Summary: She said she wanted more than a wink and a tumble, but instead Laura goes looking for a roll in the hay.
Disclaimer: Blah, blah, blah…
So, it’s 4:26…no, make that 4:27…in the morning. And I’m sitting at my desk, staring at the clock.
I’ve been at the office for just over an hour now. Not that I’ve been working.
Oh, sure, I’ve got a folder open in front of me. But I have no idea what case it’s from. Of course, it’s fairly difficult to read anything in the near-blackness of the room. Only the moonlight is filtering in through the slats of the blind.
I wonder if it’s safe to go home yet. I’ve been gone for nearly two hours, if I count the time I was driving aimlessly around town.
I need to go home.
I can’t be seen looking this way.
My clothes are a mess. They’re wrinkled and I’m missing a button. Not to mention they’re the same things I had on yesterday.
I don’t even want to see my hair. It was clipped up nicely several hours ago. I lost the clip about the same time I lost the button. I don’t know where the either has gone.
It’s when I bring my hand up to check on the status of my earrings that I realize I most certainly can’t be caught smelling this way. The smell is on my skin and it has permeated my clothes and my hair.
What the hell was I thinking?
I have to go home.
I pull the Rabbit to a stop in front of my building. I remain in the car, looking up at the darkened windows on the third floor. It’s not my loft. I can’t see my loft from where I’m parked.
It’s 5:15 in the morning, but one of my neighbors is apparently up, as I see a light come on in one of the first-floor apartments. It illuminates me in the car.
I don’t like the light on me.
I get out of the car and dash for the building. I take the stairs slowly. Normally, I take them two at a time, for the exercise. Right now, I’m dreading what I’ll find when I slide my door open. I’m not in any hurry.
When I left, I didn’t lock the door. The way my loft is set up, I lock myself in at night with a padlock on the inside and lock everyone else out during the day with a padlock on the outside.
If I’d locked the door when I left, the person inside wouldn’t have been able to escape. Like I did.
I hope he escaped.
I can’t face him.
What the hell was I thinking?
I grip the handle. I swallow. I give a yank and the door slides open.
My loft is dark. But it was dark when I left just before 2:30 this morning.
I listen to the silence. I hear nothing. No movement. No breathing.
I stop to just feel. I have no sense that anyone is around.
I slide the door shut, place my purse on the sofa and proceed to the bedroom.
My eyes adjust to the darkness and I can easily see that no one is here. He has gone.
I turn on my bedside lamp and wince at the brightness.
My bed is a shambles. Only one pillow has managed to stay on it. The sheets are creased and tangled, and dark outlines mark where wet spots have dried. The blanket is in a heap at the end of the bed.
I look around where I stand.
I’ve found my hair clip.
And my torn-off pantyhose. I pick them up, knowing they can’t be saved. They were brand new yesterday. Damn. I wad them up and head to the bathroom. I pitch them into the trashcan.
They conveniently cover the four foil wrappers and used condoms. One can’t be too careful in this day and age.
It was really only three times. The fourth…the first, actually…was the one I accidentally put my fingernail through before we’d even gotten started.
It’s been a damn long time since I’ve done anything. I was…itchy. What can I say?
Well, I could say a lot, actually. My itchiness is what got me into this situation to begin with.
What the hell was I thinking?
I don’t pick up men at bars. Okay, so I picked up this man at a bar.
But, it had been a bad day. Bad week, actually. And it was only Thursday. This, of course, means that today is now Friday and I have to make myself presentable and show up for work in a few hours. I can’t just climb back in bed and cover my head, wishing I hadn’t done it. Three times.
I start to strip out of my clothes. The unmistakable stench of sex is more obvious without my clothes on. That inter-mingled smell of male, female, cologne, perfume, sweat, and other miscellaneous body fluids is like an aura around me. Why is it that nobody notices the smell during the act, just afterward, when trying to hide the evidence?
I crank on the shower to hot…I should have just tried a cold one at about seven last night….and step under the spray.
As I scrub away the proof of my activities, I hope the water will wash away my memories, too. Naturally, that doesn’t work. Instead, my mind wanders back to yesterday.
I left out of work in a huff. We’d been fighting. Again. I’m pretty sure he won the argument. But I’d never admit that. I didn’t stay around to confirm his victory with Mildred, because she’d definitely tell me. Whether I asked or not. I’m fairly certain he followed me as far as the elevator. I didn’t look back, though.
I punched the button for the garage level. I intended to go straight home. Thinking about it for a minute, I decided not to, since that’s exactly what he would have expected me to do. I pressed the button for the lobby.
Just off the courtyard between the two buildings there’s a mini-mart, a dry cleaner, a business that never seems to be open, a couple restaurants and a bar. I headed straight for the bar.
I haven’t been in a bar just to go to a bar since the Marcall case. Of course, that was business. I was undercover.
I sat at the far end of the bar, ordered a fruity, girly drink and proceeded to stare at it for the next twenty minutes.
When the bartender presented me with a glass of champagne, I waved him off, telling I hadn’t ordered it. He told me it was compliments of the gentleman and nodded his head toward the opposite end of the room. I made eye contact with the man and he raised his glass at me. He had a smile that was pleasing, not cocky.
I looked back at the flute of champagne sitting on a little napkin in front of me. It wasn’t a magnum. Hell, it wasn’t even a bottle. It was just a glass. I sighed at my apparent lowering of my standards, but I picked up the drink and raised it back at him. I’m fairly certain I smiled at him. At least, I tried to smile.
That was mistake number one.
He took it as his invitation, because he was sitting next to me a moment later.
“You come here a lot?” he asked.
“No,” I answered. Sure, it’s only a few steps from where I work, but I’d never been in the place. I took a sip of the champagne. I’m not good at telling one vintage from another, but I don’t think it was from ’76.
There was something about him. Something different. Something I wasn’t used to seeing these days. Something…nice…about him. Something comfortable.
Unfortunately, I can’t say I was drunk. I hadn’t touched the drink I’d bought for myself, and I only had half the glass of champagne. No, I knew exactly what I was doing when I asked him if he wanted to go to my place.
That was mistake number two.
That was mistake number three.
What the hell was I thinking?
I decide I’ve washed away enough skin to remove the smell and I step out of the shower.
If I hurry getting dressed I’ll still have time to strip the bed and wash the sheets before work.
What is it about men that make them declare their undying love during sex?
It wasn’t supposed to be about love.
It was about getting an itch scratched.
It had been so long. I was more than ready. He was quite eager himself. The first time was quick, heated, messy and quite possibly the best sex I’ve had in years.
The second time was longer, more involved. He explored areas on me I’d forgotten about. I touched things on him I hadn’t felt for a very, very long time. It was so very much fun. No strings attached.
We should have stopped after number two.
Number three was different.
I awoke to the gentle stroking of his fingers on my face. I opened my eyes and met his. He seemed so serious. I didn’t know where the fun-loving man had gone. An unexpected feeling of fright tickled my stomach.
“Laura?” he whispered.
He answered me with a kiss. A painfully gentle kiss. A kiss that held my lips tenderly against his as he rolled me onto my back and settled his hips between my legs. I could feel him pressing against me. I relaxed to allow him entry.
He didn’t move. Instead, he continued to kiss me, his fingers trailing down my cheeks.
We stayed that way for several minutes with our tongues twisting together and fingers caressing faces.
When he did finally join with me, it wasn’t until he’d rolled on a condom. I’d insisted on them in the beginning, and he stuck to my request, even when I was willing to forgo all barriers.
We weren’t pounding and thrusting. We were sliding. We were floating. It was surreal.
He continued to kiss me and my heart hurt from the perfection of it all.
A moment before our worlds exploded, he raised his head and met my eyes.
“Laura,” he said, stronger than he should have been able to.
“Yes?” I sighed back.
He pressed his forehead against mine, the tips of our noses touching. I couldn’t help but look directly into his soul.
“Laura…” I felt his thumb press against my clit. “I love you.”
Suddenly, I clenched around him, unable to stop myself. It had been building, but it arrived sooner than expected. Light exploded behind my eyelids.
When I recovered, I found his head buried in my shoulder, his erection waning inside me.
I opened my mouth to speak but I found nothing coming out. What could I possibly say?
That had been the most excruciatingly exquisite example of love-making I’d ever experienced.
So, what the hell happened to my exciting roll in the hay?
He pushed himself up, out and off of me. He kissed my open mouth then pulled back to look at me.
I think I must have looked like the clichéd deer-caught-in-the-headlights, because he bowed his head and turned from me. He cleaned himself up. He then sank back onto the only remaining pillow with a huge sigh.
I waited for him to fall asleep.
Then, I ran.
I have no idea how he got home, because, as I said, I drove from the bar. I was just glad he was gone when I got back to my loft. I don’t think I could have faced him.
I just wanted sex. I just needed someone to lose myself in for a short time. I wasn’t ready for something so deadly serious.
I straighten a line in my jacket before I enter the office.
Lights are on and Mildred is at her desk this time.
Considering I haven’t slept in 27 hours, I’m doing amazingly well.
“Morning, Miss Holt,” she says.
“Morning, Mildred,” I respond, sure to stick in extra chipperness.
I can feel the look she gives me as I quickly pass and go directly into my office.
The file is still open on my desk. I should check to see what I was supposedly reading at four this morning.
I pull out my chair and barely get sat down when the door to Mr. Steele’s office opens. I look up, meet his eyes and smile.
“Morning,” I say.
“Good morning,” he answers.
He looks at me warily for a moment. He then shuts the door behind him. “That…disagreement…we had,” he begins.
Oh, yes, the argument that started it all.
“I meant what I said,” he informs me. “Every word of it. No matter what you may or may not believe.”
I stand up, preparing to wade back into battle. “I never said I didn’t believe you.”
“No, you didn’t,” he confirms. “As I recall, you didn’t say anything. You just left.”
I come around my desk to face off with him. “I most certainly didn’t ‘just leave.’ I think I made my points quite clear to you. That case wasn’t about…”
“I’m not talking about the damn case, Laura!” he shouts.
Oh, God. He’s not talking about the case.
I swear I see his eyes shining with unshed tears. I lower my gaze, unable to look at him. I am such an ass.
“I heard you leave,” he tells me. “It only took 45 minutes to get a cab to your neighborhood. You could have left here long before 4:30.”
It’s then that I notice he’s still wearing his clothes from yesterday. The normally impeccably dressed Remington Steele has shown up wrinkled.
I cross my arms over my chest, hugging myself. Maybe if I squeeze tight enough, I can protect my heart from the knife of pain I feel stabbing into me. “I’m so sorry,” I whisper. I can’t look at him.
He says nothing for a very long time.
Finally, he moves away, back toward his office. “I’m sorry, too.”
I let out my breath and choke on the sob.
I’ve been a complete fool. There’s no way he could ever be a one-night-stand. No matter how much I try to delude myself.
Not so deep down, I knew it wouldn’t work that way.
What the hell was I thinking?