By: Melissa Jones
First printed: More Red Holt Steele #7
Summary: Laura and Remington give their honeymoon a second try. An epilogue to “Partners of Steele.”
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.
Laura adjusted the shoulder strap of her carry-on suitcase as she followed her husband out toward the private plane. She squinted in the bright sunlight as she surveyed the charter plane that stood waiting for them.
"That's a pretty big plane for only two people," she noted to Remington as she watched the rest of their luggage being loaded into the cargo hold by the ground crew. Remington smiled and glanced at her, his eyes hidden by dark, aviator-style sunglasses.
"Only the best for my new bride," he answered, yelling above the roar of the plane's idling engines, lightly swinging the leather duffel bag he carried in his left hand. "After all, it's not as if we couldn't afford it. Besides, I thought we'd need some peace and quiet after all the chaos of today."
Laura smiled. "Good point. Still, chaotic or not, it's been a pretty good day," she commented, remembering their wedding a few hours before.
"Yes, it has," Remington said, grabbing her and pulling her into a kiss. She put her free left hand on his shoulder, enjoying the warmth of his lips against hers. They broke the kiss, staring into each other's eyes for a few seconds. Remington began walking again toward the plane, keeping his arm around Laura's slender waist. Laura strode beside him, her arm around him. They mounted the portable staircase and entered the plane. They were greeted by an attractive young blonde woman in an airline uniform, who smiled at them politely.
"Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Steele. I'm Charlotte, your stewardess," she said. "Are you ready to get underway?"
"Absolutely, absolutely," Remington emphasized, pulling off his sunglasses and letting his eyes adjust to the interior lighting.
"Very good, sir," Charlotte replied. She moved around Remington and Laura, motioned the ground crew to move the staircase away, and secured the door.
"If you'll follow me, we'll get you ready for takeoff," Charlotte said, leading the couple through a door and into the next room. The room was sparsely furnished, which made it appear large. A small bar occupied the back left corner, and a table with two chairs sat against the left front wall. The right side was occupied by two padded leather chairs. A storage compartment stretched above them. In the middle of the back wall stood a tightly sealed door.
Remington walked over to the storage compartment and opened it. He shoved his duffel bag into the compartment. Laura handed her bag to him, and he shoved it in next to his, closing the compartment. Laura smoothed the white skirt of her dress beneath her and sat in the plush seat. Remington sat down as well, buckling his seat belt. The two listened as Charlotte instructed them in the safety and emergency procedures.
"We'll be taking off shortly. Please keep your seat belts on until the light goes off," the stewardess told them, pointing to the lighted "fasten seat belts" sign above the door they had entered from. "Once the sign goes off, you'll be free to move about as you wish. We'll make a brief stop in New York in about four hours for refueling, and we should arrive in London about ten hours from now, which will be around nine a.m. London time. If you need anything during the flight, just buzz me, and I will be happy to assist you. Otherwise, you'll be undisturbed throughout the flight."
"Thank you very much, Charlotte. We really appreciate your hospitality," Laura said, smiling at her.
"You're quite welcome, ma'am. I hope you both have a nice flight," Charlotte answered. She flashed them one last smile and left the room, securing the door behind her.
"Well, Mrs. Steele," Remington said, turning his attention to Laura and taking her hand. "Are you ready to start your dream honeymoon, hmm? A week in a secluded English countryside cottage followed by a week in a private French villa."
Laura sighed happily, closing her eyes, a dreamy look crossing her face. "More than ready, Mr. Steele."
The engines of the plane announced their readiness to take off with a roar. The plane lurched forward, and began coasting down toward the end of the runway.
"By the way, what's on the other side of that door?" Laura asked, pointing to the door on the back wall. Remington grinned, his eyes sparkling.
"Oh, just a little surprise I worked out," he responded evasively as the plane turned and hesitated at the end of the runway. The roaring of the engines increased.
"What sort of surprise?" Laura asked curiously as the plane accelerated down the runway.
"You'll find out after we're underway," Remington said, staring straight ahead as the plane lifted off the ground. "For now, just relax." He leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes. Laura continued to stare at him for a moment before leaning back in her seat. They sat together in silence for several minutes, gently holding hands. Finally, a tiny bell sounded to end their peace. They glanced up to see the "fasten seat belts" sign switch off. Remington turned to Laura.
"Ready for your surprise?" he asked, grinning mischievously.
"Yes, of course I am," Laura responded, staring at him with curiosity.
"Then let's go," Remington ordered, releasing Laura's hand and unbuckling his seat belt. He stood up and waited for Laura to undo her belt, then took her hand and gently pulled her toward the mysterious door.
"Ready?" he asked once more, releasing her hand and grasping the door's knob.
"Yes!" Laura exclaimed, laughing as she threw her hands up in mock exasperation. Remington took the cue and pulled the door open, stepping aside and gesturing for Laura to enter. Laura stepped through the doorway and gasped. Remington stepped in behind her, closing the door behind him.
"What is this?" Laura asked, a mixture of shock and delight on her face as she stared at the queen-sized bed before her.
"Surprise," Remington murmured in her right ear as he placed his hands on her shoulders.
"I can't believe you did this," Laura said, slowly shaking her head and laughing.
"Well, it is a ten hour flight, after all. And after such an eventful day, I figured you might want someplace comfortable to rest," Remington explained, feigning innocence. Laura turned to face him, grimacing at him skeptically.
"Right," she said sarcastically, a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. "Now, the real reason?"
Remington smiled seductively and pulled Laura into his arms.
"Let's put it this way," he whispered, giving her a brief, gentle kiss. "Ever made love at 45,000 feet, Mrs. Steele?"
Laura grinned. "No," she responded kissing him passionately. "Not yet." She pulled him toward the bed, smiling seductively.
Remington wrapped his arm around Laura as she scooted closer to him. The cab they were riding in bounced down a country road, headed for the former home of Daniel Chalmers, and the house that he had raised a young pickpocket in. Remington felt a knot of apprehension and excitement in his chest at seeing the house again, but without Daniel there to greet him this time.
Laura sighed slightly as she laid her head on Remington's right shoulder and put her arms around his torso. Remington smiled and kissed the top of her head.
"So, did you enjoy the flight, Mrs. Steele?" Remington asked. Laura giggled.
"Mm...definitely, Mr. Steele," she said gleefully. "Although, I think we gave new meaning to the phrase, ‘flying the friendly skies.’" Remington chuckled.
"Yes, I suppose we did, didn't we?" The two laughed knowingly. The cab lurched as it turned onto a gravel driveway. Laura released Remington and slid over to the window to look out to their destination. She gasped.
"This is a ‘modest cottage?’" she asked, staring at the large, two-story Victorian house before her.
"It's enough for Daniel to call home," Remington said, smiling as he remembered the words Daniel had said to him when Remington had made the same statement twenty years before. Laura stared at him in wide-eyed amazement and delight as the cab pulled to a stop.
"Shall we?" Remington gestured toward the door. Laura opened the cab door and climbed out. The two went around to the back of the cab and waited for the driver to open the trunk. They retrieved their luggage, and Remington paid the driver. They walked toward the house as the cab pulled away.
The large oak door opened just before the couple reached it. An elderly woman stood in the doorway, clad in a long, old-fashioned black dress. Her gray hair was pulled into a loose bun, which sat high on her narrow head. Her sharp features and dark eyes hinted at the youthful spirit that still fought the aging process, but were almost hidden by the heavy lines that decorated her thin face, made even heavier by sorrow. She managed a smile at the sight of Remington.
"Harry, my dear boy," she said in a strong, quavering voice. Remington smiled at the familiar woman as he stood at the doorway, next to Laura.
"Meredith," Remington greeted her. He sat his suitcases down on the top step and hugged the frail woman delicately. "It's so good to see you again."
"It's good to see you too, Harry," Meredith returned. She began crying softly."I'm so glad you've come home again."
Remington withdrew from the embrace, taking Meredith's hands in his own.
"So am I, Meredith. So am I," Remington said, fighting the urge to let his own tears fall. He remembered Laura standing quietly next to him, watching the scene without attempting to interrupt for introductions.
"Uh, Meredith, I'd like to introduce you to my wife, Laura Steele," Remington said, releasing Meredith's hands and putting his right hand on Laura's back to guide her toward Meredith.
"How do you do?" Laura said politely, shaking Meredith's hand.
"Fine, thank you," Meredith replied. "It's such a great pleasure to meet the woman who finally captured Harry's heart. I didn't think anyone could do it." The trio laughed. Meredith's face displayed a look of realization as she stared at the couple still standing outside. "Oh, my, where are my manners? Please, do come in," she said, bustling out of the doorway and letting Remington and Laura enter. She closed the door behind them.
"I'm so glad you've come, Harry," Meredith said. "The house has been so quiet. You always brought such spirit to the place. We've...I mean, I've needed to see that spirit here again. Especially now..." she finished softly, hanging her head in sorrow.
"I know, Meredith," Remington replied quietly. "I miss him, too."
"Well, I'm sure he wouldn't want us dwelling on it, would he?" Meredith said, regaining her composure. "Now, I'll show you to your room. I had your old room made up. I thought you might like to stay there again. Besides, I haven't been able to go into Daniel's room since he left. I'm sure it's terribly dusty, but...," she stopped, trying to stop her tears from falling again. "I wasn't sure if you would want to stay in there or not."
"My old room will do fine. Thank you, Meredith," Remington replied uneasily. Meredith nodded and smiled, trying to ease the tension they all felt at dancing around the subject of Daniel's death.
"Well, then, let me show you to your room," Meredith said, walking slowly toward the large staircase before them. Remington and Laura grabbed their suitcases and followed her up the stairs. Remington hesitated at the top of the stairs, staring briefly at a closed door at the end of the hall. Laura followed his pained gaze, deducing from his expression that the door led to Daniel's abandoned bedroom. Remington snapped back to the present with an apologetic smile to Laura before continuing down the hall to the door Meredith was now opening. They entered the large bedroom, and Remington managed a small chuckle.
"Twenty years, and it still looks exactly the same as the first night I stayed here," he murmured, setting his luggage at the foot of the bed, with Laura following his actions.
"Daniel wouldn't let anyone sleep here, no matter how many guests he'd have here. This was your room, and would remain so, no matter what. He didn't want anything changed, so if you ever decided to come home again, you'd feel perfectly in place," Meredith explained as Remington wandered over to the large chifferobe on the far wall. He opened the chifferobe doors and hung his overcoat on an empty hanger. He motioned to Laura to hand him her coat, and he hung it next to his, closing the doors.
"It's a lovely room," Laura said, admiring the old-fashioned wood furniture that accented the room. "I'm sure we'll be very comfortable here. Don't you think, dear?" she asked Remington, who seemed lost in memories as he observed his surroundings.
"Hmm? Oh, undoubtedly," Remington returned, walking over to his wife's side. "It will be good to be staying here again." Laura smiled at him. Remington returned her smile, assuring her of his stabilized emotions.
"Well, I'll leave you alone to unpack. Lunch will be in a couple of hours. If you need anything, the old bell still works," Meredith instructed, pointing to a large rope hanging next to the left side of the canopied poster bed. She turned toward the door.
"Thanks again, Meredith," Remington called after her.
"You're welcome, Harry. And welcome home," she said, exiting and closing the door behind her. Remington turned to Laura and smiled.
"Well, Mrs. Steele, what do you think?" he asked.
"I think it's magnificent," Laura said, walking around the bed as she gazed about the room. "You really grew up here?"
"Well, only from the time I was fourteen until I was about nineteen. And even then, we didn't stay here very much. Daniel took me globe-hopping often, for...uh...education-al purposes," Remington said, grinning slyly.
"Mm, yes, I can just imagine what that education entailed," Laura said, feigning disapproval.
"Why, Laura, you sound as if you don't believe that my education was innocent and pure," Remington said in a mocking tone, lifting his suitcase onto the bed and opening it. Laura laughed aloud.
"I know you well enough to know that your education was anything but innocent and pure. In fact, I don't think you were ever innocent or pure," Laura returned, opening her own suitcase next to his and pulling out a few clothes to stuff in a bureau drawer.
"Why, Laura, you cut me to the quick. I'm deeply wounded," Remington said, unpacking his own clothes and moving them into drawers. Laura grabbed him as he returned to his suitcase and pulled him into an embrace.
"Are you saying you were pure once?" Laura teased.
"Well...I mean...purity is so... boring," Remington said. Laura laughed.
"Well, you are anything but boring," Laura said, smiling knowingly at him.
"You think so, eh?" Remington asked, tightening his arms around Laura.
"Oh, definitely. Any man who arranges for a bedroom on a plane can't be boring," Laura said. Remington grinned, leaning in to meet Laura in a gentle kiss. They stood kissing for a few moments, before slowly breaking the embrace.
"We'd better get unpacked. We can finish this tonight, right?" Laura asked, stroking the back of Remington's head.
"You better believe we'll finish this, lady," Remington returned, playfully kissing the tip of her nose before releasing her and returning to his unpacking. Laura laughed softly as she carried their garment bag to the chifferobe.
"That really was delicious. Meredith is an incredible cook," Laura remarked as she and Remington slowly climbed the stairs.
"Yes, she is," Remington agreed. "Where do you think I learned how to cook?"
"Ah, so that's where you acquired your gourmet talents, huh?" Laura asked.
"Well, among others. I've picked up a few recipes along the way, but Meredith got me started," Remington explained as they reached the landing to the second floor. Remington's gaze wandered to the end of the hallway, and the wistful expression returned to his face.
"Why don't you go inside?" Laura asked, touching his arm delicately. Remington sighed uneasily.
"I'm not sure if I can," he whispered.
"But you do want to, don't you?" Laura pressed gently. Remington looked at her and smiled.
"You read me like a book, don't you?" he said. He sighed again and looked back to Daniel's bedroom door. "Well, I suppose there's no point in putting it off. I mean, it's just a room, right?"
"Maybe...or maybe there's a lot more to it. Something you may be looking for, or may need."
"Yes, I suppose so. Well, are you coming?" Remington asked.
"Only if you need me to. I thought maybe you'd prefer to do this alone," Laura replied. Remington smiled, took her hand, and kissed it gently.
"Thank you," he whispered. Laura patted him gently on the shoulder as he turned and walked down the hall. She stood watching him as he hesitated at the closed doorway. He glanced nervously at her once more before slowly opening the door and disappearing into the room.
Remington closed the door behind him, looking around the dark, dusty room. Everything was in perfect order. The large bed was neatly made. The vanity top was clear, except for a few toiletries and two decorative jars. The large drapes were drawn across the window, preventing the dim light of the cloudy day from illuminating the room. A layer of dust made the tabletops dull, and cast a colorless blanket on the deep mahogany wood. Memories of the room and of Daniel came flooding back to Remington, and he forced himself to contain his emotions.
Remington finally summoned the courage to wander slowly around the room. It seemed as if every spot he stood on brought forth another memory. He strolled over to the bed, staring at the scarlet-patterned comforter that covered it, and remembered sitting on it opposite Daniel as he showed Remington how to use various tools to pick an old door lock. Remington smiled slightly as he thought of all the things Daniel had taught him to mold him into a consummate con-artist. His eyes wandered up to the pillows, and stopped as he spied an envelope, leaning casually against the bulky mass.
Remington felt his stomach knot with apprehension as he reached for the envelope and read the word that was scrolled across its white surface: Harry. It was Daniel's handwriting--no doubt about that. Remington picked up the envelope and noticed its unusual weight. A faint clanging sound hinted at metal contents. Remington sat gingerly on the bed and turned the envelope over. He slipped his fingers under the sealed flap, ripping it open. He withdrew a letter, folded neatly into three sections. Two keys slid out of the lower fold, and Remington instinctively caught them before they met his lap. He stared at the keys with curiosity, before gripping them tightly into his right hand as he opened the letter and began reading.
"Harry," the letter began. "I'm certain you've received my letter explaining your past by now. I'm also certain you will have other questions, which I won't be around to answer. I don't know how to ease your mind, other than to let you know absolutely everything. The best way I know to do that is to show you everything I have on your past, including information on your mother.
"Do you remember the trunk in the attic? The one you found as a child, and promised never to open? I know I denied you access to it long ago, and made you promise never to touch it. You kept your promise, and I am grateful to you for trusting me, and never ruining my trust in you. However, the time for secrets is long past. Therefore, I'm now giving you permission to look in the trunk. I hope you will find everything you need to know about your past. I wish I could have been there to show it to you. I'm sorry I didn't show it to you before, but I did what I thought was right, and less painful to you. I've enclosed two keys--the large one opens the attic door, and the smaller one opens the trunk.
"Good luck, my boy, in all you do. I pray that you will remember me with good memories, despite the mistakes I've made regarding your identity. I want you to know that I have always been proud of you, and I always will be. I hope that you find happiness in all you do. Sincerely, Daniel."
Remington sighed and closed the letter, returning it to the envelope. He stared at the keys he still held in his right hand. Remington rubbed his face wearily with his left hand, and felt an unexpected moisture on his cheeks. He hadn't realized his tears had fallen. He sighed and composed himself, rising from the bed. Remington tucked the envelope into the left side pocket of his slacks, and gripped the keys.
"No use in hesitating. It's just a trunk," he whispered to himself. He forced himself to move strongly toward the door. He exited the bedroom, closing the door behind him. Remington stared at the other end of the hall, to the small staircase that led to the attic. He took a deep breath and walked defiantly to the staircase.
Remington sighed nervously as he stood before the attic door, staring at the key in his right hand. He lowered it to the lock and inserted it. It took a bit of effort to turn the key in the old lock, but eventually the lock gave way with a loud click. Remington grasped the doorknob in his left hand, turning the stiffened joint carefully. The door creaked loudly with age and neglect as Remington entered the attic.
The attic was dark, except for the minimal outside light that managed to penetrate the tiny, dusty windows at either end of the room. A thick layer of dust covered everything. The room was partially cluttered with boxes and furniture around the walls, but the middle of the room was bare, except for a large trunk.
Remington stood staring at the trunk for a long time. His mind wandered back to the first time he saw the trunk. He was fourteen, and Daniel had given him permission to wander wherever he liked in his home. Harry began exploring, eventually making it to the locked attic. He managed after some time to pick the lock on the door, just as Daniel taught him. He found the trunk in the same position it was in now. As he knelt to pick the trunk's lock, Daniel came in, and stopped him. He explained that the trunk wasn't to be disturbed; that it contained things that no one knew about him. Painful things. He begged Harry to promise never to disturb the trunk in any way. For the first time in his life, Harry trusted someone, and wanted that someone's trust in return. He gave Daniel his word, and despite his insatiable curiosity, kept it from that moment on. Now, he finally had Daniel's permission to look inside, to see what secret had haunted Daniel for so long, and to find out about his own past. So why was he still hesitating?
He chuckled. "Pandora's box," Remington muttered to himself. He walked over and sat down in front of the trunk, withdrawing the other old key from his pocket. He unlocked the trunk, took a deep breath to calm his nervousness, and lifted the lid.
The first sight that greeted Remington was a photo. It lay casually on top of the rest of the contents, as if placed there deliberately. It was originally a black and white photo, but time had turned the black to a dull gray, and the white to a dingy tan. The photo was of a young woman. Her long black hair framed a lovely face, and despite the lack of color, her eyes appeared to be a bright blue. She smiled delicately, as if trying to appear as ladylike as possible, but her expression hinted at the fire in her spirit. Remington picked up the photo, staring at it in amazement. He could easily recognize the similarity between her features and his own.
"Mother," he whispered, the word feeling both foreign and comforting on his tongue. He smiled softly, and his eyes began to water. He stared at the photo for a moment longer before laying it carefully beside him and looking again into the trunk. Remington removed a large, brown, expandable folder from the trunk, untying the twine that circled the package. He opened the flap and pulled out the papers inside. Crossing his legs Indian-style, Remington set the folder in his lap to act as a table for the papers he was searching through. He noticed the wear on the first sheet of paper, and the dingy yellow color hinted at its vintage. It was a copy of a birth certificate. His birth certificate. Remington stared at the name of the child. Harrison Daniel McEyre. It was his original birth certificate. Remington scanned the information on the certificate. Everything else was identical to the new copy he had. Mother--Sarah Rachel McEyre, age 20. Father--Daniel Harrison Chalmers, age 26. No other children. Remington laid the certificate next to his mother's photo and searched through the rest of the papers.
His eyes fell next to a standardized form from Charing Cross Hospital. Remington read the paper in confusion.
"Blood test--positive match," he read aloud. Realization entered his eyes, and he smiled. "The towel. Of course. This must be the blood test that proved..." his voice trailed off at the impact of the importance of the form. "This proved I was his son," he finally muttered to himself.
Remington spent the next several minutes scrutinizing every item from the trunk. Medical forms, letters he had written to Daniel, old souvenirs from their endless treks around the world. At the bottom of the trunk, Remington found an old metal box. He carefully opened it, and found it full of letters. The envelopes were yellowing with age, and the handwriting was unfamiliar to him. They were all addressed to Daniel. Remington set the box before him, pulling an envelope from the box. He removed the letter from the envelope, and unfolded it. The dim light made it difficult to read the faded ink. Remington tilted the letter toward the nearest light source.
"My dearest Daniel," the letter began. Remington shuffled through the pages to the end of the letter. He found the name of the author at the bottom of the fourth page.
"Yours always, Rachel."
Remington sighed painfully, unable to hold back his emotions any longer. The letters were from his mother to Daniel. Daniel's most treasured possessions--Remington was certain of it. He debated whether or not he should read them.
"He wanted me to know everything. I'm sure he meant this, too," Remington muttered to himself. He glanced above him to an old light fixture, the string hanging limply above his head. He would need more light. Remington stood up, stretching his cramping legs and reaching for the light's string. He pulled it, and the bare bulb illuminated the room. Remington returned to his previous position on the floor, and began reading the letters from the box, one by one.
Laura stood outside Daniel's bedroom, debating whether or not to disturb Remington. It had been nearly three hours since he had disappeared into the room. She was worried about him. Maybe I shouldn't have pressured him so much into going in here, she thought. Squaring her jaw defiantly, she knocked softly on the door, determined to help her husband through anything. Her knock was met by silence. She knocked again.
"Harry?" she called through the thick wooden door. She reached to the knob, turning it gently and opening the door. The room was dark. It was also empty. Laura's concern grew. Where could he have gone? She exited the room, closing the door behind her. Laura glanced around, her eyes staring down the hall. She noticed a staircase at the end of the hallway, its steps glowing slightly from an unseen light source. Laura crept silently toward the staircase. She jumped at the sound of a massive crash, before realizing it was only thunder. Rain began pelting the roof and windows of the house, adding a welcomed clattering to the dreary silence. Laura reached the staircase and slowly crept up it. She noticed an open door at the top of the stairs, and a light emerging from the room. As she approached the doorway, she could hear the faint ruffling of paper, and an occasional sniff. Laura entered the attic room. She sighed with comfort as she discovered her husband sitting in the middle of the floor next to an old trunk. He was surrounded by papers and a vast array of objects. He sat with his back to her, his left leg lying flat on the floor, his right knee up and supporting his right arm. He held a letter in his right hand, and his left hand appeared to be covering his mouth, as if he was trying to silence himself. Laura noticed a pile of letters next to his left leg, and an empty metal box before him. She heard him sniff, and realized that he was crying softly. Laura felt her heart ache at the thought of him in so much pain. She cautiously approached him as he folded the letter he had been reading and placed it into its envelope.
"Harry?" she said softly. He jumped at the sound of her voice, and rubbed his face dry.
"Ah, Laura," he said, trying to sound casual, but failing as his voice quivered with emotion. He tossed the letter into the metal box, and returned the other letters to the box as well. He closed the lid and placed it inside the empty trunk, refusing to turn to her.
"I'm sorry to interrupt," Laura apologized.
"It's okay, I'm finished anyway," he said, regaining his composure as he placed the other items into the trunk. He picked up the photo beside him and moved to place it on top of the trunk's contents, waved it a few times, and set it back down next to him before closing the trunk. Laura looked down at the photo.
"She's lovely," Laura commented.
"Yes, she is," Remington whispered. He sighed strongly, forcing his emotions back. "She's...uh...she's my mother."
"I thought as much," Laura said. "I can see the resemblance. You look a great deal like her."
"Yeah," he managed, picking up the photo and standing up. He stood staring at it. Laura hung her head, debating whether or not to ask about the letters that had caused his tears.
"I...I came looking for you because...well, you were gone for so long. I was worried about you. I wanted to make sure you were all right," Laura explained.
Remington finally looked at her. His smile couldn't mask the pain in his eyes.
"I'm fine. I'll, uh....I'll be just fine," he said. Laura stepped up to him, concern flooding her face. She reached her hand up to his cheek, wiping away the remnant of a tear. Remington grasped her hand and kissed it, before pulling her into a tight embrace. He held her silently for a long time. Laura stroked his head, comforting him as best as she could. She could feel him pulling away from her, forcing his emotions into hiding. She didn't want that.
"I'm here if need me, you know," she whispered to him. "If you want to talk about anything."
"I know," he returned, slowly pulling out of the embrace. He set the photo on top the trunk and grasped Laura's head in his hands, staring into her eyes. "I'm all right, really. Just a bit overwhelmed about all of this. I learned about my mother, and it's difficult to realize that I actually had a mother. I will be okay though." Laura nodded and smiled, secretly upset that he was closing himself off to her. He kissed her softly, erasing all thoughts from her mind.
"Hey, this is our honeymoon. No use dwelling on all of this, right?" Remington asked in forced cheerfulness. "Come on. I'm a bit hungry. Let's go downstairs and I'll fix you a fabulous meal. We'll see if I can outdo Meredith on this one, eh?" He took Laura by her hands. She smiled up at him.
"That sounds great," she replied, forcing a smile to her lips.
"Wonderful. Let's go." He grabbed the photo and reached for the light's string. He glanced once more at the trunk. Remington pulled the string to shut off the light, but not soon enough to keep Laura from seeing the ache in his eyes as he stared at the trunk one last time. Remington smiled at her and put his arm around her waist, guiding her out of the attic.
The bright sun gradually melted the chill off the morning air. The sky was cloudless, which contrasted the grayness of the previous day. Laura walked slowly over the deep green lawn in the back of the cottage. She headed for the colorful garden to her left, her hands hidden in the large outer pockets of her blue cardigan sweater. The garden appeared to be sprouting new life, as if eagerly anticipating the oncoming spring, but Laura didn't notice. Her brown eyes, so often sharp with observation, gazed casually about with oblivion to her surroundings. She was lost in the thoughts that bombarded her mind.
Laura sighed as she wandered aimlessly through the garden. She glanced up at their bedroom window, thinking of Remington, whom she had left sleeping. She smiled as she thought about her new husband, lying so peacefully in bed, a smile playing gently on his lips as he slept. She wanted to stay until he woke up, but she needed a little time to think. So much had happened to her in the past month, and this was really the first time she had to stop and think about everything.
Laura shook her head, laughing softly in amazement. She remembered the beginning of their relationship. She knew when he agreed to stay in Los Angeles four years ago that he wanted nothing more from her than a one-night stand. There had been many a time that she had almost given in, but the mathematician in her couldn't plan around losing her heart to a mysterious stranger. She never would have imagined that four years later they would be married. It seemed almost too good to be true.
She had wanted this secretly, almost from the beginning. Yes, she had been physically attracted to him. It was hard not to be, with his handsome looks and incredible charm. But there had always been something more. His mystery excited her. Ever the intrepid detective, she wanted to discover everything about him—to know him completely. She sensed that there was much more to him emotionally than he would reveal. She felt the kindness and warmth from him that he seemed so desperate to hide behind flippant, lustful remarks. She knew he cared about her, almost from the start, but she wasn't sure he would ever truly love her. He was so against commitments; how could she ever change his mind about that? She told herself repeatedly that she wouldn't fall in love with him. It was okay to care...he was her business associate, and even a friend. But not love.
She was so torn apart when her former boyfriend, Wilson Jeffries, left her without warning. She had thought Wilson was the most stable person in the world. No secrets, no mysteries. He was the complete opposite of Remington. She had lost her heart to Wilson when he left...when she drove him away. She knew she could just as easily lose her heart to Remington, and it would be so easy for him to leave her. She couldn't take it again. He would leave. He wasn't one for commitments, and after he had met his challenge of bedding her, what reason would he have to stay? He wouldn't change.
But he did change. Hard as he tried, he could no longer hide that kindness and warmth that Laura knew he possessed. Nor could he hide his affections for her. Their evenings together went from verbal and physical temptations for sex to warm evenings in each other's arms while watching old movies, slow-dancing, or just talking. The romance changed as well over the years. There was a different feel in his kisses—a tenderness in his lips that was missing when they first started dating. He stared at her differently now, with adoration and caring instead of lust and want. She knew he cared, and she suspected that he was falling in love with her. After all, when he left to find his father, he could have refused to come back, but he didn't. He wanted to find out who he was so he could be honest with her; so he could commit to her. That was when she realized that she really did mean something to him. After observing the changes in him over the past four years, Laura was beginning to feel like a foolish coward for doubting his love. She was ready to finally give in to him. She had wanted him for as long as he had wanted her, but now she finally felt that their first night together would mean much more to both of them than just the moment. It would mean a permanent commitment based on love. She knew the time was finally right, and she had no reason to doubt it. That is, until she found out about Remington's plans to marry a call-girl to keep from being deported.
She had told Remington that she was angry about it, but that wasn't the whole truth. She never told him how much it hurt her. Not just that he was planning this with another woman. It was the fact that he didn't trust her enough to be honest with her about his deportation when he first found out about it. He didn't trust in their relationship enough to believe that they could survive such an obstacle. She had told him that she wouldn't have married him. Laura knew deep down that it was a lie. She would have married him, if he had asked her, and she knew it. She would have done almost anything to keep him in her life. Because as hard as she had fought it, she had fallen deeply in love with him, and she couldn't stand the thought of being without him. The three weeks they had spent apart the year before had been like torture. She couldn't go through that again, especially on a permanent basis. That was the reason she had agreed to their fake marriage, no matter how much she tried to deny it by using the good of the agency as an excuse.
Yet despite her secret pain, Remington seemed to understand how much he had hurt her. It was more evidence to his drastic change over the years. The Remington Steele she first knew wouldn't have sensed her pain, and probably wouldn't have cared much about it. But the modern Remington Steele did sense her pain, and he did care, a great deal. So much that he'd asked her to marry him for real, and whisked her off on an enchanting honeymoon. Despite their recent problems, she knew she would never have to doubt his feelings for her again. She had all the proof she needed. It wasn't the marriage proposal, but the fact that after their first night of the most passionate lovemaking she had ever experienced, she awoke with him by her side. They had made love, and he had stayed, determined to commit himself to her for the rest of their lives. No, she would never have to doubt his love again.
Laura stopped before a set of rose bushes, and sighed as she thought about all that they had been through together. They had shared so much, both good and bad, but all of it was nothing compared to the past couple of weeks. The revelations of Remington's past--of his family--were more than either of them ever expected, especially all at once. Laura knew it was difficult for Remington. She wanted so much to help him through it all, but he had remained as closed-mouthed as ever about his feelings. He no longer hesitated to tell her how much he loved her, but he refused to share his pain with her. It was so hard for her to stand by and watch him suffering, but she wasn't sure how to convince him to let her help.
He had barely spoken to her about the trunk in the attic, and what he'd found, but it haunted him. After finding him in the attic, they had spent the next two hours preparing and having dinner. Meredith, aware that it was their honeymoon, had made herself politely scarce, leaving Laura and Remington alone the rest of the evening to enjoy one another's company. Laura had given Remington plenty of opportunity to talk about what was troubling him, but he refused to accept any of the chances. Instead, they had spent the evening together enjoying light conversations. Remington had filled the evening with stories of his earliest days with Daniel. He told of how they met, and how Daniel had molded an angry street youth into the man she now knew and loved. Remington occasionally let his strong emotions slip into his face, but he quickly covered it, preventing Laura from approaching the subject of his feelings. Finally, they had retired to their bedroom, where Remington did his best to make Laura forget all the unpleasantness of the day. Yet even as they made love, she could still sense the pain he was trying to hide. She knew he didn't want to burden her with his emotions, but how could she tell him that she wanted that burden?
"Oh, Harry," she said softly, tears clouding her eyes as she plucked absentmindedly at the leaves of the bush in front of her. "Why won't you let me help you? Why won't you let me in?"
"Laura?" A deep voice from behind startled her from her privacy. She turned to see Remington standing behind her, his hands shoved into the pockets of his beige slacks and hidden by his oversized black-and-white sweater. He stared at her with concern. She opened her mouth as if to give an excuse for her odd statement, but closed it again as he approached her cautiously. She tried to find the right explanation, but gave up, unable to form the right sentence in her head.
"What are you doing up? I thought you wanted to sleep in this morning," Laura said innocently.
"I did, but I woke up alone. I wanted to find you. I saw you walking around out here in the garden, and I thought I would join you. I mean, if that's all right," he said.
"Of course," Laura said. Remington began walking down the path of the garden. Laura fell into step beside him, trying to think of something to say to break the awkward silence.
"I'm sorry I wasn't there when you woke up, but I woke up early, and I felt like taking a walk in the garden. I knew you wanted to sleep in, and I didn't want to disturb you," she said quickly.
"I understand," Remington said, nodding. They continued down the path, turning a small corner edged by azalea bushes. Remington cleared his throat, glancing briefly to Laura.
"Um, Laura," he began hesitantly, "what did you mean earlier?"
"Earlier?" Laura asked in an innocent tone, swallowing hard in nervousness.
"Yes. A few moments ago, when I approached you. You said something about wanting me to let you in."
"Oh, well, I...I just...," Laura stuttered. She sighed heavily and stopped, turning to face him. He did the same, staring questioningly into her eyes. "I just...want you to know that you don't have to go through all of...what you're going through...alone. I'm here. I want to be here for you. I want to help you, if you'll let me." She looked anxiously at Remington, hoping that she didn't offend him.
Remington smiled at Laura with a mixture of adoration and gratitude. A pained look crossed his face, and he stared briefly at the ground. "I guess I haven't been very fair to you, have I?" He finally looked up at Laura. "I've been so consumed by all my emotions that I haven't given any thoughts to yours. I'm sorry, Laura."
"It's all right, I understand," Laura said, smiling to him and putting her hand on his arm in comfort. "Your feelings are the most important in this situation, not mine. I just want you to know that you don't have to hide your feelings from me. You don't have to protect me from your pain. I want to share it with you. I want to help you through this. God knows you've helped me enough through the years. I just...I want to be there for you, just as you've been there for me."
Remington stared to Laura in silence, his eyes watering. Suddenly, he grabbed her and pulled her into a tight embrace, hugging her as close to him as possible. Laura held onto him tightly, wondering if he was upset or happy. His next words comforted her.
"Thank you," he whispered, his voice quivering with intense emotion. Laura smiled, trying not to let her own tears fall. They held each other for a long time.
Remington finally pulled away, taking her hands gently in his own. He stared at them for a moment, composing himself. He looked up at Laura, smiling gently.
"Come inside with me," he pleaded. "I, uh...I want to show you a few things. In the attic."
Laura's eyebrows arched in surprise. "Are you sure?"
"Absolutely," Remington assured her. "You're right. There's no reason to keep my feelings from you. You have a right to know everything." His eyes softened with emotion. "And there's no one I want more to share everything with than you."
Laura stepped up to Remington, leaning in to kiss him gently. He placed his hand softly along her left jaw line, returning her love intently. Laura pulled slowly away, smiling at him.
"Lead the way, Harry," she said gently. Remington smiled, softly pulling her toward the house by the hand.
Laura lowered the letter she was reading into her lap, folding it back to its original position before sliding it into its envelope. She glanced to her right, watching Remington as he read another letter. He lay lengthwise on his left side, supporting himself on his left arm as he held the letter in his right hand. His blue eyes shone with moisture as he scanned the words on the last page. Laura put the letter she held into the metal box in front of her. She and Remington sat in the attic, amid the contents of the trunk. Remington had pulled everything out, bit by bit, and explained the significance of each object. Laura had spent the past four hours entranced by Remington's vivid accounts of his adventures with his father. Finally, he pulled out the metal box, and he and Laura read through the letters Sarah Rachel McEyre had written to Daniel, many proclaiming her love to him. Laura now stared at Remington as he read the letter from Rachel, in which she announced her pregnancy to Daniel. She smiled admiringly at him, amazed at how much he had opened himself up to her, both that day and over the past four years. Remington finished reading the letter and looked up at Laura as he placed the letter back into its envelope.
"Well, Laura," Remington began, clearing the emotion from his voice as he tossed the envelope back into the box. "That's it. What do you think? I mean, will you respect me in the morning?" He managed a charming half-grin as he tilted his head and looked up at her.
Laura laughed as she closed the box and moved it to her left side, next to the trunk. She lay down on her right side, mirroring Remington's position.
"I respect you immensely, and I always will," Laura said, rubbing Remington's right arm affectionately.
"I'm glad," Remington said softly. He reached up and stroked her left cheek. "I'm glad you were here...so I could share this with you."
"I'm very glad you shared this with me," Laura responded, taking his hand from her cheek and squeezing it gently. "I must confess, I've gained a new respect for Daniel. He was quite a remarkable man. Especially to deserve the love of such a noble woman as your mother."
Remington smiled at Laura, his eyes displaying undisguised adoration for her.
"Thank you, Laura. I know Daniel would have been very happy to hear you say that." Laura's expression grew wistful at his words. She held his strong hand in hers, stroking it delicately with her fingertips.
"I just wish I had realized it sooner, and treated him a bit better," she said regretfully.
"It's all right, Laura," Remington assured her, squeezing her hand. "I know he understood. He liked you, really. He said so in the letter you read to me in Ireland. Remember?" Laura smiled gratefully and nodded dropping her eyes to the wooden floor. Remington released her hand and tilted he chin upward with two fingers, forcing Laura to look him in the eye.
"Hey, you okay?" he inquired with concern. Laura smiled.
"Yeah, I'm fine," she responded. "How about you?" Remington smiled broadly, stroking her cheek again.
"I'm fine. Really," he answered. They stared at each other for a moment, before Remington gently pulled Laura toward him. He brushed his lips softly against hers, then pulled her into kisses with more and more intensity. Remington pulled Laura into a full embrace. Pushing him gently onto his back, Laura rolled on top of him. Remington wrapped his arms around her torso. Their kisses became more and more passionate, as they lost themselves in the warmth of their love.
Remington sighed happily as he gently kissed his wife's forehead and adjusted his head on his pillow. Laura returned his sigh as she delicately ran her left hand over his chest and adjusted her head on his shoulder. Remington ran his left fingers through Laura's hair, and his right hand softly stroked her bare arm.
"Happy?" Remington whispered, pressing his lips against Laura's head as he spoke. Laura laughed softly, stretching her lithe body against his and wrapping her arms tighter around Remington's torso.
"Very happy," she answered. "After a glorious evening that followed a glorious day, I'm happier than I've ever been."
"That's all I want, Laura," Remington said, squeezing her gently to him. "I just want you to be happy."
"I want you to be happy, too," Laura said softly. Remington smiled and kissed her head again.
"I am, Laura. Believe me, I am," Remington replied. Laura tilted her head upward to look at him, a hint of concern showing through her gentle smile. "How could I not be? I mean, here I am lying in the bed of an exquisite English cottage, having just made passionate love to a beautiful young woman who just happens to be the love of my life and my wife besides. I'm on a fantastic honeymoon that will take us to a romantic French villa before heading home to my life as a world-famous detective. I'd have to be insane not to be happy," Remington protested cheerfully. Laura grinned broadly at him.
"That's all I want, Harry," Laura said.
"I know," Remington replied, staring at her. "And I know that everything that's happened lately has you a bit worried. It's true that some parts of my past are painful, but it is the past. I can face it now," he mused, drifting deeply into his thoughts. "I couldn't before, probably because I didn't have enough stable ground to stand on." He snapped back to the present and looked again to Laura. "But then I met you. You've taught me to stand and fight, and that I don't have to do it alone."
"I'm glad I could be here to help you," Laura whispered. "I'll always be here to help you."
"I know," Remington said softly. Laura returned her head to its previous position on Remington's chest.
"By the way," Laura said softly, "thank you for showing me everything today. For letting me in."
"My pleasure, Mrs. Steele," Remington said, caressing her head. "I promise I'll do my best to not shut you out again. I just...I didn't want to burden you. I've put you through so much already."
"I know, but it's more of a burden to watch you suffer alone. Besides, you've always been there to help me through my problems. Remember when my house burned?"
"Mm...I suppose I did sort of bully my way into comforting you, didn't I?" Remington remembered.
"Yes, you did," Laura giggled. "But, I wouldn't have made it through it without you."
"And I wouldn't have made it through all of this without you," Remington said.
"Well, then I suppose it's a good thing we decided to stick it out together, huh?" Laura jested. "We were fated to help each other not go insane from pent-up emotions."
"Funny how that fate thing works, eh?"
"I thought you didn't believe in fate," Laura teased.
"Well, I didn't, but I've seen enough evidence of late...how else would you describe it?" Remington returned. "And not just with us."
"Oh? Who else has been touched by fate?" Laura asked coyly.
"Well, I mean, look at Murphy and Jenna. They ended their relationship, even though they loved each other deeply. However, they both ended up coming to Los Angeles on the same day, coming to the office at the same time, and eventually getting back together after their reunion. Wouldn't you call that a touch of fate? That and the fact that it involves a former suitor of yours and your sister? I mean, that's a bit beyond just being close to home." Remington defended.
"Hmm...I suppose you're right," Laura relented. "It is pretty odd, isn't it? Although I still can't get over the idea of Murphy and my sister...well, you know."
"Mmm...do I ever," Remington teased as Laura looked up at him. He raised his eyebrows and grinned coyly at her. Laura smacked him playfully on the chest and chuckled. Remington squeezed her again, holding her tightly against him.
"Actually, the way those two acted, I wouldn't be surprised if they're married by the time we get back," Remington commented.
"They'd better not be. Not without us being there," Laura retorted.
"Well, perhaps they'll wait for us to return, but I'd wager that they'll be next to trek down the aisle. After all, Jenna did catch your bouquet, and Murphy caught the garter. Isn't it one of those tradition things that they should get married next?"
"Yeah," Laura laughed. "Some people believe in those tradition things."
"Mmm...well, I'm learning," Remington replied. "I'll let you teach me what I need to know."
"I think you've been taught pretty well. In several areas," Laura said seductively, making tiny circles on his chest with her fingers.
"Any areas in particular that you're speaking of, Mrs. Steele?" Remington asked, caressing her back and shoulders.
"One," Laura returned, half-laying on his chest and staring up into the blue of his eyes. "So, where did you learn your craft so well? Hmm?"
"What? You don't believe in natural, God-given talent?" Remington teased, delicately moving Laura's hair away from her face. Laura laughed and kissed his chest quickly before looking at him again, a note of skepticism in her face. "All right. You really want to know?"
"Yeah," Laura answered, grinning broadly. "I do. Tell me."
"Mm-hm. She was a longtime friend of Daniel's. When I was sixteen, Daniel decided that I should be...versed...in how to handle a woman properly. So he asked his friend Maggie to teach me everything she knew. And she knew quite a lot. She was more than qualified," Remington explained delicately.
"Why do I get the feeling that there's something more to that statement?" Laura asked suspiciously. "How exactly was she ‘qualified?’" Remington paused, and looked at Laura sheepishly.
"Well, she was...she..." he struggled. He sighed and looked directly at Laura. "She was a madame."
"A what?" Laura asked, stunned and amused simultaneously.
"A madame. She headed the biggest...escort service in London. Very exclusive," Remington explained. Laura laughed loudly, rolling off Remington and onto her back. "I thought you'd enjoy that," he muttered playfully, grinning at her merriment and trying not to laugh himself. "Well, you asked."
Laura's laughter slowly diminished, and she rolled back onto Remington's chest.
"Well," she said, a few chuckles still slipping out between syllables, "she must have been a hell of a businesswoman. She certainly was an excellent teacher," Laura said coyly. Remington smiled at her, pulling her fully on top of him and embracing her tightly.
"You think so, eh?" he whispered, pulling her into a kiss.
"Definitely," Laura answered breathlessly as they parted. "Although...maybe you could... demonstrate...your lessons again. Just so I can be sure." Remington and Laura smiled at each other before Laura kissed him passionately.
"Haven't you had enough demonstrations today, Mrs. Steele?" Remington teased, his fingers slowly trailing down her backside.
"Never," Laura responded, kissing him again. Their kisses intensified as Remington slowly rolled Laura onto her back. He could feel her pulse increasing as he created a trail of kisses down her neck and caressed her slowly, his fingertips dancing across her flesh, feeling every possible inch of her.
"Lesson one," he muttered, staring seductively at her for a moment before his lips continued the romantic journey they'd begun. Laura smiled at the feel of his lips against her bare skin, and closed her eyes in ecstasy.