FAMILY STEELE, PART 10A: STEELE SENTIMENTALLY STEELE

By: Phaedra Phelan

E-mail: PrissyBNY@aol.com

Summary: Remington and Laura in 1996 plan to celebrate ten years of marriage in a very special way, but find their plans complicated by a troubling case that touches their hearts in a special way.

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.

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Remington Steele had been planning for some time to take Laura away on a vacation to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary and everything had seemed to be going well with his plans. Remington had kept the actual destination a secret from Laura. She was dying to know where they were really going to spend this precious private time together but he would only tell her that it was in a tropical climate so that she could arrange things accordingly. And she had done this enthusiastically, buying a wardrobe of cruise wear for the trip.

Just the thought of completing ten years of marriage seemed to invigorate their already very passionate personal lives so that, as the year 1996 began, Remington seemed to be courting Laura all over again and they both were enjoying it just as much as the first time around.

It was late on a Friday morning early in May, and Laura was in the midst of tying up the loose paperwork of the case they had just finished. Their older children were all in school so only two-year-old Harrison was at the office with them these days, and this day even he was at home with Esperanza. Four-year-old Michael was in head start, so Esperanza Soto would pick him up from school at noon and take him home for the balance of the day.

Remington sat at his desk trying to focus on his reports on the work at hand, but his mind kept wandering to Laura. They had both been in such a rush this morning. Cassie and Chl÷e had been working on a science project for school and Laura had stayed up late with them and then gotten up early to help them put the finishing touches on their work. As a result Remington had awakened to little Harrison clambering all over him, but no Laura.

Remington put the work aside and went to look for his wife. He found Laura in her office, peering through her tortoise shell-rimmed glasses at her computer. Her hair was pulled up in a clip and cascaded down her back in a way that he always found quite irresistible and she was sitting completely erect with her legs crossed so that all the most feminine aspects of her slender and now full-bosomed figure were accentuated. The light chartreuse silk sweater she wore clung to the swelling of her breasts, and its matching skirt just skimmed the top of her knees, riveting his attention and his senses. The slit in her skirt fell completely back from her crossed legs to reveal her shapely thigh and the black lacy supporter of the garter belt fastened to the sheer stockings that she wore these days. (Laura had discovered that Remington was especially partial to this item of feminine lingerie and hardly wore pantyhose anymore.)

Remington sat on the corner of her desk and stared at his wife as she tried unsuccessfully to keep focused on what she was doing. At forty-four Remington Steele had become even more distractingly handsome. His face had begun to show the tiny character lines that only made a man's face more interesting. His body was still slender, but in a subtle way the redistribution of weight he had undergone as he got well into his forties only made him more alluring, more sensual. His muscular hips were just a bit heavier but his belly was still hard and firm. In spite of his still youthful physique there was now a maturity in his manliness that he wore as comfortably as his well-tailored dark navy Armani suit and when his blue-eyed gaze swept over Laura, it was as if he were touching her with his hands.

Laura flushed and stopped looking at her computer screen.

"Rem, you know that I have to get this information entered into the system. Why are you . . . staring at me like this?"

"I can't help myself, darling. Everything that I see is so tantalizing, intruding into my thoughts . . . I keep finding it so difficult to concentrate on the mundane matters of the day. This morning . . . I was looking forward to waking with you in my arms, love."

"But, Remy, you know I had to help the girls with that project. I didn't mean to neglect you."

As Laura turned to face him, her thighs parted slightly and Remington gasped softly as he glimpsed just enough more to be overcome with anticipation.

"You are tempting me mercilessly, darling," Remington murmured as he held out his hands to Laura, drawing her out of her chair up between his legs and into his arms as he sat on the edge of her desk.

Laura trembled as her husband's masculinity asserted itself so forcefully that the sensation nearly took her breath away.

"Darling, I think that we should take the afternoon off. Mildred and Alessandra have things well in hand here and Remington said, as he removed her glasses, closed them and placed them in their case on her desk as though she would have no further need of them this day. "Besides Esperanza can come and pick up Harrison so there will be nothing that to hold us back from attending to our own needs."

"It has been nice to have Alessandra back. I . . . I think that ╔douard is very wise to decide to move to America, don't you? Lucien and the others seem to be able to handle Sous Une OrchidÚe quite well," Laura rambled on.

"Darling, I really don't want to get into an in-depth discussion of ╔douard and Alessandra's family life. I am much too occupied with our own at the moment." Remington kissed Laura gently upon her mouth, and when she responded, the kiss became increasingly passionate, searching.

"Where . . . where are you going to take me today . . . this afternoon . . . off, Remy," Laura sighed as she capitulated to her husband.

"I've made reservations at the Bonaventure." Remington whispered, nibbling her tiny earlobe as he held her close. "We could have lunch brought up, and then spend some quality time . . . together . . . or we could spend the quality time together first, and then have lunch brought up . . . or we could have our quality time before and after as well."

He kissed her neck, her cheeks, and then her open lips again and they were lost in a hungry kiss that went on and on and on as he drew her skirt up around her thighs and deftly released the first lacy black supporter.

When they were just about to be beyond the point of retreat, there was a knock on Laura's office door.

"Just a minute," Laura sang out as they both struggled to regain a measure of composure.

After a couple minutes delay, Mildred Krebs opened the door, took one look at them and smiled sagely. She had not been with them for nearly fourteen years without getting to know their habits and she recognized the symptoms of their passionate affliction all too well.

"Ah, Mildred, we were just going to tell you that we are in fact leaving for the day. Going to lunch at the Bonaventure and then taking some needed down time to . . . recharge our batteries, let us say."

Mildred regarded Remington Steele as if he should know better than to think that she believed that any recharging of his batteries was needed as far as Laura was concerned.

"Two very distraught people who want their adopted son back are in the office right now-Mr. and Mrs. Greg Martinson? They had an appointment for eleven o'clock."

Remington and Laura sighed in unison.

"Well, Mrs. Steele, it looks like we have business to take care of."

"Tell them, tell them we will be ready for them in just a few minutes," Laura said as she tried to avoid the distraction of her husband's blue-eyed gaze.

Mildred smiled. "You kids! I'm sorry but, this case didn't seem like it could wait till Monday." She closed the door behind her, leaving Remington and Laura to their own devices.

"Now, Laura, we will talk to these people, set up some plan of action, and then we will have the afternoon before us." Remington gathered her into his arms, reaching for her firm hips, pulling her up firmly against him.

"Oh, Rem, you know what this does to me," she sighed helplessly.

"I know that it excites me," her husband said, his nostrils flaring wide open as he inhaled the scent of her breath. "And it excites you as well?"

"Oh, yes." Laura's hands trembled as she touched his face with the tips of her fingers. "We'd better get to the case, love, and soon. You're all flushed . . . and I'm so warm that I can hardly think straight."

"Yes, it's rather difficult to cool things down when it's like this. Do you mind starting with the Martinsons? I'll go into the bathroom and put some cold water on my face. I need another few minutes to collect myself."

Remington kissed Laura again and rubbed and gently smacked her bottom as they reluctantly disengaged so that Laura could go to meet the clients who needed their help. Their tryst at the Bonaventure had to be postponed for a while.

"Mr. and Mrs. Martinson, how are you both?" Laura said brightly.

"You can call us Greg and Marjorie. We are just so glad that you were able to see us today."

"Well, Greg and Marjorie, what can we do for you today?"

"Mr. Steele . . . is he coming?" Marjorie Martinson was a tense blond woman in her late thirties. If she were not so burdened, she would have been rather attractive, but today there was only anxiety in her eyes.

Marjorie reached for her husband's hand. Greg was an average-looking fellow who appeared to be in his late thirties as well-a redhead whose shock of thick hair was his most outstanding feature.

At that point Remington came into the office, greeted the couple warmly and took his seat behind his desk.

"What seems to be the problem here? Our assistant, Miss Krebs, says that this is a child custody issue."

"Yes, this is about our adoptive son, Jeremy. In reality Jeremy is my cousin twice removed. He was born out of wedlock to my cousin and we came forth and adopted him . . . and we have raised him to this point. He is six years old. We don't have any children of our own. We tried . . ." I was at the point of trying in-vitro fertilization . . ." At this point Marjorie broke down.

"We went everywhere. No one could tell us why we couldn't conceive. One doctor even said that we would probably both have children if we were with someone else," Greg said wryly. "That was a ridiculous idea to even mention. By the way, you two are married?"

"Yes, we are, Greg, just about ten years now . . . to each other," Remington said, smiling at Laura.

"You have kids?"

"Yes, we have children," Remington said simply.

"How many children do you have?" Marjorie asked, her eyes beginning to fill.

"We . . . we have six children in all. Four birth children and two adopted children." Laura tried to speak without emotion, realizing what a sensitive subject this was for this childless couple.

"You dear people," Marjorie said. "You are truly blessed." Her eyes spilled over as understanding of what Laura had just said sank in.

"Yes, we are. We are blessed," Remington said, "truly blessed."

"I'm sure you have beautiful children," Marjorie said softly.

"Yes, they are. They are healthy and we love them. That's all that counts." Laura tried to keep her tone even.

"You folks understand our feelings then . . . at having our son taken from us."

"How was he taken, Greg?" Remington asked.

"Well, we legally adopted Jeremy right after he was born, and everyone was happy. We even agreed that his birth mother could have regular visitation. Everything went well till Marjorie's cousin married a fellow who is a member of one of those Neo-Nazi cults based up in Idaho."

"You see, Greg and I were active in the Peace Movement when we were in college and the whole family knows how liberal we are. Susan decided she wanted her child back because we would corrupt him from his proper view of his 'Aryan heritage.' Last week someone posing as me picked him up from school early."

"They took him back," Remington summed up the situation.

"Yes, the police tell us that we have every right to get our son back. They will not hinder us; but neither will they help. That is why Marjorie and I are here."

"We want our child back." Marjorie wrung her hands helplessly.

"Do you have any idea where he actually is being kept?" Remington asked.

"We're pretty sure that he is on a farm north of Boise. That's where Susan moved when she married Douglas Brewer. Jeremy called me begging me to come and get him, but they snatched the phone from him."

"Is this Douglas the sort of bloke who is likely to barricade himself in his personal fortress and try to kill anyone that comes within a hundred meters?"

"Actually, er, yes. That's exactly the sort he is."

"Then we could not help you. As much as we would like to be of service, we cannot expose ourselves to that kind of patently dangerous situation. Our children, we cannot risk that. Hopefully you understand." Remington tried to soften the words but the expression on Marjorie Martinson's face told the story.

Her eyes filled again and this time she reached for her handkerchief and buried her face in it as her husband tried to console her.

"Marjorie, if you hear from your son again, and he is anywhere other than that compound in Idaho, we will consider the matter again, won't we, dear?" Laura looked at Remington for his nod of agreement and he reluctantly gave it.

"Of course, you must consider that it might be wise to establish another identity in another state. You will have to have someplace to go if it suddenly becomes possible to retrieve your son. Are you prepared for that?" Remington added.

"We anticipated this. I run a dental lab. I can set up business anywhere. I contacted a friend from college who lives in Laredo, Texas, right on the Mexican border. I doubt that the Aryan Brotherhood would come down there looking for anything."

"I dare say that you are right on that score. At any rate, contact us if you get a window of opportunity," Remington said.

"Thank you so much. You give us hope at least," Marjorie said.

"Yes, as parents, we deeply appreciate the situation," Laura said as she ushered the Martinsons from Remington's office.

A few minutes later, Remington and Laura left for their afternoon tryst, trying to be nonchalant about it with Mildred and Alessandra, but fooling no one.

"What are we going to do with them, Mildred?" Alessandra said. "Isn't this the second afternoon they've taken off this week?"

"It's like he's got the hots for her all the time-like he was before they got married-only now they just go for it. A lot of men his age are having an affair, but he seems to be having an affair with his wife."

"I'm glad they are so happy together. But seeing them like that makes me miss my ╔douard."

"He'll be back soon from France?"

"Yes, his mother is better. He's checking on some things at the villa and vineyard for Mr. Steele now. It's hard to believe that he's just been away a month." Alessandra put her hands upon her obviously pregnant belly. "He will be surprised to see how I've grown since he left."

"You're really blooming there, missy," Mildred said chuckling.

"It must have been really hard to watch the Steeles before they got together. I came into the situation late in that game, just before they got married."

"It was pure hell for both of them. You see how he is! And I know he gets plenty of regular attention."

"Laura has told me that he's one of those men who wants sex like he wants breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I guess he was impossible when he was celibate! He must have been frantic." Alessandra shook her head.

"Frantic is not the word. And Laura Holt was the most conflicted woman you ever saw . . . wanting him as much as he wanted her, but scared to give in to him. When I see them now with four children of their own, and him panting after her all the time, it's hard to imagine them the way they were back then. She could have really missed out on the love of her life."

"Well, he is quite a guy, our Mr. Steele."

"And she is quite a gal. Believe me, she is as hot-blooded as he is. Don't be fooled by that ladylike exterior. I have walked in on her climbing all over him as often as him all over her. Of course, I would have never dreamed that she would be 'mother of the year,' nursing babies for him. She just finished breastfeeding for the past four years. Look at her boobs, for goodness sake!"

"And Mr. Steele just stares at them like he never saw breasts before, like they were two people with eyes and a nose and mouth . . . just mesmerized. He practically drools when he looks at her."

"Well, you don't have any trouble figuring out what's on your "Edouard's mind when he's around you either, Alessandra."

"I love him so much. He's the man I always wanted. And to think I just stumbled on him that day he came here from France." Alessandra rubbed her belly and realized how much she really missed her husband. This was her third pregnancy for ╔douard.

"I'm setting up this trip for their tenth anniversary. Mr. Steele wants to take her to St. Martin finally. There is this great place . . . hotel with villas, a spa and great beach . . . everything. You know I planned their honeymoon trip to Las Hades, Mexico, and that lowlife Norman Keyes, diverted them and almost got them killed in the process. I've always wanted to rectify that, so Mr. Steele is letting me plan the whole thing for them."

"And she doesn't know anything about it?"

"Not a thing. They leave in a week. He'll just tell her to pack a wardrobe for the tropics."

* * * * * *

Meanwhile at the Bonaventure Remington let Laura into their room for the afternoon and gathered her into his arms. Once inside he gave in to the pressure in his loins and made no attempt to hide it from her. As Remington reached his mid-forties, he had taken pride anew in the response of his body, especially since Laura always took steps to immediately allay his passions when his need manifested itself so acutely.

"Laura, I need you. I need you so much these days." He kissed her, plumbing the depths of her mouth, thirsty for her, tasting her. "I can never get enough of you, darling."

"Um, yes, I know . . . I know, love," Laura said as she returned his kisses, slipping his jacket off so that she could undress him. She was nearly as aroused as her passionate husband at this point. "I just want to rip this shirt off you."

"Do it. The devil with the shirt," Remington murmured as a couple of the buttons of his shirt popped off.

Their clothes soon were in a heap on the floor and Remington picked up Laura in his arms and carried her into the bedroom of the lovely suite high above the city. Caressing each other fervently, carried away, giving full vent to their moans of pleasure with no fear of the children hearing them, they easily came together with no thought other than the passion they had for each other on this afternoon in May. Remington's eyes glazed over, his vision blurred, as he gave himself to Laura.

"I . . . I love you so, Laura!" Remington cried out as the pressure for climax became impossible to resist.

Laura in ecstasy, fluttered helplessly in his arms, her teeth rattling out of control, her eyes losing focus.

"Oh, God, you're just like me, babe! You needed me too today, didn't you? Tell me, darling!"

"Yes! Yes! I did!"

Remington felt suddenly blinded by brilliant bursts of white light. Eyes rolling back into his head, pelvis jerking involuntarily, Remington emptied himself completely into Laura. And all the while, she met his every thrust till the familiar powerful pelvic spasms seized her and she finally simply floated in his embrace, seeing the bright lights of the apex, her surrender to Remington complete as his ejaculation went on and on.

"God! Yes!" he cried out and then became completely incoherent.

Finally they lay exhausted, unable to speak . . . unable to do anything other than simply lie joined together, dazed.

"Thank you, darling, for wanting me as much as I want you," Remington whispered when he found his voice, kissing Laura tenderly again and again.

"Darling Rem," Laura sighed as she returned every kiss. "I did want you so today. I admit it."

"God knows I can't get enough of you?" Remington gazed into her eyes.

"I try to be a lady but you just won't let me, Rem. I'm like a Siamese cat in heat walking around with my tail straight up in the air."

"I know. I know when you're hot. You are so beautiful when you're like this. I know every signal, darling."

"I don't think you ever miss a signal," Laura teased.

"And if I somehow miss a signal, darling, do take me by the hand and lead me off to bed and take what you need from me."

"Rem, I love you, Rem . . ." Laura sighed, overwhelmed once again.

"Laura . . . Laura," Remington groaned, seeing stars as she pulled her him deep inside her.

It was mid-afternoon before they stopped to order lunch from room service. By then they were famished, but they still playfully fed each other shrimp cocktail before they attacked the grilled salmon along with the mescalun and artichoke salad that accompanied it. When they were sated with food and wine, they turned to each other again, satisfying themselves with each other till they drifted off to sleep.

The room was lighted by just a lamplight when Remington awakened. He was completely relaxed, the sexual tension he felt earlier having eased. He opened his eyes and saw Laura, wrapped in a thick terry robe, picking up their clothes from where they had dropped them earlier, carefully folding their undergarments and hanging up the other pieces of clothing.

Laura sensed him staring at her and turned to look at him.

"Come here to me, darling."

Laura came and climbed onto the bed with him.

"We kind of went crazy earlier. I don't want us to look like we slept in our clothes when we go home. I just don't know what to do about your shirt buttons. I would sew them back on with this sewing kit, but I must have left my glasses at the office."

"Did you enjoy the afternoon, darling?"

"Yes, you know that I did." Laura smiled and blushed.

"Then don't worry about the shirt. We don't have to explain anything. We're adults. We're man and wife. If you want to tear my clothes off me, it's no ones business." Remington winked at Laura and held out his hand to her, signaling her to come to him. "You can do whatever you want to me. I'm yours."

Laura shed her robe and got under the covers with her husband so that they could cuddle together.

"I will never forget that first night when we got under the covers together in that motel downtown. The intimacy of being under the same blanket . . . that moment when our flesh joined. Suddenly I was inside you and we shook and shuddered like we'd been struck by lightning. I knew then . . . that all the lonely nights wanting you were worth it. Oh, my God, I had waited so long for that moment."

"Did you know that it was going to happen that night, Rem? I've always wondered if you knew that that was going to be the night."

"No, I was so frightened for you . . . that I might have lost you. I didn't think about anything but that . . . till we began . . . to . . . to kiss. I knew that all bets were off when, when you clung to me and . . . and started to cry. You were so cold and I wanted to make you warm."

"I couldn't resist you . . . not that night. The only place I knew that I could feel safe was in your arms."

"That night . . . the beginning of a life of beautiful nights . . . and mornings . . . and afternoons like this one, pleasuring me with all of your womanly gifts."

Remington cupped her breast with his hand, squeezed it, and kissed it gently.

"Your favorite pastime, love."

"One of them . . . just one of them. A truly delightful one, I might add. Am I too obvious in my admiration of these lovelies, darling?"

"When you stare at . . . me . . ."

". . . at your breasts," Remington filled in when she hesitated.

"You embarrass me sometimes. Other people notice you staring, you know."

"They fascinate me. Even though you've weaned Harrison, they still are so lush. It seems strange . . . you not lactating for the first time in four years. Do you miss nursing, love?"

"I miss the sensation of full breasts . . . the satisfaction of giving to my child what no one else can give him. Of course I'm pretty droopy now, sagging a bit . . ."

"They are gorgeous to me . . . more than they ever were before you started nursing the bairn. The fullness has remained and it is beautiful."

"I want to nurse again, Remy. I want another baby."

Remington was surprised at her declaration. He kissed Laura's breasts all over as she held him to her bosom.

"We're not doing anything to keep from having another wee one. You won't let me protect you from me. Are you sure you feel up to carrying again?"

"I'm healthy. After those weeks of morning sickness are done, I feel great when I'm pregnant. I love you and I love our children. It should happen again for us, don't you think?""

"We'll see, darling. Time will tell. You just stopped breast feeding last month and you've just had a menstrual period. I have no doubt that it will happen. You are quite fertile, you know." Remington's eyes twinkled mischievously and the corners of his mouth turned up in the smile that Laura loved so. "Yes, darling, you are. Your lovely reproductive organs operate just like that fantastic brain of yours. Your cycles are fascinating in their perfection."

"Well, I could have ovulated without menstruating. I asked Tabby Brathwaite about that and she said a lot of women get pregnant right away when they stop nursing . . . before they ever have a period."

"You could have conceived like that, love," Remington teased.

"Listen, I am not the only one who is so fertile. You haven't done bad for yourself, buster . . . four children in ten years. Remember when I called you a 'sperm whale' back in the day?"

"Yes, I remember, darling. One doesn't forget things like that."

"It's true. If you hadn't been careful, you would have children strewn around the globe."

"That's why I was careful. I wanted to know all of my children. Life as an orphan is something that I know all too much about . . . none of it good." Remington touched Laura's flat belly and patted it. "Just when you've completely got your lovely figure back, we want to start the process all over, eh?"

"Do you mind . . . the way I'll look?"

"You always look adorable pregnant, Laura. We'll just have to get through the morning sickness."

"I never dreamed that I would find motherhood so fulfilling. I look at myself and I am surprised. Me with children! I thought that I would perpetually be Auntie Laura to Frances' children, even a spinster."

"And, 'baby, look at you now,' in the words of the song. Look at us. Good Lord, Laura . . . four children of our own, two adopted ones, and both of us willing to accept the possibility of another pregnancy."

"I felt so for Marjorie Martinson today. I was embarrassed by how easily we have produced our babies. They envied us, you know."

"I know they did. That could have been us trying and trying to have a baby."

Remington kissed Laura tenderly, rubbed her belly and kissed her all around her navel.

"Remy, I love you," Laura said as she cradled his head close to her belly.

"I adore you. I fear that I . . . I worship you," Remington whispered, overcome with emotion as he kissed her again and again.

They lay quietly, communing together without words till they dropped off to sleep again. As Laura lay awake long after Remington had fallen asleep, she recalled her most recent visit to her friend and doctor, Sandra Brathwaite.

******

"You know you're in great shape, Laura," Sandra said as she finished examining her. "Plenty of moisture, no scar tissue from the births. You've got a first class reproductive system. You're nowhere near menopause, you know. Your estrogen levels are very good."

"Is there anything I can do to keep them high?"

"I might tell you to use it or lose it, but I don't think there is any danger of lack of use with you two." Dr. Brathwaite chuckled. "What method of birth control are you going to use now that you have weaned Harrison? I am surprised that you have not conceived again. It is very likely to happen, you know. LAM is out of the picture."

"I don't really mind. I love being pregnant. Harrison is two years old. I'm just forty-four. I think we'll just see what happens."

"More power to you, Laura. There is no reason you shouldn't have more children. I wish more healthy middle-class women had your point of view. They don't realize what a gift a fabulous reproductive system like yours is. You carry like a sturdy brood mare, you drop your babies like a common house cat, you produce milk like a prize Jersey cow. Why shouldn't you keep on if you and Rem want to? Just make sure to come see me when you get caught, so I can monitor things."

The two women laughed together as the close friends they had become.

* * * * * *

It was nearly ten o'clock when Remington and Laura finally got up, dressed, checked out of the Bonaventure and went home to their children.

It was in the middle of the night when Remington wakened with a start and sat straight up in his bed. He realized that he absolutely did want to give Laura another baby. Their conversation earlier that day had only confirmed what he was already feeling.

"What's the matter, love?" Laura asked as she roused momentarily from a deep sleep.

"Nothing, nothing at all. Go back to sleep, love."

Remington got out of bed and went into the kitchen. He knew his feelings. There was no question in his mind. He poured a glass of wine and sat at the kitchen counter in deep thought.

"You left me alone in bed." It was Laura coming to find him. She came behind him and reached around his waist to embrace him as he sat on the stool at the counter.

"I'm sorry, love. I wakened and didn't want to disturb you."

Remington drew Laura around to face him and his mouth turned up at the corners in the smile that she knew so well as Laura stared at him and then reached to run her hands through his thick dark hair.

"Why are you smiling like that?"

"Like-what, darling?" Remington said, attempting nonchalance. But when Laura, standing against his open legs, rubbed against his thighs, he jerked involuntarily in response. "Please, love, you can't touch me like that if you aren't prepared to deal with the consequences."

Remington drew a ragged breath, overcome by the powerful chemistry between him and the woman he loved, and pulled Laura up even closer to him searching hungrily for her mouth.

"Um, you have something on your mind," Laura said when they drew apart for a moment to catch their breath between kisses.

"Yes, I do. I believe I want another child as much as you, darling. And I don't quite understand why. When I first fell in love with you, I just wanted you. I had something that I recognized as a powerful procreative urge where you were concerned, but I had no idea that we would actually end up with children as the focus of our lives. I love being a father, knowing that my children are secure and loved."

Laura smiled up at him now. "I know that you do."

"Perhaps it's because I want to give what I never had when I was a lad. I dare say that I will never be able to give my children enough. I had nothing. No one loved me or cared what happened to me, whether I had food or shelter.

"Yet you don't spoil them. You indulge them but you don't spoil them. I love that about you."

"Why, thank you, Laura. You are such a beautiful sexy mum. I am continually amazed at how much it all this fecundity becomes you."

"And I'm still ravenous for you? After this afternoon I should be calmed down, but I just want to climb onto you right now."

"Evidently. At any rate, I'm at your service, darling. Let's go back to bed and you can have your way with me."

Remington picked Laura up in his arms and carried her back to bedroom, pursing his lips to kiss her over and over as they went.

* * * * * *

The next day, Saturday, they slept till late in the morning. Finally Esperanza could keep the children out of the room no longer and they came in and clambered up onto their parents' bed.

Laura looked at Remington as she cuddled her youngest son, Harrison, kissing him, tousling his chestnut hair.

"I'm ready."

"What are you ready for, Mama?" Cassie asked.

"Yeah, what are you ready for?" Jonathan asked the same question.

"I'm ready to have another baby. Don't you want another little brother or sister?"

"Yay! Yay!" the twins cheered in unison. "Mommy is gonna have another baby."

Remington winked at Laura as Michael bounced on him.

"Where do the babies come from?" Chl÷e asked innocently.

The twins were now eight years old and needed answers that made sense.

"Babies come when people have sex, Johnny said sagely." At twelve he had been given his talk on the subject.

"What is sex?" Cassie demanded. "The kids at school talk about sex. They say that a boy can put his penis inside a girl and that's sex. I don't believe it myself. Yuck!"

Laura looked at Remington and smiled, waiting for him to answer them.

"Children, you know that boys and girls have different sorts of private parts. That, children, is because when a man grows up, he can push his part inside a woman into her special place between her legs and, and he can plant his seed there. If the conditions are right, his seed will swim around inside his woman and find a beautiful egg waiting there. When the egg accepts the seed, it's just like when you plant seeds in a flowerpot. A new baby will start growing right then and there," Remington said and then took a deep breath of relief after getting through the explanation of this delicate subject.

"How can it get in, Daddy? Harrison and Michael couldn't do that, could they?" Cassie's eyes were huge as she finally began to comprehend what took place.

"That is because they are little boys. When a boy becomes a man, his penis changes. It gets larger, and when it is time for him to put his seed inside his woman, it becomes . . . stiff enough for him to put inside her." Remington raised his eyebrows in desperation to Laura. He was much deeper in this explanation than he had planned to go.

"Does it hurt when he does that, Mama?" Chl÷e asked.

"No, little one. It doesn't hurt."

"Do you like for Daddy to do that?" Cassie followed immediately with another question.

"Oh, yes, I do . . . very much. "And your father likes it very much too, don't you, love?" Laura could not resist pushing the envelope just a little bit more, and was rewarded at the sight of her husband blushing.

"Why, er, yes, darling. I do . . . like it very much. I need to be close to your mother in that special way because . . . because I love her very much." Remington gently pinched Laura's bottom under the covers and it was her turn to blush.

"Why are you both turning so red?" Cassie asked as she looked from one parent to the other smiling.

"Do you have a baby growing inside you now?" Chl÷e inquired.

"I don't know, darling." Laura smoothed her daughter's hair and kissed her forehead. "You just wait and see. If Mommy's tummy starts to get big, you will know that Daddy put his seed into Mommy's egg."

"And then you'll have milk in your breasts again?"

"Yes, sweetheart, I will have plenty of milk if I have another baby."

"Your breasts are really fat when you have milk," Cassie stated.

"Yes, they are."

Harrison, at the mention of breasts and milk patted Laura's breasts, remembering, and Laura hugged him and kissed him.

Remington cleared his throat, unable to say more for the moment and hugged and kissed Cassie as tears sprang to his eyes. Then he hugged and kissed every one of his children as they climbed all over him.

"Daddy, why are you crying?" Joanna asked.

"Because I love all of you so . . . so much . . . all of you, my beautiful children. You mean everything to me."

Laura smiled at Remington and he did not hesitate to kiss her soundly, as all their children looked on happily.

"I think that all of you need to get dressed now. Johnny and Joanna, please take the children to have a snack. Daddy is going to take all of you to the movies this afternoon," Laura said, wiping away her own tears.

* * * * * *

The next week went by quickly and it was nearly time for Remington and Laura to go on their anniversary trip. By then Laura and Remington were very consumed with the idea of conceiving another baby as the midpoint in her cycle approached. Remington decided that he would not try to surprise her with the destination of their trip. They had had so much good going for them that there was no need for surprises.

They were in Remington's office and he sat looking like the cat that ate the canary.

"What are you thinking about? Are you keeping something else from me?" Laura could read her husband like a book. "I know that we're going to St. Martin. What else are you hiding from me?"

"Nothing, love." Remington's blue eyes surveyed her carefully, finding the sight of her irresistible. "You . . . you just look fabulous in that periwinkle dress-all that silk swirling about your lovely legs. And you are quite radiant today. You fairly shout your fertility, love."

Laura came over and leaned against the edge of his desk facing him, her arms folded and Remington gently unfolded her arms, took both her hands and kissed her palms. When he did that, Laura's heart throbbed out of control and she felt slightly woozy. She had fully intended to seduce him this afternoon, but he was doing it to her instead.

"Darling, when you are like this, it's very difficult for me to concentrate on anything else," Remington murmured as he dropped her hands, caught her around her slender waist and then let his hands slide down to grip her firm hips. "In just a few days you're going to be ovulating."

"You want to try again as much as I do, don't you?"

Remington shook his head and easily lifted her bottom onto his desk and stood between her thighs kissing her again and then sat back down in his chair in front of her and stared up at her, his eyes turning an even deeper cobalt as his passions heated up. Laura's soft silk skirt slipped upward as Remington's sensitive fingers caressed her calves and then her thighs where he found the supporters to her garter belt, released her sheer stockings and slipped them off her legs.

"Remington Steele, what are you doing?"

"I . . . I find you so lovely," Remington said, kissing her thighs and brushing her slender calves with his fingertips. "Ten years is not nearly enough. I just can't get enough of you. I'm sorry, so sorry for my lack of self-control, but you are driving me mad. I am pathetically randy today."

"Remy!" Laura caught his head in her hands, running her fingers through his thick black hair as she yielded to his caresses. "Remy, please, you'll have to, to . . . lock the door," she gasped as his intimate kiss overwhelmed her.

At that moment there was a buzz on the intercom.

"Good Lord, no!" Remington growled, and dropped his head against his wife's thigh as he struggled to regain control.

Laura, her cheeks flushed, sat back on his desk but she was as stimulated as he was and panting like a wild vixen.

Finally when the intercom buzzed again, Laura took a deep breath and answered it.

"Yes."

"It's Mrs. Martinson on the line," Mildred said. "She's excited, says there's been an important development."

Laura took the call and put it on speakerphone.

"It's Jeremy, Mrs. Steele. He called me from Boise. He's in a hospital there. He had an attack of asthma up in the mountains and they had to bring him into town. Do you think you could try to get him back from there?"

Laura looked at Remington who had begun to collect himself at this point and nodded at this positive development.

"Marjorie, it sounds good. But give all the information to Mildred. We will research the location of the hospital and get back to you within the next couple of hours on our decision."

When Laura put the phone down, her eyes met Remington's and she tried unsuccessfully to allay the passion that was bouncing between them.

"The Martinson boy . . . do . . . you think we can try to get him out of there?"

"Umm . . . I don't know. Do you want to attempt it?" He drew her off the desk and up into his arms and begin to kiss her again and again upon her cheeks, and then upon her lips.

"Rem, I can't think like this."

"There will be time to think. Now is the time to attend to other urgent matters, darling. We'll get the Martinson child back to its parents."

"Then you'd better tell Mildred not to disturb us for the next hour," Laura said.

Remington got Mildred back on the intercom.

"Mildred, we are going to be heading to Boise tonight. Get tickets lined up and all the information. Then give Laura and me the next hour without disturbance. Find Murphy Michaels in Denver. We may need him to help us on this one. Get a number and we'll call him shortly."

After speaking with Mildred, Remington turned back to Laura and it was clear that he intended to finish what they had started earlier.

"So you were thinking about the case. You seem to have a plan."

"Yes, I dare say that I do. But matters must be cared for on the home front first," he said softly as he guided her toward the sofa across from his desk and eased her down upon it.

"The door, love," Laura whispered.

Remington nodded and went to insure their privacy.

* * * * * *

By six o'clock Remington and Laura Steele were on a United Airlines flight to Boise. It was a small jet and Laura was thankful that they were seated so close together that she could easily put her head on his shoulder and try to rest up for the events that lay ahead of them.

"I'm sorry, old girl," Remington whispered to her. "I fear I may have exhausted you earlier."

"I'll be fine, love. I wouldn't trade this afternoon for anything," Laura said as she put her arm around Remington's waist so that she could nestle even closer to him and promptly dropped off.

Remington remained awake, watching Laura sleep. His mind had cleared and he was sorting carefully through the problems of the case before them. It was always this way after he had been with her. When he needed her, it was as if he were in an agony till they finally came together. But afterward there was always this peace in his flesh. He could almost forget his loins for a while.

Remington moved to adjust his position and Laura stirred and wakened.

"I'm sorry, love. Go back to sleep."

"Umm, I was so tired . . . after this morning."

"It's my fault. I have no right to expect you to be subject to my passionate urges and do all the other things that you do . . . the children, the office."

"It's all right. I just started out today tired. And then you stimulated me beyond . . ."

"I love you, Laura, so very much. Thank you, darling, for understanding your very needy husband today."

Remington smoothed her hair, kissed the top of her head, and encouraged her to go back to sleep on his chest.

* * * * * *

At the Boise airport Murphy Michaels was waiting for them as they came off the flight and into the terminal.

"Hey, guys, you are both a sight for sore eyes!" he exclaimed as he hugged Laura and then shook Remington's hand warmly.

"It's good to see you too, Murphy," Laura said. "We're glad you could come in on this on such short notice. We are in enemy territory here, if you know what I mean. We'd like to get in and out before anyone realizes that we've been here."

"Your friend flew you in on his plane as you anticipated?" Remington asked.

"Yeah, we got here an hour ago. He'll stay here on the plane. He has a flight plan to leave here in three hours. If all goes well, we'll be heading out by midnight."

"We calculate that the easiest time to retrieve the youngster would be at night. We aren't in the mood to tangle with any of these survivalists on their own turf in broad daylight," Remington said, as the three of them walked to the large white commercial-type van Murphy had obtained.

"So, you folks have quite a family going on. Bernice and I keep in touch. She keeps me up to date. You look great Laura," he said grinning at the two of them. "You're some kind of stud, you old married dog," he said clapping Remington on his shoulders.

"We're just endeavoring to enjoy life, Murphy," Remington said grinning.

"We're . . . happy, Murph . . . very happy. We have the twins, Cassie and Chl÷e, and we have Michael and Harrison. Michael is four and Harrison just turned two," Laura recounted.

"And didn't you adopt as well?"

"Yes, there was a brother and sister . . . left orphaned in a case shortly after the twins were born. Laura . . . Laura and I couldn't leave them like that."

"Wow! You two are the last ones I would have expected to have a herd of kids. That's six kids!"

"Let's just say that we're makin' a go of family life, mate. That is why we have to handle this in such a way that violence can be completely avoided. We have too many children to risk our lives foolishly."

"I guess I'd better get started. I just haven't been able to find a woman that wanted to have babies with me."

They all fell silent as the import of the difference in their lives sank in.

"There . . . the hospital is just a few miles ahead on the right, St. Luke's Children's Hospital. They have an asthma center there."

"So how do these people plan to keep this from happening again to them?" Murphy posed the question.

"They have moved and established a new identity in another state already. We will not even take the tyke back to Los Angeles. They will meet us in Denver and they will be on their own from there. I don't believe they will ever be found," Remington explained.

"That quite a price to pay-cutting off relationship with the rest of the family-parents and others," Murphy said.

"Well, it will only be until Jeremy becomes fourteen. Then he can't be kidnapped and indoctrinated against his will. It's not a life sentence," Laura said. "And by the way, the password for Jeremy is 'Scooby-doo, Boo-boo.' If you get him and he's nervous, that should calm him down."

"So the plan is what now?" Murphy asked.

"We dress as medical personnel, walk in there. Murphy, you will take him out in one of those big laundry hampers. I guess that will bring back memories, won't it?" Laura said. "We meet you back here in the van and head out of here for the airport."

"If we are followed, I divert and we go to a place I know. I used to go with a woman here. She's all right. We go to her place, switch off into her car. Keys will be in it."

"So you do know your way around Boise, I see," Laura said smiling.

"I'd say so."

"Oh, and here is an inhaler. It's Albuterol, his regular prescription. If he gets stressed and starts to wheeze, give him this. He knows how to use it," Laura said, handing Murphy a bag containing Jeremy's medication.

"Got it. The hospital is just ahead. It's after eleven-thirty. Things should be quiet," Murphy said.

"We go in as planned, mate. The child is in Room 572 in the pediatric wing. You will go in first, and get into appropriate garb and head up to the fifth floor over there."

Murphy let Remington and Laura off in the parking lot. They had donned white coats, stethoscopes about their necks, Remington wearing a gray wig, Laura, a blonde one. Heading into the medical center, they walked straight past security without so much as a glance at the obviously tired guard and to where they could get the elevator to the fifth floor of the children's wing.

The floor was quiet. Remington and Laura headed in the direction of the room where Jeremy was to be found.

"Excuse me, folks, may I help you?" a middle-aged nurse asked.

"I am Dr. Trevor Keach and this is my associate Dr. Myrtle Groggins. We came to bring young Jeremy's records from Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles." Remington drew a portfolio from his briefcase." Here are his previous medical records. They will be quite useful to you in treating him. His . . . family down there wanted you to have all his information. We will just go in to take a look at him."

Remington handed the full portfolio to the nurse and she accepted it and smiled graciously in retreat as she carried the files back to the nurses' station in the center of the floor.

"Here we go, love," Remington said as he opened the door to Jeremy's room.

The child was asleep, receiving oxygen in his nostrils. He was quite pale, but obviously all boy with freckles and red hair.

"Jeremy," Laura whispered as she shook him gently.

His eyes flew open and there was initially a moment of fear.

"It's okay, Scooby-dooby, Boo-boo," Laura said. "Your mommy sent us to bring you home. Are you ready to come with us?"

The child nodded and smiled.

"Now, I just want you to relax, laddie," Remington said as he pretended to examine him in case someone came into the room. "Here is your inhaler. If you have any problem breathing, you know what to do?"

"Yep. I know what to do." Jeremy was fully awake now. "What's my daddy's name and my mommy's name?"

"Gregory and Marjorie, son. That's very good. Always be sure of whom it is you are going along with. Now we are going to put you inside of a big plastic trash bin and take you out of here. Do you understand?"

"Yep. What's your name . . . and hers?"

"I'm Dr. Trevor and this is Dr. Myrtle . . . until we get you out of here. Ask us again when we are on a plane to take you home."

"We're goin' on a plane!"

"Yep, Scooby-dooby boo-boo," Laura said smiling. "Now let's go."

At that point Murphy slipped into the room with his rolling plastic trash bin. Remington picked the child up, wrapped a blanket around him and put him into the bin. Laura checked the corridor to see if the cost was clear and saw the same nurse coming toward her.

"Ah, wonderful, I was coming to get some water for Jeremy."

"I'll get it for you."

"Oh, no. Show me where it is. I was a nurse 'once upon a time' and I'm not above getting water for a patient."

The woman smiled and felt an instant affinity for this woman 'doctor.'

"That Doctor Keach is really handsome. Is he a married man?"

"Well, he's married, but let me tell you, he loves to play, if you know what I mean." Laura winked.

"Oh my! I get a hot flash just thinking about that," the nurse said.

Laura got the small pitcher of ice water and headed back to the room.

When she opened the door, she signaled for Murphy to leave and he headed in the direction away from the nurses' station with Jeremy.

"Stage one finished, Laura. Now let's get out of here."

Remington and Laura headed out past the nurses' station.

"We will be back in the morning to check on Jeremy again. If there are any other questions, we will be pleased to help," Remington said.

"Dr. Keach, you can come back here anytime . . . and I will see that you get whatever you want," the smitten nurse said batting her eyelashes.

"Why that's a lovely idea, Miss . . ."

"Miss Thornton, Marcella Thornton."

"What a pleasure," Remington said mesmerizing her with the gleam in his blue eyes.

They walked to the bank of elevators and appeared to wait.

"You should be ashamed of yourself flirting with that poor woman like that."

"Laura, I was simply taking advantage of the situation as a diversionary tactic," he said with mock innocence.

"We'll take care of this later," Laura said, teasing him.

When the coast was clear, they took the stairs instead of the elevator. Along the way they got rid of the wigs and stethoscopes along with the white coats. When they got to the first floor, they walked slowly out. Remington held Laura close to him so that they both became the image of grief-stricken parents.

The security post was at alert.

"Who! Where! Doctors?"

"Stop there, folks," the guard detained them. "Sorry . . . sorry, but we're looking for someone. Did you happen to see two people-doctors. A gray-haired man and a blonde woman?"

"No . . . no, sir. We just left our son. He's very ill. We're going to try to get some rest. He has surgery early in the morning."

"Certainly. Sorry, sir. Hope all goes well."

"Thank you, sir," Laura whispered, wiping her eyes.

They headed out of the hospital and to the waiting van. Murphy had put Fedex symbols on it. They jumped in and were off. Murphy had a Fedex uniform on now and Remington and Laura got into the back of the van with Jeremy.

When Jeremy began to cough, Remington reached for the extra blankets they had brought along and wrapped him snugly against the chilly high-plains air and Laura handed the child his inhaler.

"Take it easy, laddie. We have a ways to go before you see your mum and dad."

"I'm okay. I'm okay," the child said. "I just pretended to have a real bad attack so they would take me to the hospital. I'm a tough cookie."

"I guess you are," Laura said.

Murphy was easing out of the parking lot with just a cursory nod at the guard at the gate as they left. But then the guard called them back.

"Hey, fella, this isn't the time for the FedEx delivery. I need to see some ID here."

Murphy opened the door of the van and then bumped it into the guard and suddenly slammed him against the side of the van, briefly stunning him. Murphy jumped back into the truck and they sped away at high speed.

"We were hoping that we wouldn't attract any undue attention. I guess that's blown," Laura said wryly.

"I don't think we have much lead on them, Murphy. I positioned things so that it would look like Jeremy was still in bed, but by the time we got to the lobby, they were looking for Drs. Keach and Holt," Remington added.

"I figured that nurse would come and check after we left," Laura said.

"Then I suggest we go by my friend's house, change vehicles and then head for the airport," Murphy said.

He soon turned off the highway and headed up into a neighborhood of shaded streets and very large houses.

"Your friend lives in one of these, Murph?" Laura asked.

"She's a bit too rich for my blood, but we've had our moments. Actually it's her plane we're using tonight. She uses it when she flies over to Denver . . . to shop."

"And may we ask the name of this 'friend?' "

"Pamela Pendleton. Her family is big . . . in textiles . . . woolens."

Murphy turned the van into a long drive that led up to the back of a huge stucco finished ranch type house. There was a late model black Cadillac van with tinted windows and the license plate PAMPDL in the driveway.

"Here is our next ride, people."

They all piled out of the commercial vehicle and into the black van. Remington ripped the FedEx decals off the truck and took them with them. Murphy turned the key and the motor purred softly as it turned over.

"Murphy, you've outdone yourself, mate." Remington clapped him on his shoulder.

"No, you're the one who's outdone himself, Steele. I mean it."

At that moment the door the house opened and a tall shapely blond woman wearing pink silk lounging pajamas came toward the car.

"I dare say this is Miss Pendleton approaching," Remington said.

"Yes, it is." Murphy said as he lowered his window. "Good evening, Pamela."

"My, my, Murphy! Is all going according to plan?" She smiled at him but her eyes betrayed her concern.

"There was a minor hitch, but we should be able to make it with no problem in this baby."

"Come back and see me, Murphy. Life in Boise can get pretty dull."

"I will do that, doll. You know that. I should be back here tomorrow on the early flight from Denver. I have to bring your car back and get rid of that van."

"Plan to stay over then. We'll have a party, hon."

Murphy winked at her and she stepped back so that they could back out of her driveway.

They were on their way to the Boise Airport. Murphy drove normally, deliberately and the police cars that roared past them took no note of them whatsoever. On arriving at the airport, Murphy drove them to the private plane reception area.

Laura had Jeremy dressed.

"Now, Jeremy, I want you to put this blonde wig with long braids on and take this doll. You will be our daughter, Geraldine, okay?"

"I have to be a girl! I don't wanna!"

"Do you want to get home? You have to do your part. Now you're a tough cookie. You should meet my little girls."

"You got kids?"

"Son, she has got kids!" Murphy said emphatically.

"Yes, I have twin girls your age. If they had to pretend to be boys to get back home to us, they'd do it."

"Yeah, but that's different."

"I dare say it is, Jeremy, but this is the plan for tonight," Remington said firmly. "Put the wig on. We don't have a lot of time for discussion here."

Jeremy complied without another complaint.

They followed Murphy through the waiting area and out to the waiting plane. Jeremy looked fetching as he dragged a Raggedy Ann doll along by one of its arms.

"He looks cute, doesn't he?" Laura said.

"Don't tell him that, darling. He'll be wantin' to forget this part."

They boarded the plane and Murphy gave the signal for the pilot to take off into the dark night. It was just past midnight.

When they landed in Denver in less than an hour, Greg and Marjorie Martinson were waiting.

"Mommie, Daddy," Jeremy cried and ran to his parents who hugged and kissed him over and over. "I escaped! Mr. and Mrs. Steele rescued me. I escaped!"

"Thank you, thank you for our son," Marjorie said as Greg Martinson hugged their little boy close.

"We'll be in touch. When you hear from Gregorio Martinez, you will know who it is," Greg said. "We're all set in Texas-heading there now."

"Best of luck to you, mate. Glad we could help," Remington said as he shook Greg's hand. Laura hugged Marjorie and then bent down and hugged Jeremy.

"Good bye, sport," Remington said, tousling the boy's red hair affectionately.

It was after one a.m. and the three of them watched the Martinson family walk away and into their new life.

"Thanks for your help, Murphy. Send us the bills for all this and we'll take care of it. These people were feeling no pain financially. They just wanted their child back. I hope young Jeremy realizes how fortunate he was to be wanted so," Remington said with a twinge of sadness in his voice.

"Let's just call us even. The plane, and vans, etc. in Boise were all compliments of Pam Pendleton. She is very, let us say, philanthropic. You two are welcome to come home with me. Your flight back to LA won't be till morning."

"Thanks a lot, but don't you have a date with Pam? And this is actually our anniversary . . . since midnight." Laura flushed slightly.

"So it is, darling," Remington said to Laura before continuing. "We were scheduled to fly to St. Martin tomorrow afternoon, but this came up in the meantime. We are going to get the first thing out of here in the morning, go home, say good-bye to our children for a week and get that flight. We'll stay at the Hyatt here at the airport."

"It's ten years, isn't it?" Murphy said.

"Right. Hard to believe . . . it's been great . . . every moment of it," Remington said. He stared at Laura as if there were no one there but the two of them.

"Yes, it has," Laura replied softly.

Murphy, suddenly realizing that his presence was superfluous, said, "Listen, I'm going to go check in for that early flight back to Boise. Catch you on the flip-flop. It was good . . . working with you again."

"We got the job done . . . with your help," Laura said reaching out to take his hand.

Murphy kissed her lightly on her cheek and then shook Remington's hand warmly to take his leave.

They turned to each other as Murphy walked away from them.

"Let's go get a few hours rest, darling."

"You're going to rest? It's our anniversary!" Laura said teasing him.

"Absolutely. I want you well-rested when we get to St. Martin." Remington said, drawing her close to steal a kiss from her lips.

* * * * * *

Later the next afternoon and Remington and Laura were preparing for their flight to St. Martin. They had not been able to seize a private moment since arriving back in Los Angeles mid-morning. Last minute packing and a few precious hours with their children took all of the available time.

"Why do you and Daddy have to go now?" Cassie asked.

She and Chl÷e lay across their parents' bed watching Remington and Laura finish dressing for the trip. They were beautiful children with long braids of thick black hair and their father's blue eyes and were wearing identical jeans and bright red tee shirts.

"Sweetheart, I told you that it is our anniversary," Laura said.

"But Esperanza said that this is a 'special' anniversary," Chl÷e said with some authority in her young voice.

"Well, it is, love. Your mother and I were married ten years ago tomorrow."

"May 10, 1986 . . ." Cassie calculated out loud.

"Is that when you took this picture where Mommy's hair is all messed up?" Cassie got the photograph from the night table by the bed.

"And where your Daddy is wearing a tuxedo? That's it, love."

"It wasn't like a regular wedding," Cassie observed sagely.

"No, but it was the most important day of my life . . . before you girls came into the world," Remington said.

He sat down on the bed and took the photograph in his hand and looked at it for a long time with a twin daughter on each knee.

"Your mother was the most beautiful woman in the whole world that day."

"Tell us, Daddy. Tell us about it. Please!" Chl÷e begged.

"Well, I had loved your mother for more than four years . . . really from the first day we met. But she wouldn't have me."

"Why? Didn't she love you back?" Cassie asked.

Remington looked at Laura for the answer.

"I loved your father too, but I was afraid to . . . to let him know how much I loved him."

"Why were you afraid of Daddy?" Chl÷e continued the train of questions. "Daddy loves you."

"I realize that, honey, but back then I was a . . . a silly woman."

"So I had to prove to your mother that I was . . . sincere. When she finally let me . . . hold her, and kiss her, she still was afraid. I asked her to marry me, but she kept saying 'no.' "

"Did that make you sad, Daddy?" Cassie asked.

"Yes, and I just loved her that much more. Then one day a very bad man became angry with me. He wanted to cause me trouble and have me sent out of the country. I didn't know what to do. He told the INS, the people who check up on foreigners in the country, that I needed to be sent away. The only way that I could stay would have been if I got married to an American before May 10, 1986, at six p.m."

"But if Mommy wouldn't marry you, what were you going to do?" Cassie saw the problem.

"I knew a woman that would marry me . . . just to help me stay. She knew that I was really in love with your mother. I was all set to do that."

"You were doing it," Laura said wryly, remembering that day.

"And what happened, Mommy?" Cassie.

"I broke it up. I went right in and broke it up and got my man and took him and married him." Laura stood smiling with her hands on her hips.

"Is that what Mommy did?" Chl÷e chortled gleefully.

"Yes, that is what she did. She came and took me out of there. She was incredibly angry with me that day, but she married me. We went to my friend, Juan, who was the captain of a fishing boat, and he married us right there on that boat."

"Mommy, is that why you didn't have a wedding gown . . . or anything?" Cassie asked.

"That's why. But it didn't matter. I had your Daddy."

"And I had your Mommy."

"And that's when you had sex, huh?" Chl÷e concluded.

"That is one of the very important ways that grown-ups show that they love each other," Laura replied without being specific.

The girls looked at the photo of Remington and Laura on their wedding day and then back to their parents and were satisfied.

Remington got up and went to Laura and embraced her in front of their girls.

"And what advice will you add to that story when our girls are eighteen instead of eight years old?" he murmured softly into her ear.

"I'll tell them that when you know a man belongs to you, you don't let anybody take him away from you," Laura whispered, patting her husband upon his firm hips.

"Excellent advice, Mrs. Steele," Remington said kissing her tenderly upon her forehead. "Now I think we should finish packing or we will miss our flight and end up celebrating our anniversary right here."

"Come here, luvs," Remington reached out and his girls ran to them and hugged both their parents around their waists, as he and Laura embraced.

* * * * * *

Remington and Laura barely made American Airlines flight #276 when it left LAX for Miami at 10:55 p.m. They would fly from Miami to St. Martin the next morning. It was a long flight of more than twelve hours, but Remington and Laura were so keyed up that they could do nothing but talk for the first couple hours.

"I can't believe that we are really under way. So much has happened in the last week," Laura said as she reached across to him. "The case with the Martinsons, seeing Murphy again after such a long time."

"He seemed a bit melancholy. I don't think he's ever gotten over losing you, Laura."

"I guess he hasn't."

"I understand his feelings. If I'd been the unfortunate bloke that lost out on you, I don't think I would have ever gotten over it either."

Remington offered his glass of champagne to Laura and she offered him hers. They had finally learned how to cope with Laura's left-handedness and do it successfully.

"I think that it just passed midnight in Los Angeles, darling. Happy anniversary, Mrs. Steele."

"Happy anniversary to you too, Mr. Steele."

Remington leaned over and kissed Laura tenderly.

"It looks as if we are going to have to wait several hours before we can celebrate this day properly, Laura."

"I know. It' s hard to snuggle in the first class cabin."

"I think we have a bit more in mind that snuggling, don't we, love?"

"Yes, we do."

"Laura, when the children were asking us today about our wedding I thought about that day, that day when I wanted you so and yet behaved in such an unbelievably stupid fashion."

"You mean 'Clarissa.' " Laura said simply. "I've often wondered what you planned to do with her after you married her. She was a really hot number. Were you going to have sex with her . . . just to insure that it would be considered a real marriage? You would have to have taken her home with the INS on your trail like they were."

"I didn't plan to. Of course, I'm sure she planned to ante up . . . since I had paid her for the whole affair. That would have been a problem. I hadn't anticipated that she would be quite so zealous to keep what she viewed as her end of the bargain."

"So you would have ended up that evening with Clarissa all over you . . . whether you wanted that or not." Laura shook her head. "I don't know why I ever married you that day under those circumstances."

"You didn't want another woman all over your man. Isn't that what you said earlier? You knew in your heart of hearts that it was all about my wanting you."

"You have it all figured out, don't you?" Laura whispered.

"We were meant to be. And I am the man who will be eternally grateful that you lost possession of your senses that day and deigned to marry me."

"I couldn't forget."

"Forget?"

"How it was with us when you made love to me . . . how you made me feel, the sound of your voice crying out my name and begging God to have mercy on you that first time and then after that . . . all the other times . . ."

". . . the times we made love. There had never been a woman in my life like you, Laura."

Remington brought Laura's hand to his lips and kissed it as she reached to caress his cheek. It was wet from his tears.

Laura felt tears slip down her own cheeks.

"Don't cry, love. We . . . we don't need to cry tonight."

"You're crying too. We're such a mess, aren't we?"

Remington nodded and kissed her hand again before he let it go. The hum of the big plane gradually lulled them both to sleep after the fatiguing day and when they wakened they were landing in Miami.

The Miami connection went smoothly and by one o'clock in the afternoon they were touching down on at Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side of St. Maarten. A taxi took them to the French side of the island and through the town of Marigot and on to the village of Grand Case.

(End of Part One)