Remington exited the elevator
and began the walk down the corridor to his door, he couldn't help
but notice the wonderful aroma coming from...Coming from where? It
seemed to be coming from his apartment, but he knew that was
highly unlikely. After all, he and Laura were meeting Mildred and
Laura's family for dinner at the Piper's favorite restaurant.
Puzzled, he took his keys from his pocket, unlocked the door and
pushed it open.
- "Laura?" he asked hopefully,
looking anxiously around the room for his wife.
- Even though they had been now
been married for 6 months, Remington still experienced a thrill
every time he saw Laura. If anything, the thrill was greater each
and every time he laid eyes on her. He couldn't imagine what it
would feel like after they had been married for a year...10
years...25 years....50 years...He couldn't imagine, but he was
looking forward to the feeling.
- Taking a few sniffs to confirm
his suspicion, he deduced the wonderful aroma was indeed coming
from their apartment. Calling Laura's name a few more times and
still receiving no answer, he followed his nose into the kitchen.
Even though Laura wasn't the gourmet cook Remington was, she had
proved to be an apt pupil and was quite capable of putting a tasty
meal together. Of course, she would have made even more progress
if they could only keep their minds on the lessons at hand.
- They usually prepared their meals
together, but for some reason still unknown to Remington, Laura
had decided to cook this meal by herself. Turning on the oven
light, he looked at the perfectly browning meat loaf and smiled,
noting that it would go beautifully with the baked potatoes and
tiny English peas which were still cooking. The counters and sink
were always a disaster whenever Laura cooked and tonight was no
exception, but the pride Remington took in his partner's cooking
far outweighed any mess she made in the process.
- As he stood by the oven inhaling
the delightful scent, he couldn't help but wonder what was going
on. Why would Laura cook his favorite dinner--by herself, no
less--when they had reservations to eat with her family?
- He was so caught up in his own
ponderings, he didn't even notice when Laura walked up behind him
and said, "About time you got home."
- Her remark was so unexpected that
Remington screamed and jumped, knocking a pitcher of iced water
off the counter. "Laura, please! Don't sneak up on me like
- "Sorry," she said, giving him a
kiss. "I thought you heard me come in."
- "Yes, well, I probably would
have, if I hadn't been so baffled about why you're cooking
- Smiling at him, Laura kissed each
of his eyelids and then the tip of his nose.
- "Ummm. If I had known that my
doing paperwork was such a turn-on for you, I'd have stopped
complaining about it years ago," he admitted.
- "We're not going to the
restaurant," she informed him.
- "We're not?" he asked,
- "We're having a home cooked meal
- Remington sniffed deeply again,
moaning in appreciation. "Obviously. But I'm not sure you've
prepared enough for everyone..."
- "As far as I know, everyone else
still has reservations," Laura enigmatically explained.
- "Laura, are you going to tell me
what's going on, or am I going to have to call your mother and ask
- "I just decided I didn't want to
share you tonight," she explained. "After all, how many times will
we celebrate our six month anniversary?"
- "Laura, we've already talked
about this, and we decided to join the family for dinner and then
celebrate by ourselves later tonight. I mean, it's not your
mother's fault that she's in town and the only night Donald could
get reservations for all of us was tonight."
- "Yes, I know all of that," Laura
said. "I just changed my mind. Do you really mind?"
- "Laura, that's not the point.
We've both decided we want this baby--and his future brothers and
sisters--to have a loving relationship with its grandmother and
aunt and uncle. And toward that end, we have to spend time with
them and allow our own relationships with them to grow..."
- "Don't worry about Mother and
Frances," she explained. "They were very understanding when I
explained things to them. Besides, their dinner won't be a total
loss. It'll give them an opportunity to get better acquainted with
Mildred. I mean, our child's grandmother and godmother need a
chance to bond, also."
- Remington smiled and gave Laura a
kiss, saying, "You seem to have covered all of the bases, Mrs.
Steele, so I guess there's no harm done. Besides, how could I be
disappointed about spending the entire evening alone with you,
- "You go ahead and shower while I
finish up dinner," Laura told him. "You can help me get things on
the table when you're done."
- Remington pulled Laura close for
another series of kisses. "Mmmm....You just keeps things simmering
in here. I'll be back before you know it."
- When the dishes had been placed
in the dishwasher, the two of them sat down on the couch near a
roaring fire and sipped their water. Laura had given up all
alcoholic beverages for the duration of her pregnancy and
Remington had gallantly decided to follow suite. Thus, water had
become the Steeles' favorite drink.
- "I know our wedding day was the
worst day of your life, but these past six months haven't been the
worst months of your life, have they?" Remington quietly
- Laura took Remington's free hand
in hers, saying, "To the contrary, Mr. Steele. These past six
months have been the *best* months of my life. I wouldn't trade
them for all the lavulite in the world."
- Remington smiled at her, placing
both of their water glasses on the coffee table. Then tenderly
rubbing his thumb under her chin, he kissed her.
- Right on cue, the phone rang.
They ignored it at first, but it simply kept ringing. Finally
giving a shrug, Remington rose and answered it.
- "Steele here...Mildred, can't
this wait?!...What?!...Mildred, for heaven's sake, woman, slow
down!...That's better. Just breathe for a minute....Now, tell me
again...No, Laura's not sick. She's looks...wonderful,
actually...Yes, Mildred, I'm sure...Okay, just hang on a minute
and I'll check..."
- Walking over to Laura, Remington
placed his hand on her forehead and felt her neck. Then returning
to the phone, he resumed his conversation with Mildred, saying,
"She's cool as a cucumber, Mildred, and her neck feels perfectly
normal to me...No, I'm not a doctor, but I think I can tell when
my wife...What!?...Wait, wait! Could you please repeat
- The longer Remington listened,
the more nervous Laura became.
- "I see. Now let me see if I've
got this straight...Laura told Frances she was "under the weather"
and that we wouldn't be able to join them for dinner tonight? And
now Abigail is on her way over here to take care of her?...That's
ridiculous, Mildred. Even if Laura were sick, I could certainly
take care of her...I see...Indeed, what do new husbands know about
nursing their sick wives?...Yes, Mildred, I realize you're only
repeating what Abigail said...When did you say they left?...I see.
Well, I'd say it's been lovely talking with you, but honesty
prevents me...No, Mildred, I'm not mad--not at you, anyway. Yes.
- Remington replaced the receiver
and turned to face Laura, who was trying unsuccessfully to
disappear beneath the couch cushions. He didn't say anything; he
just stared at her. Realizing she was cornered, she finally sat up
straight and squared her shoulders.
- "Okay. So maybe I didn't exactly
tell Frances the real reason we didn't join them for dinner," she
- "*Maybe* you didn't? Laura,
really, at least own up to your little deception."
- "Okay. I lied to Frances. I
didn't want to spend the evening with my family--I wanted to spend
the evening--the *entire* evening--with you."
- "Laura, why didn't you just tell
them the truth? They're not exactly monsters, these relatives of
yours. They might not have liked it, but they would have accepted
it. They were newlyweds themselves at one time."
- Laura wrinkled her nose and
shuddered, saying, "Somehow, I can't imagine my parents as
- "Well, be that as it may, I think
that in this situation, a little honesty would have gone a long
way," Remington explained.
- Just then the doorbell
- "Oh, no!" Laura gasped. "It's
- "Well, Laura, I'd say you've got
2 choices. You can either further your little deception by
pretending to be sick, or...you can tell her the truth."
- The doorbell rang again, several
times in succession this time.
- Laura sighed. "Are you sure there
isn't a third choice?"
- "Afraid not."
- Abigail finally resorted to
banging on the door.
- Taking a deep breath, Laura
headed to the door, declaring, "Coming, Mother!"
- As soon as the door was opened,
Abigail quickly stepped into the apartment and put her arms on
- "Why didn't you tell me you were
sick, Laura?" she asked as she felt Laura's forehead and looked at
the whites of her eyes. "You can imagine how distraught I was when
Frances told me."
- "Actually, Mother, I'm feeling
much better now..." Laura began. The sound of Remington clearing
his throat, however, caused her to reconsider. "Actually, Mother,
I owe you an apology..."
- "Nonsense, dear. You can't help
it if you're 'under the weather.' Just let me feel your forehead
one more time..."
- Abigail felt Laura's forehead
again and quickly began shaking her head. "Well, you don't seem to
have a fever, but then you never had a fever when you were sick as
a child, either."
- Remington knew Laura hated to be
rescued, but he suspected she would forgive him this time.
- "Abigail, Laura and I were just
talking about you," he said, moving across the room to stand
- "And just why isn't Laura in
bed?" Abigail asked, turning her attention to her son-in-law.
"It's obvious how ill she is... Come on; help me get her into
- Abigail placed one of Laura's
arms around Remington's neck and draped the other around her
- "Mother, please, I'm fine!" Laura
- "Stop trying to be brave, dear.
You're pale as a ghost and your hands are like ice," Abigail
declared as she led the way to the bedroom. "Remington, help me
get her under the covers."
- Laura gave Remington a look which
said, 'Do something!'
- "Abigail, really, this isn't
necessary," Remington insisted as his mother-in-law led them to
the bed and began pulling back the spread and covers. "Laura is no
more sick than I am!"
- "Take her shoes," Abigail
instructed, pushing Laura's head down onto the pillow.
- Remington stood by the bed,
- "Never mind; I'll do it," Abigail
finally said when her son-in-law didn't move fast enough to suit
her. Quickly slipping Laura's shoes from her feet, she handed them
to Remington, who just stood there, holding them.
- "There you go, dear," she said as
she settled the covers under Laura's chin. "Warm as toast."
- "That's what you used to say when
I was little and you would tuck me in," Laura recalled
- "Yes, I suppose it is," Abigail
said. Then noticing Remington was still holding Laura's shoes, she
said, "Remington, dear, you can put her shoes down now."
- Remington blinked a few times and
then shook his head in an effort to clear it.
- Abigail looked at him carefully,
asking, "Are you feeling alright? You look a little pale."
- "I'm fine, Abigail," he assured
her, bending down to scoot Laura's shoes under the bed out of the
- As soon as he stood up, Abigail
felt his forehead the same way she had felt of Laura's earlier.
"You feel a bit warm. Oh, I do hope you're not coming down with
whatever it is Laura has."
- "I assure you, I feel fine. In
fact, I've never felt better..."
- Abigail ignored him and felt his
neck, saying, "Just as I suspected."
- Remington moved his hands to his
neck and felt for himself. "Abigail, my glands are not
- "Whatever you say, dear, but I'm
a mother and a mother knows 'sick' when she sees it. Why, it's
obvious you're just as sick as Laura! Now you crawl in that bed
beside Laura *right now*! Go on!"
- "Mother, really...we've been
trying to tell you something!" Laura declared. "If you could be
quiet for just a minute, we might be able to clear this all
- "Indeed, Abigail, just give us 5
minutes of your time..."
- Abigail pushed Remington onto the
bed before he could finish his sentence and began pulling off his
- "Abigail, really..."
- Abigail held a finger to her
son-in-law's lips, effectively silencing him.
- "Not another word," she demanded.
"You two are going to stay right here in this bed for the rest of
the evening and that's that. Now, don't worry about me. I'll just
sleep on the couch; that way, if you need anything during the
night, I'll be right here."
- Then gently settling the covers
under Remington's chin as well, she said, "There you go,
dear...Warm as toast."
- Laura and Remington looked at
each other and then at Abigail. They both opened their mouth to
speak, but Abigail gave them a warning look which caused them to
hold their tongues.
- "Not another word.
- They looked at each other and
shrugged as if to say, 'What can we do?'
- Abigail smiled and turned on the
bedside lamp before heading to the door. "Good. I'm glad we
understand each other. Like I said, I'll be in the living room if
you need anything. Good night."
- And with that, Abigail turned off
the overhead light and closed the door behind her.
- Laura and Remington looked at
each other in shock.
- "I think Hurricane Abigail just
blew through here," Remington said.
- "Tell me about it!" Laura
- "I must admit, though, I rather
enjoyed being tucked into bed by your mum. It's quite a pleasant
feeling, being warm as toast."
- "Yes, that's a nice memory I'd
almost forgotten," Laura said. "I just hope our own children will
have some equally nice memories of their own."
- "Of course they will," Remington
assured her, putting his hand on her swollen belly.
- "I haven't exactly told you this,
- "But what?" Remington asked.
Receiving no answer, he tenderly lifted Laura's chin with his
finger and looked deeply into her dark velvet eyes. "Laura, please
tell me what you're thinking."
- "It's just that
I'm...afraid...that I'm going to bungle motherhood," she admitted
- "No chance of that, luv," he
- "How can you be so sure?"
- Remington smiled and kissed her
forehead. "Because the best parents are the ones who love each
other, and that means we already have a head start. We'll just
take it one day at a time."
- "Do you think I'll make my
children as crazy as my mother makes me?" she asked with a
- "Oh, I'm sure of it," he said
with certainty. "It's what mothers do best."
- As they looked deeply into each
other's eyes and leaned forward for a kiss, the bedroom door
suddenly opened and the overhead light came on, causing them to
sit up in bed.
- Abigail was standing in the
doorway, smiling. "Next time, Laura, dear, just tell me when you
and Remington want to celebrate an anniversary. Believe it or not,
I was a newlywed myself, once upon a time-- as were Frances and
- Laura, for once, was
- "I'll just let myself out,"
Abigail informed them. "And I meant what I said! I expect you two
to stay right here in this bed for the rest of the
- "By all means, Abigail,"
Remington said with a grin. "Whatever you say."
- "Laura?" Abigail asked.
- "Uh, certainly, Mother. We'll
be...warm as toast."
- "Well, good night then," Abigail
said, turning off the bedroom light and shutting the door behind
- As soon as Laura and Remington
heard the sound of the front door closing, they both broke out in
- "I had planned a wonderfully
romantic anniversary celebration for tonight, but nowhere did it
include your mother tucking us into bed," Remington
- "Well, it certainly makes me see
her in a whole different light," Laura confessed.
- "And here you thought she
wouldn't understand," Remington reminded her.
- "I guess I really bungled things
pretty badly this time, didn't I?" Laura asked sheepishly.
- "Yes, well, if you remember, I've
bungled a few things myself through the years."
- Laura sighed and eased herself
closer to Remington, who welcomed her into the cradle of his arms.
"You know, sometimes I still find myself haunted by doubts
- "I know," he said, squeezing her
shoulder. "But I also know that those times of doubt are becoming
fewer and farther between."
- "Yes, they are," she admitted,
almost surprised by the realization. "And I've got you to thank
- "No, Laura. You've got
*us* to thank for that."
- "*Us* is
such a lovely word, isn't it?" she said. "It makes me
- "...and warm as toast?"
- "Yes, warm as toast."
- "What say we turn off the light,
- "Indeed, Mr. Steele; I thought
you'd never ask."
- The End
This story copyrighted 2000 by Debra Talley. The characters of
- are used without
permission. It is purely for entertainment purposes.