By: Nancy Eileen
Author's Note: This story follows Angie Nothdorf's, "A Christmas Steele" by over a year. Bonds of Steele, SWAK and the 5th season did not happen in this parallel universe.
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.
Remington reached across the bed for Laura. He loved Sunday mornings. He was contentedly exhausted from the night and the middle of the night before. He never could have dreamed that being married would be so wonderful. It just wasn't the lovemaking and intimacy they shared...and oh it was exquisite beyond his wildest dreams. But being secure in love and marriage with Laura was just...what were the words? He didn't know any...but it was something he had never felt his whole life. Content to be a part of a family, settled and domestic. If only Daniel could see him now, but he was somewhere in the south of France.
But for now, he wanted Laura. He anticipated feeling her small, lithe body in the warm bed next to him and reached to pull her under him. He wanted to envelope her with his entire body...and make mad, passionate love to her again.
But she wasn't where he reached for her. He swept his long arm across the bed and up and down and could not find her. He lifted himself onto his elbows and looked around the room in the early morning light. The bathroom door was open, but the bedroom door was closed. He pulled himself out of bed, and donned a robe as he opened the door to the living room. There was Laura.
"47, 48, 49, 50, 51", she gasped as she counted through her abdominal crunches. Remington looked at her amazed and annoyed all at once. Laura stopped at the top of her sit up and looked over at him.
"I'm sorry, honey. I thought I was being quiet...I didn't want to wake you," she said between heavy breathing.
"Your work-out didn't wake me but your absence did," he replied, irritated. "Good lord, Laura, its 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning...the day we, note WE, get to sleep in and in and in!"
She chuckled. "My insatiable Irishman," she replied, looking up at him fondly. She had her hair pulled back in a ponytail and shorts and a sleeveless shirt on. Running shoes completed the ensemble.
"Me insatiable", he countered, "I don't recall hearing any protests from you, my dear, in fact, you initiate many of our encounters."
Ut-oh. She could tell she had said the wrong thing and that he had taken her left-handed compliment the wrong way. He was insatiable, but in the best of ways. Knowing he always wanted her was flattering and downright great for her ego. That he was handsome beyond imagination was no question and that he only had eyes for her was the best feeling in the world. She could feel the looks of envy from other women when she was in public with him. No, it wasn't lady-like to feel that way, but it felt damn good.
Laura jumped up from the floor and went to him. His whole body was pouting.
"I'm sorry, Remington. Its just with the Griffith Park 10 K coming up in another 2 weeks I feel I need to get in the best shape possible." "I am bound and determined to run my best for breast cancer research funds", and thought, 'and show those lawyers on the floor above us that the Remington Steele Agency can run for charity as well as anyone'.
She slipped her arms around his neck and on tiptoes reached up to lightly kiss his chin, then his neck, then his chest above the V of the robe.
"Oh Laura, it just, well, I...I was counting on you being there this morning," he said.
"But I was there last night, and at 3am," she replied and quickly added, "and loved every minute of it."
He visibly melted in her arms and put his arms around her waist. He looked down at her with so much love and adoration, she had to look away. Sometimes it scared her how much they loved and needed each other. It was the best thing that had ever happened to her and she had wasted almost 5 years getting to the point where he finally told her on the porch of her mother's home in Connecticut how much he loved her. Then blew her away by asking her to marry him on Christmas Eve, in front of her family. What a fool she had been to wait so long. With her head resting against his chest and feeling his arms around her and his heart beating, she realized she was again being a fool. She could run anytime. It was their crazy schedule with stakeouts and travel and being on separate cases that kept them apart so much they often played 'catch up' on the weekends.
She unclasped her fingers from around his neck. He let her go and turned to go to the shower. She stopped him by putting her arms around his waist and pulled him back toward her. He was so surprised and taken by the move that he felt his heart skip a beat.
Her hands felt for the knot of his robe belt and she loosened it and let the ends fall to the side. She slid around to the front of him and slipped her arms under his robe around his waist and walked into him. He was magnificent. She looked up as she caressed his back and let her hands wander lower. His eyes were glassy and looking right at her as he lowered his lips to hers. The kiss became one of deep passion and in one move he picked her up and carried her back into the bedroom.
"Do you want to run with me in Griffith Park?" Laura asked as she finished her sandwich on the patio. "It's a beautiful day for February. The fog has burned off and there won't be as many runners in the afternoon."
He looked over to her and saw the playful look in her eye. 'Yes,' he thought, 'the afternoon.' This was far more to his liking. Getting up at noon and resting for the day. Then he realized what she had asked.
"Run...with you? Laura you must be joking." " Besides, I seem to be getting fabulous cardiovascular workouts right here at home." He sighed with a twinkle in his eye.
"You know," she said, "when you do have to run, for a case or after someone, you run like you used to be a track star...were you?"
He had long ago stopped keeping anything from Laura. If she asked, he would tell. It was just a matter of how much to tell.
"When I was a lad in Dublin, I used to be a bookie runner."
"A bookie runner?" she asked.
"That's right," he said. "Some bloke would bet on a horse race or hurling match or whatever to the local bookie." When enough bets were in, I'd run them to the main office for the placement and they had to be placed before the match or race started. So, you learned to be fast, and where the short cuts were and who to avoid."
"But surely you had telephones in Dublin when you were a boy," she asked incredulously.
"Yes, but phones were dangerous...party lines and taps. I mean they were used. But many of the older clients didn't trust them and paid for the bet to be run in. And that was good for me as I had an income and a place to stay out of the damp as I would wait in the bookie office for a bet to be placed and then run it."
It was moments like this that Remington's past came crashing down on Laura like a sledgehammer. He had survived so well, and was so, well, normal now, that she often forgot the horrendous childhood he had suffered through. But she knew he didn't want her pity, so she asked, "How far would you run?"
"Well, it varied. Sometimes across town, sometimes up the coast to Howth...I guess a couple of miles, but sometimes as many as 10 or 12 at a time. I got to be so fast that clients would ask for me by name."
"By name?" Laura sat up. She knew now he never knew his real name, but this could be a clue. " What did they call you?" she asked.
He chuckled. "Well, since I didn't really know myself, I was always making up names, trying out new ones every week. They finally had it with all the names and called me 'Mick', you know, the slang for any Irishman."
"Mick," she said out loud. "That's what Monroe calls you."
"Yes...Monroe and I go way back," he replied. "But in answer to you question, I think I'm all run out for now, but I'll drive out there with you."
"That would be great," she answered.
"I don't know, Mildred, do you really think so?" Laura stood in the office of Remington Steele Investigations and stared at the new furniture arrangement Mildred Krebs had worked on.
"Sure hon, a little change is always good, don't ya think?"
Just then, Remington Steele sauntered through the front glass doors, eyes riveted to the newspaper in hand. Before either lady could warn him, he fell over a newly placed chair and onto the floor, newspaper everywhere.
"Oh boss, I'm sorry, are you okay?" Mildred asked, running to pick up the newspaper. Laura could not suppress a laugh, once she realized he was not hurt. "You look like the opening to the old Dick Van Dyke Show," she giggled.
"Very funny, Laura. Did we have an earthquake? Why was the chair here?"
"My fault, boss...I was trying out a new look for the office," Mildred replied.
"What was wrong with the old look?" he asked as he eased himself off of the floor.
"Here's your paper, boss, you go into your office and I'll bring your tea," Mildred blurted out as she ushered him to the far door.
Laura watched with amusement then suspicion. Something was up with Mildred, and she would figure out just what it was.
Mildred returned flushed and in sotto-voice spoke to Laura.
"Is he in, what did he say?"
"Well", Laura replied, "He says he's all run out. We went to the park to run and I ran and he waited. I did find out that he used to run...a lot...when he was younger."
"I knew it", Mildred gasped. "Why else could he climb buildings so easily and elude the authorities for so long. He has to be in great shape."
"He is", Laura murmured absent-mindedly.
"What's that hon?"
"Nothing Mildred. It's just not going to be easy to get him to run in that race."
"But Chief, you challenged those snobby lawyers upstairs, our reputation is at stake. Can't you just tell the boss about the bet and ask him to run for the good of the agency?"
"I am already asking him so much 'for the good of the agency'. Besides, I didn't think it would be this hard", Laura sighed.
Laura looked around and suddenly remembered the furniture rearrangement.
"Mildred, what's with the furniture?"
"Well, I'm not sure you want to hear the whole theory behind it, but it has to do with the theory of subliminal people flow."
"What?" asked Laura, alert and focused.
"Well, I read this article about people flow, you know, in and out of buildings and offices. Its subtle, but clients who come in the door are funneled right to me, and then I can corner them until I decide where they should go next. What do you think? Its better than ropes and poles like a bank" said Mildred.
"Mildred, I know your heart is in the right place, but we don't get that many clients at once, and I'm afraid after Mr. Steele's fall, someone else might tumble and we'll be sued out of our agency. Nice try, but you better move it back".
"Are you sure Miss Holt...Steele...Holt-Steele?"
Laura couldn't help but stifle a laugh.
"You of all people Mildred know my name at least. What ever happened to just plain Laura?"
"There's nothing plain about you, Laura," replied a voice from the doorway.
Standing there was an athletic looking man about 30 with sandy hair and a 200-dollar suit.
"Oh, hi Gil," Laura replied, looking at the lawyer from upstairs.
"How are the workouts going, you sure you and Steele want to take on Roscoe, Blake and Holmes?"
"Peace of cake," Laura responded. "I'd worry more about your own team than the competition."
"What competition, Laura? Its all for charity...why we should be working out together, forming an alliance to support the breast cancer awareness run. What do you say?"
"She's married, buster," Mildred spoke up.
"Don't I know that," Gil wistfully replied, taking a step closer to Laura.
The response startled Laura. Not that she didn't love Remington with all of her heart, but since she had been married, she stopped picking up the cues other men sent her way. This wasn't a cue; it was a shot across the bow! Laura could feel her face turn red as she took two steps backward and nearly fell when she hit the chair placed so unfamiliarly. Before she could right herself, Gil had stepped forward and grabbed her around the waist.
"Well, if it's not the lecherous lawyer from the lot above," Remington spoke with controlled distinction.
Laura quickly escaped Gil's grasp and stepped to a neutral corner, away from both men and tried to compose herself.
Remington stepped into the void and nearly toe to toe visually challenged Gil by getting into his face.
"Help you with something, mate?"
Gil smiled condescendingly and stepped back.
"Not a thing, limey".
"He's Irish," Mildred blurted out, "Not British."
"Is that so," Gil slowly replied. "Well, he's not an American is all I can see."
Remington was taken aback at such jingoistic posturing.
Remington spoke so slowly and softly, Laura could barely hear him. But his tone and body language spoke volumes. Its not often Remington took an instant dislike to someone. Laura looked again at Gil, in a different light, and kept that thought.
"He was telling me more about the charity run for breast cancer. His group is challenging others in the building," Laura added, stepping back toward the two men.
Remington glanced at Laura and then his foe, and a light bulb came on. Laura already knew about the challenge. That's why she was working so bloody hard to get in shape, to beat this blow-hearted pinhead.
Remington eyed Gil again then said, "Well, good luck in the run and I hope you raise a lot of money for charity," then turned and began to walk away.
Laura's heart fell. He had known there was a competition, and chose to bow out. She couldn't help being disappointed. Before she could even move, Gil replied.
"So Steele, that mean you'll be sitting in the car with your 'hot toddy'?"
"No mate, I only meant good luck in trying for second place as the Remington Steele agency has this race locked up."
And with that, Remington turned and walked back into his office and closed the door.
Laura couldn't suppress a huge smile. He was in. She wasn't sure why, but he was in. Gil might be nice to look at, but he was no Remington Steele.
"Looks like you're out of here, mister," Mildred spoke to Gil.
"What?" Gil replied with a lost look on his face. Then he straightened up and said "See you around, Laura."
"I don't think so, Gil," Laura answered and went through the door to Remington's office.
'You got a lot of 'splainin to do, Lucy' she said to herself.
How he got to the beach was beyond him. One minute he was reading the paper and having his cup of tea, and the next, he was in a running suit on Manhattan Beach, running like mad for the pier along the sand. Actually, it was late in the afternoon, but he was, never the less, barefoot and straining muscles that had not been used to this extent in a long time. Damn stupid pride. Laura had explained everything to him, and while he knew she loved only him, the compromising position he found her in...in his arms...still caused him to seethe inside. At least he had talked Monroe into meeting him here. He had some business to discuss with him regarding Gil, and Remington didn't want Laura to hear most of it.
Once they ran to the pier, Remington decided to sprint back to get to Monroe before Laura did, so he could caution Monroe not to mention the information he had on Gil with Laura there. Not that he was up to anything bad, he just wanted some information, and he knew Laura would go ballistic if she found out he was investigating good old Gil.
He playfully slapped Laura on the behind then took off, fast. She was momentarily taken aback, then realized it was a challenge. She ran too, but she was amazed at the speed Remington achieved. She could almost swear there was smoke coming from his bare feet, but knew it was only the sand. She'd never catch up to him, but she'd catch him eventually, and put all that she had into a gut-wrenching sprint.
He could see Monroe at the water's edge in the distance. Monroe looked agitated and there was a woman with him. Monroe looked toward him as Remington closed the distance between them. He was just jogging now and Laura took advantage of his slowed pace to sprint, trying to pass him before he met up with Monroe.
The woman was hysterical. Monroe was trying to calm her. When Remington arrived, he leaned over, placed his hands on his thighs, and tried to catch his breath. Laura almost ran him over trying to stop, laughing as she put her arms on his back. She hadn't seen the scene ahead of Remington. She too leaned over and caught the conversation.
"He's out there, he needs help...I don't know what he's doing...HE'S DROWNING!" the woman wailed.
Laura alertly stood up and looked beyond the crashing waves. There were deafening shore-pounders that churned sand and foam onto the slant of the wet shore going into the ocean. Then she saw him. Out much farther than anyone really should be. Her view of him was obscured as a wave, seemed to roll backward and sideways all at the same time crashing into an on-coming crest. The foam and spray tore high into the air and ripped the length of the two waves. A rip tide. She spent enough time at the beach knowing you couldn't swim back in to shore across a rip tide. You have to swim parallel to it, get beyond it, and then swim in.
"He has never really been in the ocean before. We just moved here and he was so excited to go into the ocean," the woman explained.
Laura watched as the man flailed in place over 100, maybe 200 yards from the shore. She knew from what the woman had said that he would never make it in on his own, he would become exhausted, hypothermic and then...
"Remington," she yelled. "Run, get the lifeguards," as she started toward the surf.
"Wait, where are you going?" he exclaimed, grabbing at her.
"Tell them it's a riptide, he'll never get in by himself."
"Laura, you can't go out there, you've just run yourself to the ground!"
Laura eluded his grasp and ran full speed to the ocean. The retreating surf caused her to run in ankle deep water until the next small crested wave came. With an athletic leap she dove up and over the wave, into the surf beyond. With strong strokes, she pulled herself further and further away from the shore...away from Remington.
Remington was near panic. While he could swim, and was stronger than Laura, he had no experience with the ocean, the waves, the undertow, and the riptide. With eyes as big as saucers, he turned toward the fully clothed Monroe who was still trying to comfort the distraught woman.
"Go get help, Mick, I'll watch them...hurry!"
Like a man possessed, and he was, Remington ran away from the ocean. Within a few yards, the lactic acid that had built up in his run with Laura began to cause a searing pain in his thighs and calves. He ran; pumping his long, lean legs through the deep sand, toward the strand. He felt like he was running in place. But he didn't slow down. He was running, not for some stranger, he was running for Laura.
Laura realized that her adrenaline had made her start out too quickly. She would have to pace herself. She slowed, but did not stop. As she worked her way through the small, then medium waves that pounded her, she looked at the rip ahead of her. She timed her dive to the riptide. The large incoming wave was in a curl. But instead of curling, the rip made it slide down on itself, sending water everywhere, especially down. With a dive born of body surfing experience, Laura dove under the wave just before it crushed her. She dove as deep as the wave was tall. Still, that wasn't enough. She was tossed around like a rag doll in a washing machine. But she relaxed and waited for the turbulence to let her go. When she felt it loosen, she surged farther out to sea, sucking in a breath as her head broke the surface. Another 20 yards and she would be there.
Remington took the steps two at a time. None of the wooden lifeguard stations on the sand had been occupied. They usually weren't in the winter, so he had run past them, noting their shuttered windows. At the top of the stairs at the strand he stopped, gasped for breath and looked for help. There was no one and no phone booth. Just houses along the strand. He ran to the nearest one and pounded on the door.
"Bloody hell, open up," he yelled. He threw himself against the door. It was solid. No time. Back to the strand, to the next house. Despite the lowering sun, he could see the glow inside of a lamp. He threw himself at the door.
"Help. Open the door. Help, someone is drowning!"
The door opened, a chain holding it from opening any wider. A young woman looked up at him, saw the reality of his statement on his face and without a word, closed the door just enough to remove the chain and opened it wide while pointing to the phone on the table.
"911, what is your emergency?"
He could hardly get the words out. He was spent.
"Drowning, at the beach, in the ocean, a man. My wife, she has gone in after him. I need help, they need help...lifeguards."
The 911 operator asked him to stay on the line while she gathered up the exact location. She then asked him to wait for the lifeguards to show them exactly where the victims were.
"They will be driving on the sand in a yellow truck...you can't miss them," the operator said.
"But they will miss me if I stay on this bloody line with you!" Remington said in frustration and agitation. "Sorry, sorry," he mumbled.
The woman of the house overheard Remington's side of the conversation.
"Go to the beach, I'll keep the line open until I see you have contacted the lifeguards."
"Thank you." He handed her the cordless phone he had been holding. He hadn't quite realized he had left the house and was standing on the strand; trying to see them, see Laura.
He scanned the beach and in the distance saw the truck. He looked ahead and saw Monroe and the woman, looking out to the sea. He began to run.
"Help me, help me, help me, help"... gulp... "me"!
Laura was within 10 feet of the man. She relaxed, treaded water. They were beyond the breakers... way beyond. In all of her time as a teenager swimming in the ocean, she didn't remember ever being out this far. For a brief moment she felt a well of panic rush through her. She mentally stopped it, immediately. She looked toward the shore. She could see there were houses beyond the strand, but she could not see the beach and she could not see Monroe, or Remington. Nope, she had never been this far out before.
"Hey", she called, "hey!"
The man, startled, stopped his yelling. He hadn't seen her. He was creating a regular vortex with his attempts to stay afloat. As soon as he saw her, he lunged toward her. Laura knew not to get too close to a panicked swimmer, but she hadn't noticed how close they had drifted together when she had looked back to the shore. He lunged at her and grabbed her. He was big. She could see he was easily over 200 pounds.
In a split second, she sank, and continued down, on purpose, pushing up with her arms to go deeper and deeper. The man, realizing she was going in the wrong direction, finally let go of her and returned to the surface. Laura swam underwater then returned herself.
'Well, that was definitely a mistake', she mentally chided herself. She wasn't tired, not yet. She was still on an adrenaline high and the edge put her at her best. Mentally sharp and assessing all of the variables in a split second, just like all of the math algorithms she loved to do in her head.
"Okay," she said to the back of the man's head, a good 10 feet away from him. "Let's try this again." "I'm Laura and I'm here to help you".
She really wanted to say, "I'm here to rescue you", but knew it was way too melodramatic. "What's your name?"
He lunged at her again, and she easily backed up.
"Look, I can't help you if your drown me." "Now take a deep breath, calm down and tell me your name."
"I'm. I'm, I'm Thomas...Thomas January."
"Like the month?"
"Yeah, like the month...who are you?"
"I'm Laura Steele. My husband has gone to get the lifeguards." Thomas started to swim toward her again.
"Look Thomas, you're going to have to stop that."
"But I'm so tired."
"Thomas, I can give you some support, but I can't hold you up. You're way too big for me. But look, you must be a good swimmer to have lasted this long...just do what I say and we'll both get out of this, okay?"
"Okay, now I am going to come up behind you and touch you. Whatever you do, don't grab me, okay?"
Laura swam behind him and gently placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Good...now I want you to lay back and try to float. I'm right here."
Thomas leaned back just as a small wave washed over them. He got a mouth full of water and gagged, spit it up and began to tread water again.
"Why can't we just swim in?"
"It's a rip tide...you can't swim through 'em, gotta go around them, and we don't know how long this one is, so we'll just wait here for the cavalry. Come on Thomas, you can do it."
He leaned back into her arms. He began to float on his back, but was scared.
"You're doing great. Now I'm going to float too. We need to try to conserve energy out here, but don't worry, I won't let go...just don't grab me."
"Okay," he said. Her touch was a life preserver to him. His panic died down, just a bit. Maybe he'd be all right after all. "Just float," he said to himself.
"Don't let go," he called to Laura.
"Not a chance," she said with more calm than she felt. She looked up at the sky and for the first time realized there wasn't much time until sunset...maybe less than an hour. "Don't think about that," she told herself. As a diversion, she began to talk to Thomas.
"So, where are you from?"
Remington arrived at the water's edge and hung onto Monroe for support. He had breath for only one word between gasps.
"There Mick, there. I haven't taken my eyes off of them."
Remington looked at Monroe, to gauge where he was looking. Standing straight, he strained to see them.
"Right there Mick...where are the guards?"
"Coming, coming ...Monroe, I can't see them!"
"Well I can, and that's what counts."
Not wanting to distract Monroe further, Remington looked up the sand to the direction of a motor sound. The lifeguard truck pulled up and a lone man, about 20 years of age jumped out. He had blonde curly hair, a tan, wore red shorts, and a T-shirt. He looked just like a lifeguard should look to Remington. The young man pulled his t-shirt off over his head by pulling it from the back, shook it off his arms and pulled a bright orange torpedo-shaped buoy out of the bed of the truck. There was a coil of white polypropylene rope attached, and he slung the rope with the buoy across his torso.
"You call for help?" he asked as he walked down to Remington and Monroe.
"Yes. This man's wife...I mean this woman's husband is beyond the rip tide. My wife went out to help him. There are two of them out there."
"Yes!" Remington said in frustration. He wanted to pick the twit up and throw him in the ocean to help him on his way.
"I'm gonna need more help, I better call."
"Look, how about I call, and you swim," Remington pleaded.
"Yeah, it'll be dark soon. Look, you know how to use a radio?"
"Yes, yes, now go!"
Remington jogged up to the yellow Lifeguard truck to call for reinforcements. The young guard jogged to Monroe, who was staring out to the horizon like a statue. As Remington reached in for the radio, he could see Monroe pointing, see the lifeguard nod his head. The guard pulled on a short wetsuit and with swim fins in one hand and the rescue buoy in the other, plunged into the water.
"How can they see them?" Remington asked himself. As he spoke on the radio, he could see a bobbing 'something' in the ocean in line with Monroe's vision. His higher vantage point next to the truck made all the difference. At the same time, a surge of sheer terror tore through him as he realized just how far out they really were. He could hardly make them out. He climbed into the bed of the truck to get even higher.
"Hang in there Laura, help is on the way," he whispered.
"So I always promised myself that if I ever did move to California, I would go swimming in the ocean....it's not like a lake at all, is it?"
"No Thomas, its not," Laura replied. She silently wondered if she should be more proactive. She knew if she were alone, she would try to swim around the rip, but she didn't think Thomas could make it. She was beginning to tire, to get cold. She mentally berated herself for letting these details slip into her consciousness.
"So, Thomas, what do you do for a living?"
Remington kept his vantage point, watching the lifeguard make his way out to the two swimmers. Where were the rest of the rescuers? Just then he heard a siren in the distance. He tore his eyes away from the ocean to see a paramedic ambulance stop on the street above the strand. They were joined by a police cruiser and a small fire truck. Men and women rescuers began to gather on the strand, but none came onto the beach. He could see some of them looking through binoculars. I guess they weren't going to get sand all over them unless they had a reason.
When he turned back it looked like the lifeguard had reached the swimmers.
"Thank god," he silently intoned.
"Hey you two, what's up?"
Startled, the floating Laura and Thomas changed positions so abruptly, they both went under water. Laura instinctively held her breath, but Thomas came up choking and gagging. The lifeguard immediately shoved the buoy to Thomas who clung to it with a death grip. Laura, still very close to Thomas, put her hands on his right shoulder. What relief, she felt, with the littlest bit of buoyancy, she relaxed. That was a mistake.
Fatigue washed over her, pain cramped her legs and the cold chilled her to the bone.
"Who's who?" the lifeguard asked?
Thomas, almost fully supported by the buoy, answered.
"I'm Thomas January...I got in trouble and Laura came out here to rescue me. She saved me!"
"Like the month?" the Lifeguard asked.
"Yeah, like the month...geez, I'm near death and I still hear that," Thomas replied.
"Are you guys okay?"
"We are now," Laura answered, "thanks for coming."
"Yeah, I guess your husband called...he the one with the accent?"
"Yes," she smiled, "But can we get going now?"
"Sure thing....just wanted to give you both a chance to rest. Are you sure you two were in trouble...you seem pretty calm right now."
"Thank Laura for that...I didn't mean to but I guess I just about drowned her when she first got here, but she dove away from me, calmed me down and got me to float."
Thomas turned to look down at Laura, surprisingly petite hanging onto his shoulder. "I owe you my life."
Laura wasn't sure what to say to that, so she said nothing. She let go and began to tread water.
The lifeguard took that as a cue and said, "Okay now, just use the buoy for support, I can't drag you in so kick and help me. We gotta swim parallel to the shore for a-ways before we can get around this riptide...this one's a doozy!" The lifeguard was in his element, healthy, fresh, knew the ocean and seemed to be enjoying himself.
"You okay to follow, Laura?"
"Sure," she answered, feeling like a ton of cement. Her pride would not let her admit just how tired and cold she was.
"Look, if you get tired, there's another guard coming any moment and you can buoy in with them."
"Thanks, I'll hang with you two as long as I can."
"You sure you're okay?"
"You bet," she lied. Why did she do that? Why couldn't she admit she was running out of energy and could hardly see straight? Damn Holt stubbornness.
"Why were they swimming away," Remington asked himself. He was torn between staying in the bed of the truck and walking down the beach to stay parallel to them. He noted Monroe had already walked about 1/4 mile down the beach to stay up with them. He decided to catch up with Monroe, as the three in the ocean were mere specks to him now. He jumped off the truck, grabbed his sweat pants and shirt and put them on as he caught up.
"Monroe mate, can you still see them?"
"Most of the time, Mick. Sometimes the waves block them, but I can still pick them up. It's getting kind of dark though and becoming more difficult to see."
Remington realized the lights from the houses beyond the strand were lit up in the dusk of the day. "Oh hurry, Laura, hurry," he silently pleaded.
"You're a big guy, Thomas, you gotta kick more," the lifeguard said.
"I'm trying, I'm so tired," Thomas moaned.
"Look Thomas, we are almost ready to make our cut toward the beach, then we are home free, past the rip...you can do it. Just like Laura, and she doesn't have a buoy, or a wetsuit like mine to keep her floating."
Laura was struggling now, but determined to keep up. Thank goodness Thomas was so slow.
"Okay now, we are going to cut in," the lifeguard yelled, "Kick Thomas, kick with all you got!"
Thomas kicked, and so did Laura. She could feel the surge of the waves through her. She felt like jello. She started to make bargains to herself. "Get through this Laura and you can eat the entire box of chocolates Remington gave you last week for Valentine's Day, not just the one-a day- you have been restricting yourself to." Valentine's Day... and night...the memory made her smile in spite of herself, in spite of her pain and cold and fatigue. "Yeah, get through this Laura and you can sit in a hot bath with the love of your life and have him give you a massage and make one of his gourmet meals..."
A sudden surge toward the shore pulled at her. She was beyond the riptide. She saw Thomas and the Lifeguard pull away from her. But she had made it. She was safe now. It was no big deal to get to shore.
"Laura, you okay?" the lifeguard called.
"Yeah, now that we are past the rip, we are all okay."
"You got that right...you really know your ocean, lady, great job here today."
"Thanks...and thank you for getting us back in."
"My pleasure...it's what I do," he yelled back over the water, the gap increasing between them. Thomas said nothing, just kept kicking like an automaton.
Laura felt the relief and calmness crawl over her as she slowly swam in. Suddenly, she realized easing up was a mistake. Her adrenaline rush was gone; she had no 'edge' to keep her alert, to keep her focused. Now she counted her strokes. "One, two, three, four...", and on to ten, then allowed herself to stop...for just an instant. It was her reward. Another ten counts and another rest. She wasn't keeping up with them, but that was okay. She wasn't panicked, or really worried...not yet. She would get in. She would. She had too much to live for now. She just needed a rest now and then. And as she counted and rested and counted and rested, she was swept further and further down the beach, away from the lifeguard, away from Thomas, away from Remington.
Remington could hardly see now. It was dusk and while he could see the ocean and the houses, he couldn't see Laura anymore. As he walked slowly with Monroe, two more lifeguards joined them. No one said a word. The lifeguard truck had been moved down the beach and the two lifeguards spoke to each other.
"Looks like Jake got another save!"
"Yeah, but from what I hear, he just hauled them in...there was some lady who went out and held the guy up 'till Jake got there."
"So... don't matter, he'll still take credit for it."
It occurred to Remington that once again, Laura did all of the work and someone else would get all the credit. He only now realized about the injustice of it all. To him, it had been a game. Avoid the legwork and take the bows. It didn't seem to bother Laura anymore, but it was sure bothering him now. And he vowed to do something about it.
Remington walked alongside Monroe and the distraught woman. How much time had elapsed...an hour...less than that? It had seemed like an eternity. Then he saw them. In the dwindling light of the sunset, he saw the young Lifeguard stand up about 50 yards away. He broke from Monroe and jogged toward him. The other two lifeguards joined him. They waded into the water, and he overheard their conversation.
"Another save, eh, Jake?"
"Yeah, routine. But I gotta tell ya, that lady, Laura, she did a hell of a job keeping Thomas here afloat, ain't that right Thomas?"
Thomas was now lying in the shallows on the buoy, seemingly oblivious of the small shore waves crashing in and over him. He just nodded his head.
"What did I hear? Jake giving someone else credit...and a lady at that! She must be something, eh, Jake?" One guard said with just enough of a tone to imply Jake had other interests in the lady rescuer.
"Hey man, watch it, that's her husband behind you," Jake replied.
They both turned around to see Remington at their heels. The sweat pants he had pulled on when he rejoined Monroe were wet to mid-calf. They turned back without a word and with one on either side, pulled Thomas out of the water and onto the shore. Now that there was a patient, the paramedics took over and began their assessment.
Remington stared at the ocean and stared at Jake and then back at the ocean.
"Speaking of my wife...where is she?"
"Oh, she's right behind us, Jake said turning around to face the water." "Gutsy lady that Laura, mister...she swam in behind us without help...said she didn't need any."
Remington still couldn't see her, and with Jake's statement about her not needing help, a knot started to form in his stomach. Laura rarely asked for help...she was more stubborn than anyone he had ever met, and, he thought the words that immediately haunted him, "and some day it will be her undoing".
"Laura!" he yelled. "Laura, where are you?"
No answer. Jake looked around quickly, as if he had just dropped something.
"She was right behind us, she was right there. We went around the rip tide and we were talking and I saw her swimming. She was right there."
"Laura...Laura," now it was Monroe's turn. He began to walk down the beach. The three lifeguards waded into the ocean. Remington stood for just a moment, his ability to move, to breath all but gone. Then he yelled.
A radio near him began to crackle. Something about a helicopter with a spotlight, and a boat. He heard people all around him calling her name; he could hardly hear them he was calling for her so loudly.
There was no answer. The sun had set. It was beyond dusk...it was dark. Someone turned the headlights of the rescue trucks on and pointed them toward the ocean. There was no sign of her.
Jake was stunned. He was a typical capable, cocky youth who let his guard down...too soon. He dropped it as soon as he thought they were safe, not when they actually were. He was running up and down the beach. He wasn't calling, he was looking. He was trying to see in the dark, any sign, any inkling that Laura was there, just beyond reach. He could see only the white foam of the shore pounders that picked up the light from the houses beyond the strand. Beyond that, it was inky black...no moon, no stars, no Laura. He turned from his place in the water and saw Remington silhouetted in the headlights.
Remington was calling her name. He was walking back and forth in the water, then back to the sand, then back in the water. Five minutes, ten, then twenty minutes passed. Soon, he was the only one still calling her name. The others were behind him, on shore, just standing, staring silently out to the ocean.
The paramedics had long ago taken Thomas and his wife from the scene to the hospital. Monroe walked down to his friend. He walked right into the water, shoes, socks, and slacks and placed his hand on Remington's shoulder. He softly spoke.
Remington ignored him. "Laura!"
"Mick". "Mick, come out of the water."
"No, Monroe, I'm not going to leave her".
"I'm not suggesting you leave, just come out of the water. Let's regroup, let's think about this."
"No Monroe, I don't want to think about this, 'cause if I think about this I will think the unthinkable."
"Mick, just come out of the water, okay?"
Without turning his back to the ocean, Remington allowed his trusted friend to guide him out of the breakers and onto the wet sand. Remington was no longer calling, just staring; looking, willing himself to see through the blackness. If he could just see her, he could take her hand, and pull her into his arms, and hold her. He couldn't see her.
A whop, whop, whop sound in the distance caught his attention. The helicopter was approaching. Then a flash went off. Monroe almost decked the guy. A man with a camera. Reporters monitoring the police scanners smelled a story. "Lady Rescuer Dies Saving Man". That kind of stuff sold papers. And then when one recognized the great detective Remington Steele and put two and two together, well, papers were going to roll off of the stands now.
Police arrived on the beach to pull the crowd back. The blinking lights of the chopper disappeared over the ocean when an immensely powerful light below the ship was illuminated. Night was day. The helicopter hovered just offshore, and then began a search pattern. It was so bright you could see kelp in the water. Laura was nowhere to be seen.
A man walked up to Monroe and Remington. Said he was a Battalion Chief with the responding Fire Department. He tried to tell Remington how sorry he was. Remington ignored him. Monroe turned and said, "Not now." The Chief nodded in understanding and told Monroe he and his crew were going to clear. Monroe just nodded, all the while keeping a hand on his friend's shoulder.
Remington looked out at the ocean. "This isn't happening," he said to himself. "This is all just a bad nightmare". "Come on mate, time to wake up 'cause this is not pleasant. No indeed... time to wake up." He continued to stare out at the ocean, and then the helicopter left.
One of the two lifeguards came up to them.
"Sorry to bother you, but I need to get some information, you know, just report stuff."
"Where did the helicopter go?" Remington quietly asked.
"Low on fuel and finished the search pattern...finished."
Remington never looked at him, just kept staring at the ocean.
Monroe said, "I'll be right back Mick, I'll answer the man's questions." Monroe walked a short distance and gave what he could; Laura's full name, and address, what he could remember of her birth date, and the agency phone number so they could call Mildred for the rest of the information tomorrow.
Monroe returned and again placed his hand on Remington's shoulder. He could feel his friend shake. There were tears streaming down his cheeks. The unimaginable had happened.
"No Monroe, no, she's not gone...I can still feel her, it can't be true."
They stood together silently.
"Hey...hey... HEY everybody!"
Monroe turned his head down the beach. The young lifeguard, Jake was yelling. As he entered the headlights of one of the trucks, Monroe saw him, and he wasn't alone. He had his arms around someone...someone small, wet and stumbling, and the spitting image of Laura Steele.
"Mick, look...she's alive!"
Remington was gone before he could finish the sentence. He had never run so fast before in his life...ever. He never really stopped. He saw her look up at him, into his eyes, and he saw her smile. He scooped her up, with his arms tightly wrapped around her torso. She instinctively wrapped her legs around his waist, locking her ankles together and held him around the neck for all she was worth. He sank to his knees in the sand and began to sob. The earlier tears of grief became a fountain of joy.
Not really understanding that everyone thought she was dead, Laura was a bit perplexed at his reaction. While still hugging Remington tightly, she looked up into Monroe's eyes. She raised her eyebrows in a question. The look on Monroe's face said it all. She closed her eyes tightly to the tears that began to pour out. Not tears of joy or sadness, but tears of anguish. She never wanted to hurt him, but she had, inadvertently, she had. They were tears of remorse to have caused him such pain.
The sobs stopped and he rocked with her on the sand. Jake came to Monroe who asked:
"Where did you find her?"
"Down the beach, almost a mile! I asked her as we walked back what happened, she was right behind me, you know."
Monroe nodded his head.
Then Jake spoke so fast, that the words tumbled out in obvious relief.
"She told me once she rounded the rip she paced herself and then decided to play it safe and rest for a moment. She said she floated on her back for what she thought was a few minutes, but realized she had drifted almost a mile. When she finally made it to shore, she was exhausted. I found her crawling, can you believe that, crawling up the beach to get back here!"
"Good work, Jake...good work," Monroe replied.
"Not me man, not me...she's one hell of a lady!"
"Yes she is, indeed she is."
Laura began to shake in Remington's arms. As exhausted as he was, he couldn't imagine how Laura was even conscious.
"Come on, love, we best get you to a hospital," he whispered into her ear.
"No," she said as she pulled back. He looked into her eyes with so much love she was overwhelmed. She hugged him tightly.
"Please, just take me home...take us home...please," she pleaded.
He slowly stood up with her and she released her hold on him, but stumbled. Monroe came up and put his jacket around her shoulders. Remington picked her up in his arms and began to walk to the strand.
"I'll drive you two home, Mick," Monroe offered, "and the Rabbit will be delivered later...we won't need the key." Remington looked at him silently, so very grateful for his friendship and the years of trust between them. He just nodded his head and wore the most peaceful smile Monroe had ever seen. Laura missed the entire exchange and the smile...she was already asleep, in his arms.
Laura woke from her dream at the sound of tinkling metal in a porcelain dish. She wasn't quite awake, still easily could have fallen asleep, but was not totally sure where she was. Ever since that night in the ocean two weeks ago, she felt easily fatigued and never really got enough sleep. Her workouts were less intense, as if winning it all lost its luster compared to losing it all, forever. She began to let her mind go off in a tangent as she drifted back to sleep. It was, after all, the middle of the night.
Remington Steele fumbled in the dark of their apartment after putting his keys in the dish by the door. He knew Laura hadn't been sleeping well and didn't want to wake her. This stakeout business was intense and monotonous. Legwork and he were not good acquaintances. But he knew if he didn't do it, Laura would and she was just too tired lately. Ever since he almost lost her in the ocean...he shuddered at the memory and an acid warmth churned in his stomach.
As he worked his way into the dark apartment, he noted the light coming from under the door to the kitchen. Strange, he thought. His eyes adjusted and he saw the small curled up form of Laura on the couch. No pillow, no blanket, just her robe and slippers and long hair hanging down over her face.
He quickly entered their bedroom and turned on the light at the far nightstand and pulled the covers back on the bed. He took off his jacket and kicked off his shoes as he went into the bathroom. A few minutes later, he emerged in his own robe and walked back out to the living room, now bathed in soft light from the bedroom. He turned off the light in the kitchen and went to the couch. He thought again how they needed a bigger place, but they never seemed to find the time to look for one. The Rossmore apartment was convenient to the Remington Steele agency office, but was cramped with two of them there. They had to put the piano and other things from the loft into storage after they were married and moved into Remington's apartment. It was suppose to be temporary. They will have been married one year in just over another month, in April, April 4th. What an incredible day that had been.
He knelt down and watched Laura breath for a few moments. She was now a silhouette with the light from the bedroom behind her, but no matter. He had every feature of her memorized and believed he could see her face in the darkness.
"Laura, Laura love," he whispered, reaching over to move strands of hair from her face.
"Hmmmm," was Laura's only reply.
"Laura, what are you doing out on the couch, you should be in bed."
Laura was waking up now, hearing the soothing, quiet voice that was to her, the voice of love, of trust, of life.
"Laura, I'm taking you to bed," Remington responded as he rolled her onto her back and slipped his arms under her.
"You're home, what time is it, what did you see?" Laura intoned.
"Ah, always the detective," Remington replied as he lifted her off of the couch and into the bedroom, setting her on the near side of the bed.
"Its half past dark thirty and you should be asleep, the big race is tomorrow...that is today!" he spoke, realizing it was past midnight.
"Nothing happened at the warehouse at 9 p.m., but I stayed a few hours more to be sure, as I knew you would, then came home," he relayed.
Laura smiled to herself and said sleepily, "You've become one hell of a detective, Remington Steele."
He helped her slide off her robe and pulled the covers up over her naked body. He then removed his robe and crawled under the covers on the other side of the bed after turning out the light. She was laying on her right side and he pulled himself into her, matched the curves of her body with his own naked being and put his long arm around her waist. He absolutely loved spooning. That's what Laura called it. He had never really spooned anyone before and it became their favorite position for falling asleep. He could feel her small firm breast rest against his forearm as she reached to place her hand in his.
"I went to bed, but couldn't sleep," Laura murmured. "I'm afraid I can't sleep well anymore unless you're here with me. I finally went to the kitchen for ice cream and then I guess I fell asleep on the couch."
"Ice cream, rather heavy stuff before the big race," Remington replied, secretly pleased that Laura needed him so.
There was no response from Laura. He could tell from her steady breathing that she had indeed fallen fast asleep in his arms. He kissed her gently on her back at the base of her neck, smelling the essence that was Laura, and closed his eyes.
There were hundreds of people milling around below the eucalyptus trees at Griffith Park. Most were dressed casually, but 60 or 70 were dressed to run. Shorts, tank tops and sneakers adorned the mid-morning group of racers who were pinning on numbers and pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness.
Laura and Remington had finished their stretching and were getting a pep talk from Mildred.
"Okay you two, you know the strategy," Mildred offered. Mildred was in a pink sweats outfit herself with a ball cap and towel around her neck. She was pinning the ribbons on her two charges.
"Keep a steady pace, and it doesn't matter who wins the race, just so long as one of you beats the lawyers upstairs!"
"Now Mildred," Remington replied. "That whole match thing is off, we just want to raise money for the cure."
"Oh boss, that's not a winning attitude, kill 'em, take 'em down town!" Mildred sputtered.
Remington stared at the gung ho visage of the woman who could easily have been the mother he never had, but instead was a true-blue friend and loved one.
"Mildred, such violent intonations!"
"What he means, Mildred," Laura interjected, "Is that we will do our best."
Laura didn't feel even close to her best. She was tired and nauseous and had very little for breakfast. She downed orange juice and crackers, knowing she would need the electrolytes. But she wasn't worried. It was March, cool and sunny, and only a 10 kilometer race. She could crack out 6 miles and survive. She just didn't think she'd be breaking any records.
Remington looked down at Laura. He knew her well enough to know something was amiss. He just wasn't sure what.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't the great detective Remington Steele and his side kick, plain old Laura," a voice from behind bellowed.
The threesome turned as one to see Gil, tanned and muscle-bound and ready to run.
"Watch your mouth, mate," Remington spoke through his teeth.
"Relax buddy, it's only a joke. There's nothing at all plain about Laura, its just what she calls herself," Gil said, with a wide grin. He was eyeing Laura without pretense.
"In fact, I'd rather say something like, 'Laura of the fantastic legs and great sex-appeal', but I don't want to have to go a round with you Limey and have to deck you," Gil laughed condescendingly.
Remington's blood was up now, but before he could take a step, a restraining arm landed gently on his and he knew Laura's touch.
"Let's go to the starting line, they are about ready to go," Laura said.
With that they walked away from the nuisance lawyer.
"Don't let him get to you boss," Mildred called, "just kill him in the race... you can show him!"
There were a dozen or so serious racers at the front of the line. Remington and Laura stood behind them. They weren't that caliber of runner, but they were better than average. They agreed the whole point was to run for the cure. But they wanted to make a good show of it also. Pride and a little publicity for the agency were all factors that drove them to do the best they could. Gil sidled up to the other side of Laura and just grinned at the two of them. Laura wore a determined and neutral face but Remington just scowled.
With a loud pop the race was started and the cheers of the onlookers rose to overwhelm the contingent of runners. Laura and Remington took off, stride for stride, keeping up with the racers in the lead. Remington knew neither of them would keep this pace up for 10 kilometers, but the initial rush of adrenaline gave them the energy to make a good start. The field spread out within the first hundred yards and then groupings began to form. The speedsters at the front were a tight bunch, running on each other's shoulders. Remington and Laura were a part of the second group, only about 30 yards behind the speedsters. Remington noted about seven in this group, including, to his dismay, Gil.
As the kilometers flew by, the groups became smaller. Even the speedsters lost members to cramps and fatigue. Group two was now 50 yards behind the first group and was strung out. Remington had shortened his stride to run with Laura and felt like he was running without much effort. Laura was beginning to work harder at keeping the pace, but was right there. Gil, with that stupid grin, also was right with them.
"Laura," Remington spoke, "Let's back off a little so you don't have to work so hard."
"No," she said. She had shifted her position about the 5th kilometer so that she was on the outside of Remington so she would not have to be next to Gil. Her feet slapped down on the hardened dirt race course, strewn with leaves from the towering trees with their peeling bark. The sun's rays filtered through with bursts of light as they ran their course. Tables were set up for water, but no one in the first two groups stopped to quench their thirst.
"Laura, I think..." Remington started.
"Oh Steele, don't think, perform, let's see what you got," Gil said to him.
"Back off," Remington retorted.
"Not a chance Steele, I'm a big time running champ, high school, college, semi-pro, I don't back off and I win my races."
"Good for you," Remington replied. Remington reached over and pulled slightly on Laura's arm.
"Come on Laura, let's back off ourselves," he said to her.
"No, don't pull me back, I want to beat him," she replied angrily.
"Look Laura, he's not worth it, you can't outrun him," Remington replied.
"Maybe not, but you could," she said.
"Don't get sucked into his game, let's just run our race," he said.
Laura didn't respond. She just got a determined look on her face and picked up the pace, approaching within a few yards of Gil. Remington knew she could not keep that pace. He knew she was fatigued and maybe even a bit under the weather. But she was also so very stubborn. He knew she would only back off if she knew that there was a chance of Gil losing. He knew what he had to do.
He reached over and took her hand quickly and kissed the back of it, releasing it in one fluid motion.
"Ta, love," he said to her, and was off.
Remington picked up his own pace. He lengthened his stride at first. This pulled him steadily ahead, leaving Laura behind. His sudden action and surge caught her unexpectedly, and when she tried to catch up to him, there was nothing in her. She watched as he reached Gil and passed him. Gil too was surprised but picked up his pace also. Once Laura realized what was happening, she let herself slow, just a bit, then a bit more. Others began to pass her as she lost sight of Remington, now over 50 yards ahead of her and approaching the first group.
Remington now added controlled breathing and greater speed to his lengthened stride. He felt good. Getting in shape with Laura had brought his boyhood stamina back. He passed several in the first group and then found himself in the lead. Gil was also in the first group, but had no reserves to keep up with this sudden turn of events. He stayed with the first group and watched as the tall lean leader continued to widen the gap. Gil smirked inwardly at his brazenness, knew Steele was showing off and would run out of steam.
But he didn't. Remington was at least 100 yards ahead of them all and looked back to see that he didn't need to increase his lead anymore, just maintain it. It was the last kilometer of the looped course and people were lining the sides, cheering him on. He felt good. Cameras were clicking and up ahead he could see TV cameras and lots of people, 5 and 6 deep surrounding the finish line. He never won a race in his life. He never raced for competition. He raced to stay alive, keep food in his belly and to stay warm. This was a different feeling all together, and it pleased him. He smiled for the first time since starting the race. If only Laura could see him now.
The thought shook him. She wasn't with him; she was somewhere back there. They were partners. They were supposed to be together, in this and all things. There was suddenly no pleasure in winning...he was alone. There was no sense of accomplishment without Laura.
He was within 50 feet of the finish line now. The cameras were rolling and the ribbon, the pink ribbon for the victor was pulled across the finish line for him to snap when he won the race. He slowed down. He stopped. He was only 5 feet from the finish, and he stopped. Breathing deeply, he turned around and scanned the thundering group heading toward him. He walked backward to the finish line and stood to the side. The crowd went from yelling and cheering to muffled voices of disbelief.
"Why doesn't he cross?"
"Who is he?"
"I think he's Remington Steele."
"Why doesn't he cross?"
"Hey Steele, you're almost there, just step over the line," someone yelled.
Remington ignored them all. Breathing deeply, he began to feel the acid cramp his sides and legs. What he wouldn't give for a bottle of oxygen right now.
The racers approached and Remington stayed well to the side as a speedster broke through the tape to the cheers of the crowd. Several more crossed and in the next wave there were a dozen more. He spotted Gil in the third group and smiled to himself.
"The bloke's not worth it," he silently said.
Several minutes later, after scores of runners had passed by, he finally spotted Laura. He started walking toward her, and then jogged. He met her about 50 yards from the finish line and turned to run with her.
"Where did you come from, where did you finish?" she asked.
"I haven't finished. I decided to wait for you. I waited five years to be with you for the rest of my life and that's what I plan to do. We'll finish this together," he spoke.
She took his hand and together they crossed the finish line.
"Wow boss, you and the agency got more publicity than the winner of the race!" Mildred beamed as they drove away from the park. "What a race. You won it hands down but they really ate up the angle that you waited for Mrs. Steele. And what a great promotion statement. 'The Steele agency is a team, fast, efficient, and always there at the end'. We should put that on our business card!"
Mildred continued to babble as she drove the weary runners to their apartment. Gil not so much as glanced their way when he realized that Steele could have won easily but waited for Laura. They would be on the front of the local society pages for days.
"Want some ice cream, kids, to celebrate?" Mildred called out cheerily from the front of the Rabbit. Remington and Laura were seat belted in the back nursing some juice and resting with great satisfaction.
"Sure," Laura replied. "But first, off to Philippe's on Alameda. I earned a double-dipped beef French dip sandwich."
Remington smiled. He was glad to hear her appetite was back.
Laura reached over and took Remington's hand in hers and squeezed it tight.
"Thank you," she said. "Thanks for waiting for me today...and after all those years."
"We're a team, Laura, you and me forever, just like the man said last April," Remington replied with a grin as he squeezed her hand in return.
"Hey, what about me you guys?" Mildred called from the front seat.
"You too, Mildred, you too," they both laughed from the back seat.
They stopped at a grocery on the way home after dropping Mildred off. At the Rossmore apartment, Laura pleaded for the first shower.
"Why don't we shower together," Remington offered, a gleam in his eyes.
"Well, yes, but let me just use the bathroom first," Laura called over her shoulder as she went into the bathroom and shut the door.
A few minutes later she cautiously entered the living room and found Remington reading the paper on the balcony.
"Lovely day, my dear. Ready for that shower?" Remington asked and began to stand up.
"Wait, can you sit for a minute?"
Remington sat down perplexed, and lowered the paper.
"I guess you might have noticed I haven't had my usual energy lately," she started.
Oh lord, he said to himself, this doesn't sound good at all. Laura admitting she's not 100% is a rarity, indeed.
"Well, I thought I knew what it was and I just confirmed it. I'm pregnant. I'm going to have a baby, our baby!" she blurted out.
He was stunned. Absolutely stunned and paralyzed. In the space of a few seconds he went from worry to, what was he feeling? Joy, pure joy!
"Ohmygod Laura, a baby, our baby, our family, you're pregnant, you're with our child," he yelped as he stood up and swept her into his arms.
"How do you know, I mean how do you know, you just ran a race and..." he blurted.
"You're babbling," she giggled.
He slowly and gently put her down. Reached to move newspaper from the chairs and led her to one and tried to help her sit down.
"I'm okay, you're acting like someone in an old movie," she laughed.
"Which movie, who was in it, what year, MGM?" he asked.
Laura laughed out loud.
Then Steele realized what they had done this morning and he was mortified.
"Laura, you ran a 10 K today, how could, I mean, should you see a doctor, right away?" he implored.
"No, I'm fine, just fatigued and a bit nauseous in the mornings. I missed my period 2 weeks ago and thought it was the ocean rescue. When I starting getting tired and sick in the mornings, I thought maybe I was pregnant and just did a home pregnancy test. It was positive. Do you want to see it?"
"Absolutely," he said, jumping up. Then he stopped and looked at her.
"You knew before the race, didn't you?" he asked.
"I suspected, but I didn't want to do the test until after the race. I didn't want to be distracted and I didn't know how you would react. You might have kept me from running."
"I don't think I could keep you from anything you really wanted to do, but you're right about being distracted, and I would have kept us at the very back at a snails pace had I known."
Laura rose from the chair and put her arms around his neck. He responded by hugging her to him and felt her body mold to him.
"Laura, you have made me the happiest man on the face of the earth; a family, a real family. I love you."
"I love you too," she answered, reaching up to give him an impassioned kiss he readily responded to.
"Now, how about the three of us jump in the shower," she said with a grin.