FAMILY STEELE, PART 9A: LEFT-HANDED STEELE
BY: Phaedra Phelan
SUMMARY: Remington and Laura continue to blend the realities of life as a growing family with their work as crack private detectives.
DISCLAIMER: This "Remington Steele" story is not-for-profit and is purely for entertainment purposes. The author and this site do not own the characters and are in no way affiliated with "Remington Steele," the actors, their agents, the producers, MTM Productions, the NBC Television Network or any station or network carrying the show in syndication, or anyone in the industry.
It was the last Friday in August of 1992 and Laura and Remington Steele were driving home after a very rough day at their office. In addition to being disappointed in their efforts to resolve two important cases, they had had to deal with their five children who seemed determined on this day, when summer vacation was drawing to an end, to drive everyone in the office to distraction. Suddenly the office had become very small. Perhaps it was that normally there were not the four older children at the office these days. And then it may have been that Cassie and Chlöe at nearly four years old were becoming quite their own young ladies and very assertive. Young Michael was just fourteen months old, very active and determined to do exactly what he wanted to do and inclined to be rather ambivalent about his toilet training. It had all combined to make for a harrowing day for all concerned. Laura finally had sent all the children home with Esperanza, telling her to put them to bed right away, and the office had breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Laura and Remington rode along in silence for a while.
"I think that we are going to have to rethink our routine with the children, Laura. They just about drove everyone bananas today."
"This is true. But what is the problem?"
"I really don't know what had them off kilter today, darling, but it was truly not good."
"I want them with us at work. We decided a long time ago that our children would not be shunted away somewhere."
"I understand that but I think that today you waited too long to call in Esperanza to relieve the situation."
"Me? Are you implying that I should have been the one to call it? You could have called her as easily as I?"
"I was quite tied up with those people that came in from UCLA to see what we do there, Laura. And . . ."
"And what?" Laura's voice was tight with irritation.
"And perhaps it wasn't the best thing for our little Michael to come charging into the office, minus his nappy, with his fat little penis waving, and peeing for all he was worth."
"And that was my responsibility?"
"It was whoever had nothing pressing at the moment. We can't let things get completely out of control there."
"You are irritating me. You think that I am to be the one responsible for all matters of discipline in the office-and I do not agree."
"We may not agree on how to resolve it, but we must agree that some sort of resolution is needed."
"I don't agree on anything right now. I am tired. My head is aching and you are getting on my nerves. Look at me! I am a wreck-my hair-my clothes. I look like a frazzled and frumpy housewife and you-you still look like some kind of damned executive!"
"Well, I must admit to being quite frazzled myself. When I picked Michael up, he finished peeing down the front of my pants so I am rather rank at the moment." Remington reached over and touched Laura's arm. "Why don't you pull over here. I'll drive the rest of the way home."
"Nope, I'll drive. I have work out this stress."
"Well, just don't get us killed in the process, Laura!" Remington shouted as she narrowly missed rear-ending a car that had stopped in traffic ahead of them.
Laura swore and kept on driving.
"Must you swear, darling?"
Laura swore again, more vehemently than before.
There was nothing else to be said at the moment. Remington had learned that this woman he loved so much was impossible to deal with when she was upset. Most of the time they avoided arguing but ever so often things did come to a head and boil over. This was looking like one of those times.
Remington mentally calculated where she was in her cycle. Even though she was still lactating, when Michael's nursing schedule changed at a year old, she had started menstruating again. Her period was due within the next day or so and she seemed to be developing a pre-period migraine of the sort she frequently had before they were married and that often meant a couple of days of recovery in their darkened bedroom before she felt human again. By then she would have her period and his years of experience with Laura even before their marriage had taught him that she would accept little more than cuddling and consideration during that time.
Additionally they were both just recovering from a particularly wicked flu virus that had struck early in the season, and, except for once, when Remington was just coming down with flu, they had not been intimate for nearly two weeks. He had come home on Friday night with a sore throat and by midnight Remington had a temperature of nearly one hundred and two, was aching all over and Laura knew what it was. She had taken marvelous care of him with alcohol rubs and chicken soup for nearly a week and he finally came around. By that time Laura succumbed and it was his turn to be caregiver. She was a much better patient than he was, but they were thankful for the supply of frozen breast milk that she had on hand because little Michael was still needing to be nursed morning and night and Laura had been too sick to breastfeed.
Remington sighed as he contemplated a few more days of abstinence. It had been almost two weeks since they had been man and wife. The only times they were apart for that period of time had been during the enforced periods of post-partum abstinence. He never pressured Laura for sex when she did not feel well. The fact that she never turned him away otherwise made him very considerate of her physically at these times but it did not make his need for her lessen by any means.
Laura slowed the car and pulled over to the curb.
"You drive. I feel lousy. I should have stayed home today. I hope I'm not going to have a relapse."
They got out of the car and as they passed each other, Remington reached out to her.
"Just leave me alone," she cried as the tears flooded her eyes.
Getting back into the Volvo, they sat quietly for a couple of minutes before Remington spoke again.
"Laura . . ."
"Please don't say anything else right now."
"All right. I'll head home."
"We have a stop to make."
"I don't want to stop anywhere till we are home." Remington's own head was beginning to ache now. "I want to go home, take a hot shower, and put on clean clothes."
"I promised the girls to pick up those coloring books for them from Left Hand World. They will be very disappointed if I don't get them. And I need things for myself in the office as well. It's just two blocks up from where we're at."
"I know where it is." Remington sighed. "I just don't feel like stopping this evening."
"And when would we do this otherwise? I promised them."
"Whatever possessed me to marry a kerr-handed woman?" Remington muttered under his breath.
"What the hell did you say?" Laura's eyes were flashing as she snapped at him.
Remington dived in with reckless abandon.
"I said that I wonder whatever possessed me to marry a left-handed woman. That is what the hell I said." He spoke very precisely and clearly without smiling.
"Sex-and lust. I'm sure it was nothing intellectual-no meeting of minds. That's for sure." Laura's tone was extremely sarcastic and she knew that she hurt Remington when she unleashed her sharp tongue on him.
"Well, I have certainly paid a high price to have a woman copulate with me counterclockwise!"
"What are you talking about?" Laura demanded angrily.
Remington did not answer. He was suddenly livid. They had both crossed the line-intentionally wounding one another with words.
"I demand that you answer me!"
Remington could not take any more.
"You are the woman who knows absolutely everything. I will answer you when I am good and bloody well ready to do it."
He pulled into the parking lot of Left Hand World.
"Now get your arse in there and try not to take forever. I'll wait here."
"I will take as long as is necessary and I would appreciate it if you would not refer to my behind in that way. I am not a child." Laura said stubbornly between clenched teeth.
"Well, you just stay in there all the blasted night if you want to, Laura! And for your information I will refer to your arse anyway that I want to. It belongs to me and besides, I think that it could benefit from a good spanking right about now." Remington felt as recalcitrant as Laura at this point.
Laura got out of the car, slammed the door hard, and stalked into the store. She was unbelievably angry with Remington but his reference to spanking her sent such intense twinges of passions through her that she was utterly confused by her own emotions and had to stop for a moment to collect herself before going into the store.
Remington himself sat stunned, totally irate. But as he watched the familiar swing of her hips as she walked away from him, he felt a powerful surge of desire for her in the pit of his belly, and he clenched the steering wheel, fighting to check his own raging libido.
Left Hand World was one of those stores full of gadgets designed for left-handed people, everything from left-handed notebooks and scissors and to instruction videos on every subject from tying your shoes to tatting and crocheting. Its proprietor, Lorraine Lovejoy, was a character, unorthodox, a health nut, a leftover from the sixties "beat generation." Laura had been buying things from her for years so Remington was familiar with this stop. Now that Chlöe and Cassie had proved to be left-handed there were three members of the Steele household that patronized the store.
As Laura approached the counter with her arms full of left-handed notebooks and other assorted objects designed for left-handed people, she picked up an altercation between Lorraine and another customer.
"I told you that I want that video and I'm not going to leave here without it."
"Excuse me, Lorraine. Could you ring these things up for me? My husband is waiting in the car and it has been a wild day."
"Sure, Laura." She hesitated and her voice dropped in sadness. "You know that I lost my Lawrence since I saw you last."
"Oh, my dear. What happened?"
"He was in a car crash. I don't know how it happened. I am just trying to get my life sorted out somehow. It's very difficult."
"I can imagine that it must be."
The man that had been speaking threateningly to Lorraine stepped away from the counter and pretended to be examining merchandise as Laura became engrossed with offering her sympathies to Lorraine Lovejoy.
Lorraine rang up Laura's purchases and, while wrapping them up, stealthily reached into a drawer under the counter and slipped a large manila envelope into Laura's shopping bag.
Remington was quite agitated as he waited in the car for his wife. He was angry with her and yet he ached for her so. He knew that they would have to resolve this before they went to sleep this night but he just was at his wit's end as to how to do it with both of them so tense and frazzled.
When Laura emerged from the store, she tossed the shopping bag in the back seat without speaking and they were off. After some blocks Laura finally spoke again. She wanted to get past the unpleasantness as quickly as she had flared up at her husband.
"Lorraine's husband, Larry, was killed in a car wreck recently. She . . . she was pretty broken up. I'm sorry I took so long." Laura reached for Remington's hand. "I'm really sorry to have been such a pain today."
"It's all right, Laura." At this point Remington did not feel like talking.
Meanwhile back at the store the man who was arguing with Lorraine Lovejoy, turned over the "closed" sign and locked the door.
Remington and Laura continued their drive home, trying to let their nerves calm. They did not say anything. As they reached their house in the Hollywood Hills and pulled into the driveway, Laura started to immediately get out of the car, but Remington drew her back into the car and kissed her hard upon her mouth. At first Laura tried to pull away from him, but she could not do it. His kiss was much too persuasive.
"I don't really feel much like kissing." Her eyes filled and she began to weep softly.
"You're lying to me. Let's stop talking and do this instead. I don't want to make you cry. This kind of mouth-to-mouth communication can go a long ways toward . . ." Remington kissed her tears away, his perfectly shaped lips pursing and gently sucking as her insides responded involuntarily.
"Toward relieving stress."
"Exactly, darling. I know that we have had a terrible day and that I have said things that I should not have said."
"I was sharp with you as well. I am truly sorry. I try not to be so spiteful when I'm upset. I-I'm sorry I screamed and swore at you." Laura sniffed and wiped her eyes.
"Darling, you know that when you want to be bitchy, you are very good at it. I just want my Laura back. Tell me what to do. I'm at my wit's end here. Can't we just go into the house and take this up from there?"
"Only if we will talk this thing out later. I think that some problems need a solution other than having sex."
"Yes, darling. Of course, but somehow everything else pales into insignificance when we close that bedroom door behind us, doesn't it? Besides, I believe that I promised you a spanking, didn't I?"
Laura's mouth trembled slightly as she felt herself melt in the gaze of her husband's irresistible blue eyes.
"And what's this about copulating counterclockwise?"
"We'll discuss that later, darling. Let's just go into the house and rest from this day. I think that we have both talked quite enough, don't you?"
Laura and Remington got out of the car and went into their house. The twins had been fed and put to bed and little Michael had even cried himself to sleep when Laura did not appear to nurse him. Esperanza had left a pot of lentil soup and a huge bowl of salad for them and thoughtfully retired from sight. Remington opened a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, poured a glass for each of them and carried their drinks into the bedroom where Laura lay across their bed still fully clothed.
Laura turned to face him and Remington saw the tears. He sat the tray with the wine down and went to her.
"I'm sorry, Laura. I was unkind to you today."
"I was so mean to you too. I try not to cut you up with words, but sometimes I'm just not strong enough to hold the words back."
Laura sought the comfort of his embrace and broke down completely.
"I'm so tired, Rem. Why am I so tired?"
"I don't know. Remember you are just getting back into the swing of things after having the flu. The children are pretty active these days-and you try to do everything you always did. Here, let me help you with your clothes."
Remington began to undress Laura till she was down to her filmy lingerie.
"My head is really aching, Rem. Do you think I'm having a relapse?"
"No, but your period is due, love. At any rate, you don't need this red wine. I'll make you a gin and tonic. And then I'll give you a good massage."
"You always know my body better than I do. I'd forgotten that it was due with being sick with flu and all."
"Well, it's my business to know everything there is to know about you, darling. The fact that you were a math major and graduated summa cum laude from Stanford, but have yet to figure out how to calculate a menstrual cycle that functions like a perfectly timed clock is irrelevant. I'm just doing my job."
He kissed her forehead and left the bedroom to make her drink.
Laura lay in their bed and was still crying softly when he came back.
"Come on, Laura. Let's take a long hot bath together and try to forget this day ever happened."
"I feel so incompetent today. I want to give you . . . what you need, but my head is aching so. Sometimes I think this 'career woman slash super mom' thing is just too much for me."
"Listen. There's no need for that. This has been a rough day. We have actually had a rough month. The children were fretful and hyperactive. We were tired. Don't blame yourself, Laura. You are a wonderfully competent mum and a fantastic wife and you still run that office flawlessly."
Remington drew Laura up and into his arms and hugged her as she tried to stop weeping.
"And . . . I can't help it if I'm left-handed and . . . counterclockwise and, and can't remember when my period is due."
"Actually, it's all quite charming, darling." Remington winked at her and the mood of the moment lightened.
They both shed the rest of their clothes and got into the large square tub in their bathroom together and the tenseness of the day began to ebb away in the hot lavender-scented water. As they turned to one another, the harsh words were forgotten as they kissed and touched one another.
"Rem, I'm sorry. I know I pushed you over the edge."
"I should have held my tongue, Laura. I know that working with our children around us is harder for you than for me."
"I want them there. This was just a tough day. I should have sent them home much earlier."
"Laura, I was unnecessarily short with you. You know how I am when we haven't had sex for even a few days. It's been nearly two weeks, darling. But if you'd rather I just leave you alone this evening, I'll deal with that. I want you to feel better, love."
"I see you haven't forgotten that day when you were coming down with the flu. You were so ill and feverish that you nearly passed out when it happened for you. I thought you would not remember."
"I never forget a moment of intimacy with you, darling."
"Lust makes you grouchy," Laura stated it as a fact. "I should have remembered how you were sometimes 'back in the day.' "
"You were pretty difficult yourself back then when you weren't getting any, love."
"I didn't realize what was the matter with me or the cure."
"I did. But you made me suffer so before you capitulated."
"I was suffering too. It was very hard to resist you. Sometimes I just wanted to say 'yes' to you. I had never wanted a man that way I wanted you. The pressure that you put me under . . . just seeing you every day, being around you . . . sometimes I couldn't even think straight . . . wanting you so much . . . not being able to give in to you."
"Thank the Lord we have each other now, darling."
"Yes, what would have happened to us?" Laura said wistfully.
"We would have both been successful at completely wrecking our lives by now I fear. You would have been the consummate career woman, but sexually frustrated and emotionally useless for anything else and I would have drowned in profligacy by now, a world-weary gigolo trying to stay a step ahead of the law, a man with no attachments." Remington's eyes revealed the depth of his emotion.
"But sometimes I'm difficult to live with. I know that I am."
"Darling." Remington grinned rakishly, his blue eyes twinkling now. "I confess to being impossibly randy today. You have me so accustomed to the delights of living with you, I will gladly take the bitter with the sweet."
Remington wooed his wife gently, masterfully, dropping kisses upon her neck, freckled shoulders and breasts. And everything evaporated except their passion for each other.
At that moment the phone rang and the answering machine in the bedroom picked up the sound of a hysterical woman.
"I'd better get that," Remington said, getting out of the tub naked and dripping, and padding back into the bedroom.
"Help me, Mr. Steele. Please. They just wrecked my-my store! Please come."
"Yes, we'll come right over, Lorraine. Give us a half an hour. Just sit tight and don't let anyone in there till we come."
By this time Laura had gotten out of the tub and was wrapping herself in a thick terry robe and bringing a large Turkish towel to dry Remington.
"It's Lorraine-the woman at the left-handed store. Someone threatened her, wrecked her store. She's locked up in there now-still terrified."
"We have to go over there. I-I wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of this evening in intimate communication with you, darling."
Remington gathered Laura into his arms and they trembled as a sensation like a minor charge of electricity surged through them where their bare flesh touched; but the rush of excitement Laura felt with arousal, combined with anxiety for the woman screaming on the phone, only intensified her migraine headache.
"Remy, this headache is making me nauseous. I want this as much as you but I feel awful. Let's just go over there and see what's going on."
"Lord! I'm rather in a state here, Laura."
"I think we'd better try to get dressed, don't you?" Laura's voice was just a whisper.
Remington released Laura, kissing her tenderly on her forehead.
"You don't look good at all, love. Are you sure you're able to do this?" He was concerned at her pallor.
"I have to go with you. I sense that something terrible may have happened."
"Well, I'll get you something for your headache since you're determined to go."
They hurriedly dressed and headed back out to Lorraine Lovejoy's shop.
As they rode along, Laura closed her eyes and tried to let her throbbing head stop aching. At least they weren't still quarreling and it seemed that the worst of the day was past. The medication began to work and she felt her whole system slow down and begin to try to recover. Now, if only she had been able to simply go to bed and sleep this off. She glanced over at her husband and felt a decided twinge of conscience. She knew how passionate he was and he had been very patient as always as he waited for her to be able to take care of his needs. This headache was really putting a crimp into their personal schedule because she knew that it would probably not release its grip on her till her period started.
"I'm sorry that I'm feeling so lousy, Rem. I really am."
"I am too, but it can't be helped, darling. We'll let you rest tomorrow. It's week's end. Ask Esperanza to stay over this weekend and maybe we can all recover finally."
They drove up to the store and Lorraine Lovejoy admitted them. She was completely shaken and found it very difficult to speak coherently.
"Lorraine, we're going to take you to a safe place for now. Close up the store and we'll head over there now." Remington did not like the look or the feel of things in the store.
"But it's my livelihood here!"
"You don't want these guys to make another visit. Let's get out of here right now," Laura said.
Lorraine Lovejoy nodded and followed the Steeles out to their car, still somewhat shaken from her ordeal.
When they were in the Volvo on their way to Laura's old flat, Laura turned to Lorraine and asked her about the video the intruders had been seeking.
"Just what is this video about that they want, Lorraine?" Laura asked.
"It's a video that explains a project that Larry and I were working on, an instruction video for right-handed parents who have left-handed children. It shows how to teach them to tie their shoes, to use scissors, to hold pens and pencils correctly . . . all the things that left-handed children have problems with. It's a new concept, putting this on a video, and Larry and I were just about ready to market it. It will be quite lucrative for me if it sells, but I can't see that it's something that I should get beaten up over."
"Do you have any idea where that video is that now?" Laura asked.
"Sure. It's right here on the floor of your car. I guess you didn't take your packages in when you got home." Lorraine had spotted the large shopping bag with the distinctive Left Hand World logo behind the front seat of the car.
"Oh, my goodness, darling, what was I thinking?" Laura was momentarily lost for words. She remembered forgetting the package as she and Remington had been caught up in trying to resolve the tiff they had been having as they drove home.
"Yes, darling, how did we forget?" Remington said wryly, as he glanced at his wife. They were both supremely conscious of how strained matters had been between them on this day.
"I didn't know what to do with it and just put it into your bag. Yes, here it is," Lorraine said as she found the video in the shopping bag along with the other items Laura had bought.
"Well, that's good. Take it with you into the loft and review it again to try to see what it is that's on there they might have been looking for," Remington said.
"What kind of video was it, Lorraine?"
"Well, I don't actually know. I haven't seen it, but it is the kind of thing that Larry specialized in. He would go into a left-handed person's house and do a video to determine what changes needed to be made to make the place more left-hand user friendly. Then he would go into the home and rearrange the whole place for the convenience of the left-handed person. He would change the way doors opened, replace all the appliances that were designed for right-handed use only to either left-handed or neutral use. Mostly our wealthy clients-celebrities and such would use this service."
"The man that trashed your store, did you recognize him?" Remington asked.
"He worked for one of Larry's clients. A couple days before . . . before I lost him, Larry told me that he was having a problem with one of his clients. He didn't tell me who."
"Perhaps your husband's camera saw something that it wasn't supposed to see, Lorraine," Laura said, as they reached the loft.
"Can you manage taking her upstairs, Laura, while I stay here and make sure that we were not followed?" He had taken note of the fact that Laura's head was in her hands and knew that her headache was intensifying.
When Laura looked up at him, with all her misery in her face, Remington immediately took the matter in hand.
"On second thought, I'll take Lorraine up. You just lock yourself in and wait here. If you see anything untoward, you know what to do."
Remington and Lorraine got out of the car and headed into the building. Laura slid down in the seat of the Volvo and tried to let the throbbing in her head ease. Just as she was about to close her eyes she saw two men headed into the building and realized that in fact they may have been followed.
As soon as the men disappeared through the front door, Laura hit the alarm button on the keys to the car, disengaged it, and then hit it again to signal Remington. He was halfway up the stairs with Lorraine Lovejoy when he heard it.
"Change of plans, Lorraine. We're heading back down the back stairs. Seems that we were followed here after all."
Remington grabbed Lorraine's hand and they both ran down the back stairs of the building and out the back door at ground level, alongside the building and back to where the Volvo was waiting, lights out, its motor purring quietly and Laura under the wheel. They jumped into the car and Laura took off without a word as the men following them realized too late that they had slipped away from them.
"Good work, love," Remington said. "I thought we'd given those buggers the slip."
"Guess they were hanging around the store to see where Lorraine would go. They have lost us for now at any rate. Do you mind driving now?"
Laura pulled over onto a side street and they traded places.
"We need a place to stash Lorraine. I don't think it would be wise to take her to our place-just on the outside chance that they will have someone run our plates and find their way to us," Remington was thinking out loud.
Remington and Laura had scrupulously kept their work and clients separate from their family life after becoming parents in the interest of their children's safety.
"Why don't we take them by Mildred's place. She was going out of town for the week and I have her keys with me. There's no way they could find her.
"Splendid idea," Remington said as he reached for Laura's knee and patted it gently. "Then we will all have the opportunity to get a good night's sleep and tackle this thing in the morning."
"I'm scared to death." It was Lorraine from the back seat. Those men as much as said that Larry's death was not an accident. I am so scared."
"Take it easy, Lorraine. No one is following us and you can't be found where we are taking you." Remington attempted to calm the anxious woman.
They drove in silence and in about fifteen minutes they were at Mildred's place. Remington and Laura took Lorraine inside, got her settled.
"Make yourself at home here. Things have a way of clearing up in the light of day. I want you to look at that video carefully and we will talk about it tomorrow."
Lorraine turned the video on and they stood and watched a part of it before leaving.
"If only we had had this when I was a child. Do you know how long it took me to learn to tie my shoes?" Laura said wryly. "If it hadn't been for my dad . . ."
"He was a left-handed bloke?"
"Yes, he was." Laura's tone made it clear that she did not wish to pursue this line of conversation at all.
Remington and Laura went back to their car and he opened the door on the passenger side for her, but Laura sagged against him and then bent over gagging as Remington held her. "Darling, I am so sorry."
"I am so sick. My head is just throbbing."
"I have to get you home. I think you pushed a bit too much tonight, love."
"Let me get on the back seat. I just want my bed right now."
Remington drove carefully home, helped Laura into their house and picked her up like she was one of their children and carried her to bed. He then removed her shoes and the sweatshirt and jeans she was wearing and slipped her nightgown over her head, all without a word.
"I'm sorry, Rem," Laura said, catching his hand to her breast.
"I know you need me."
"I'm not an selfish beast, Laura. I know that you are ill. I've learned to live with the vicissitudes of a migraineur. I would not want you to think that I would begrudge the fact that you are sick, primarily because you're not up to . . ." He gestured descriptively and then kissed her lightly upon her forehead. "We've just had a bad couple of weeks with both of us having influenza. "We will get back to 'normal.' Let me give you a good massage to help you relax."
"I've missed it too. I've really missed it," Laura whispered.
"I know. You can be quite impossible to live with when you don't get what you need, darling," he teased gently as he massaged her neck and back and then finally applied reflexology to her tiny feet. Kissing her tenderly, he tucked her into bed before turning the lights down low.
He went to check on their children-Cassie and Chlöe and their little brother Michael as well as Johnny and Joanna. Except for Michael, all the children were sleeping and Remington just stood and stared at each of his children for a long time before taking up Michael in his arm and returning to his room and to Laura. He slipped Michael into bed beside Laura and she gave him her breast and cradled him close to her without even waking up. Remington quietly undressed without turning up the lights. Michael was happily nursing and had even found Laura's other breast and settled in. Remington took a long hot shower and then dried himself and put on pajama bottoms. He poured a glass of single malt scotch and reclined in his favorite bedroom chair thinking over the events of the day. He was always left reeling a bit when he and Laura had a tiff and today had been no different. And the case seemed to be keeping them from resolving matters as he would like. He knew that he should have never decided to go word for word with Laura. Her tongue was much too sharp when she was angry for him to withstand. But he wanted her, needed her. He ached for her in the worst sort of way.
Finally the baby was sated, his belly round and full. Remington picked his sleeping son up and carried him to his bed. Then he came back and lay down beside Laura and tried to sleep.
Lorraine Lovejoy had finally been able to calm her nerves after her ordeal and lay on Mildred's sofa covered with a crocheted afghan. She was going over and over her husband Larry's activities and tried to think of what possibly could be the reason for the interest in the tape. Finally she got up and found the tape and put it into the VCR again. It ran through showing all the features and appliances of the home that needed adjustment. There was a shot of the client sitting behind his desk grinning broadly saying that he was glad that his house would finally be completely fitted for a left-handed occupant.
Lorraine looked at the carton the tape had been in and saw the name of the man in the pictures. It was Luciano Fernandez. Lorraine tried to remember the man. She was reasonably sure that he had not ever been in the store because she had an almost photographic memory for faces and his was unknown to her. Then she saw on the tape a slim heavily made-up woman with platinum blonde hair.
'Come back soon, doll,' the man on the tape said as the woman passed in front of the camera on her way out of the house.
"Ha!" Lorraine exclaimed, remembering that face, remembering the day the blond woman had come into the store and bought a couple shopping bags of left-handed gadgets for her boyfriend. She rewound the tape when the video concluded and the screen went blue and started it over to watch it again. At least there was something that she could tell the Steeles about the tape in the morning. Before the video was over, fatigue finally overcame Lorraine and she fell fast asleep on Mildred's couch.
Early in the morning Laura wakened and lay quietly in her bed next to her husband listening to his measured breathing as he slept. She was thankful that her migraine had apparently run its course. The sensation when the headache made its departure was as easy to identify as when it made its entrance. Her mind was amazingly clear and now she began to process the Lorraine Lovejoy situation. It was obvious that the tape contained something incriminating to the men who were after it. They had no idea who these men were, but the contents of that tape were the key to everything.
Laura's thoughts turned to Remington. The argument the previous day had been so unnecessary and yet at the time it seemed unavoidable. She had thought that her period had been due and Remington had verified that. She was trying to concentrate on her body and its functions more these days, embarrassed somewhat by the fact that Remington knew more about her body's cycles than she did. Then she recalled that night two weeks earlier when Remington came down with the flu. He had come home feeling somewhat under the weather, but yet had discerned Laura's evident need for his attention.
Laura and Remington had turned in rather early. It had been a tiring day and Remington felt himself distinctly under par.
"I'm sorry you're not feeling well. I was looking forward to this evening all day." Laura smiled a smile that Remington knew all too well.
"Well, darling, I wouldn't want to disappoint you." Remington pulled her over onto him and kissed her soundly upon her mouth. His blue eyes showed a certain lassitude but they also revealed the strength of his libido as he stared at his wife. "I would especially appreciate your taking the initiative tonight in that marvelous way that you do."
Laura touched his sculptured mouth with her fingertips and this time she kissed him.
Remington slipped her robe off her freckled shoulders as the kiss continued. He felt slightly dizzy but the powerful response of his flesh to hers made the focus of that moment suddenly crystal clear.
"My darling, you are so delightfully aggressive tonight," Remington said as Laura climbed onto him. She was quite consumed by her desire for him and it briefly crossed his mind that pure biology might be overlaying her already extremely passionate nature, but he was quickly engrossed in a coupling that left no room for anything except the pleasure of the connection itself. The sight of Laura astride him, her eyes turned nearly hazel by desire, her hair flowing, full breasts quivering, her whole body flushed as her passions escalated was enough to cause him to lose himself completely.
For Laura the joining satisfied her. It was what she wanted more than anything this night. Remington let her have her way with him, gasping and groaning as the rapture became so intense that he could only croak her name and call upon the Lord for mercy.
"Oh, God! God help us! Please. . . Laura. . ." Remington's face contorted as the ecstasy caught him up and the pressure in his loins became impossible to contain. He suddenly felt weak, sick, but his flesh seemed to have a mind of its own. His pelvic muscles were in spasm and he was giving Laura his semen as she lay upon his chest, her body vibrating upon his as her climax went on and on. She finally lay quiet upon him and that's when she realized that he wasn't feeling well at all. His flesh felt cold and clammy. He was shaking and shivering, and it wasn't from ecstasy.
"Rem, I'm sorry. Oh, my baby. . .you . . .you are sick."
"Woman, I nearly passed out. I must have a fever."
She was immediately solicitous, getting up to attend to him. He was sick the rest of the night and the next morning it became evident that he was victim of the latest version of Hong Kong flu complete with high temperatures, loss of appetite, aching joints. Laura had treated him like one of the children bathing him in alcohol to bring his fever down, changing his pajamas several times each night as he sweated through them. He was left exhausted by the ordeal and just as he recovered Laura came down with the same malady.
Now two weeks later as Laura reflected she realized that she may have been caught that night. She was suddenly aware that the tenderness in her breasts may not have been premenstrual, but a symptom of something else altogether.
"Rem, are you awake?"
"Umm, yes, love. How're you feeling now? Headache better?"
"Wonderful." Remington gathered her into his arms.
"I didn't get my period."
"I know. You're probably pregnant, darling. You were actually due yesterday. And you are never late."
Laura turned on the light by their bed and looked at her husband. He was smiling devilishly, his dark hair tousled, his overnight's growth of beard giving him an adorable scruffiness. She felt her insides seem to vibrate as the realization of what had happened sank in.
"I love you so much . . . so much." She ran her hands through his hair, smoothing it. "Do you know just how much I love you?"
"I think that I do." Remington kissed his wife and began to unbutton the soft cotton gown she was sleeping in. "I have this recollection of you on me in a marvelously passionate display just before that blasted Hong Kong flu laid me low. That was our procreative moment, darling, and apparently you seized it, didn't you?"
"Was I terrible?" Laura blushed, remembering that night.
"No, you were quite wonderful actually. Apparently you didn't realize what forces were driving you that night, but you were certainly in high gear. That was very near to a rape, darling, if I had not been such a willing victim. I nearly passed out when it happened for me. I thought I was going to die . . . and I didn't even care. I couldn't stop my body at that point. There are much worse ways of meeting One's maker."
"I'm sorry. You were so sick that night and for the next two days. . . the temp, the aching. I felt for you, darling."
"I'm glad it happened. Let's look at you." Remington gazed at her bare breasts. "Yes, your udders definitely look pregnant. They have that interesting darkening of the areolae," he said, touching her breasts with just his fingertips and then beginning to kiss them all over.
Laura sighed and welcomed him into her arms.
"Are you sure you're feeling up to this, love?" Remington hesitated for a moment, remembering how sick she had been the evening before.
"Headache is over, darling. I think we need to make up for some lost time, don't you?"
"Um, yes. We'll just take things slow here . . . see how you feel."
"Don't take it too slow, love," Laura whispered as their lips met.
There were no preliminaries needed. They were both completely ready to come together and this was their own special time, the early morning hours between four and five a.m., before their children awakened, when their passionate cries uttered into the quiet of their bedroom would go unheard.
"Lord, I've missed this, Laura," Remington murmured as he knelt over her. "I can't think straight when we aren't having each other. Laura . . ."
"Rem, I know. I know!" Laura cried out, caught up in rapture that took her the moment their flesh joined.
They were gone, lost in the connection that was the centerpiece of their marriage, the rhythmic cadence of perfect coitus. They had been abstinent for nearly two weeks and their hunger for one another was such that they could not slow down. Remington was like a wild man on Laura and she welcomed every powerful thrust till the climax came simultaneously upon them like flashes of lightning rendering them both completely incoherent.
Remington felt Laura's flesh in helpless spasms at the moment his ejaculation began, holding her to his breast as she went delightfully limp in his arms, taken and taking, possessed and possessing.
"Rem . . . Rem," Laura cried his name out, tightening her embrace of him again.
"Laura, Laura, I love you. I will always love you." Remington groaned hoarsely.
It was during moments like this that all their emotional coverings were stripped away. They were totally revealed to one another, Remington, unashamed to show his need, his dependence upon her to care for his passions and Laura, in complete trust submitting to him, yielding all of herself to his will.
Remington knew what she wanted. It was the same thing that he wanted. The lightning fast joining had been only the prelude. They rocked together, climbing to the acme with its powerful psychic and physical manifestations again, sharing the intimate words and expressions of their love, expressions that only poured forth in moments like this. Finally their passionate energies were expended, leaving them tangled together in a mellow afterglow that would stay with them, to be recalled in a single word or shared glance hours later.
"You know that you really are pregnant, darling."
"So I didn't have a pre-period migraine?" Laura raised the question as her finger traced the outline of his lips.
"No. It was from abstinence, babe," he teased. "We need each other like we need our morning tea or coffee. I think we suffered enough self-denial for a lifetime those four years."
Remington touched Laura's flat belly with the open palm of his hand and massaged it gently.
"Well, my belly is not going to be like this much longer if I'm pregnant."
"You're so beautiful when you're carrying . . . from the first when you're like this and only your eyes tell the world that you have a special secret. Then your beautiful arse begins to spread and your breasts just seem to want to float up out of your brassieres and your belly shows just enough to make someone wonder 'Is she carrying?' And only you and I know that you're pregnant and that it is our little one that is beginning to flutter in your insides. Then when you're seven months and beyond, getting fuller every day and I put my arms around you and I'm embracing my bairn in your belly. When I see the kicking and I know the wee one hears me talkin' to you when I tell you I love you . . . and that I love what you are carrying."
Laura's eyes filled at her Remington's declaration.
"We had no idea it would be like this, did we? That day . . . back in 1982 when you walked into the Remington Steele Agency."
Remington shook his head and drew her to him to kiss her again when the phone rang.
"It's only five-thirty!" Remington said in disbelief.
Lorraine Lovejoy's voice came over the answering machine. "I know what it's about! I know what it's about!"
"Yes, Lorraine," Remington picked up the phone.
"The tape . . . it was at the end of the tape. You have to see."
"We'll be right over." Remington turned to Laura. "We've got to go, love. Lorraine seems to have figured out what those blokes were after."
"I don't want to leave this bed."
"Neither do I. Forgive me for tiring you, darling." He bent and kissed her soundly. "We will get back to this later . . . today. I promise."
They ran into the shower together and then hurriedly dressed.
Laura pulled a soft golden sweater on with an olive pantsuit and then caught her still wet long hair up into a topknot. Her skin was still flushed and radiant from the activity of the early morning hours even though a slight puffiness around her eyes was a telltale reminder of the migraine attack she had suffered.
Remington had quickly shaved and donned buff-colored gabardine slacks with a deep blue shirt. He tossed on a navy blazer, slipped a tie into his inside pocket and promptly looked like he stepped out of a magazine.
"Come along, darling. Don't dawdle,' Laura said as he splashed on his favorite sandalwood fragrance.
They got into the Volvo, leaving their children in Esperanza's able care, and were off to find Lorraine at Mildred's place.
They did not talk in the half-hour drive from Hollywood Hills to Mildred's house. They were both in quiet reflection as they contemplated the fact of impending parenthood again.
When they got to Mildred's house, Lorraine immediately let them in. She was quite agitated and Laura first had to try to calm her.
"I . . . I fell asleep watching it. I was so tired. I remember waking up and the screen was blue and I just couldn't pull myself up to find how to turn it off and I fell asleep again. The a little while ago . . . when I woke up it was still running. And there was more . . . more of that place where Larry was I guess. It was horrible."
Lorraine turned on the tape and the three of them sat transfixed. A terrified man, was begging for his life, and then a shot ended his begging. Next a voice with a distinctive lisp overlaying his Spanish accent.
"Get rid of him pronto! Vayamos, amigos!"
"Where's that camera man?"
"Find him. And make it look legit. I want that video."
The video stopped at that point.
"Good Lord, he witnessed a murder."
"And made a video. No wonder they were ripping up that store. They killed Larry, but didn't get the evidence he had."
"Good Lord! Your husband witnessed a murder," Remington said.
"And got it all on tape," Laura said quietly.
"That's what got him killed, isn't it?" Lorraine said sadly. "They said that his 'accident' wasn't really an accident . . . those men that came to the store. That's what they said."
Lorraine was shaking now realizing the full import of what she had seen, and Laura and Remington both patted her, attempting to calm her as she seemed to relive the loss of her husband.
"I think that we need to get to the office where we can use the computers to get some information that we are going to need. Laura, can you help Lorraine pull herself together a bit, love? I'll see if I can put together some coffee before we head downtown."
"I'm sorry. I just suddenly realized that Larry didn't have to die. We met at Woodstock . . . 'Sly and the Family Stone,' 'The Mommas and the Poppas,' all that great music. We loved it. We loved each other."
"I understand, Lorraine," Laura said softly. "These things are so senseless, so unfair."
Remington and Laura took Lorraine with them and drove to the offices. It was still early . . . before time for work when they arrived. They had called Alessandra and she had come in early to help them. (She and Édouard had moved back to Los Angeles with their infant son after a year in Provence, leaving his brother Lucien to handle matters at L'Orchidée Noir. It was uncertain as to whether Édouard would stay in America, but he wanted to try it for a while. He was working for the Mondavi vintners near Calistoga during the week, coming home to Alessandra on weekends. )
By the time Alessandra came in they had started watching the video once again.
"Thanks for coming in early," Laura said.
Alessandra had proved to be an extremely competent mother and she and Édouard were trying to add at least another child to their family. All of the changes in her life had simply brought Laura and her even closer as friends and confidantes.
"Well, you know I'm glad to help. I would have been here sooner but I'm ovulating and I didn't want to send Édouard off before . . ." she smiled, her eyes bright.
"You should have told us," Laura said, understanding completely the circumstance.
"I couldn't go into that with Mr. Steele. And besides, Édouard had an appointment early with one of the Mondavi brothers this morning. We'll pick it up later. I have another forty-eight hours or so. I just don't want to miss this window. I'm thirty-eight, you know."
"I know the feeling."
Alessandra looked closely at her friend. "Is there something you aren't telling me, Laura?"
Laura just smiled and dropped her head.
"You are pregnant again, aren't you?"
Laura nodded, "I think so. I have all the symptoms . . . which my husband pointed out to me. . . sore boobs, out of sorts for no reason . . . missed my period."
Alessandra hugged her. "I am so happy for you. You and Mr. Steele . . . that will be number four. I think it's wonderful."
"So do I, Alessandra. So do I." Saying this to someone other than Remington caused Laura to sense the reality of her situation and her eyes filled with happy tears. "Oh, my, look at me, I must be pregnant. I never cry at the drop of a hat unless I am."
Remington came into Laura's office.
"Laura, may I speak with you a moment in here?"
Laura smiled and followed him into his office and Remington immediate closed the door behind her and drew her into his arms and began to kiss her face, her neck over and over.
"I'm truly sorry to drag you in here this way, but I find myself so distracted by you that I am unable to concentrate on this case, as interesting as it is proving to be."
"Remy, please, they are waiting for us in the other office." Laura was unable to think in the face of her husband's evident need. "What can I do with them?"
"Send them out for breakfast or something, Laura. There's the coffee shop downstairs. Tell them we'll catch up with them there-anything at all. Good Lord, we have to finish what we started this morning or I'm useless. We need an hour more together. Then I promise to concentrate. I beg you, woman."
"I'll send them along to have breakfast. We can meet them later. I will see you in the back in five minutes."
Laura stepped back into her office and found Alessandra and Lorraine in a detailed discussion of the events that had led up to the present situation.
"Ladies, I have a great suggestion. Alessandra, why don't you take Lorraine down to have breakfast in the coffee shop as you continue to go over these events of the case. Mr. Steele and I will join you shortly."
"You're not coming now?" Alessandra asked.
"No, there's something we have to take care of . . . and we need to analyze that video more closely. I don't think Lorraine needs to dwell on this part of the investigation. We'll join you just a little later," Laura said smiling brightly as she closed the door to the hallway between the offices.
Alessandra lifted her brows slightly, then turned to Lorraine.
"Let's go. We're going to have the best breakfast you'll find in this part of LA."
"I hope everything is organically grown."
"I think so. Come along."
As Laura went to the auxiliary room in Suite 1157 that doubled as a nursery of sorts and a place to lie down for a rest or a few stolen moments, her heart skipped a beat in anticipation. When she opened the door, Remington was hanging his trousers neatly on a rack. He was naked, his muscular dimpled buttocks like a marble sculpture for beauty.
"Come, darling, I'll help you with your things." He held his hand out and Laura went to him and let him undress her. "You're beautiful, so beautiful," he murmured as her breasts rolled free into his hands and he bent to kiss them. "I've got such a heat for you today."
"Rem, Rem," Laura sighed as she melted at his touch. As her slacks slid to the floor, Remington squeezed her hips and then smacked her freckled bottom.
"Is that the spanking you promised me yesterday?"
"Is that what you need, lassie?"
"Yes, yes! Remy!"
Remington smacked her buttocks again and then again, and Laura's knees gave way, her eyes rolling back into her head as she felt rapture surge through her. Laura held him around his neck as Remington carried her to the narrow bed that they had used so many times and knelt over her.
"Don't stop . . . not for a moment," she begged him.
"I'm quite pathetic in my need for you today, Laura . . ."
They were helpless, their words reduced to inarticulate grunts and moans as they gave themselves to each other. It was as intense as any joining they had ever experienced and when the final climax came for them, Laura wailed Remington's name into the quiet of the empty offices.
"God! My God!" Remington gasped, his pelvis jerking uncontrollably as he ejaculated so forcefully that burst after burst of bright light seemed to blind him at that moment.
The spasms that gripped them wrung them powerfully as Laura capitulated, giving herself in complete surrender, fluttering helplessly, her features contorting as if she were in agony, and then relaxing so completely that she was like a drugged woman in his arms.
"Rem . . . Rem . . . hold me, Rem," she sighed.
"Thank you, lassie," Remington whispered as they sank into the afterglow.
They lay exhausted, wanting only to go to sleep, but finally pulled themselves out of the little bed.
"Alessandra will be wondering what's going on."
"I think she has probably figured it out," Remington said, drawing her close.
"Now are you really calmed down?" Laura was skeptical, knowing him as well as she did.
"Yes, darling. You always take care of me so fabulously," Remington said, winking at her in the mirror as he tied his tie.
"I loved the spanking."
"You are a wicked perverted woman . . . and I love you," Remington growled. "I will never completely understand you. When you want to, you will climb onto me and take whatever you want from me, and then you turn around and enjoy me smackin' your arse."
"You're the only man who has ever done that, the only man I have ever trusted like this. I know I belong to you. And I know you belong to me, too." Laura pinched her husband's bottom.
"I wish we didn't have this case. I'd take you to the Bonaventure and lie in bed all day with you. It's Saturday, after all."
"When we finish the case, we've got a date," Laura said seductively, rubbing his lower lip with her fingertip.
Suddenly there was noise in the outer office.
"Who could that be? Fred was going to wait for us in the garage."'
"And Alessandra knew to keep Lorraine occupied till we would call," Laura said.
"She knew we were going to . . ." Remington gestured to illustrate their coupling.
"Spacey sometimes, but, all in all, quite perceptive. She knows randy when she sees it, love."
"Oh, she does, does she?"
"Well, you don't hide it very well."
Remington glanced downward. "I thought I hid it rather well."
"Not that. You give off enough other signals, love."
"Well, let's see who is giving off signals in our office. You'd better stay back here. I don't want some thug punching you. Remember, you're pregnant, darling."
Laura stood behind the door as Remington opened it to the main reception area.
"That's the guy! He's the one who was with that broad last night."
The tall Latino who had spoken held a gun and was obviously ready to use it. His partner was stocky and swarthy with pitted skin and held Lorraine Lovejoy by one arm and Alessandra Présendieu by the other.
"We came for the tape . . . the tape her old man made at the Fernandez estate. Give it up and we can all go home."
"I think not, er . . . do you have a name?"
"You don't need to know my name. Just fork it over, pretty boy."
"And you'll shoot us all dead. The tape is not here. It's in a safe place. And I will only negotiate with Mr. . . . Fernandez. Might that be 'Lefty' Fernandez? I've bet on a few of his ponies in my day. Never won though. There was always a suspicion that he drugged his horses and bet against them."
"You talk too much! Get over here!"
"José, we better taken 'em all to the boss. He decides what to do."
The two hustled Remington and the two women out of the office and onto the elevator.
Laura waited till they were gone and came out. She was in a quandary. The tape was in Remington's office on his desk and they had not found it. They had not even searched for it, but had fallen for Remington's bluff. She put it the manila folder in a drawer with her children's spare play clothes, and then went to her computer and did a search for "Lefty" Fernandez. He was 'Luciano' and the address was in Pacific Palisades.
Remington had signaled the two women to be calm as they were wrestled into a van parked in the garage of the office building. They were all blindfolded with their hands tied behind them.
Meanwhile Laura called Detective Jarvis.
"Detective, this is Laura Steele. We are in a situation. Mr. Steele and a client along with one of our associates has been taken forcefully from the office at gun point. I have reason to believe that they are being taken to an estate in Pacific Palisades, the estate of a certain Luciano Fernandez."
"Mrs. Steele, we just can't go barging in there without probable cause. I can appreciate your concern . . ."
"A murder was committed there, Detective Jarvis. We have a video proving it. My husband is out there with two defenseless women. I am on my way. We would appreciate help here."
"Wait for me. Do not go onto the property, Mrs. Steele. I'll be there right away."
Laura called Fred and met the limo in the garage.
"We have to get to Pacific Palisades right away. Mr. Steele and Alessandra Présendieu are in danger along with a client."
"Right away, Mrs. Steele."
Fred sensed the anxiety in Laura's voice and he knew that the situation was definitely a serious one.
Saturday traffic was light and they made good time and were soon on the street near the Fernandez place. It was gated and there was a guard.
"Pass it, Fred. I was hoping that Jarvis would be here by now."
They drove a mile down and turned around and parked about a thousand feet from the gate.
Laura was nervous as a cat. The earlier fatigue after her tryst with Remington had vanished completely and she was in high gear.
Inside the estate Remington, Lorraine, and Alessandra had been taken into Fernandez' private gaming room. There was an exotic array of gambling equipment, but Remington focused on the slot machine. It was a left-handed slot machine like the one in the video he had seen earlier on the video in his office.
Fernandez came into the room. He was not unfamiliar with the Remington Steele Agency.
"I am sorry to detain you like this, but your client, the señora here, has something I need very badly, Señor Steele."
"What does she have, and why do you need it?"
"Porque? It is none of your affair. But I will tell you, Señor Steele. A video that was made of a confidential . . . meeting that was held here. In my business you cannot afford loose ends, yes? So, Señora Lovejoy, I must ask you to produce that tape. It is a loose end that must be attended to."
Steele noticed that Fernandez was left-handed as he picked up the phone on his desk.
When a third man came into the room, Lorraine gasped.
"It's . . . it's the man who threatened me at the store."
"I dare say it is, Mrs. Lovejoy," Remington said sanguinely.
"I am not going to wait any longer. Get it done. Torture her and find out where is the tape."
"She doesn't know where the tape is. Unfortunately these extremely competent chaps you sent left it back at the office. They didn't even look for it."
"Stupido! For this I pay you. Get back down there and get that tape and bring it to me. Pronto!" Fernandez screamed at his hapless lieutenants as they scurried out of the room, stumbling over each other.
"You just can't find good help these days, can you?" Remington said. "Do you think you could untie these women? It's going to be a while before those blokes get back here. After all, your man has a gun on us."
"Untie them," Fernandez ordered his man. "And shoot the first one of them that tries anything."
Remington, Lorraine, and Alessandra sat quietly. Remington knew that Laura was somewhere out there. He had no doubt of it. And he knew that she would not come alone.
Laura had become increasingly restless as she waited for the police to show up. She sensed that things were probably deteriorating rapidly.
"Fred, I can't wait any longer for Jarvis. When he shows up, point him in the right direction."
Laura got out of the limo and climbed over the fence onto the estate grounds making her way toward the mansion. When she was just about fifty yards from the house, a fluffy German shepherd puppy came gamboling to her.
"God! The last thing I need, a puppy," Laura said under her breath as the puppy played around her feet, begging for attention.
Just as she bent to pat the puppy, a huge German shepherd came bounding toward her menacing her. Laura knew that it was the mother and she knew that hers was a very bad predicament. Laura put her arm up to protect her face and neck just at the moment the dog was called off by its handler.
"You have made a serious mistake here, missy. Too bad, cause you're a looker."
He took Laura by the arm and dragged her stumbling behind him across the lawn and into the house followed by the big dog still growling and the little puppy trailing behind.
"Look what I come up with, boss. This dame was snoopin' around outside. Duchess spotted her. She near 'bout grabbed her too."
"Does she belong to you, Señor Steele? I think so, yes? Oh, yes, she belongs to you." Fernandez looked Laura up and down as if he were stripping her naked. "I hope you have enjoyed her to the full, Señor Steele . . . enough for a lifetime . . . because it is all about to end very soon."
"You will have a great deal of difficulty getting rid of four bodies, Fernandez. And there are people who know we are here."
"The police are on the way. You can't get away this time, Fernandez," Laura said evenly.
"Muchas gracias for that, Señora Steele. That means we will depart now. José, get them out of here and back into that truck. We'll take the plane and 'drop them off' along the way."
"We need to tie them up, boss."
"No time. Get out of here. And get this puppy from underfoot!"
The one called José along with two other lackeys pushed them at gunpoint from the gaming room. As they were led out, they passed through a greenhouse full of exotic plants of all kinds. Remington and Laura exchanged the briefest of glances, but that was enough.
Remington picked up a cactus plant and hurled it at José's neck. The man screamed as the sharp needles found their mark and the melêe was on. Lorraine and Alessandra took their cue and plants and pots and dirt flew in every direction. Gardening tools became weapons as Laura took a shovel and slammed it over one man's head and Remington held Fernandez hostage with the long tines of a pitchfork pressed against his throat.
"I advise you to be very, very still, Señor Fernandez. I am rather nervous at this point."
The sound of sirens advertised the arrival of Jarvis and the LAPD.
"Just in time, Detective. Thank you," Laura said caustically.
"You should have waited for us."
Remington ignored the chastisement from Jarvis. "A murder took place in the game room in there. Lorraine's husband happened to document it on video tape and that is why we are all here. You will find some men breaking into my office? They are accomplices as well. The tape is there, darling?" He turned to Laura.
"It's in the drawer where we keep spare clothes for the children."
"We'll do it. We've been trying to get the goods on this guy for years," Jarvis was excited.
"You've got it now, Detective," Remington said. "Ladies, I think we can trust LA's Finest to finish this job. Let's go home."
He put his arm around Laura and they walked out to where Fred was waiting in the driveway with the limo.
"Thank you, Mr. Steele and Laura. At least I know what really happened to Larry," Lorraine said.
"You will be safe now," Laura said.
"I think you have acquired a new friend, darling," Remington said glancing downward.
Laura stared down at her feet and saw the German shepherd puppy sitting wagging its tail, its eyes fixed on Laura.
"Oh, my goodness, you're so cute!" she cooed to the fat little dog. "He can't be more than a couple months old. What do you think is going to happen to him?"
Remington picked up the puppy. "Well, his, or should I say her," he said, as he turned the squirming puppy over to examine its genitalia, "erstwhile owner is going off to jail at this very moment. Do you feel an attraction to 'her?' After all, you only have five children at home and a business to run . . . and me to look after." His blue eyes were twinkling at Laura as he teased her. "I don't really feel the need of something else to pet, love."
"Our children need a pet. It's part of growing up."
"Well, my childhood was minus some of the classic accoutrements."
"You were deprived. Didn't you feel deprived without pets?"
"Not at all. I was too concerned about feeding myself each day to get involved with another hungry mouth to feed."
"I'm sorry. But I think we should have a dog for our children. And we have thought about a dog for security at the house. We deal with some cases that, no matter how hard we try, seem to come home with us." Laura took the wiggling dog from him and it quieted instantly in her arms.
"Let me check it out with Jarvis." Remington sighed and went back to the detectives who were mopping up the operation.
A few minutes later he came back.
"So Jarvis says you can have the dog if you want it. The caretaker is going to jail with the rest of the bunch and the animals would be taken to the animal shelter anyway. The mother is trained as an attack dog and unfortunately will have to be put down."
Laura smiled and put the dog into the limo with them and they headed back to town where they delivered Alessandra back to the office to get her car and then proceeded to take Lorraine back to her store.
"I've got a lot of straightening up to do before I can open the place back up. Got to keep busy, you know." Lorraine looked at the puppy contentedly ensconced between Remington and Laura. "You know there is a pet store across the street. You probably are going to need some things for 'what's-her-name.' "
"That's a super idea, Lorraine." Laura kissed her on the cheek and bade her good-bye, before taking Remington by the hand and dragging him across the street to the Pet Universe.
"Darling, must we do this now? I had envisioned spending this afternoon in a very different sort of activity," Remington protested.
"Look, we can't take a dog home without doggie paraphernalia . . . just the necessary things. I promise." Laura pecked him lightly upon his lips.
"Actually, Laura, I could appreciate a much more substantial kiss . . . and a hug perhaps."
"You'll get whatever you want. Just let's take care of . . . what shall we name her? I've got it! How about Ingrid! You should like that."
"Whatever you want to name her is fine with me. Let's get in here and get what we need as quickly as possible."
They raced around the store and in a few minutes had a shopping cart full of puppy supplies as well as books on the subject. They piled all of it into the trunk of the limo and were ready to go.
"Fred, you may drop Mrs. Steele and me off at the Bonaventure. We are going to have . . . a late lunch. And, if you would, please take this puppy and its paraphernalia to our house. Tell Esperanza that it is the newest member of the household. Her name is Ingrid, and I dare say she already understands some Spanish." He smiled at Laura, the corners of his mouth turning up as they did when he was extremely satisfied with himself.
"Sure, Mr. Steele." Fred smiled and turned toward the hotel as Laura nestled close to Remington in the back seat of the limo, her arms resting on his shoulder, and Ingrid, in turn, nestled right up against Laura, her warm furry body finding the security she craved.
"Remington Steele, this was quite a productive morning, wasn't it?"
"Yes, darling, we have solved the case. Lawrence Lovejoy was killed, his death made to look like an accident, because he witnessed a gangland execution while he was installing gaming equipment at Fernandez' and had the temerity to take pictures. The evidence that he left on the video was sufficient to nail Luciano Fernandez. End of story, love. Case closed, with no one else getting killed." Remington said drawing Laura closer.
"I am so hungry . . . and tired, Rem." Laura lay her head upon his chest and put her arms around his waist.
"We will have a lovely dinner brought up to our room and then we will sleep the rest of the afternoon, darling."
"You are really going to sleep?"
"Yes, love. Between all the chasing after the bad guys and takin' care of our passionate needs, I'm completely knackered." Remington looked at Laura quizzically. "Aren't you sleepy? You did say that you were tired."
"I was just thinking about what you said yesterday about left-handed . . . lovers. Is it really different . . . being with a left-handed woman?"
"Let's see. I dare say you are quite aware of the . . . er . . . rotational movement involved when a man and woman come together in that special way. And it seems that left-handed people rotate in a counterclockwise direction whether they are simply stirring their porridge, twirling about on skates, or doing something infinitely more pleasurable, whereas right-handed individuals rotate in a clockwise fashion."
"So-o . . ?" Laura ran her finger up and down the lapel of his soft tailored jacket, her brown eyes wide, gazing into his.
"So left-handed women seem to particularly enjoy 'taking the initiative' in intimate matters, let us say. That way they can fall into their natural rotational pattern. Not to say that they aren't wonderful when they let their partner take the lead. There is just usually an interesting little fillip in the, er. . . movement . . . because it is not natural for them."
"A catch, a hitch-which I can only describe as absolutely charming, darling." Remington's blue eyes lit up his face as he grinned at her.
"And you have thoroughly researched this, this 'fillip'?" Laura smiled and blushed at this detailed analysis of her bedroom technique, but her brown eyes stretched even more wide than they already were.
"Oh, yes. I have been intimately involved with only five left-handed women in my life. The theory proved true in every case. And in your case there is a preponderance of evidence of this . . . phenomenon." Remington simply grinned at Laura, his blue eyes turned dark cobalt now and locked with hers. "Of course I would imagine that considerable more research is warranted, darling, wouldn't you?"
"I don't think this research project is likely to end anytime in the near future," Laura said as she pulled his head down to hers and planted a passionate kiss on his lips.