STEELING ANOTHER CHANCE
By: Janice Skyers
First printed: More Red Holt Steele #9 & #10
Disclaimer: This “Remington Steele” story is not-for-profit and is purely for entertainment purposes. The author and this site do not own the characters and are in no way affiliated with “Remington Steele,” the actors, their agents, the producers, MTM Productions, the NBC Television Network or any station or network carrying the show in syndication, or anyone in the industry.
Remington Steele Investigations, June 1996.
It was a Friday afternoon when Remington Steele walked into his wife's office. She was busy doing paperwork as usual. To get her attention, he cleared his throat and remarked, “Laura, don't you think it's time we called it quits for the day? For the week for that matter? Remember we have to drive the kids to your sister’s before leaving for San Francisco tonight. If we don't get a move on, we'll be late for our flight.”
“I'm almost through. That was a great idea you had, combining a little vacation with that conference we're attending. It will do us both some good,” she replied.
“Hmmmm mmmm. Yes, indeed. We'll have the weekend to ourselves and then we attend the conference Monday and Tuesday.”
“Mildred should be able to handle things for those two days, right?” said Laura exhibiting a concerned expression on her face.
“I'm sure Mildred is quite capable. It's only for two days, Laura. We're not traveling to the ends of the earth you know. If anything comes up while we're away, all Mildred needs do is pick up the telephone.”
“I guess it will be all right, she replied, but not totally convinced. “Okay, that about wraps things up,” she said, flashing a smile in her husband's direction at the same time placing the last folder in the file drawer. “Let's go.”
They both stepped out of her office and was surprised that Mildred was still sitting at her desk.
“Mildred, it's not your usual practice to be here this late on a Friday. What gives?” said Laura.
“Well, I have nothing planned for the weekend so there's no point in rushing out of here. Since you guys will be out of town, I want to get certain things out of the way so on Monday I won't have them to contend with.”
“All right Mildred, I guess we'll see you on Wednesday. Of course, Laura and I will try to call you to make sure things are running smoothly. If anything comes up, you know where to reach us.”
“You kids go and have a good time. You could both do with some time alone. I'll bet the kids will miss you. Your sister will have her hands full, hon, for the next four days. Four kids—you weren't kidding, Chief, about having a large family.”
Remington gave Mildred a great big smile.
“I'm sure Frances will keep them occupied during our absence,” said Laura.
Remington glanced at his watch and gently pulled his wife by the elbow, “Laura, let's get a move on. Otherwise, we'll miss that plane. Don't stick around too much longer, Mildred.”
He and Laura went through the glass doors and the elevator opened up shortly thereafter.
They dropped off the kids at Frances’ before heading to the airport. The traffic was horrendous and they barely made the flight. They were both so exhausted by the time they landed in San Francisco, immediately went to bed after checking into the hotel.
Remington woke up around 8 a.m. and glanced over at his wife, who was still asleep. He got up and proceeded to take a shower and get dressed. He then called room service to order breakfast and a morning newspaper.
He was sitting out on the balcony of the hotel suite waiting for room service to bring up the breakfast when the phone rang, he was contemplating whether or not he should answer it. *It never fails,* he thought, *each time he and Laura try to spend some time alone, something or someone always interrupts.* He pulled himself up from the chair unwillingly, and went to answer the phone. As he picked up the phone, he wondered if Laura would awaken soon.
The voice at the other end sounded shaky. “Mr. Steele, I have to see you. Can we meet somewhere?”
Remington's first reaction was to say ‘no,’ but the person at the other end sounded quite desperate, so instead he said, “May I ask who it is that I'm speaking with?”
“I'm sorry, Mr. Steele, but I can't tell you that over the phone. Upon our meeting, you perhaps will discover who I am.”
“Well, I'm not in the habit of meeting with strangers, mysterious ones at that, who call on the telephone.”
“I understand, Mr. Steele. But I can assure you that I'm quite harmless. Can we meet in the next hour or so? There's a park not too far from the hotel where you're staying.”
Remington thought about it for a minute and replied, “Okay. How will I recognize you?”
“Don't worry, Mr. Steele, I'll find you. Oh, by the way, don't tell that pretty wife of yours anything. No need to worry her unnecessarily.”
“Okay, fine. See you then.”
“Thank you, Mr. Steele.”
Remington hung up the phone. The caller sounded quite desperate. *What if it's a set up?* he thought. He could be walking into a trap or, even worse, he could be placing Laura's life in danger. *Things are different now,* he thought, *I’ve got a family to be concerned about. I’m taking an awfully big chance meeting this person, whoever he is. Furthermore, what explanation can I offer to Laura about my sudden departure?*
Fifteen minutes later, there was a knock at the door. The breakfast he ordered had arrived. Remington had the bellboy put the food on the table located on the balcony. After the bellboy left, Remington opened up the newspaper. It was then he felt someone grab him from behind and kiss him on his neck.
“You'd better be careful, my wife will be here any second,” he said jokingly.
“Oh, she will, will she?” teased Laura.
She came around and sat opposite him. She stretched several times and yawned before she realized that her husband was already dressed. As far as she knew, they had no plans to go out early.
“You got up rather early this morning, didn't you? What's the reason?”
“No reason,” he said, trying to decide whether or not tell to her about the phone call. How would the person know whether or not he did confide in her? But still, he couldn't take that chance. What if he was watching them right now? *No,* he thought, *I can't take that chance.*
He glanced at his watch. *How am I going to get away now that Laura's up?*
While he was contemplating, Laura noticed her husband's facial expression. She had seen it several times before. *He's hiding something from me,* she thought. *But what the hell could it be. He keeps looking at his watch and that's a sure sign. Did something happen this morning while I was still sleeping?*
She decided that it was time to get to the bottom of that strange, but obvious look on her husband's face. She picked up a piece of melon and bit into it, chewing a little.
Remington sensed that his wife was onto him somehow. He had to depart in a few minutes, so he gave the first excuse that came to mind.
“Laura, I just remembered something that I have to take care of.”
“Really? What? Perhaps I can help.”
“That's awfully sweet, but you might find it a little too tedious.”
“Can't it wait until later. I thought we would go for a stroll. If memory serves me right, there's a park not too far from here.”
“The park?” It was as though she could actually read his mind. “Sounds wonderful,” he said. “But you still need to shower and get dressed. Unless, of course, you're planning to go in your nightgown.” He got up from his chair and kissed her on the cheek. “I'll be back in a jiffy. I promise.” *How the hell can I make such a promise when I haven't the faintest idea what I’m walking into?*
Laura stood up as well and accompanied him to the door. She watched him go on the elevator. Her curiosity was quite aroused. *Why is he keeping me in the dark?* she thought. She proceeded to take her shower and then got dressed. She had her breakfast and called room service to collect the dishes. The bellboy came in no time, and just as he was about to leave she stopped him.
“Excuse me,” she looked at his name tag, “Frank, but were you the one who also brought up our breakfast this morning?” she inquired.
“Yes, Mrs. Steele. Why do you ask?”
“When you came up, was there someone here with my husband?” Laura thought he seemed confused, so she rephrased her question. “Did my husband have a visitor when you brought breakfast this morning?”
“What do you mean, Mrs. Steele?”
“Was Mr. Steele by himself when you brought up the breakfast,” she emphasized.
“Oh, I see. Yes ma'am. He was alone. Is anything wrong, Mrs. Steele?”
“No. Thanks for your help, Frank.” She was hoping to hit paydirt but had no such luck. “Oh, just a second.” she reached into her purse and pulled out some money and gave him a huge tip.
Frank was most grateful. “Thanks so much, Mrs. Steele. You and your husband are most generous.”
“Oh, Mr. Steele gave you money as well?”
He hesitated a bit and then responded. “Well, yes, ma'am. My boss sent me on an errand and on my way back to the hotel, I met Mr. Steele.”
“Where exactly did you meet him?”
“We met up in the park on my way back. He told me that he was on a hush-hush assignment and shouldn't mention it to anyone. I don't think he meant you Mrs. Steele. I hope I didn't mess things up.”
“No, no Frank, you didn't. Thanks so much for breakfast,” she politely said, smiling mischievously.
Frank left and Laura checked herself in the mirror and grabbed her handbag. She pulled out her sunglasses and proceeded to take the elevator. *I knew he was hiding something,* she thought. *I'll get to the bottom of this. He should know better than to try and hide anything from me.* The elevator opened up and she got on.
Remington arrived at the park at the appropriate time. He had been waiting for at least forty-five minutes. *If the caller was so desperate, he should have made a point of being on time,* he thought. *If he doesn't show up in the next half hour, I’m leaving. By now Laura must be wondering what's keeping me.* He looked at his watch and said quietly to himself, “Where the hell is he?”
He decided to wait no longer and started to walk away when someone with a shaky voice said, “Sorry I'm late, Mr. Steele, but I have to be extra careful. I had to be sure that you were alone. Why don't you follow the sound of my voice?”
Remington obeyed. “I'll keep talking until you're close to where I am, Mr. Steele.”
Remington was now standing behind one of the benches in the park and the mystery man was sitting on it. Remington quickly sneaked a peak at him. From what he saw, he was wearing a black beret, sunglasses, torn jeans, and a sweater that looked like it was attacked by dogs. His face did not seem at all strange to Remington but he couldn't quite place it.
“Mr. Steele, I know you must be very curious as to why I wanted to meet with you. I chose the park because with so many people around, we wouldn't draw any attention to ourselves. Here, take this magazine, come around and sit next to me but not too close, and pretend that you're reading it.”
Remington followed his instructions and was now seated on the bench with the mystery man. “Okay, what is this all about.”
“How have you been, my dear boy?” said mystery man.
The voice suddenly had changed and Remington realized it had a familiar ring to it and the shakiness was gone. *No, it can't be, someone must be playing a joke on me,* he thought. *He's been dead almost ten years now.*
“It's me, Harry, your father.”
“Daniel?” he said, somewhat confused. “Daniel, is it really you.”
“Yes, Harry, it's really, really me,” he said, grinning from ear to ear.
“But I don't understand. Why did you wait all these years to come back if you weren't really dead? Why would you put me through this, Daniel? Why?” he said quietly.
“Harry, I know this is quite a shock to you, but in time you'll forgive me for deceiving you that way. Now that I'm very much alive, we can be a family. You'll have the father you so desperately wanted all these years.”
“Daniel, why did you pretend to be dead?”
“It's a long story, Harry. But I promise in time, I'll give you an explanation.”
“Surely you can't expect me to forgive you for deceiving me just like that. I mean, what am I going to tell Laura and the girls? You are a grandfather of four, you know.”
“That's wonderful news. I am a grandfather, indeed. I see you and Laura have been quite busy. Four daughters, that's quite some accomplishment, Harry. I can't wait to meet them. How is that adorable wife of yours, by the way?”
“Laura is fine. She's here with me. How did you know that I would be here in San Francisco?”
“Well, I called up your office in Los Angeles and gave your secretary a phony story. I didn't reveal my true identity to her, of course, and she told me that you would be out of town. I pressed her further and that's how I knew you would be here.”
“I can see why you acted so mysteriously. After all your sudden resurrection from death might raise a few eyebrows. Now that you are alive,” he said sarcastically, “what plans do you have for yourself.”
“Well, dear boy that's where you come in, he said musingly.
“Oh, no. Those days are over and done with for me. I'm no longer interested in any of your shady schemes,” he said emphatically.
“Harry, I'm afraid you've read me incorrectly. What I have in mind is something quite innocent. Why even Laura would approve of this, I think.”
“Okay, what is it?” he asked suspiciously.
“I was wondering if you and Laura could put me up for a while. You have no idea how long I've waited for the day when I would become a grandfather and it is now a reality. That's one of the reasons why I came back. I want to establish a close relationship with them. I doubt that even Laura would turn down such a request. The only way to achieve this is by living among them. Do you understand, Harry?”
“Well I can see why you chose not to come up to our front door and ring our bell. But how do you propose I tell Laura about your being alive, let alone, convince her to let you come and live with us? I mean, she's never really trusted you.”
“That's true. But when we were in Ireland, before my untimely demised, of course,” he smiled coyly, “she had started to turn around. Oh, Harry, you know your way around her. Help me out. I need to spend time with my granddaughters and you.”
“Okay, Daniel, I'll try. But don't expect any miracles.”
“Thanks, my dear boy. I can't wait for us to be together, as a family that is.”
While they were talking, Laura was standing a little way from them. She purchased an extra large straw hat on her way there. She wore sunglasses as well. She was trying her best to hear the conversation but without success. If only she could get closer, she thought, but she didn't want to take that chance and have them spot her. From her observation, he didn't look like anyone she had ever seen before. She decided to leave and return to their hotel suite before her husband got there.
Remington and Daniel continued their conversation. Laura had walked passed them but they didn't notice her. After she was a few feet away, she smiled, her own husband did not recognize her. She wondered, who the man was Remington was meeting with. One way or another, she intend on finding out.
“As I said before, Daniel, don't build your hopes up. By the way, where are you staying?”
“I'm staying in a motel not too far from your hotel,” He pulled out a business card and wrote a phone number on the back and handed it to Remington. Remington shoved it in his pocket without looking at it). “Remember, my boy, we don't have much time. If all goes well, I plan on going back to Los Angeles with you Wednesday morning.”
“You're obviously well informed.” He looked at his watch. “I have to be going. Laura must be more than upset. I've been gone an awfully long time. How in hell am I going to explain to her that you're still among the living? I can't wait to hear your explanation, though. You do have one, right?”
“Of course, Harry, of course,” he replied, placing his hand under his chin and nodding at the same time. “The story might not be intriguing as you think but I promise I'll explain.” (He got up and pat Remington on the shoulder) “I'm hoping to hear from you soon, until then.” He stood up and walked away.
Remington watched Daniel as he walked, he was still struggling with the idea that he was alive. Daniel Chalmers, his mentor for many years announced to him in Ireland ten years ago that he was, indeed, his father. Daniel's revelation left him with mixed feelings. But no sooner than he came to terms with it, Daniel passed away. At least, so he thought. And now, there he was in San Francisco—very much alive. The feelings he had when he found out that Daniel was indeed his father had re-surfaced once again.
He stood up, put his hands in his pocket and headed back to the hotel. While walking, his thoughts wandered. How would he explain to Laura that Daniel was very much alive? And if that wasn't bad enough, what about his proposal to live with them for a while? He wondered, what he meant by “a while.”
Laura was inside the hotel suite pacing. She was a little more than upset. Why did her husband find it necessary to keep her in the dark about his meeting with this person? Doesn't he know that he can trust her implicitly? After all, they were partners in every sense of the word. Even if it was something trivial, there was no excuse for keeping it a secret.
When she heard the key turning in the lock of the hotel suite, she stopped pacing and quickly went outside on the balcony and sat down on one of the chairs. She picked up a magazine, opened it up and acted as if she was concentrated in it. She was damn curious but tried to play it cool.
Remington came inside and closed the front door. He immediately spotted his wife sitting outside on the balcony. She seemed in a good mood. It might be easier than he anticipated. He walked over to the balcony, went to where she was sitting and kissed her directly on her lips.
Laura recognized that kiss. It was the one she referred to as the “apologetic one.” It was his way of paving the way to impart something unpleasant to her. She tried to appear nonchalant.
“Hi, dear,” she said, flashing a smile at him. “That errand certainly took you a long time. Everything all squared away?”
“As a matter of fact, yes. I... well, I...”
“Yes?” Laura said, hoping that he wouldn't hesitate in telling her the truth.”
“Actually a friend of mine called while you were still asleep this morning. We haven't seen each other for so long so we agreed to meet. The time just got away from us.” It's kind of close to the truth, he thought.
“I never heard you speak of a friend in San Francisco. What's his name?”
“Laura,” he said, holding her gently by the hand and pulling her up from the chair, guiding her inside the room, “you really don't want to hear all about that boring men's talk, do you?”
“Of course, I do. So who exactly is he?”
“An old, old friend. He spotted us when we checked into the hotel and couldn't resist the temptation to call me up to catch up on old times.”
“But why didn't he come up to visit in the suite?”
“You were asleep. I didn't want to disturb you.”
“Hmmmm. Don't you want to know what I did in your absence.”
“Not really, sweetheart,” trying to appear disinterested. “I trust you.” He kissed her on the cheek. “Okay, what did you do?” I was wrong, he thought, she's never one to give up that easily. She'll keep probing me until she wrings the truth out of me.
“I could no longer wait for you so I took a stroll through the park by myself,” she declared.
“Alone? Weren't you afraid? I mean, a beautiful woman walking alone is a perfect patsy for weirdoes.”
“Don't worry, I had my wits about me. Anyway, while I was there, I noticed someone bearing a striking resemblance to you.”
“Me? You must have missed me terribly. So much so that your imagination started running wild.”
“I don't think it was my imagination. After all these years, I think I should be able to recognize my own husband, even from a distance. Yes, I'm pretty sure it was you sitting on that bench talking to some man.”
“Okay, Laura, I surrender. I was in the park earlier.”
“So if you were going to meet an old friend, why be so mysterious?”
“Laura, before I answer that, why don't you sit down, eh?”
“It's that bad?” she said, while sitting down on the chair.
“Well, actually, it could be both good and bad. It all depends on how you look at it.”
“Okay, I'm sitting down, lay it on me,” she said, looking directly at her husband.
Remington remained standing, placing his finger on his lips, pacing for a few seconds, trying to figure out his precise words to relate to his wife. Laura was waiting patiently.
“I'm waiting,” she said.
“Okay, here goes,” clearing his throat loudly. “I'll cut right to the chase.”
“Yes, just say it.”
“Daniel is alive.”
Laura gave him a blank stare, her face did not display any emotion. “What did you say?” she said, not really conscious of her own words.
“Daniel Chalmers is very alive and is here in San Francisco. He was the person that you saw me talking to in the park.”
“But how is it possible?”
“He didn't fill me in on the details, he promised to explain later.”
“I'm not really that surprised,” Laura said flaly. “It sounds like something he would do. After all, the man was a professional con artist. So why the cloak and dagger meeting? Since he obviously knew where you were staying, why didn't he just meet you here?”
“I guess he thought that if he came directly to us it would have been too frightening an experience for us. The shock might have been more than we could handle.”
“Okay, what trick does he have up his sleeve this time?”
“If he had any, he didn't share it with me. He did have one small request though, and to be perfectly honest, I don't think it would be so bad.”
“What is it?” she asked, with a curious expression on her face.
“Apparently he wants to come stay with us for a while. He wants to spend some time with his grandchildren. You know, establish a close relationship with them.”
“Does he really? And what did you tell him?.”
“Well, I didn't give him a definite answer. I told him that I had to speak with you about it.”
“It's not that his request is that far-fetched but it's just that I don't... well, I...to be perfectly honest, I don't trust him. At least, not completely.”
“He thought that you would feel that way.”
“Can you blame me? And his latest ploy makes me trust him even less. Pretending to be dead. Why did he do it? To collect insurance?”
“Laura, I don't know his reasons, but couldn't we just put that on hold for now and concentrate on that other issue?”
“Why are you so quick to forgive him? Don't you remember how torn up you were inside when he confessed to being your father? You had spent so many years looking for your father and he could have spared you all that pain and heartache. If he had only told you sooner that he was your father, you wouldn't have had to go chasing all over Ireland and England looking for your father. Does he have the slightest idea what his so-called death has done to you? I'm sorry, but I can't forgive him that easily,” she stated with anger in her voice.
“Laura, I can't dispute what you've just said, but I think he's trying to mend fences. After all, he's not getting any younger. Couldn't you try to meet him half way, if for nothing else, my sake?”
“Not to press a point, but we did tell the kids that he died, or did you forget that little fact?”
“Oh, Laura, the kids will understand. They'll be so happy to see him that they won't even care about that.”
“I see. When he shows up, we'll just say, ‘Kids, this is your grandpa. When we told you he was dead, we were just kidding. But not to worry, here he is now, so cheer up.’ So what else did he want?”
“Nothing else, really. Just that he would like to travel back with us to Los Angeles. He's back at the motel waiting for an answer. So what will it be?”
“I need some time to absorb all I've just heard.”
“Do you think that there's any possibility of you saying yes?”
Laura gave him an unbelievable look.
“Okay, perhaps that's asking for too much. Perhaps a maybe, eh?”
There was still no response.
“I have to tell Daniel something, Laura”
“I can't stop him from coming to Los Angeles but if he does, I'm not sure about him staying with us, even for a little while. I'll need some time to think this one through. That's the best that I can do for now.”
“That's good enough for me, Laura. You know this has been quite a day, why don't we grab our jackets and head over to Fisherman's Wharf? I promise I won't bring up Daniel for the rest of the day. Is that a deal?”
They both grabbed their jackets and didn't waste anytime in heading out the door.
Remington and Laura returned to the hotel around 9:30 p.m. A half hour later, the phone rang. Remington suspected that it was Daniel calling, and he was right.
“Harry, I've been going crazy here waiting for your call. Is everything in order.”
Laura was staring at her husband taking in his every word.
“Not quite, Daniel. Tell you what, why don't you go to Los Angeles and we'll pick it up from there? If you have no place to stay, I'll ask Mildred to book you into a nice hotel. We'll work something out.”
“Well, I guess, it will be all right, I mean going back to LA. I do have a lady friend that I can stay with. Don't worry, my dear boy, it's all innocent. Thanks for the offer anyway. See you in Los Angeles when you return. So long, my son.”
As Remington hung up the phone, Laura remarked, “How did he take it?”
“He sounded a little disappointed, but I think when we're all in Los Angeles we can all sit down and air our feelings out in the open, particularly you and Daniel. I do have some unanswered questions for Daniel also, but it's more important that you two try to make peace.”
“Me and him. I'm not the one who pretended to be dead. Okay, that was a terrible thing to say. I'm exhausted. Why don't we go to bed?”
“Hmmmm mmmm. That sounds like a great idea.”
The lights went out and they went to sleep.
On Sunday, they spent the day sightseeing, went on a boat ride and had dinner at an elegant restaurant.
They attended the conference for the next two days.
On Wednesday morning they boarded their flight to return to Los Angeles. While the plane was in flight, Laura who was feeling somewhat guilty and could not take the silent treatment any longer, turned to her husband, and decided to break the silence. She knew the reason for it was her indifference toward Daniel Chalmers. Remington had his eyes closed, but she knew that he was only pretending to be asleep to avoid having a conversation with her. She tapped him on the shoulder and softly said, “I think we should discuss what's bothering you.”
He did not respond immediately. She tapped him again and he turned his head toward her.
“What is it, Laura?” he said with a serious tone in his voice.
“I think we should talk about it.”
“Okay, Laura. Let's do that.”
“It's not that I don't like Daniel, after all he is your father. It's just that, well, I wish...” Remington leaned in closer to her, anxious to hear the words that followed. “...I wish he would turn his life around. He still has not proven to me that he's trying to walk the straight and narrow path” she confessed.
“Laura, I think I know what's really bothering you. Or more precisely, what you're afraid of.”
“You're afraid that if Daniel develops a close relationship with the kids, they might find out the truth about him and his shady dealings. You’re affraid of the effect it might have on them once they find out.”
“That's part of it.”
“Hmmmm mmmm. Or no sooner than they get close to him, he'll announce that he's leaving for the Riveria or some place, promising to return but then he never comes back. Does that sound right?”
“Yes, that's exactly it.”
“You know Laura, Daniel might surprise both of us. I have a suggestion. Why don't we hold our judgement until we meet with him in Los Angeles? Who knows, maybe he'll stay in one place this time.”
“Okay, I'll try to keep an open mind about him. But it isn't easy.”
An announcement was made that the plane was about to land. After leaving the airport they went straight to Frances’ to get the kids.
Later that afternoon, the Steeles pushed open the glass doors at Remington Steele Investigations. Sitting in the reception area was their industrious secretary, Mildred Krebs, who was so busy typing, that she didn't notice or hear them as they walked in. Remington, who was standing behind her, tapped her on the shoulder. Mildred, scared out of her wits, jumped and then turned around.
“Boss, you scared the daylights out of me.”
“I'm sorry, Mildred. I gather things went smoothly. We didn't hear a word from you.”
“Nothing came up, Chief,” shrugging her shoulders.
Mildred observed that Laura was unusually quiet.
“Is everything okay, hon? You seem a bit distracted.”
“I'm all right, Mildred. The conference went well. Mr. Steele's speech was a big hit.”
“You knock them dead, Chief?” said Mildred teasingly.
“Speaking of dead, Mildred, we have some rather startling news.”
Mildred gave her boss a strange look. She wasn't quite sure where the conversation was going. “What is it, boss?”
Before he could respond Laura jumped in and replied, “It's Daniel Chalmers. He's still among the living.”
“But how is it possible?”
“Obviously, he staged his death as part of some scam,” Laura replied and at the same time looking in her husband's direction knowing that he would not approve of her words.
“Now Laura, we're not sure of the reasons why Daniel did what he did. Remember, we decided not to jump to any hasty conclusions.”
“We did. But can you think of any other reasons?”
“But how do you know he's alive?”
“We saw him in...well...he found us in San Francisco,” said Laura
“There's one for the books. Why do I get the feeling that you're not too pleased about his re-appearance, honey?”
“There's more to the story, Mildred, but I'm afraid Laura and I have some catching up to do. We'll fill you in later.”
“I'm really anxious to hear. I didn't schedule any appointments for today since I wasn't sure what time you folks would be coming into the office. I put the mail on your desk, Chief.”
“Thanks Mildred. You're a real prize.”
They went into Remington's office and started going through the mail they had received while they were away.
Mildred was seated at her desk, deep in thought, and smiling to herself. From what she knew of Daniel Chalmers, the news did not surprise her. She wondered how this would affect the boss.
She remembered when they were in Ireland how upset the boss was when he learned Daniel was his father. He wasn't quite sure how to handle the news. She recalled the conversation they had about him. She persuaded him to give him a chance, to not close the door on him.
Of course, she could understand why he didn't take the news well. The boss has been searching for his father for so many years and it must have hurt knowing he was so close. But, as luck would have it, when the boss decided to forgive him, he passed away. Or so they thought.
*I'll bet that's why Mrs. Steele seems so distracted and distant. She must be angry with Daniel for not revealing the truth sooner. To make matters worse, he faked his death,* Mildred thought. From what Mildred gathered, Daniel and Laura were never on the best of terms. Now that Daniel was still alive maybe they would air out their differences.
As she was about to rise from her chair, the phone rang, she answered it. “Good afternoon. Remington Steele Investigations. How may I help you?”
“Mildred, how have you been? I guess Harry has told you by now that I'm up and around, so to speak.” She thought for a minute. *Harry?* And then she remembered that Daniel Chalmers called the boss that.
“Is that you Mr. Chalmers?”
“Yes, Mildred, it's me. Is Harry about?”
“Yes, he is. Hold on a second.”
Mildred knocked on the boss' door and interrupted.
“Excuse me, Boss, but your father...well Mr. Chalmers...is on the phone. Is it all right if I put him through?”
While Mildred was walking back to her desk to transfer the call, Laura remarked, “He didn't waste any time.”
“Mr. Chalmers, Mr. Steele is on the line, go ahead.”
“Thanks so much, Mildred. I hope to see you soon.”
Mildred hung up the phone, leaving Daniel and Remington on the line. Laura was sitting on the sofa. She was glancing through the mail.
“Daniel! I take it you're now in Los Angeles.”
“Of course, Harry. I've been here for two days now. I realize that you have just returned from your trip, but I'm quite anxious to meet with you. Things were left so up in the air in San Francisco. The truth is, I wish that lovely wife of yours would change her mind about me.”
“Perhaps in time she'll come around. Why don't you give me a number where you can be reached and I'll contact you later.”
“I suppose that will have to do for now.”
He gave Remington the number and they ended their conversation. Laura decided to probe her husband for information.
“What did he want?” she asked with a serious expression on her face.
“He wants us to meet to discuss things. I sensed that Daniel has something else on his mind, though.”
“The only thing on his mind is planning some scam or the other.”
“All right, I'll say no more.”
They continued working for the rest of the afternoon. Laura went to her office to return phone calls. Mildred knocked on the boss' door.
He responded, “Come in, Mildred.”
“Boss, I don't mean to pry but did anything happen when you and Mrs. Steele were in San Francisco? I sensed that something isn't right between both of you. Does it have anything to do with Daniel Chalmers?”
“Thanks for your concern, Mildred, but it's something that the two of us will have to work out.”
“You can confide in me, Chief. What gives?”
“Daniel would like to come and stay with us for a while.”
“I think I see the problem, Mrs. Steele won't hear of it, right? I mean, I know that the two of them never clicked well.”
“That's it exactly, Mildred. Daniel wants to develop a close relationship with the kids, but since Laura doesn't quite trust him, it's very unlikely that it will happen. Also, she's afraid that the kids will learn of his unglorius past and if and when they do find out, it might have a bad affect on them.”
“The kids are kind of young to form any opinion about him but Mrs. Steele might have a point. It can't be easy on you, Chief. What I mean is, you love them both and don't want to choose sides.”
“I hate to say this Chief, but if you want things to change between them, you will have to be the one to make the first move.”
“What are you trying to say, Mildred?”
“You have to think of a way to bring your father and Mrs. Steele together. You know, remove that stumbling block from between them.”
“That's easily said than done, Mildred. How do you propose I do that.”
“Nothing comes to mind right now, but I'll give it some thought.”
“Mildred, if you can come up with an idea, I'll be more than glad to hear it. And if it works, perhaps there'll be a bonus in it for you, eh?”
“Do you really mean that, Chief?” said Mildred, looking pleased with herself.
Mildred was about to leave his office when Laura walked in. She couldn't help but notice when she walked in his office, they both had strange smiles on their faces.
“What are you two up to?” she asked, looking directly in her husband's face.
“Nothing important. Well, to be honest, we were talking about Daniel.”
“Oh, you were right, it's nothing important. I think I'm going to head on home. I'm exhausted.”
“I understand, Laura. I won't be much longer myself.”
She went to her office, retrieved her handbag, and returned to kiss her husband good-bye. She started out the door and then turned around and said, “Don't stick around too late.” She gave him a loving smile.
He picked up her cue and replied, “I promise, I won't.”
He and Mildred were still in his office. Remington leaned back in his chair with his feet on his desk. Mildred stood in front of his desk deep in thought, with her head down. Suddenly she looked up and snapped her finger, startling her boss.
“Chief, I think I've got something.”
“I've seen this in the movies a million times.”
“Yes?” *Anything from a movie has to be good,* he thought.
“Invite them both to dinner.”
“How's that going to help solve the problem, Mildred?”
“Hear me out, Boss. Invite them to dinner but don't let either one know that the other will be present. The whole idea behind it is that they will both show up at the restaurant at the same time and you will purposely show up late.”
“Mildred, I hate to say it but that's the worst idea you've ever come up with. If Laura and Daniel end up at the same table, are you aware of the damaging effect? They probably would strangle each other before dinner is served, if they make it that far along,” he said doubtfully.
“Here's the plan, Boss. Tell Mrs. Steele to meet you at the restaurant.”
“Don't you think she'll want to know why we aren't going together?”
“Just give her some excuse. I'm sure that you'll be able to come up with something.”
“And then what?”
“Well, tell Daniel that you'd like to have dinner with him and tell him to meet you at the restaurant also. Call the maitre'd ahead a time and request that they be seated at the same table. Don't you see, Boss? While they are waiting for you to show up, they will have no other choice but to talk to each other. Who knows, some good might come out of it.”
“I see, Mildred. Then I'll show up and give my apologies for being late. There's only one thing wrong with this little plan. You know Laura, she'll see right through it and I could end up on her bad side. And sleeping on the couch is bad on the back, if you know what I mean.”
Mildred gave him strange look.
“It's worth a try, Chief. I mean, what have you got to lose? I know how badly you want them to iron things out and it's the only way Mrs. Steele is going to allow him to see his grandkids. So what do you you say?” she said, smiling brightly.
He sighed loudly and got up from his chair and came around his desk and said, “Okay, Mildred. I'll try it. I'll call Daniel and start the ball rolling.”
“Good luck, chief.”
“Oh, by the way, Mildred, what movie is it from?”
“I can't remember exactly, Boss, but I know I've seen it before. Perhaps it was on a television show, maybe an episode of ‘I Love Lucy.’”
“Good night, Mildred,” he said, disappointed that Mildred got the idea from a television show.
“Good night, Chief.” She closed his door and went back to her desk. She went home shortly afterwards.
Remington decided to call Daniel in the morning to invite him to dinner. However, he wondered about Mildred's idea. *What if it backfires?* It wasn’t Daniel so much as Laura he was concerned about. He hated to deceive her. But he was willing to try anything to establish better relations between his father and wife.
And, in spite of Daniel’s shady tendencies, Remington was sure Daniel would make a good grandfather. It would be important for his kids to know their grandfather.
*Maybe Daniel's resurrection from the grave is some kind of a sign,* he thought, *a second chance for all involved. Although Mildred's idea is from a television show, it sounds like a good one. Perhaps if it was from a movie I would feel more confident.*
He decided to call it a day.
While Laura was driving home in her car, she started thinking about Daniel. She wanted to have a better relationship with him, but how could she? Why had he encourage Remington into that line of work? Conning people and stealing was no job for a young man. Remington was at a young and impressionable age when they first met, and Daniel should have known better. A good father who has his son's best interest at heart would not encourage him into a life of crime.
Thank goodness, Remington wandered into her life when he did. She showed him other alternatives. If they hadn’t meet, what would have become of Remington's life?
*Perhaps, that's my real problem with Daniel. He's getting older and still won't change his shady ways. Remington did it, so why can't he? Or maybe the question is, why won't he? If only he could prove to me somehow that he's willing to change, or at least, make an effort to walk the straight and narrow.*
Laura knew Remington's major goal in life was to locate his father. And now that he' finally found him what does Daniel really have to offer him? And what does he really have to offer his grandchildren?
Laura turned into her driveway and parked her car.
Feeling quite exhausted, she went upstairs and took a long bubble bath to relax and ease the tension of the past few days. She decided to take her mind off the subject for the rest of the evening. She was nodding off in the tub when she heard footsteps. The sound of her name caused her to open her eyes.
“Laura? Laura, where are you?” shouted her husband.
“I'm in the tub!” she yelled back.
He opened the bathroom door and stood at the entrance.
“Do you mind if I join you?” he said, smiling mischievously.
“Why not?” she replied, with a lack of enthusiasm in her voice.
“Oh, Laura, that's what I love about you, you're such a romantic,” he said jokingly.
Dipping her hand in the water and coming up with a few bubbles, and using her fingers of the other hand to burst them, she said apologetically, “I'm sorry. I'm just not in the best mood tonight”
“Hmmmm. Well, I guess I'll have to think of something to change that,” he quipped.
He turned around and went downstairs. He came back in a few minutes with two champagne glasses and a bottle of champagne. He handed the glasses to Laura and he poured champagne in them. After he was through, he got undressed and joined Laura in the bathtub, sitting at the opposite end facing her.
While they were soaking in the tub, they sipped the champagne. When the champagne was finished, they closed their eyes, enjoying the soothing effect from sitting in the bubble bath. They both felt completely relaxed. It was a rare moment in the Steeles household.
About half an hour had passed, when suddenly Laura opened up her eyes and realized that they had both fallen asleep in the tub. She jumped out of the tub and grabbed her robe and then went over and touched her husband attempting to awaken him. She was unsuccessful. She looked at him lovingly. She leaned over and kissed him on the back of the neck and then moved over to his lips.
*This will definitely stir him,* she thought. It did.
“Hmmmm,” he muttered. He then opened his eyes and came to the realization that he was still sitting in the tub.
Laura whispered in his ear and said, “Why don't we proceed to the bedroom?”
“Sounds wonderful to me,” he whispered. He got out of the tub and they both went into the bedroom to continue the evening.
The Steeles walked into the agency the next morning, but Mildred was nowhere to be found. They proceeded to their respective offices.
An hour later, Laura joined her husband in his office. He was sitting at his desk with his feet up, and Laura couldn't help but notice that her husband was deep in thought and had a naughty smile on his face.
“Still thinking about last night?” she jokingly said.
“Hmmmm, Oh, sorry Laura. Did you say something?”
She laughed. “It's not important.”
“Say, Laura, I have a great idea. Why don't we go out to dinner tonight?”
“I'm not really in the mood for dining out, tonight.”
“Well, why don't we wrap things up early then, eh?”
“I don't know...”
“I just thought we should have some free time to ourselves. I mean, when the kids are home, that's it for us,” he said convincingly.
“Well, I guess you do have a point. Okay, dinner tonight then.”
“Perhaps we can try Italian tonight.”
“Anything will be fine with me. Now that we've got that settled, let's see what we can do about these contracts. Hmmmm? Where do you suppose Mildred is? She didn't say she would be late this morning,” she commented, displaying a puzzled expression on her face.
“Perhaps she had an errand to run. I'm sure it's nothing to worry about.”
As they were attempting to work on the contracts, they heard someone yell from the reception area. “Is anyone about?”
They both stepped out into the reception area.
“Oh, Harry, my boy! I thought no one was in. Where's that precious secretary of yours?” inquired Daniel.
“She's slightly detained,” he replied.
“And how are you, my dear? We haven't seen each other in the longest while, at least ten years.”
“Couldn't be better,” she replied cooly. “You look pretty damn good for a dead man,” she said sarcastically.
Daniel smiled. “I see you still have that quirky sense of humor.” His smile faded away, replaced with a serious expression. “Well, enough of that small talk. Harry—and of course, you, Laura—I have something to share with you. This will prove to you both that I have all intentions of traveling the straight and narrow.”
Laura looked at him without displaying any emotions on her face.
“Okay, Daniel, let’s step into my office,” Remington instructed.
They walked into his office but Laura did not move. Remington went back into the reception area to retrieve his wife and softly said, “Laura, let's listen to what he has to say. Keeping an open mind, remember?”
“I'll try.” She walked in with him and they both sat on the couch. Daniel was sitting in Remington's chair. He put his feet up on the desk and pushed back on the chair, turning sideways, but facing them.
“Harry, I think I've stumbled upon the perfect business venture. I am now in show business.”
Remington and Laura looked at each other, raised their eyebrows, then looked back at him.
“Show business?” Remington repeated.
“Harry, you needn't be so shocked. After all, I do have great rapport with people.”
“I'll say,” said Laura.
“I know what you two are thinking. That this new venture of mine is another one of my shady deals. But I can assure you, it's not. Show business is in my area of expertise and, more importantly, it's legitimate.”
“Hmmm-mmmm. Show business is a broad term, what exactly do you have in mind, Daniel?”
“It's written on my business card. Didn't you take a look at it?”
“Your business card?” Remington asked, a puzzled look on his face.
“Yes. If memory serves me correctly, you should have one in your possession.”
Remington gave Daniel a confused look.
“Remember in San Francisco? I wrote my phone number on a business card and handed it to you.”
“Oh, yes.” Remington got up and went to his desk to see if he could locate the card. After looking under several file folders on his desk, he found it. “Here it is.” He held it out and read it. “Make your dreams a reality. Contact Daniel Chalmers, Entertainment Specialist/Agent. Don't delay. Act now. The answer to your dreams need only be a phone call away.” Remington looked up at his father. “Are you really serious?”
“Very,” Daniel responded.
“Do you really expect to make a living from this?” Laura asked.
“Laura's negative reaction to this doesn't surprise me, but yours does, Harry. I was counting on you, my son, to give me moral support. I thought that it would make you proud that I'm making an effort to turn over a new leaf, so to speak.”
“I think it's great that you are trying, Daniel. But what do you know about the entertainment business?”
“My dear boy, I needn't have any experience. That's where the clients come in. As a matter of fact, I've acquired one already.”
“You have?” they both asked, looking surprised.
“I have, indeed. Why when Rocky came to me...”
Both Remington and Laura looked at each other in surprise.
“Rocky?” Remington asked. “You don't mean Rocky Sullivan, do you?”
“Yes, the very one. Do you know her, Harry?”
“As a matter of fact, we do. You mean, you are now Rocky's agent?”
“I most certainly am. You two must make it a point of stopping by the club where she's performing and hear her sing. She does one of the most amazing renditions of Who’s Sorry Now.”
“We've already experienced Rocky's singing,” Laura replied. “How long have you been doing this, ah, new venture of yours, if you don't mind us asking?”
“A month or so. I'll have you know that my clientele is on the up-rise.”
“What services do you provide for these clients?” asked Laura.
“Private investigating is really your true calling, Laura.”
“Just answer the question.”
“I set up auditions. You know, for television, motion pictures, Broadway, you name it. There's a need for someone of my caliber in this town.”
“I take it you have an office someplace. A legitimate one?” asked Remington.
“Well, not quite,” he confessed. “Actually, I'm not quite settled as yet. I've been in between offices, here and there. The truth is, Harry, I was hoping to use that extra office of yours that's been unoccupied for some time now.”
“And how did you find out about it?” asked Laura.
“From that darling secretary of yours.”
“Remind me to have a talk with Mildred,” Laura remarked.
“So what do you say, Harry? Am I in or out?”
“Out,” said Laura, “Furthermore, we do make use of that office.”
“Daniel, I'm glad that you're making an effort to turn your life around, but we can't grant that wish of yours,” Remington reluctantly agreed.
“Are you sure, Harry? My business could also help yours.”
“The answer is still no,” Laura reaffirmed.
“Okay, if that's your final word.”
“It is,” Laura emphasized.
Meanwhile in the reception area, Mildred had returned to her desk and was sorting the mail that was just delivered.
A man walked through the glass doors and said, “Mildred Krebs, long time no see.”
Mildred recognized the voice and looked up. “Hiya, Mulch. I didn't know you were still alive.”
“Still with the jokes, huh, Mildred?”
“What can I do for you, Mulch?” she asked abruptly.
“Actually, I'm here to meet with my business partner.”
“And who exactly is that?”
Before Mulch could respond, the door opened up to Remington's office and Daniel and the Steeles walked out.
Seeing George Mulch in the reception area, Daniel quickened his pace. “George, my good man,” he glanced at his watch, “you're a bit late.”
“Don't tell me you two know each other,” Remington asked curiously.
“As a matter of fact, we do, Steele,” replied George. “Daniel and I are business partners.”
“That sounds dangerous,” Laura replied while looking at her husband. “If you don't mind me asking, Mr. Mulch, what business are you two in?”
“The entertainment business.”
“I see,” Laura responded, satisfied for the moment.
“So tell me, Daniel, are we all set? I mean, can we use that office or not.”
“I'm afraid not, George. My son and daughter-in-law have turned me down. I guess we'll have to go elsewhere. Not to worry though, we'll succeed yet.”
“Son? You mean Steele is your son?”
“He is, indeed. You see George, that's why I thought that idea of Mildred's about using that office would be a great one. Father and son working together. It would have been like old times.”
“Shame on you, Steele, disappointing your father that way.”
Not buying any of what was transpiring, Laura went back into her husband's office and closed the door.
Remington was getting ready to join her when he was interrupted by George.
“Steele, you've got four daughters, right?”
“That's right George,” he responded, looking back in the direction of his office, wanting to follow Laura.
“How old are they?”
“Uh, eight, six, four and two. Why do you ask, George?”
“There's a great need for kids that age.”
“Doing what, Mulch?” asked Mildred.
“Modeling and commercials. That's where the money is. Since you're the famous Remington Steele, your kids would have no trouble getting work. They could build up a sizable nest egg by the time they're eighteen. What'd you say, Steele?”
“Sorry, George. Not interested.” He looked around and noticed that Daniel was also missing.
“Well, I tried.” George sat down in one of the chairs in the reception area as Remington retreated toward his office.
Remington was surprised by what was happening in his office. He stood at the entrance, a great big smile on his face. Something that he had hoped for all these years, at long last came to be. His wife and father, Daniel Chalmers, were sitting on the sofa looking at photographs of his four daughters.
“This is Caroline, Lily, Margaret, and Sarah,” Laura said, pointing to each of the girls in the photograph.
Remington walked into the office and joined Laura and Daniel.
“Harry, you have four lovely daughters. They have somehow managed to capture something from both you and Laura.”
Remington, still stunned by the exchange between his wife and father, could not respond.
Laura answered for him, “Yes, they are something special.”
“I never thought I’d see this happen,” Remington said quietly.
“What?” Laura asked.
“My father and wife sitting down together and not throwing sarcasm or insults at each other. It's a welcome change.”
“The truth is, Harry, I came back in your office to try and talk Laura into changing her mind about my little proposition when I spotted these photographs of my granddaughters. One thing led to another, and suddenly nothing else mattered to me.”
“Precarious as it sounds,” Laura began, “Daniel and I have decided to try to iron out our differences.”
“I'm so glad. Say Daniel, Laura and I were planning to have dinner later on. If you have nothing planned for the evening, you'd be most welcome to join us.”
“Well, I did promise a lady friend to join her for dinner...but I guess she would understand if I had dinner with my son and daughter-in-law instead. Yes, I'll be most honored to have dinner with you both,” he said decisively.
“Great. We certainly have a lot to celebrate tonight,” Remington replied looking, quite happy.
Daniel stood up and handed a photograph to Laura. Before she took it from him, she said, “Why don't you keep it?”
“Thanks you. I'll treasure it always.”
He went to the door and started to open it.
“Perhaps...” Laura began, stopping Daniel in his place. “After dinner we can stop by our house.” Daniel and Remington both looked at her. “I mean, it’s about time you met your granddaughters, don’t you think?”
Daniel and Remington exchanged glances before both men broke into wide grins.
“I’d love to, my dear,” Daniel said.
Remington watched his father leave. He was beside himself with joy after witnessing one of the most treasured moments of his lifetime. In all the years that Remington had known Daniel, he had never seen his father’s face look quite so happy.
In the reception area, George was impatiently waiting for Daniel to return. Mulch let out a sigh of relief when Daniel walked through the door. George immediately noticed the photograph that he was carrying in his hand and gestured to him that he wanted to have a look at it.
“Are these your grandkids, Daniel?”
“Yes. They are a fine bunch aren't they?” He held out the picture for George to look at. “Let's get a move on. We have more pressing and urgent matters to attend to.”
As they started walking out of the office, George signaled to Remington. Remington stepped into the reception area.
“What is it, George?” Remington asked, quite sure he didn’t want to hear it.
“Have you ever thought about your daughters being on television?”
“Can't say that I have.”
Laura walked in and stood beside her husband.
“Well, you should. With their looks and my expertise, they'll go places.”
“Thanks, but no thanks, Mr. Mulch,” Laura replied.
Never one to give up, Mulch pressed on. “Steele, you remember my idea for the Courtney doll?”
“Painfully, George. What about it?”
“I could do the same for your youngest...ah...what's her name again?”
“I don't remember sharing that with you, but her name is Sarah.”
“Hmmmm. Picture it,” he raised his hands to demonstrate the grandness of his plan, “the Sarah doll, complete with accessories, a stroller, the works, and you as her father, famous detective, Remington Steele. They'll sell like hotcakes. You and Laura could retire early. No more chasing bad guys, no worries about being shot at. How does it sound?”
“And you would do all this for free, George?” Laura inquired.
“Uh, not quite *free.* Foam stuffing ain't as cheap as the old days, you know.”
Laura and Remington looked at each other and smiled.
“George, we're flattered, but we prefer not to throw our kids into the limelight,” said Laura.
“Well, I okay.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Let's get a move on, Daniel.”
He and Daniel both walked out the door. The Steeles and Mildred smiled as the men left. Laura glanced at her watch.
“I'm starving. How about some lunch?”
Remington also glanced at his watch.
“Hmmmm. Sounds good to me.” He looked at Mildred. “By the way, Mildred, you were strangely absent from your desk this morning. Is everything all right?”
“Everything's fine and dandy, Chief. I had a few things to take care of this morning. I really didn't expect to be that long. Did you give any more thought to my idea?”
“What idea, Mildred?” Laura asked.
“I'll let the boss explain,” she replied as she turned to face her computer.
Remington gave her a look and remarked, “Thanks so much, Mildred, for your undying support.”
“Anytime, Chief,” she said jokingly.
Mildred laughed as he and Laura walked back to his office. Laura went into her office and retrieved her handbag. As they left the office, Laura couldn’t repress a laugh.
“Care to share it with me?” Remington asked.
“Can you imagine George and Daniel as business partners? And worst of all, in our office?”
“Boggles the mind, doesn't it?”
“It certainly does,” she admitted.
Remington had a questionable look on his face which had her curious. “Is there something bothering you?” she inquired with concern in her voice.
“I was just wondering, about you and Daniel. You've both come together and I'm glad, but what did the trick?”
“Actually, there were five contributing factors that made us decide to put an end to the antagonism. Looking back, we both realized our mistrust of each other was based on the fact that we were always competing.”
“Competing over what?” he asked.
“You. It was always a game with us. He would come back into your life and try and lure you back into his world. Once I found out, I did all I could to pull you back into mine. It's like tug and war. You know, may the better one win. You were always caught in the middle and never took sides because you loved us both. It really wasn't until these last few days that I realized the effect it had on you.”
“All right, that's one factor. And the other four?”
“The girls. I decided I want Daniel to play a more active role in their lives. The truth is, I’m glad that he's alive. It's almost like a second chance for all of us. For you, you can have some of the mysteries from your past cleared up and most importantly, you now have a father that you've dreamed of all these years. I remembered something you said to me the first time I met Daniel...when he had shown interest in my mother and I objected to it.”
“What was it?”
“The gist of it was, even a conman can have genuine feelings.”
“I said that?”
“Yes. That statement has had quite an impact on me ever since. Underneath all that charm and sweet talk is a great man. He had to be if you stuck to him all these years. I think he'll be a wonderful grandfather. I want the girls to get to know him and come to love and admire him in the same way you do.
“And what about you?” he asked curiously
“I always looked at him as the conman who was up to no good. So much so that I was unable to see all his other admirable qualities...the ones that you bragged about endlessly. Not only do I want us to be a family, but a happy one. I'll do everything in my power to make sure that happens.”
“Laura, I do believe things are going to be fine.”
“Oh, by the way, what plan was Mildred referring to?”
“I'll fill you in over lunch.”
Over the subsequent five years, everything went fine. Until one day when Remington entered the den to find his father playing a game of chess with one of his daughters. He noticed Daniel had a distant look on his face. Remington knew something had been weighing on Daniel’s mind for the past several days, and he decided he had allowed his father to stew about it long enough.
“Sarah, would you excuse us for a little bit? I need to speak with your grandfather.”
Sarah completed the move of her pawn, then left the den.
Remington sat next to Daniel.
Daniel forced a smile to his face, knowing his son was worried about him. “Is there something troubling you, Harry?”
“In all honesty, yes. But that's really a question that I should be asking you.”
“My dear boy, what could be wrong? I'm here with my family. I have the love of my son, my grandchildren and daughter-in-law. It would be quite unfair of me to complain or make a fuss about anything.”
“I just sense that in spite of it all, there's still something missing from your life. You don't seem as happy as you did when you first came. I know that something's troubling you and I wish you would share it with me.”
Daniel placed his hand under his chin and thought for a while before he decided to confide in his son. “Don't get me wrong, Harry. Being here as been the best thing that as ever happened to me.”
“But?” Remington said softly, a worried expression on his face.
“The truth is, I miss being in the South of France. I know that I've been there from time to time, since I moved to the United States, but, Harry, I really need to be there on a more permanent basis. I hope that doesn't sound too selfish.”
Remington smiled slightly and said, “How long have you felt this way?”
“Not too long.”
“Daniel, we understand. Laura and I knew when you came here it was only temporary. As much as we loved having you here, we won't prevent you from doing what makes you happy. Your happiness is important to us.”
“I thought if I said anything sooner you might believe I was abandoning all of you.”
“We would never think that. That's really where you belong. The girls can spend their summer vacations there with you. I'm sure that they'll love it.”
“I'll still come back every now and then but it's time for me to move on.”
“But what about the business? Aren't you going to leave George in the lurch.”
“He'll do fine without me. Thanks so much, Harry, for understanding. It would mean so much to me if you could explain to Laura and the girls. I'm really going to miss you all in the worst way.”
He hugged Remington and then got up and walked out of the den.
Ten years later, Daniel decided to pay a surprise visit to his family in Los Angeles.
It was late in the afternoon when Mildred buzzed. “Boss, your father is on the phone.”
“Thanks, Mildred. Put him through.” Remington picked up the receiver.
“Daniel, so nice to hear from you. Is everything okay? Oh, I see. We'll send Fred to the airport straight away. Okay, see you later.” He hung up and buzzed Mildred. “Mildred, can you get in touch with Fred? We need him to go to the airport and pick up Daniel immediately.”
“Sure thing, Boss,” Mildred replied
“What was that all about?” Laura asked.
“Daniel decided to surprise us. He's at the airport.”
“How long has it been since the last time he was here?”
“Roughly ten years, give or take a few gray hairs—mine that is,” he jokingly said.
Laura smiled. “The kids will be so happy to see him again. They love him dearly. I wonder why he suddenly decided to make this trip?”
“I guess we'll find out soon enough.”
It was approximately 4:30 p.m. when Fred dropped Daniel off at the Steele’s house.
Daniel walked up the steps and rang the door bell. It didn't take long for someone to answer the door.
“Grandfather!” Sarah said, stunned.
“Hello, Sarah,” Daniel smiled. “Give your grandfather a big hug.”
Sarah eagerly agreed. Almost immediately Daniel saw his other granddaughters running toward him. They all gave him hugs and kisses.
After the warm greeting, each grandchild picked up a piece of his luggage and proceeded to lead Daniel to the guest room.
The girls were all smiles as they each turns updating their grandfather on family news.
“I can't believe we're all having dinner together,” Sarah said. “I think I'll get my camera.” She suddenly jumped up from the dinner table and ran upstairs.
She returned to the dining room with her camera in her hand and quickly snapped off a picture. to fetch her camera and returned to the dining room and took a picture. She then looked to her sister. “Margaret, take one with me in it, will you?”
Margaret stood as Sarah passed her the camera. She squeezed shot then sat back down at the table.
“You know what would be nice, Dad?” Sara began.
“What, Sarah?” Remington asked.
“Having a family portrait done...with Grandfather in it.”
“That’s an excellent idea. Perhaps we can make arrangements to do that. What do you think, Laura?”
“It sounds like a great idea,” Laura responded.
Daniel then cleared his throat. “I just want to say how happy I am to be reunited with my family once again. Tonight is a special night for all of us. It will be one I’ll always cherish.”
“Daniel, you didn’t tell us how long you’ll be staying,” Remington said.
“I’m not sure. But not to worry, I don’t plan on making a fast exit..”
“I guess that answer will have to suffice,” Remington said, looking to Laura.
“Now, girls,” Daniel began, “if I’m not mistaken, I do believe I won the last game of chess we played. Care for a rematch?”
The girls were excused to join their grandfather in the den. As they walked out, Laura and Remington heard a lot of giggling and chattering. They listened until they could hear it no more. Laura got up and started to clear the table. She glanced over at her husband. The happiness he felt within was shining all over his face.
“Laura, why don’t we join them?” he commented, still looking toward the den.
“What about all the dishes?” Laura smiled, knowing full well that her husband desperately wanted to spend time with his father.
“I promise to help you with them later,” he said.
Grinning, Laura finally agreed. They both joined the rest of the family in the den.
The next morning, the Steeles pushed open the glass doors to the agency and walked in. Mildred Krebs, who should have retired a few years earlier but chose not to, sat at her desk.
“Morning, Mildred,” Remington said with a big smile on his face.
“Morning, Boss,” she replied. “How’s your father, Chief?”
“Daniel is fine.”
“Why the sudden trip? I mean, it was a big surprise to you wasn't it?”
“Not really, Mildred,” Remington answered.
“Daniel is always full of surprises,” Laura remarked.
The detectives went into their respective offices and proceeded to tend to the day’s business.
Needing Remington’s signature on a document, Laura entered his office to find him relaxing on the couch. “Tough day?” she commented sarcastically, sitting down next to him.
“Laura, what do you suppose Daniel and the girls are up to now?”
“Probably playing chess. Sometimes I think they let him win on purpose.”
“It's nice that he's back, isn't it?”
“Yes, it is,” Laura agreed. She turned toward her husband and noticed he had a worried expression on his face. “What’s wrong?”
“I was just thinking about Daniel.”
“What about him?”
“Why he suddenly decided to come and visit us. I hope he's all right.”
“What brought on this negative thinking?”
“I just have this feeling,” Remington said. “He's getting on in years you know.”
“I don't think there's anything to worry about,” Laura tried to assure him.
Remington looked at her and tried to smile. “Okay. I'll try not to worry.”
That evening, Remington and Laura returned home to an empty house. They were curious as to where Daniel and their daughters had gone. They got their answer two hours later when the five came home, laughing loudly. The group made its way to the den to find Laura and Remington.
“Well, well,” Remington began, glancing at his watch, “where have you been?”
“We went to the circus, Dad,” Lily said excitedly. “It was great!”
“Harry, it was like being a lad once again,” Daniel said, somewhat winded. “I haven't been to the circus in over 50 years.” He lowered himself down into an arm chair. “It's still as much fun after all these years.” He shifted his body around in the chair for a few seconds before he finally found a comfortable position. He closed his eyes.
“Oh, Caroline,” Laura said, a smile on her face, “something came in the mail for you.” She stood up and motioned for her daughter to follow her to the kitchen.
Laura handed her daughter the letter.
As Caroline glanced at the return address, uncertainty filled her features. She broke the seal, pulled out the letter and then unfolded it quickly. Her eyes darted from left to right and back again, moving down the page. Her uncertainty melted into a huge grin. She let out a joyous squeal. “I've been accepted at Harvard!”
“My daughter, the lawyer,” Laura smiled. “I'm sure you'll be the best one ever.” She hugged her daughter tightly.
“What’s all the commotion out here?” Remington asked, knowing full well from the yelp that his daughter was on her way to the college of her choice.
“I got into Harvard!” Caroline restated for her father.
“That’s great news.” Remington hugged her, too. “My daughter in college. It doesn't seem so long ago that I held you in my arms as a baby. Where does the time go?” He glanced at Laura. “I think a celebration is in order. We’ll all go out tonight. Wherever our future lawyer would like to go.”
“What's the big deal, Dad?” Sarah asked, having been drawn from the den by Caroline’s outburst. “She's only going to college. It’s not like she discovered penicillin or anything like that.”
“In a couple years, Sarah, you’ll be just as stressed about getting into your first choice as I was,” Caroline pointed out.
“I want to be an actress,” Sarah countered. “Grandfather said I'm a natural.”
“I like science,” Lily declared, determined to get her two cents worth in.
“Science? Yuck,” Margaret said. “I’m going to be a private investigator—like mom.”
“You'll have to carry a gun,” Lily pointed out.
“Mom doesn't carry one. Do you?”
“No sweetheart,” Laura answered, “I don't.”
The girls continued to try to out-do each other with their career choices as their parents stood back watching.
“Well, Mr. Steele, our daughters are certainly growing up,” Laura commented with a sigh.
“Is there something wrong with that?”
“Before we know it, they'll be leaving us. Or worse, they could move to another country.”
“Laura, that's not going to happen. At least, none of them have announced that they're getting married.”
“I think our girls are all determined to be career women.”
“Just like their mother,” Remington finished.
Laura smiled, and politely changed the subject. “Don’t you think Daniel would like to hear Caroline’s news?”
“I’m sure he would.”
The two went into the den to wake Daniel.
Remington touched his father on his shoulder. “Daniel?” He gave him a gentle shake. “Daniel? Caroline has some good news she’d like to share with you.” Suddenly, a feeling of deja vu overcame him. “Oh, God,” he shook his father. “Daniel! Daniel!” Tears started to form in his eyes. “Daniel!!!”
Laura pushed past her husband and felt Daniel’s throat. She could find no pulse. Sadly, she turned to Remington, who had backed away.
“Grandfather is gone, isn't he?” asked Sarah with tears in her eyes. She and her three sisters were standing just inside the den, having come on the run when they heard their father yelling.
“I'm afraid so, sweetheart,” Laura admitted. “Why don’t you girls go upstairs for awhile?”
“But, Mom...” Caroline started to protest.
“Now,” Laura said firmly.
The girls hesitated, then disappeared upstairs.
Remington, who had backed his way to the couch and sat almost afraid in the corner, looked up at Laura. His eyes were red and filled with tears.
“Why didn’t he tell us he was sick?” Remington whispered.
“I don’t know,” Laura said, sitting next to Remington.
“I guess...” Remington started, his voice shaking, “we have to call someone...” he choked on his words, “to make arrangements...for them to...”
Laura grasped Remington’s hand. “I'll take care of it.”
It didn’t take long for the ambulance to arrive. It took a little longer for the coroner to arrive, but within two hours, the house was quiet again.
Laura managed to get the girls off to bed without too much trouble. Remington, who had a very hard time dealing with Daniel’s first “death,” was having an even more difficult time coming to terms with the idea of losing his father a second time. Laura sat with him for several hours before he finally fell into a fitful sleep.
Unable to fall asleep herself, Laura made her way back to the den in the early hours of the morning. She leaned back on the couch, and closed her eyes. She felt a tap on her shoulder and she jumped.
“Sorry, Mom,” Caroline said.
“It’s okay,” she responded, calming herself.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. It’s your father that’s having the hard time.”
“I think he’ll be all right, Mom, after the shock wears off.” Caroline looked over at the empty chair where her grandfather had sat so many times before. “I can’t believe he’s gone.”
Laura shook her head. “I find it somewhat hard to believe myself.” Even after all the years that had passed since Daniel had “died” the first time, Laura had still never forgiven him for that particular stunt.
“Mom, have you ever thought about what would happen if anything ever happened to dad?”
Laura turned to her daughter. “Now what brought on this kind of thinking?”
“II hope you and Dad live for a very long time. I can't imagine what I would do without both of you. I love you so much—just like Grandfather. And now he's gone.”
“Sweetheart, it's true that the people we love die eventually, but that doesn't stop us from loving them. That's why we have memories.”
“I understand, Mom. I— well all of us—have some great memories of Grandfather. I'm glad that he and Dad were able to spend time together as father and son. A mentor is kind of like a father, isn't it?”
“I would say so. Why?” she asked softly.
“I would like to write the eulogy for Grandfather's funeral, if that's okay.”
“That would be very nice.”
Caroline smiled. “Thanks.” She got up and started to walk away, but then turned around. “Mom, are you sure you're all right?”
Laura nodded. Caroline accepted the response and returned to her room.
It was 6 a.m. when the alarm clock went off in the Steeles bedroom. Laura opened her eyes. She had no intention of waking up that early but she had forgotten to turn the alarm off the night before. She reached up and turned off the alarm. She was about to roll over and attempt to go back to sleep when she heard Remington.
“Daniel is really gone, isn't he?”
Laura propped herself up on her elbow and looked sadly at her husband. “Yes, sweetheart, he's really gone.”
Remington rolled over to face her. “You remember that time he tried to pass me off as the long-lost son of a Duke?”
“Yes. You gave me some phony story about him dying. When I figured out it was all a bunch of bull, I followed you to England.”
“And I introduced you as my fiancee, Myrtle Groggins. You hated that name,” he said with a smile.
“I still do,” Laura said, letting Remington lead her down memory lane.
“And Mildred posed as your mother.”
“I remember Daniel proposed that we all work together. I never understood why he fought me so hard for you.”
“I think it was just a case of a father wanting to be near his son,” Remington said, a distance in his voice.
“If only I had known,” she said regretfully.
“Known what, Laura?” he said softly.
“That we both had the same motivation when it came to you.”
“Love,” she answered honestly. “I always just assumed his motivations weren’t so...honorable.”
“You and he ironed out your differences,” Remington reminded her, “and that's all that matters.”
“Yes, we did.”
Remington kissed his wife gently on the cheek. He then turned away and looked off into nothingness. “Do you think Daniel would want to be buried in England or France?”
“Where do you think?”
Remington thought for a moment. “The South of France. I believe he had the best memories of that place.”
“Then the South of France it will be,” Laura assured him, taking his hand in hers. “But we’re never going to get anything done if we don’t get out of bed and face this day.”
A few days later, the Steeles buried Daniel in a small village near where he used to live.
Before the casket was lowered into the ground, each of Daniel’s relatives passed by to pay their last respects.
Sarah was the first to approach, “Grandfather, I'll always love you.”
“I got into law school,” Caroline finally told him through her tears. “You told me to follow my dreams, be a fighter, like you and dad. I'll miss you.”
Lily leaned over and spoke next. “I was the worst chess player, wasn't I Grandfather? You knew it but never once let on. I know you let me win most of the time. It won't be the same without you.”
Laura patted Margaret on the shoulder, but the girl was reluctant to move. “Don't you want to say goodbye to your grandfather, sweetheart?”
“I can't. He can't hear us so why bother?”
“Not in the normal way, but when we tell him how we feel, it makes us feel better and he'll rest more peacefully knowing that we'll be all right.”
“I don't know what to say, Mom.”
“Just say what's in your heart, dear.”
“I'll try, Mom.”
Margaret went over next to the closed casket and bowed her head. She hesitated a few seconds trying to decide on what she wanted to say. “Well, Grandfather...you know that I'm not all that big on being mushy. But, I'll always remember the good times we shared. Remember the time that boy got fresh with me when we were on the beach? When he saw you, he ran away and you chased after him. You both fell in the sand face down. We all ran over and piled sand on top of you and Pierre, yes that was his name, until we couldn't see either of you anymore. The girls and I were laughing hysterically as you both tried to wiggle your way out of the sand. After you dug yourself out, you had a serious look n your face. I came over to you and apologized and after looking at me for a few seconds, you started laughing too. You could never stay angry with us for any length of time. We had fun, didn't we, Grandfather?” She smiled through her tears. “I love you Grandfather.” Margaret turned and almost ran to her mother.
“That was very good, Margaret, you did fine,” said Laura, stroking her daughter's hair and wiping away her own tears.
Laura then stepped up to the casket and placed a hand on top of it. “I know you and I weren’t always the best of friends, but I’m glad you came back so we could make amends.” She smiled. “And don't worry, I'll take good care of your son. I promise.”
Laura stepped back and looked to Remington. He stood with unshed tears in his eyes. She only raised her eyebrows at him, but he nodded and stepped forward. He bowed his head and sighed.
“Daniel, old boy, you and I have traveled many roads together. We've experienced good as well as bad times together, but the last 15 years have been pretty good. The life you choose to live didn't matter much to me. I came to love and respect you as my mentor and my father. You'll always have a special place in my heart.” Remington paused, wiping away the tears that had been shed. “I’ve got so much to be thankful for...the time I got to spend with you, Laura, my girls. I just wish there was a way to keep the people we love here with us.” At that thought, Remington shuddered, more tears falling. “But, you’ll always be a part of me, Daniel...father.”
Back at the hotel that evening, Laura reached into her suitcase and pulled out a tattered book.
She handed it to Remington who was sitting on the edge of the bed.
“What’s this?” he asked curiously.
“Just look through it,” she said with a smile.
Remington opened the cover to the first page. It was a scrap book of some sort. The first photo was a black and white snapshot of a baby.
“Is this you?” Remington asked.
Laura chuckled a bit. “No. Just keep going.”
He turned the page. There was another shot of the baby. On the subsequent page, the child instantly aged from an infant to a young boy.
Laura heard the breath catch in Remington’s throat. “Oh my God, these are pictures of me.” He flipped through a few more pages until he came across a newspaper clipping from the ‘Los Angeles Times’ with his picture in it. “Where did you get this Laura?” he asked, flipping the page back to the first picture of the baby.
“I found it in Daniel’s suitcase at our house. I didn’t know exactly when the right time would be to show it to you...I believe Daniel’s intent was to give it to you.
Remington turned to the page where he could actually recognize himself in the boy’s features. He went ahead another page to find a picture of himself and Daniel together. For the first time in his life, Remington started to feel like he had a past. The pain of losing his father was starting to fade away, leaving in its place the memories he had of his years with Daniel.
“Laura, I do believe we're all going to be fine.”
“Yes, I think we will be.”
“Laura, I love you.”
“Same here, sweetheart, same here,” she echoed.