FAMILY STEELE: A STEELE IN SHINING ARMOR (PART 1)
By: Phaedra Phelan
Summary: A recently married Remington and Laura are embroiled in a case with dangerous risks that both test and strengthen their relationship.
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.
It was late-after eleven o'clock at the fashion salon of Jacqueline DuBois. Jacqueline sat working at her easel, busy with the designs for her spring collection of formal gowns, the lavishly hand-beaded creations that were her signature.
Jacqueline was in her early sixties, but incredibly beautiful still, her delicate patrician features now partly obscured by the thick blond page-boy cut hair that fell forward as she sketched furiously. Her office was of palest blue-very French in its decor-with accents of fuchsia. Jacqueline's pet Pekinese, Aldo, sat on her desk at her elbow watching her intently as if he understood exactly what she was doing.
Suddenly Aldo's ears stood us and he growled softly.
"Oh, Aldo, qui est la?" Aldo jumped to the floor and ran in the direction of the workroom where Cecile Fanouche, Jacqueline's chief assistant and couturiere, was working late also. Cecile was not in the workroom. It was just as if she had just stopped abruptly in the midst of what she was doing.
"Cecile, c'est toi?" Jacqueline's expression was of real concern now. "Aldo!" She heard Aldo now barking excitedly near the room where they stored the completed designs for the coming season's show.
Running now, Jacqueline reached the room at the opposite end of the workroom from her office. The door was open and Aldo was beside himself, barking and dancing about. Switching on the light, Jacqueline saw Cecile lying semi-conscious on the floor.
"Oh, cherie, what happened?"
Cecile, a tall distinctive-looking Haitian woman who had worked for Jacqueline for years, and had become Jacqueline's friend as well, moaned and seemed to struggle back to consciousness.
"Je ne sait pas, Jacqueline. It was someone-my head." She held her hand to the back of her head and opened her eyes. "Oh, no, Jacqueline! Régard!"
The finished designs had been slashed and torn irreparably and splattered with paint.
* * * * * *
Jacqueline Dubois, Aldo ensconced on her lap, sat in Remington Steele's office and Steele and Laura both sensed the strength of this woman. She was so tiny in stature, and yet when she spoke in her thickly-accented English, there was no doubt about what she wanted.
"Monsieur Steele, someone is trying to destroy my business. I do not know why or who. Cecile, my couturiere, was injured two nights ago by some intruder. A concussion, she received. She surprise him vandalizing my spring collection."
Aldo jumped down from his mistress' lap and went over to investigate Remington Steele's shoes. Remington was leaning against his desk and stooped down to pat Aldo affectionately whereupon the pooch snapped and growled at him.
"Aldo! C'est un ami! I am so sorry, Monsieur Steele."
"Oh, no, I understand. He resented my familiarity perhaps."
"He has been so-so, how do you say, tense. So much happening." She turned toward Laura. "Madmoiselle, you understand?"
"Why, yes, Madame DuBois." A very amused Laura was fighting to remain focused on the serious aspects of the case at hand. "Ah-do you have any idea who might harbor ill will-resentment against you?" Laura was concentrating on Jacqueline Dubois again now.
"No, no, cherie."
Remington took cover from the ill-tempered Pekingese behind his desk.
"Madame DuBois, could this be a form of industrial espionage-a rival, a competitor, a disenchanted former employee perhaps?"
"I just don't know. I don't think so. But they are trying to ruin me! I am not timide, Monsieur Steele. I was courier for the Resistance during the war when I was just ten years old. But I must know who is my enemy."
"Madame DuBois, Mr. Steele has an idea."
"I do?" Remington's expression was first quizzical and then just as quickly comprehending. "I do." He settled back in his chair to hear Laura's idea.
"Madame DuBois. . ."
"Please, call me Jacqueline. All call me Jacqueline."
"Jacqueline, perhaps we could check things from the inside and then branch out from there. Mr. Steele, do you concur?"
"As a matter of fact, I concur most wholeheartedly, Miss Holt."
Laura paused, "Well, what do you have in mind, Mr. Steele? What might work in this instance?"
"Jacqueline, isn't there some way that Miss Holt could fit into your establishment-under cover? That way we could perhaps find out something about what's going on over there."
"Certainly. Since Cecile was attacked, I realize there must be done something."
Jacqueline rose from her seat, walked over to Laura and peered intently at her.
"Elle est tres belle, Monsieur Steele." (She is very beautiful.)
"Oui, Madame, elle est tres, tres belle." (Yes, Madame, she is very, very beautiful.)
"Ah, vous-vous êtes trop beau aussi, mon cher. (And you, you are too handsome, my dear.)
"Vous êtes tres gentille, Madame. Merci beaucoup. (You are very kind, Madam. Thank you very much.)
"Je pense que vous parlez française tres bien." (I think that you speak French very well.)
"Un peu, Jacqueline, un peu." (A little, a little.) Remington's lips curved slightly in a mischievous and debonair smile.
"Elle est a vous, je pense." (She belongs to you, I think.) Jacqueline gently flirted with the younger man as Laura looked from one to the other trying to figure out what subtleties she was missing.
"Oui, elle est vraiment a moi et moi a-t-elle aussi. Elle est ma femme, madame." (Yes, she is truly mine and I am hers as well. She is my wife, Madam.) Remington found himself a bit rattled now by this extremely perceptive client. The words had slipped out so easily in the foreign tongue. He cleared his throat nervously. "Miss Holt-Mrs. Steele and I will confer and we will arrive at your salon just a little later this afternoon, barring anything unforeseen.
"Excellent, Monsieur Steele. And Madmoiselle-Madame, you will make lovely model for Jacqueline."
"Model?" Laura's mouth dropped open.
"Marvelous idea, Jacqueline. Marvelous!" Remington was smiling.
Jacqueline DuBois picked up Aldo and swept out of the office past Mildred, to whom Aldo shot a parting yelp.
"Wow, some people make a statement by their mere presence, don't they, Chief?"
"Yes, they do," Remington said quietly. He felt a strange attraction to Jacqueline despite their age difference. She was a woman of timeless beauty and strength. Reflecting back, he realized that there was a period in his life when he would not have hesitated to respond to the flirtations of a older woman like Jacqueline DuBois, but that was completely in his past now. 'You've really changed, old sport,' he thought to himself.
"Well, Madame Jacqueline's is not your ordinary sort of place by any means. You've got to have an appointment just to get inside the door." Laura spoke positively.
"Not exactly Bulletts Blaustein, eh?" Steele regarded Laura for a long moment remembering.
"Not exactly, not by a long shot, Remy," Laura paused too, musing about the Blaustein/Baron case. She would never forget the moment he tenderly declared his love for her when he thought that she had been mortally wounded.
"Laura, we're going under cover. See what you can find out about Jacqueline DuBois and her place of business, Mildred. We'll contact you later this evening." Remington Steele was off and running.
Laura looked at her husband. "And, Remington, what was that little exchange about between you and our client, Jacqueline?"
"Oh, she said that you were lovely-beautiful-whereupon I heartily agreed." Remngton smiled down at Laura engagingly, his blue eyes fairly dancing.
"That's all?" Laura was not convinced. "Not that I'm jealous, but she seemed to be flirting with you."
"Why, Laura, I just met the woman. She's French; she's uh-coquette. What else could be said. Oh, I did tell her that you were my wife."
"And just what is 'coquette?'" Laura was having fun with Remington now.
"Actually a woman, or a man for that manner, who is 'coquette' is not only beautiful, handsome, but skilled in the art of flirtation. It is inherent in them-from the cradle to the grave. They can't help it."
"Perhaps some might say that you are-'coquet.' You are handsome, chic, and very skilled in the art of flirtation." Laura was flirting audaciously with her husband of six months now.
"Maybe-once upon a time-but I came up against a woman that uses up every ounce of my sensual energy and I had to retire from the ranks." Remington smiled down at his wife responding to the invitation in her sparkling brown eyes with a passionate response in his deep blue ones.
* * * * * *
As Marie, one of the dressers for Jacqueline's models, pinned yet another gown so that it would fit Laura and pointed her into the elegantly appointed showrooms, Laura thought of all she had learned in countless ballet classes-at the same time prying bits and pieces of information from Marie.
"Have you been with Jacqueline a long time, Marie?"
"Ten years. Ever since Madame-made it big. Her gowns are such fabulous creations-unique. Well, they used to be unique anyway."
"Used to be?"
"Really." Marie was touching up Laura's makeup as she spoke. "Until recently you had to come to Jacqueline's if you wanted one of these beaded affairs. Now suddenly we see our dresses poppin' up in the strangest places-or dresses like ours. Same silks, same beadwork. Not a lot of them, you understand. Just enough to let you know that there's a problem somewhere. It's a mystery to me."
Marie surveyed Laura.
"You're really fantastic for these clothes-healthy good looks that don't come out of a jar. I ought to know." She pushed Laura out to the showroom.
Remington Steele had come to the salon about mid-afternoon where Jacqueline introduced him as a prospective investor.
"Thomas, cher, meet Monsieur Trevor Keach. He wishes to invest in our salon. This is Thomas Grayson. He takes care of business end of things here, Monsieur Keach."
A slight man of about thirty, very blond, very handsome, came out of Jacqueline's office.
"Marc, viens. Monsieur Keach-my son, Marc DuBois."
"Hello, Mr. DuBois." Remington Steele extended his hand. "Keach here." Dubois shook Steele's hand somewhat diffidently.
"Thomas, you will show Monsieur Keach around. Answer questions for him-whatever he want to know." Jacqueline turned Steele over to Grayson and he followed him into his office.
Grayson was middle-aged, slightly heavy and not a little harried-looking.
"Well, Mr. Keach, you tell me what you want to know and I'll fill you in. This is a business that has done well, extremely well. The last ten years, Jacqueline and Cecile went from a little two-woman cottage industry to what you see here now. And it's growing. Basically there will always be extravagant people to buy the extravagantly priced things Jacqueline designs."
"But I've heard rumor of some problems of late. I do my homework, Mr. Grayson. The British consortium that I represent will not involve itself in anything with a breath of any problem."
"Well, I don't know what you have heard. I'll level with you. There has been theft of materials, completed stock-and then other things-but I know that these matters won't affect the long term value of stock in our company. We'll find out whose responsible for that." Grayson's tone was resolute. "Now, why don't you let me show you the rest of the operation, Mr. Keach?"
Remington Steele followed Grayson through the factory workroom and into the showroom where a client was watching Laura model a lavishly beaded cocktail dress.
"I rather think that I like this part of the operation."
Remington sat down and watched Laura as she paraded back and forth-her shining hair bouncing in that delightful way that always made his pulse race just a little, the exquisite gown highlighting every curve of her lithe small-bosomed figure. The revealing gown showed Laura's bare shoulders and the swell of her freckle-covered breasts that Remington found so intriguing. Remington's eyes blue eyes burned hot as he watched her, and Laura, glimpsing the passion flickering in his eyes, could not resist a secret wink as she passed near him. Remington took a deep breath and concentrated on attempting to maintain his coolly elegant façade.
"Mr. Keach, would you come with me? There is more," Grayson called him back from his reverie.
"To be sure, my good man, to be sure." Remington followed him from the showroom.
"Incidentally, Grayson, just what is the function of young DuBois here?"
"Well, that's a good question. Mostly to be spoiled by Madame Jacqueline, I'd say. He's not exactly the marrying kind, if you get my drift. That sometimes brings its own baggage. Of course that part's none of my affair. I stay out of the family problems. Got enough of my own. At any rate, that has no bearing on the overall business situation here from an investors' standpoint."
Remngton was in a contemplative mood as he followed Grayson back through the factory.
* * * * * *
Back at the office, Laura, Remington, and Mildred poured over what they had learned at Jacqueline's.
"There's one serious problem that even Jacqueline may not be aware of, Chief. A check of employees shows nothing suspicious, but when I ran a check on Marc DuBois, I turned up all kinds of interesting things. His checking account is in really bad shape. And yet he gets a very tidy salary as one of Jacqueline's designers.
Laura interjected,, "Yes, he and Jacqueline are the only ones that originate the beaded designs that are her signature-the birds, the flowers, the butterflies."
"Ah, yes, the butterflies. . . I watched you this afternoon, Laura. You were stunning-quite stunning." Remington's eyes turned that deep cobalt color that signaled to her his excitement, the corners of his mouth curving into a slight smile as he regarded Laura.
"Why, thank you, Remington." Laura was just a little flustered by the intensity of Remington's gaze. "Now. . . just what-what else do we have here?" Laura was slightly flushed as her husband just sat on the edge of his desk, completely distracted by his need for his wife.
Mildred broke the somewhat passionate impasse Laura and Remington has seemed to reach.
"Hello, kids, I know you're newlyweds and all that, but please, give me a break here."
"DuBois' has some rather expensive habits, a reputation for being somewhat of a wastrel." Remington's voice was now matter-of-fact again.
"Several checks-each in the amount of five thousand dollars paid over the last year at regular intervals to a J. J. Anthony." Mildred was in high gear now.
"And who is our Mr. Anthony?" Laura was thinking aloud.
"Not the sort you'd want to run into on a dark night, I'd venture," Remington answered.
"Well, he's got a record-petty stuff-but enough to indicate that maybe he's on the fringes of the big league."
"Mildred, that's great work. Now, we need to get into our Monsieur DuBois' office to see if we can trace the rest of this thing down." Laura's interest was obviously high, her keen mind sorting and arranging the information before them.
Remington sighed, "You want to go back over there tonight, don't you, Laura?"
"Well, isn't that what we're about, my dear Mr. Steele?"
"That's just one of the things we're about, Laura," Remington murmured softly, his finely sculptured nostrils flaring slightly.
Mildred picked up her papers, sensing their obvious need for privacy. "Well, I'm going home, you two-unless there's more for me to do here tonight."
"No, Mildred, I think we can manage quite nicely from this point. Don't you agree, Laura?"
"Why-yes. Mildred, we'll see you in the morning."
As Mildred closed the door to Remington's office behind her, he reached for Laura, gathering her into his arms.
"Why, we have this. . ." Remington kissed her forehead and then her cheek tenderly, "-this case," Laura attempted a lame protest.
"Oh, Laura," Remington's eyes met Laura's as he spoke ever so softly to his wife of just a few months. "The sight of you prancing about in that frock today-looking so radiant, so utterly smashing, was entirely too stimulating for me. The allure of all that lovely freckled flesh. I don't know when I've felt quite so randy."
Laura never ceased being amazed and flattered at Remington's "freckle fetish" as she sometimes teasingly referred to it. From that first night when he "became" Remington Steele and had stared at her so unabashedly in her strapless gown at the presentation of that car along with the Royal Lavulite he had never gotten used to the sight of those freckles. She had never dreamed that the very feature which had made her self-conscious all of her life would be the thing that would just send the man she loved around the bend every time he looked at her.
"Rem. . ." Remington's arms tightened about her with such irresistible ardor that Laura was positively captured by her own response to him, clinging to him, yielding to his embrace.
"Remington, what am I to do with you?" she murmured helplessly.
"Need me, Laura, as I need you. I'm a husband in pathetic need of his wife right now. Maybe it was all those years of enforced celibacy, but now that we're together I just can't seem to get enough of you. I think about 'it' all the time. I see you now and I just want to take you-right here atop this desk."
"It won't be the first time, will it?" Laura's own passions were excited now as Remington kissed her neck, her cheeks and temples and then her mouth, all the while pulling Laura up close between his parted thighs so that she felt all of his throbbing flesh against hers as he sat straddling the corner of the desk.
"You're making me crazy holding me like this. I need you too-all the time, Rem. . .all the time." Laura, her heart pounding passionately, gasped as her husband drew her up onto him on top of his desk, pushing up her narrow skirt around her hips so that she could get astride him and attend to his pressing need.
The next moment the phone rang.
"I don't think we can answer that, Laura."
"I think we must, Rem.. Oh, my goodness. . ." Laura was on top of the desk trying to regain her composure while that familiar masculine growl rumbled in Remington's throat as he reluctantly released her.
"Madame Steele, Madame Steele, c'est Jacqueline! Please to come just now. Please!"
"Jacqueline, where are you?" Laura's voice picked up the urgency in Jacqueline's.
"A la salon, cherie! Au secours, s'il vous plait!" (At the salon, dear! Help, please!")
Laura turned to Remington. "It's Jacqueline. She wants us at the salon. It sounds serious. I think we will have to go." She kissed his lips lightly. "We will have to continue this later-at home."
Remington sighed, "Let's go, Kitten." He lifted her off the desk and planted her feet on the floor.
"Kitten? You've never called me that." Laura looked at him quizzically..
"Remind me to tell you why, one of these days when we have the time, darling."
Remington kissed Laura's lips hastily as they hurried out of the office.
Driving up to Jacqueline's in the Rabbit, everything seemed quiet to Laura and Remington.
"I have the key. I guess Jacqueline is in her office."
Remington and Laura let themselves into the darkened workroom and headed toward the slice of light under the door of Jacqueline's office. Aldo was barking furiously. Then there was a startled yelp followed by a stifled scream.
"That sounds like Jacqueline," Laura whispered. "What's going on in there?"
"I don't know, Laura. We'd better proceed with caution."
The two of them eased along the wall of the workroom toward Jacqueline's office.
Inside the office J. J. Anthony held Marc with a gun in his back. Aldo lay unconscious on the floor-a victim of J. J.'s kick. Jacqueline was obviously very frightened but attempting to maintain composure.
"Lady, you had your chance. Your little boy here owes us big money and that's too bad, because you either come across with what my boss wants or you don't get Marc here back. The deadline was yesterday, March first, and he missed it."
"What do you do with Marc?"
"Boss decides. You do what you're told."
"Maman, je regret. The gambling-they want our salon. Je regret. No matter how much I pay, it is not enough."
"Oh, Marc, you foolish boy! No! No!"
"Enough of this, lady. I take Marc here. You decide if you ever want to see his useless rump again. We'll get in touch."
Suddenly J. J.'s words, "March first," sounded an alarm in Remington Steele's brain. It wasn't just Marc who was late. But his thoughts were instantly drawn back to the present, as J. J. Anthony dragged a trembling Marc DuBois from Jacqueline's office into the darkened workroom.
Laura and Remington realized what was happening and Remington stepped into the aisle tripping Anthony and causing him to lose his grip on Marc, who then ran for the door. It was then that Remington saw the glint of Anthony's pistol.
"Laura, watch out! He's got a gun!" The next instant he heard the horrible sound of the gunshot, saw its flash, and then recognized Laura's startled cry as she crumpled to the floor.
"Laura, Laura," Remington murmured and gently turned her over to face him. The bullet had struck her on her right side just above her breast and blood was rapidly soaking the front of her shirt.
Jacqueline stood horrified. "Monsieur Steele. . . Monsieur Steele! Oh, no!"
"Please, Jacqueline, call an ambulance. Laura-my wife's been hurt. Please hurry!" Remington's tone was desperate.
Laura's eyes were huge and frightened as Remington held her in his arms.
"Oh, dear, dear. . ."
"I'm hurt," Laura whispered. "I'm really-hurt."
"Don't try to talk, darling. Don't try to talk."
Remington heard the siren of the approaching ambulance and thanked God.
"Am I going to die?"
"Oh, dear God, no, Laura!" Remington cried as he applied pressed his handkerchief to her wound to try to stem the flow of blood. He kissed her cheek and forehead. "You won't die. You can't die because I-I love you too much to lose you now. I love you, Laura. I love you so."
The words that came from his lips before with such difficulty, even in moments of hottest passion now tumbled forth, wrenched from the bottom of his heart.
"Rem-, I. . . love you too."
"Oh, God, Laura, darling. . . you must hold on-for me-and, for. . . Laura, I think you might be pregnant. You're late, darling."
Laura's eyes widened even more. She was frightened and realizing at the same time the meaning of his words.
Now the ambulance was there and the paramedics began to work on Laura as they loaded her into the emergency vehicle. Laura smiled weakly at Remington, reaching for his hand.
"I'll be here every moment, darling."
Remington got into the ambulance with Laura and they roared through the dark streets to the hospital. When the paramedics cut Laura's blouse away and Remington saw the gaping exit wound in her back, he gasped, feeling her pain deep in the pit of his stomach.
"Oh, dear God," he murmured.
"Are you all right, sir?" One of the paramedics looked sharply at Remington Steele.
"Yes, yes, I'm-I'm just so concerned about. . ."
"She's hangin' in there, sir. She's hangin' in there. We're doin' our best." The young Latin paramedic's eyes reflected the intensity with which he was working on Laura.
Laura was so frighteningly pale-her eyes big as saucers as they worked to stop the bleeding, packing the wound in her upper back.
When they reached the hospital, Laura was rushed into the emergency room, taken away from Remington.
Remington looked for a men's room. He felt as if his heart would break apart in his chest. He could only see his frightened Laura so terribly wounded. Realizing that he was still holding his handkerchief soaked with her blood from when he had attempted to stop her bleeding, Remington went to the sink and began to rinse the handkerchief in the cold water rushing from the tap. The sight of the water so vividly stained with Laura's blood released the tears that were so close to the surface-tears followed by wracking, anguished sobs torn from the depths of his innermost being. He thought of all the prayers he knew, all the prayers he had ever heard and finally just whispered, "God, please, just let her live. Don't let her be taken from me. I-I need her so. I love her. . . Oh, please, God!"
Remington finally composed himself, washed his face and went back to the emergency waiting room. The nurse at the desk saw him and immediately came over.
"Mr. Steele, they've taken your wife to surgery and you will be kept posted on all developments. You may go to the OR waiting room and you will be contacted there."
"Thank you kindly."
"It's on four-west, Mr. Steele." The attentive young nurse watched as the darkly handsome, but extremely anxious Steele walked toward the elevators.
When Remington got off the elevator on the fourth floor, a tall white-coated middle-aged man was waiting for him. Remington's heart sank, his shoulders sagging, expecting the worst.
"I have to speak with you, Mr. Steele. You are Remington Steele?"
"Yes, I'm Remington Steele."
"I'm Dr. Howe. Something has come up. We have your wife prepped for surgery and I have only a few moments. Your wife is pregnant-just a month or so-but we do the test routinely and it was positive."
"Oh, my God!" Remington was stunned at the confirmation of his suspicions.
"And she told us that you are RH positive. Is this true?"
"Yes, I am." Remington remembered the documents that Daniel had left for him showing the words "A, RH positive. "
"She doesn't want to be transfused-because of danger to this baby or future children. She won't let us knock her out till I guarantee her that we won't transfuse her. Where do you stand on this, Mr. Steele?"
"I don't know. . . I don't know anything except that I can't lose my wife."
"Well, you're in luck in a sense. This is one of the pioneer hospitals in the country in non-blood treatment of trauma. We've done a lot of work with the Jehovah's Witnesses and we're pretty good. I just have to know that you will stand behind your wife on this-no matter what happens. We have to go in and clean up that wound. We've got a cell saver and blood salvaging machines. We'll keep every drop of blood that we can."
"I can't go against her on a matter of principle. She would never forgive me. God, man, what can I do?"
"Pray for your woman, Mr. Steele, and pray for us, that we are as good as we say that we are." Dr. Howe gripped Remington Steele by his shoulder, shook his hand firmly and was gone.
Remington paced about restlessly in the OR waiting room and then finally found himself in the solarium. He collapsed into a chair and sat staring out in the dark night.
Laura pregnant-the mixture of emotions that Remington felt was strange-elation, because their months of trying had borne fruit, severely tempered with fear, because her life was in such danger now.
There was an APB out on J. J. Anthony, police looking for him. Remington's fists clenched as he thought about the perverse set of circumstances that had led up to the shooting. The case had seemed rather routine-no hint of this kind of violence in the offing.
Then Remington's countenance softened as he thought about Laura, the woman with whom he had never intended to fall in love, but whom he now loved so completely. Laura, the woman who had made him want no other woman, the woman to whom Remington-who would never commit to any woman-had found himself hopelessly and passionately committed. Remington remembered those first tentative months-him wanting to bed Laura immediately just as he had always done before with other women he desired, and Laura, refusing him totally on those terms. During those months Remington had finally lost all desire for anyone else, even suffering the tension of abstinence, a new and totally different experience for him.
The time came when Laura could resist Remington's relentless wooing no longer and they became committed to one another. They were committed but Laura still drew the line at the bedroom door. They kissed and hugged and petted and fondled one another like repressed teenagers but went no further. It went on like that for nearly two years and then came the night that he would never forget. It was after both their apartments had been rigged with bombs and they were both frightened out of their minds that they had lain down together in that motel room and it had happened. It happened and they had both been powerless to stop it. Yet still neither of them had been able to say those simple words "I love you."
After that, they had been unable to go back to where they were in the relationship, but they were unable to go forward. They were trapped, waiting for the relationship to continue to blossom-Remington, suffering the tension of his need for Laura, and Laura, confused by her own emotions, frustrated by her own passionate need for Remington-but wanting him on her own terms, wanting to hear the words that would assure her that Remington's feelings for her were more than simple lust.
Finally, the marriage that had brought them into such closeness, forced them to do what both their hearts had been leading them to for four years. Now they had been together for six months, loving one another, forging a powerful physical bond between them that became ever stronger each day.
Remington recalled that very morning. He had awakened and lain watching Laura doing her ballet exercises at barre, positively entranced by her grace and loveliness. Laura had realized that Remington was watching her, his whole expression-his cobalt blue eyes, his sensuously flaring nostrils, his mouth pursing in that curious pucker that was his alone-signaling his desire so emphatically, that when Remington extended his hand, she had come unhesitatingly to him. Now Remington's eyes closed and he shook uncontrollably as he remembered how they had kissed and loved, how passionately and generously she had given herself to him as the early morning sun had streamed in upon them in their marriage bed.
Remington felt someone touch his elbow and turned to see Mildred.
"Oh, Mr. Steele, will she be all right? Have you heard anything? Oh, you poor kid!" Mildred was, for all her tough exterior, extremely sensitive, and now she felt strangely maternal toward Remington.
Remington put his arm around her-leaning upon her for support.
"I just hope and pray she'll be all right, Mildred. She-she just has to be all right." Remington's voice choked and he could not continue for a long moment. "And she's pregnant, Mildred."
"Pregnant? Oh, my God!"
"We didn't know really. Actually we. . . They confirmed it in the routine pregnancy test they give. . . and she refused transfusion because I'm Rh positive. She's risking her life to protect that tiny spark of life that we made, Mildred." Remington broke down again.
"Mr. Steele, she'll make it. She'll make it." Mildred had never seen Remington Steele so shaken.
"I should have caught that bullet, Mildred. It should have been me. She never did anything to deserve this. I am so terrified for her."
"Mr. Steele, why don't you sit down. I'll find some coffee." Mildred was tearful herself seeing Remington Steele's calm cool exterior completely blown away to reveal a very vulnerable man frightened and shaken to his very foundations.
"I love her, Mildred . . ." Remington said intensely, his blue eyes full, "more than my own life."
"Oh, Chief, I know that you love her."
"I've never loved anyone else as I love her, Mildred. I've been faithful. In those first months I still was trying to have a-a love life, but I soon gave it up. I lost all desire for anyone but Laura and I've never strayed, Mildred. Shouldn't that count for something?"
Mildred took Remington's arm and led him to a seat, hoping to calm him. He was not like she had ever seen him and she didn't quite know what to do.
"Mr. Steele, please, just sit here. Miss Holt will be all right, I'm sure. You just have to know that she'll make it."
"She's got a terrible hole in her, Mildred. I-I saw it . . . and she just looked at me-so frightened-her eyes as big as saucers, and I could do nothing to help her." Remington dropped his head into his hands.
Mildred turned her head as tears flooded her eyes too. Laura Steele injured so terribly was just unbelievable.
Remington sat-head bowed, eyes closed, his senses bombarded with crystal clear memories of all the special moments he and Laura had shared. The moment when Remington first saw her in that gown at the Royal Lavulite affair and realized that her own freckles were a more alluring adornment than any piece of jewelry she would ever wear, still stunned him when remembering it. Then there was the moment when he kissed her hand and they had both first felt that marvelous electricity between them.
Those tentative first approaches with Laura resisting so nobly and him in hot pursuit were vivid in his mind. He had been totally smitten and it was obvious to everyone-even Felicia. Images of Laura assaulted his senses-the luxuriant chestnut hair swinging with every step, the slender elegant figure that looked so gorgeous in the beautifully understated clothes that she wore, the tough independence that was always underlying her dimpled charm, the huge brown eyes that told him how much she wanted him before she ever gave him an opportunity to touch her, the brilliant intuitive mind that was matched only by her tremendous vitality and capacity for passionate expression, all a part of what was simply "Laura." He had known just how tough she could be when Laura told him "no one night stand," no serious involvement without commitment. And when they did commit to each other, after Laura came six thousand miles to retrieve him in London, Remington had known that his fate was sealed. They had held each other so many times since then and each time it was like the very first time. The joy, the exhilaration that came when Laura trembled ardently in his embrace, both of them totally caught up in something that neither of them had ever anticipated or bargained for, was a part of both of their lives now. Remington recalled their most recent time together earlier that very evening. He had wanted her so, holding her close to his wildly beating heart, to his excited flesh, feeling that tremendous heat flowing between them-everything just dissolving around them as they ached for one another.
Remington sat numbly. Mildred had gone for coffee, and as he saw Dr. Howe approaching in his green surgeons' scrubs, he jumped from his chair to meet him, his heart in his mouth.
"Mr. Steele, your wife is out of surgery now-in the recovery room."
"Oh, thank God! How is she, Doctor?" Remington was so relieved that Laura was alive.
"It was a very serious wound, Mr. Steele. The upper lobe of her right lung was severely damaged. We had to work hard to keep her from drowning in her own blood. And there was considerable damage at the point of exit of the bullet. We hope that she is going to stabilize now."
Remington nodded, remembering the hole in Laura's back.
"Mrs. Steele is quite strong, in great shape, and that worked in her favor, Mr. Steele. She wouldn't even close her eyes till we knocked her out. She was very fortunate. Apparently the bullet entered her chest and lung from above and angled down through her, missing her spleen and just barely clipping her shoulder blade. But she is a very sick girl now. She has sustained an extremely serious injury with considerable blood loss. It'll be a long road back, but if she remains stable during these next forty-eight hours, I'd say her chances are very good."
"And . . . the-the pregnancy?" Remington found it difficult to say the word.
"She didn't miscarry yet. She's not bleeding vaginally. It has been my experience that there are two kinds of pregnancies. Some conceptions are so delicate, so tentative that the slightest thing will wreck them. And then there are the others-you could do everything short of dropping a bomb next to these women and they will hold that baby no matter what. Your wife is likely the latter sort. I will be very surprised if she miscarries. She's risked her life to protect that baby. It's not going anywhere." Howe slapped Steele on the back in a congratulatory gesture. "But Steele, she's is going to be in a lot of pain and there is only so much that we can do for her along those lines and protect the fetus at the same time."
"Thank you, Doctor. Thank you so much." Remington spoke softly, clearing his throat. "When may I see her?"
"Well, give us another half hour to finish bringing her around and get her back into her room. We'll send for you when it is possible to see her, Mr. Steele."
Remington nodded as Dr. Howe turned to walk away and then turned back to him.
"Oh, Mr. Steele, be prepared. She's not a pretty sight with tubes and equipment hooked up to her." Howe sensed this man's deep involvement with his patient. Steele's troubled blue eyes and shaking hands didn't fit the profile of the cool calm private investigator that he had imagined. Here was simply a man, very human, very distraught, in fear of losing his woman.
"Yes, yes, I understand. I'm just glad she's alive. She's-she's all I have in the world-my wife is-is all I have."
"You're very fortunate, Mr. Steele. You could have lost your wife tonight." He shook Steele's hand. "Now I've got to get back to our patient."
The surgeon was walking back down the corridor as Mildred returned with the coffee.
"Oh, Boss, what did you hear? Is she going to be okay?"
Remington took the coffee from her and sat down.
"She pulled through it, Mildred. She made it. She made it!" Remingotn was completely drained, but smiling weakly now, his blue eyes full as he hugged Mildred.
Remington gulped and paced, waiting to see Laura and when the nurse came to get him, he met her halfway, Mildred following closely behind. He could hear his own heart pounding in his chest as he entered the hospital room.
"She's pretty drowsy but if you call her, she'll respond." The nurse was kind and knowing-mature in life and in her work.
Remington stopped short for a moment before rushing to Laura's bedside. She was so very pale-all the color drained from her cheeks, her hair a tangled mass upon the pillow, the IV tubes and oxygen tubes everywhere-a tube through one nostril, a tube down her throat. Remington sat down at Laura's bedside and reached for her hand. It was so cold that he covered it with his other hand to try to warm it.
"Laura," Remington whispered, "Laura, I'm here. I'm here, darling."
Laura's eyelids fluttered and then opened and she focused on Remington, her hand gripping his."
Remington leaned over her and kissed her forehead gently.
"Thank God, you made it. Oh, my dear, I've been through hell worrying."
Remington lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it, first on back then he turned her palm to his lips and kissed it tenderly. He looked up at Mildred, standing on the other side of the bed.
"Remind me to tell you something, Mr. Steele," she said softly.
"Darling, you must hurry and get well now. I'm-I'm positively useless like this. I love you so that-that I just can't function without you. And they told me we're making a baby, Laura."
A tear slid from Laura's eye and she clasped Remington's hand before she fell asleep again.
Remington and Mildred walked outside of the room.
"She's going to be all right, Mr. Steele."
"I think so. I think so. But she looks so pale, so frail, so sick, Mildred.
"Mr. Steele, why don't you go home, change clothes, and rest a little. You've been here all night and you've got a long day ahead of you. I'll stay here with her until you come back. I promise."
"Well, maybe, but let me look in on her again before I go."
Remington went back into the Laura in the critical care unit and watched her sleeping. Once or twice she moaned in pain, but then she relaxed into healing sleep again. Remington kissed her forehead and came back to the hallway where Mildred was waiting.
"Thanks, Mildred, for being here when we needed you. I will go home for a few hours. . . Oh, there was something you were going to say?"
"Yes, Chief, remember a while back when I told you that I'd seen Miss Holt go through so much with you, and I said that I hoped you were worth it? Well, I want to tell you that I know that you are worth it, Mr. Steele."
Remington took Mildred's hand. "That's the nicest thing you've ever said to me, Mildred." They embraced warmly.
Remington left the hospital and took a taxi to his apartment. When he reached home, he was so exhausted that he could only fall across his bed still wearing most of his clothes.
The nightmare of Laura's shooting awakened him in a cold sweat, calling Laura's name. It was nine a.m. and so Remington showered, dressed, and went back to the hospital.
Mildred was tired, exhausted. Laura was suffering a lot of post-operative pain and was calling for Remington.
"Oh, Chief, I'm glad you're here. You look a lot better. Oh, that poor kid needs you, Mr. Steele."
Remington went into Laura's room and found Laura writhing in pain, the nurse trying vainly to calm her.
"Laura, I'm here. I'm here, Laura." Remington took her hand and kissed it. "Please, darling, it'll be all right. Just hold on to me."
Laura's had a vise-like grip on his hand and she started to cry.
"I'm so ashamed. But it hurts so."
"Don't be ashamed, old girl. Just hang on."
"We gave her as much as we dare with the pregnancy. Dr. Howe was just here a half hour ago."
Laura tried to stifle a sob.
"Don't worry. Don't think about it, darling. Your being-pregnant complicates things somewhat. Oh, God, I cannot bear to see you like this."
"I know. . . I'm trying. Oh, Rem. . ." Tears were now flowing down Laura's cheeks while Remington bent over her, holding her hands, kissing her fingertips, trying to comfort her.
"You'll be all right, darling. You'll be all right."
"Please don't leave me. Please!"
"I'm right here, love." Remington looked into Laura's pain-filled eyes and his own deep blue eyes mirrored her pain.
"God, I'm hurting so!" Laura bit her lip as the pain surged through her again.
"Laura, darling, this is the worst part. It's all right to cry. It's all right." Remington looked up at the nurse. "Can't you give her something else? Does she have to suffer like this? Do something, for God's sake."
Remington was relieved to see another nurse coming with more medication.
"You're going to get some help, darling."
"I-I don't want anything to hurt my baby." Laura's maternal instincts were already at work in spite of her serious injury-putting first the tiny life she was nurturing.
"They wouldn't give you anything that would damage our-oh, Laura, Laura, take the injection. You're in such pain-you could miscarry."
"Mr. Steele, would you please leave while I give her this injection?" The nurse's tone was officious.
"Go right ahead. I'm not going anywhere. This is my wife here."
Remington gently turned Laura onto her side so that the injection could be put into her hip and then eased her back as she moaned in pain.
Finally the additional medication began to take effect and Laura's features began to relax as the pain subsided.
"Oh, Laura, I would that I were there instead of you." Remington was drained emotionally and slightly nauseous. Just the sight of Laura in such pain had made him almost literally ill.
As the pain began to ease, Laura looked up at her husband. "I'm sorry-for being such a baby."
"Oh, my dear, no. You are so strong-so strong." Remington paused for a moment just thinking about what had happened to Laura. Discovering that she was carrying their child and then seeing her immediately cut down was more than he could have possibly been prepared for. His blue eyes filled as a powerful mix of emotions flooded in upon him. With great effort he tried to focus on what had happened the night before.
"Laura-do you remember what happened to you?"
"I recall being shot by that J. J. Anthony, and I remember you telling me that I couldn't die, that I was carrying our child. then you told me. . ." Laura's eyes filled with tears.
"I told you that I loved you, that I loved you with all my heart."
"Yes. . . yes."
"I do love you, Laura. God knows that I do." The words that he had found so difficult to utter now flowed from his lips without hesitation.
Remington leaned over Laura, wiping her forehead that was damp with perspiration.
"I began to love you the day we met, Laura."
"Oh, Remy, I wish I weren't so sleepy . I-I. . ." Laura was fading with the medication.
"You'll feel better each time you wake up, love."
Remington watched Laura sleeping, her cheeks so pale, bluish circles under her eyes, her chestnut locks in two thick braids now, and he was seized with such tenderness that he had to turn away.
Mildred came into Laura's room, stopping for a moment as she was struck with the poignancy of the sight of Remington Steele at Laura's bedside, so anxiously attending this woman with whom his life had become inextricably intertwined.
"Chief, I hate to bother you right now, but Jacqueline is here. She wants to see you."
Remington looked at Laura who was sleeping quietly. The next thing he knew, he was on the floor surrounded by hospital personnel.
"You fainted, Mr. Steele." It was Laura's attending nurse.
"Oh, dear me. . ." Remington was completely disoriented.
By now Dr. Howe walked in and began to check him as Mildred watched nervously.
"I think that you will be all right, Mr. Steele. This is not an uncommon occurrence in cases like yours."
"You're saying that I'm par for the course."
"It's the shock, delayed reaction to seeing someone you love very ill or injured. All the same, we'd better check you out."
"No, no, I'll be all right. Besides, I've got things to do." Remington got to his feet a little unsteadily. He still felt dizzy and slightly nauseous but he summoned all his will to remain upright.
Howe looked sharply at Remington Steele.
"Your wife will be fine, Steele. The pain is less manageable with the early pregnancy but we're trying something new on her now and it seems to be working. Her blood hemoglobin is still only around six but it was down to four when we came out of surgery last night. She's rallying well. It is going to be a while but it is looking much better than when you brought her in. Now, I don't want her worrying about you."
"Thank you, doctor. Thank you for my wife-." Remington gagged and almost regurgitated. He swore quietly.
"Sit here and put your head down between your knees. You've got quite a pallor there, Mr. Steele. You've been in shock. You're going to have to take it slow today."
Remington allowed the doctor to check him more thoroughly. Finally he felt steady enough to get up from his chair.
"Boss, are you sure you're all right?" Mildred was still unconvinced. "You fainted dead away!"
"We will not speak of this ever again, Mildred." Remington said to her. "Remington Steele fainting," he muttered to himself.
"Well-uh, if we are not going to talk about that, do you feel up to seeing Jacqueline?" Mildred was still concerned about her boss. She had not realized just how much Remington and Laura had come to mean to her-over and above the business relationship they shared.
"Yes, yes, where is she?" Remington and Mildred left the room together.
"Monsieur Steele, je regret-votre femme."
"She seems to be resting comfortably for now. It was a very close call, Jacqueline."
"Oh, Monsieur Steele, it was terrible. Terrible! And Marc, I don't know where is Marc! I don't hear. That awful man who do this thing-they will catch him?"
"Yes, we will certainly catch him, Madame." The edge in Remington Steele's voice was unmistakable and his expression told that he was thinking of his Laura lying in that hospital bed. "Mildred, find out all you can about who this J. J. Anthony works for-any connections with anyone that might have been interested in taking Madame Jacqueline's salon. I think it's fair to wager that Anthony botched the job-Marc vanished, an innocent woman shot. The league he appears to be playing in-they don't take kindly to those kinds of mistakes."
The sign on the office door said International Importers and the voices inside were angry voices. Martin Negretti, a silver-haired man in his late fifties, and obviously accustomed to getting what he wanted, was screaming at Anthony and pounding the desk with his fist.
"I tell you to get that salon or get Marc DuBois. You can't do either. And then to top off you incompetence, you shoot Laura Holt."
Negretti threw the morning edition of the L.A. Times at Anthony. There was a picture of Laura Holt alongside a report of the incident.
"I didn't know the broad was a P.I. I didn't even know they was there. I'm trying to get DuBois out of there and here they come out a nowhere. It was dark. I didn't know but what it was the cops, Boss."
"Well, you might as well have shot a cop as to shoot Laura Holt, you fool! She works for Remington Steele. And that's not all! The word on the street is that she's Steele's private property! They're married, for God's sake!"
Anthony was very nervous.
"Listen, I didn't know Steele was investigating this. He's one tough son of a. . ."
"Yeah, he's tough! And I guarantee he's even tougher now with his woman shot up. He's mad enough to come looking for you personally. Someone almost killed his woman and he's gonna want that someone. I don't want him coming after my butt over this thing."
"Well, what do we do?"
"That's a good question. We needed that salon to fence this shipment of counterfeit watches and handbags that just came in from Hong Kong. Maybe we can still get it. You conveniently lost Marc for us. Now you will have to bring us Jacqueline herself. If Steele is in this, there's no way to avoid a confrontation. We will just be ready." Negretti turned to his aide who had been quietly observing the whole exchange between Negretti and Anthony. "See that J.J. doesn't have any problems with this job. I'll be in touch with our man on the inside."
* * * * * *
It was late afternoon and Jacqueline prepared to leave her office for the day. As she slipped on her sable jacket and pulled soft leather gloves onto her slender fingers, her expression was one of total fatigue. Cecile regarded her anxiously.
"Jacqueline, tu n'a pas entendue de Marc?" Que ferion-nous? (You haven't heard from Marc, Jacqueline? What will we do?)
Jacqueline sighed, "Je ne sait pas, cherie. Je ne sait pas." (I do not know, dear. I do not know.)
Just then the phone rang.
"Yes, yes. C'est Jacqueline DuBois. Aldo? He is better now?" She paused. "Oh, magnifique! I come over to get him right away. Merci! Merci!" She hung up the phone, turned to Cecile and smiled for the first time since Marc's disappearance.
"I go get Aldo now. The vet say he is fine. Everything cannot be bad."
"Fantastique! Va! Va!"(Wonderful! Go! Go!) Cecile ushered her friend out of the door.
Jacqueline did not notice the car parked on the street near the parking lot with two men sitting-waiting. She headed for the vet a few short blocks away, hurried inside and retrieved her precious Aldo, got into her light blue Mercedes coupe and drove home. She was still oblivious to the car following her. As she turned into her driveway and was approaching the security garage, the car following suddenly sped up and cut in front of her. Before she realized what was happening, she was being dragged from her car. Aldo was yelping and snapping and Jacqueline was screaming, but it happened so fast that nothing could have been done. Aldo was left barking furiously inside the empty car as Negretti's men took off with Jacqueline, their tires screeching as they made their getaway.
Remington and Mildred were in the office when the call came from Cecile. She was obviously quite upset and Mildred tried to calm her.
"Just tell me slowly what happened, Cecile. Oh! Yes." Mildred was looking at Remington, communicating the sense of the woman on the other end of the phone. "They found Madame Jacqueline's Mercedes empty-in the driveway to her building-with just Aldo inside-keys in the car ignition-motor running." Mildred's and Remington's expressions were both alarmed as the impact of what had happened settled in.
"All right, Cecile. Yes, Mr. Steele is here and we will get on it right away. Yes-yes. If we need you, we'll contact you at home."
When Mildred hung up the phone, Remington Steele was already halfway out of the office.
"Come, Mildred. This whole thing is heating up most unpleasantly, I fear." But then Remington stopped abruptly and walked slowly over to the elevator to call it. Closing his eyes, he hit the wall with his open hand.
"I should be with Laura. I know that she needs me."
"She'll understand, Chief. You know she'll understand."
"But that doesn't help me right now, or Laura."
* * * * * *
After the limo pulled up in the salon parking lot, Remington and Mildred got out and let themselves into the rear entrance of the building. When they walked through the workroom past the place where Laura was shot, Remington stood still for a moment as the memory of the terrible experience flashed before him. He could still see Laura-wounded, frightened.
"This is where it happened, isn't it, Mr. Steele?" Mildred took his arm protectively.
Remington just nodded, kept his head bowed for a minute or so, and then looked back at Mildred.
"Let's get on with this."
They went into Marc DuBois' office.
"Check the desk calender, Mildred. Look for anything-anything at all."
"Here's Marc's personal listing of businesses the salon deals with. Maybe these could be helpful. I'll run these through the computer-see if anything shady turns up."
Remington pulled out a drawer and that's when he glimpsed the open envelope. It contained a watch.
"Strange place for a watch. Umm, just like mine. This chap would naturally have great taste."
Remington picked up the "Cartier" watch and weighed it in his hand.
"Strange. It feels different." Remington looked at the watch more carefully. "Mildred, I think we have something here."
"What is it, Chief?"
"It's this watch. It's counterfeit. An excellent reproduction, but counterfeit nonetheless-not the genuine article."
"What's Marc DuBois doing with a counterfeit Cartier watch?"
"Maybe we've just discovered why organized crime wants to take over Jacqueline's salon."
"You mean to fence this kind of stuff?"
"Of course, and in a place like this they can charge to the max-no discounts, no deals. Jacqueline's wealthy clientele just aren't the sort that go bargain-hunting."
"And Jacqueline's reputation is unquestioned. No one would expect her to have anything other than the genuine article."
"Exactly, Mildred. The name of the game is international industrial piracy. Check out the return address on this envelope against that list you found. This might just be the lead we're looking for-International Importers. Work on this tonight if you will, Mildred. Now. . . I must see about Laura."
They turned off the lights and left Jacqueline's.
* * * * * *
Laura lay in her hospital bed slowly awakening again, her senses becoming more and more aware of what was going on around her. The pain in her shoulder and chest had subsided somewhat for the first time since the shooting and her eyes began to travel about the hospital room as she tried to absorb the details of her surroundings.
Her nurse came in to check on Laura and was quite surprised to find her so wakeful at midnight.
"My, my, look who is wide awake here. You must be feeling better, hon." Her nurse was the same efficient mature black woman who had attended her the night before.
"What's your name?"
"I'm Ruth, Ruth Johnson. Call me 'Ruth.'"
"I know." Ruth was taking Laura's vitals. "Everybody knows who you are. You're the brave private eye lady."
"Ruth, what time is it?"
"It's just past midnight."
"Oh, I guess I've lost all track of time. Was anyone-here to see me this evening-when I was asleep?"
Ruth smiled. "You mean that handsome man of yours?"
Laura's lips curved slightly. "Yes, that who I mean."
"No, I don't think so. I just came on duty a little while ago. Everybody was still talking about him fainting when he was here this morning."
"He fainted?" Laura was instantly alarmed.
"Oh, he's fine. But, honey, your man sure loves you. He fell out right here in this floor, fainted dead away, girl. The sight of you in all that pain this morning was just too much for the man." Ruth chuckled as she busied herself with her duties.
Laura's eyes glowed as she smiled and thought about Remington.
"We're going to have a baby."
"Yes, dear, we know. We're doin' everything we can to protect that baby you're carrying. It's your first time-carrying for him?"
"Yes, we had been trying-and then it happened."
"You two will make great parents. You just have to get well from being hurt like this."
"Will you let him see me if he comes this late?"
"Honey, we couldn't keep him out if we wanted to. When he comes, we'll send him in. Meanwhile, you just relax. You're doin' fine."
Laura nodded and closed her eyes as the nurse left the room.
When Remington walked into Laura's semi-darkened room, she appeared to be sleeping, so he just sank gratefully into the large easy chair near her bed and watched her. Laura's cheeks were still very pale, but when he reached to put his hand over hers, her hand was beginning to warm. At the touch of his hand Laura's eyes opened.
"Hello, Remington Steele."
"Hello, Laura. How's life treating you, darling?"
"Pretty rough," Laura whispered. "No bulletproof blazer this time, I fear."
"Laura, I was so frightened-that I was losing you."
"Are you all right, Rem? The nurses say that you fainted this morning."
"Laura. . ." Remington shook his head almost in disbelief. "One minute I was walking and the next minute I was getting up from the floor."
"Was I that bad?" Laura smiled weakly as she thought of Remington Steele fainting under pressure.
"Oh, Laura, you were in such pain. I was so worried about you."
"I can hardly remember the chain of events that led up to the shooting, Rem."
"It all happened so fast. One minute things were going along fairly normally, and then I heard them mention Marc's deadline, March first. I knew then-at that moment that you were-were pregnant."
"You've always kept up with me, haven't you?"
"Well, I've always been-interested in you, Laura. And that's a very important part of a woman's life."
"You're worse than my mother. She kept calendars on both Frances and me when we were teenagers."
"Well, my interest has not been maternal-to say the least. But I overlooked it with our involvement with this case. When I heard the date, I just knew-and then the next moment all hell broke loose. You were down-shot and bleeding. Our whole life together passed in front of my eyes in an instant. I was losing you-and there was the baby that you have been trying so hard to conceive. Oh, God, you were injured so terribly. I felt as if my heart were being dragged right out of my chest."
Laura's eyes filled and her lips trembled as she spoke. "I was scared too. I was scared that if I even closed my eyes, I might never open them again-that I might never see you again, never hear the sound of your voice, never feel you touch me. And then you told me about the baby. I knew that I had to live. I'm afraid that without that knowledge, I may have just given up and closed my eyes. . ." Laura was weeping silently now. "But you kept telling . . . me . . . that you-l-loved me. I wanted to hear those words again, Remington."
"I do love you-with all that I am, Laura. I promise that I will tell you every day for the rest of our lives. I am totally committed to you and our life together. I want the whole world to know how I feel for you." Remington's blue eyes were watery pools now, a mirror of the deep emotion he was feeling.
"Rem, I've never wanted anyone else since the day we met. It's always been you-from that first day I fell in love with you. I loved you so much that it scared me."
"Laura, before I met you, when I thought of loving, there was only one frame of reference for me-the woman I had thought to be my mother. I called her mother. I can't even remember her face but I remember that I loved her. I recall being a very small boy, crying for her and being told to hush, that she had-that she was dead. I know now that that was another relative of my mother who had taken me after my mother died giving birth to me. My whole life changed after that dear woman died and I vowed to never love anyone again."
Laura just shook her head.
"But then I met you, and I knew that it was happening to me. Oh, dear Lord, it happened so fast. I fell completely in love with you, Laura."
"I have been in your arms so many times-loving you so much-wanting to tell you, but afraid that I would make myself vulnerable to being hurt by you like my mother was hurt by my father. I made that mistake with Wilson. I vocalized my love for him-and he left me when he got ready. But you-sometimes when you kiss me the way that you do, I feel that I'm going to burst if I don't cry out what's inside of me. I've wanted to cry out 'I love you, Rem. I love you so much.' The words were right here." Laura touched her lips with her finger and Remington took her hand from her lips and put her fingertip on his own finely sculptured lips.
"The words were here too, Laura. So many times the words were here." Remington kissed her fingertip and then the palm of Laura's hand so tenderly and yet so fervently that Laura gasped.
Laura's tears flowed free as Remington leaned forward kissing her cheeks very gently.
"Darling, please don't ever stop loving me. I am ever so vulnerable," Remington whispered, his own eyes spilling over to mingle with the tears on Laura's cheeks.
Just then, Ruth, the nurse, came into the room, hesitating when she saw the Steeles caught up in such a tender moment.
"Excuse me, please. This is obviously not a good time to barge right in like this, but there's an important phone call for you, Mr. Steele. I'll transfer it in here if you like."
It was Mildred.
"Yes, Mildred. Laura is much better, I think." Remington looked at his wife knowingly and Laura nodded in response.
"Boss, I've found something interesting about International Importers. J. J. Anthony lists that company as his employer."
"Good work, Mildred."
"They're downtown on 8th Street. The company is a front for a certain Martin Negretti, a known associate of certain members of the organized crime community here in LA."
"Mildred, you're marvelous. I think we'd better look around International Importers under cover of darkness. Have you still energy left, Mildred?"
"Why yes, Chief. It's only one a.m."
"Meet me in front of the hospital in thirty minutes. Fred is downstairs with the limo. We just might need his expertise."
When Remington hung up, he turned to Laura.
"What's going on, Remington?"
"Laura, darling, I just want you to concentrate on getting well."
"Remington Steele, tell me what's going on."
"They've kidnapped Madame Jacqueline. Whoever 'they' are, it appears that they're running an operation fencing pricey counterfeit designer items-watches, bags-and they want Jacqueline's salon as their number one outlet. Mildred's got a line on where they might be holding Jacqueline. I'm going over there to check things out under cover of darkness."
"Counterfeit designer items. Makes sense," Laura whispered. She stretched her hand out to Remington and he held it to his cheek. "Be careful, love. I don't think I could make it without you." Laura hated to see him go.
"The feeling's mutual, darling." Remington kissed Laura gently on her lips. "Rest well. I'll see you in the morning."
* * * * * *
Jacqueline DuBois was tied to a chair in Martin Negretti's office. Quite pale, but otherwise holding up quite well, she nonetheless realized that she was in a very dangerous situation. Negretti and one of his lieutenants were there.
"I took care of Anthony, Boss."
"Good, he's become too much of a liability now."
"Well, where I'm gonna put him, they'll never find him." He turned toward Jacqueline. "Now, what about the broad?"
"Don't worry about her. Her choices are limited and they're all in our favor, aren't they, Madame Jacqueline?" Negretti glared menacingly at Jacqueline, who met his eyes squarely.
"Why should Jacqueline cooperate with you? You want to kill me anyway, yes?"
"Well, don't you want to see you spoiled little boy again?"
"You do not know where is Marc. If you do, show me my son. You cannot show me Marc. You do not have Marc."
"You got a lotta mouth for a little dame," Negretti said. His voice full of quiet menace.
"I did not fight in French Resistance for nothing. Do not play with me."
"Do not think we're playing, Jacqueline. We want your salon. You have no choice. We'll do it with or without you. If you want to keep making pretty dresses and living the high life, you'll cooperate. If not, we'll have somebody else make the pretty dresses and you'll have a convenient accident."
Steele and Mildred were quietly breaking into the rear of the International Importers' warehouse. As they slipped stealthily along the length of the building, Mildred tripped over something on the floor beside a high crate.
"Oops," she whispered. When Steele turned his flashlight on the subject, it was J. J. Anthony-very dead. Mildred's hand flew over her mouth.
"Easy, Mildred, easy. I think you'd better go back to the limo and call the police. I don't want you in here if the fireworks start. No repeat performance of what happened night before last."
Steele continued till he was in earshot of Negretti's office. He could hear Negretti screaming threateningly at Jacqueline.
Meanwhile Jacqueline's nimble fingers had surreptitiously begun to untie the ropes that held her fast, her eyes keeping in sight an ornate bronze figurine on a marble pedestal in the room and she also was watching the cord that connected the desk lamp to its electrical outlet. It was just barely out of reach of her tiny left foot.
"Boss, I'm going to get rid of J.J. before day breaks."
"Yeah, get right back here and we'll dispose of the lady too if she hasn't changed her mind by then."
As Negretti's man opened the office door, he stepped right into
Remington Steele's best right hook. Simultaneously, Jacqueline freed herself, kicked the cord connecting the desk lamp and sending it crashing to the floor in the resulting darkness. Negretti, confused, turned his back on Jacqueline, and she struck him with the bronze figurine, knocking him unconscious.
"Monsieur Steele-Merci Dieu! Merci Dieu!" Jacqueline gasped as she fell into Steele's arms.
"Madame, you acquitted yourself rather well, I'd say."
"Mes compliments a la Resistance, Monsieur Steele." (My compliments to the Resistance, Mr. Steele.)
"That was a long time ago, Madame Jacqueline."
"Some things one does not forget, Monsieur Steele."
"No, I guess one does not."
The sound of sirens announced the arrival of the police.
The morning sun lighted Laura's hospital room as Remington, Mildred, and Jacqueline stood around her bed.
"Miss Holt, it was just unbelievable. Before I knew anything, Mr. Steele had Madame Jacqueline, and Negretti and his man were in custody."
"Monsieur Steele was there and toute suite, it was done!"
"With a great deal of help from a very brave little lady. Mes compliments encore, Madame."(My compliments, Madam) Remington kissed Madame Jacqueline's hand with a flourish and then he looked back to Laura. The warmth in his expression caused Laura to color slightly, notwithstanding her still very weakened condition.
Mildred and Jacqueline realized that Remington and Laura suddenly had eyes only for each other and eased quietly from the room.
As Mildred and Jacqueline walked down the hospital corridor together, Jacqueline spoke. "It is very deep between them, yes?"
"Yes, you bet! They came so close to losing each other. I think it frightened them so. I've never seen Mr. Steele so devastated as when he didn't know if she would make it or not. And they just found out that she's pregnant."
"C'est magnifique. La, la sensualité is very heavy between them."
"He loves her so much. And Laura-she held out for a long time but she finally gave in to him. She worships him."
"Ooh la la, he is, as you Americans say, a real hunk." Jacqueline smiled and winked at Mildred. She was very wise to make him wait. A man like that-if you do not make him wait, he will not stay pour toujours, always. But it must have been very hard for them-to wait-with all that amour between them."
"Oh my, I don't know how they did it. I watched them dance around each other for three and a half years. It was pathetic to watch. They literally drove each other crazy. I just wanted him to take her to bed and get it over with. They were both climbing the walls, if you know what I mean. I don't know everything about their personal lives during that time, but I would be willing to bet that they were both completely celibate for more than three years."
"Mon Dieu, such a waste, a man like that."
"The last couple years I found myself walking in on them in a clinch all the time and then about a year ago they were working on a case and they both just missed being blown to bits. The day that happened something changed. I just knew that they had finally gotten together. She never said and, of course, he is such a gentleman that he would have never said, but both of them were different. I wasn't born yesterday. You could tell by looking at him that he had got lucky. And she stopped having those terrible migraine headaches all the time. They had peace after that along with all that passion. And most nights either he was at her place or she was at his. They were very discreet but you can't fool me. I used to work for the IRS before I came to Remington Steele. When they looked at each other, you had to just look away. It was just too hot to watch."
"Let's have coffee, Mildred. I love to hear this story of such a beautiful romance."
* * * * * *
Laura lay propped up against her pillows, her cheeks just beginning to show color again, her shining hair down around her shoulders.
"Remington, where did everybody go?" Laura whispered.
"I think we made them feel," Remington gestured descriptively, "like they were intruding on something."
"And were they, Remington?"
Remington nodded, taking Laura's hand, placing it against his cheek.
"Laura, please get well soon. I need you at-at home. You've made me in to this hopelessly monogamous creature that you see before you now."
Laura regarded him, trying to comprehend this man who belonged so completely to her now. She smiled wistfully, nodding in agreement, lost in the emotions of the moment.
Finally, Laura spoke again. "Remy, get into this bed with me."
"Laura," Remington growled in that terribly masculine way that Laura loved, and, after taking off his jacket, eased himself up onto the hospital bed beside Laura, kicking off his shoes to the floor below.
"I just want to have you close. I can't do anything. . ."
"Except excite me beyond all human endurance."
Laura nestled against his chest, inhaling his marvelously fresh personal fragrance mingled with the sandlewood cologne he wore, listening to his steady heartbeat, gazing into Remington's deep blue eyes as he just traced around her features with his finger. He had loosened the top buttons of his shirt, and when Laura put her hand into the mass of dark hair that covered his chest, Remington uttered a soft groan, closing his eyes as his lips claimed hers ever so gently and his hand found her waist.
"Oh, Remy, it feels so good just to touch you, your beautiful chest-all this beautiful black hair. Oh, my goodness. . . you make me dizzy."
"Dear, dear, you seem so frail. It's hard to believe that you have our wee one in here." Remington softly patted her flat belly.
"Are you sure you still want me, Remington Steele? I'm sick-my chest all shot up. I'm a veritable 'Camille.' There may not be enough of me left to satisfy you-not enough 'meat with your potatoes.' " Laura smiled up at her husband who now grinned rakishly at her.
"Oh, my dear, not to worry! God knows there's enough here to keep me altogether captivated at least until we're well into our nineties."
It was a week and a half later and Laura was ready to leave the hospital. Remington had come to take her home. The sight of him, so breathtakingly handsome, and with such happiness and devotion to his lovely wife in his eyes warmed the hearts of all who saw them together. The nurses looked at one another knowingly and smiled whenever he came on the floor. Remington and Laura had become quite an item in the hospital. Everyone had seen the depth of love they felt-the attentive and tender Mr. Steele walking his wife down the corridors as she began to mend, or Laura, nestled in her husband's embrace in the solarium.
When Remington came into Laura's room and saw her dressed in street clothes again, he felt such a flood of different sensations that he could not speak for a moment. Laura got up from the large easy chair, her hair shining, her eyes bright.
"Ready to go home, eh?"
Laura nodded and they left the room together. As Remington rolled Laura's wheelchair toward the hospital exit, Laura asked, "Still no sign of Marc DuBois?"
"No, I'm afraid not. Not contact with his mother, no evidence of him anywhere. It's like he just vanished from the face of the earth."
"Maybe they found him-and eliminated him."
"Perhaps they did. If so, we would never find any proof of it. And then again. . ."
"Maybe Marc is smarter than we think."
"Mm, Laura, you are probably right. At least I hope so-for Marc's sake."
Fred was in front of the exit with the limo and he welcomed Laura. "Glad to have you back, Mrs. Steele. Glad to have you back." Even Fred's voice was not void of emotion today.
"Thank you, Fred. I'm glad to be going home."
Remington cleared his throat and just held Laura's hand rubbed it affectionately. He didn't seem to know what to do with himself. He was so obviously excited and yet trying to contain himself that finally Laura just started to laugh. When she began to laugh, then Remington began to laugh as well and finally they just dissolved in laughter standing there beside the car, their arms about each other. Fred stood there somewhat puzzled by it all but smiling as well.
"Fred, mate, we're ready to go home."
As the limosine pulled off, a bearded man in a nondescript old Ford eased off from the curb and into traffic behind them. Remington and Laura never noticed the car as they were engrossed with their own matters in the back of the limo.
"I've told Mildred to handle everything for the rest of the week, darling. We are not to be disturbed except in the direst emergency."
"Well, she should enjoy having total control of the office for a change."
"Yes, I thought that she would. We're going to have to hire someone else anyway with a baby coming." Remington smiled at Laura, "We need this time, love." Remington brushed her cheek with his lips.
Laura closed her eyes momentarily in response and then, just as suddenly, she opened them wide and, looking straight at Remington, said, "Where in the world is Marc DuBois?"
Remington smiled and sighed, "That's my Laura." He'd seen that 'bird dog on the hunt' look in her eyes many times.
After Remington opened the door to their flat, he turned to Laura, picked her up in his arms, and carried her across the threshold into the apartment, closing the door behind him with his foot. Once inside the apartment, Remington put Laura down and then held her close looking expectantly at her, absorbing every nuance of expression from her.
"Welcome home, old bee," Remington whispered, taking Laura's hand and leading her over to the sofa where they sat down together. There were baskets of roses everywhere in the house.
"It's good to be home, love. The flowers are so beautiful."
Remington just stared at her in wonderment, feeling nervous but happy in a new and inexplicable sense.
"There's lunch, Laura. I made some of that special soup you love."
"I'm not hungry right now."
"Neither am I." Remington paused. "Laura, I-I'm rather at a loss for words, but I think that this is actually what we might call 'the first day of the rest of our lives.'"
"I'm still the man with no name, Laura. Will-you accept my love on those terms-knowing that I may never determine the truth of things on that subject?" Remington's eyes betrayed his anxiety as he dropped his head disconsolately, but Laura touched his cheek and turned his face back up toward hers.
"I want you to know your name-because you are entitled to know-but it has nothing to do with how I feel about you, Remington. I love you. I love who you are now. You're Daniel's son. You're my husband."
"Even the daring and reckless part?"
"Especially the daring and reckless part," Laura said quietly as their eyes locked in a passionate lovers' stare. "I see so much in your eyes today-pain, ardor-that strange mixture of joy and sadness I've seen so often."
"Do you see my commitment, Laura?" Remington's eyes were bottomless blue pools opening his very soul to her it seemed, as he said those words.
Laura tried to respond, but could not speak. She finally just nodded, taking Remington into her arms.
"Oh, Laura. . . dearest wife. . ." Remington whispered as they embraced tenderly. He kissed Laura, cupping her face gently in his hands, a kiss of total commitment, lingering upon Laura's responsive lips, tasting the tears that had spilled and were now slipping down her cheeks.
"Darling, such tears," Remington murmured as his lips brushed her eyelids and cheeks. "I love you so, Oh, God, I love you."
"I love you too, Rem. I've never been so happy in my whole life."
Remington's own eyes filled as he attempted to fathom his own emotions.
"Laura, I feel this-this need to consummate everything that we're feeling? It is so intense in me that I can hardly bear it, darling."
"Yes, I-I'm overwhelmed. . . with need!"
"Oh, my darling, are you sure that you're well enough to be Mrs. Steele today? I will wait till you're strong enough."
"Remington, I'm absolutely sure that I want us to be man and wife today."
"Dear God," Remington murmured, his nostrils flaring, as he kissed Laura with his open mouth in an all-consuming kiss. Laura sighed and surrendered her now very delicate frame to his embrace, the pressure of his excited flesh against hers portending what was to come.
"Rem, my Rem!"
Remington picked his wife up in his arms and, carrying her into their bedroom, laid her on their bed. He slipped her shoes off and then gently began to undress her, kissing her all the while. Laura tried to help him undress but he stopped her and undressed himself.
"Save your strength, love." He kissed her again and pulled the camisole from Laura's chest. Laura was self-conscious about the ugly scars left by the bullet that she had taken. The bandage was gone but there were still the ugle sutures. "Let me see, love."
"It's so awful, Remy."
"Damn! Damn him!" Remington touched the scar with the tip of his fingers and then he turned her over so that he could see the even more wicked exit scar on her back with more angry looking stitches. "God, he hurt you so!"
"I'm scarred, Remington, scarred for life. Please don't look."
"You are no less beautiful to me. Do not hide these scars from me. When I see them, I'll remember that I almost lost you one night-the same night that we realized we were going to be parents."
"Oh, love, I just want to be attractive for you. You are so beautiful, so perfectly handsome."
"You are the most beautiful woman in the whole world, darling. Your beauty and strength is not just your charming exterior but it is your psyche, your soul. And that becomes more and more lovely to me the longer that I am with you. Now, you are carrying our child. Do you know how I feel when I look at you and know that there is a tiny spark of life in your belly from one of our magical moments?"
"I think that I know when it happened. Do you?"
"Yes, I'm quite sure when it happened, Mrs. Steele." Remington's hand was caressing his wife now-gently, holding her so as to protect the side of her chest that was still healing, wanting to hold her tightly, yet not daring to because of her still very fragile condition. Remington's hand found her soft breast and it almost filled his hand. "Well, your lovely breasts are certainly pregnant, darling. Laura. . . Laura, dearest darling, I missed you so much. I missed you here-in our bed. I guess I've just become 'accustomed' to our passionate life together, eh?"
"Was it like it was before we came together?"
"No, my love, it was much worse. Before, I only had hopes and dreams of being with you. This time it was different. I had my memories, Laura, countless memories of our being together, the rapture, the ardor, the surrendering of ourselves to each other so many times. No, Laura, it was much worse. If I had lost you that night, I should never have recovered from it, darling."
Remington and Laura lay quietly together, touching one another, whispering their feelings till they were both so aroused that they could no longer contain themselves. Remington lay on his side next to Laura, and put her back facing him so that he could protect her injuries and their bodies could still join. It happened quickly, easily but the act had been so long postponed that the ecstasy it produced was almost instantaneous. Remington held Laura around her waist to try to keep her from overexerting herself; but the tender passion they felt for one another overpowered everything else. As each found the comfort of the others flesh once more, falling into the timeless rhythm that was theirs alone, lost in the pleasure that comes between partners perfectly attuned sensually to one another, they seemed to be in another dimension. Remington groaned helplessly in rapture, and Laura wailed plaintively-in ecstasy with her Remington Steele.
"Rem. . . Rem. . ."
"Take it easy, darling. Take it easy," Remington crooned into her ear, trying to slow things down, fearful of Laura's weakened condition, but completely intoxicated by the fragrance of her luxuriant chestnut hair, the softness of her body against his.
"I can't help. . . it. I love you so. . .I love you!" Laura was in the throes of something she had never experienced with Remington even in their most vigorously passionate moments and Remington felt it too.
"Dear God, help us," Remington cried out as the pressure in his loins signaled his complete release. It just rolled over both of them, thundering and powerful. Laura, crying and gasping her husband's name, Remington totally incoherent, words tumbling from his lips that made no sense as he ejaculated in an agony of pleasure as he sensed Laura's complete surrender to him. "Laura, my wife, I love you-I love you so." The words just tumbled out now. There were no more inhibitions between them.
Remington turned Laura so that she was resting upon his chest He wanted to look into her face, into the eyes turned almost hazel by the passion she felt.
"I thought it could never be better than it was, love. But it was, wasn't it?"
"Yes, it was. You gave me the gift of those words, those words I had feared that I would never hear."
"I think I began to fall in love with you that first day we met. Laura, but I never knew that it could be like this. Even when I dreamed of having you, I never imagined it to be like this-beyond my wildest dreams, love. I always thought of coming together with a woman in purely physical terms, but with you it is so different, so much more than that." Remington kissed Laura again, plumbing the depths of her soft mouth with his own.
Laura was caught up again in her need for him and Remington tried in vain to still her trembling as the pleasure seized her again.
"Oh, Laura, take it easy, sweetheart. . . Laura." Remington groaned helplessly, at Laura's mercy now, unable to pull back from the brink as they reached for the acme together again. Laura's teeth chattered as she experienced the magic of their coupling, and when she cried out, when the surrender came, it was again beyond what either of them had anticipated. Powerful spasms rocked both of them in an acme so intense that, when it happened for Laura, when she saw those brilliant lights exploding in her brain and then began the marvelous free fall of surrender, she fell upon her husband's chest in a dead faint.
"My darling! My darling!" Remington cradled her in his arms, kissing her cheeks, her lips, her forehead, cherishing her as she slowly came around.
"I think I fainted, umm. Oh, Rem. . ."
Remington finally smiled. "I told you to take it easy, old girl. We have-a lifetime ahead of us, eh?"
"I just-just wanted. . . to be with-you . . . again. I love you. . .so much." Laura was completely intoxicated with Remington and helpless, nearly incoherent.
Remington drew the silken comforter up over them now as Laura fell asleep in his arms.
It was several hours later when Remington awakened with Laura sleeping soundly upon his chest, her chestnut hair strewn over him. Remington lay for a while enjoying just having Laura in his arms again, in his bed again, knowing that she was truly home again. He finally gently eased Laura onto her pillow and kissed her forehead before getting out of bed.
Remington showered and dressed and was standing in their bedroom buttoning his shirt when he realized that Laura was awake.
"I thought we were spending the rest of the day in bed," she said with no question as to her meaning.
"I-I can't be that close to you right now, love. I need you too much. And you're still recuperating, love."
Laura got out of their bed and stood naked before her husband. Remington just gasped and stared at her as his flesh responded powerfully to the sight of her. He had just not gotten used to seeing Laura again yet and she knew it as she walked into his arms to claim him once again.
"Woman, you fainted in my arms. I have-to take care of you." Remington kissed her forehead and then her cheeks. Laura found her favorite spot just above his collarbone and kissed him there, and then nipped him daintily with her teeth, shredding away the last vestige of Remington's self-control.
"You are determined to celebrate this day by drawing blood, aren't you? I gather you wish to add to the collection of marks you've already put next to my clavicle," Remington murmured, referring to the series of tiny bite marks Laura had left in her favorite spot in their moments of most intense passion. "And you wonder why I call you 'Kitten.' " Remington growled softly. "You are the most incredibly sensual woman I have ever known."
"Come back to bed, and you can explain it all to me."
"I can't understand it-over four years without this and now I can't endure a few hours."
"Oh, Remington, life is too uncertain, too short. I don't want to be without you today. I need you. I love you. Do you know how much I desired you when I was lying there in that solitary hospital bed and you would come to me looking so-so utterly gorgeous? And there I was with my right side immobilized."
"Laura, darling, I wanted you just as much. It was such a terrible time. Were I to have lost you, I would be lost for the rest of my life. There's no follow-up for a woman like you."
"And there's no follow-up for a man like you."
The next moment their lips met and Remington's kiss was that wildly passionate searching kiss that left Laura weak in his arms. Just as their lips met again, the doorbell rang.
"Who could that be," Laura murmured.
"I can't imagine. I told Mildred that we would be in-seclusion."
The bell rang again-this time more insistently. Remington disengaged himself from Laura.
"I'll get rid of whoever it is."
"I think I'd better put some clothes on."
When Remington opened his door, he was stunned.
"Oh, my goodness, it can't be!" Remington was flabbergasted.
"It's neither a resurrection nor a reincarnation. I should introduce myself. I am Mark James David Chalmers, the twin brother of your late father, Daniel."
"I-I am deeply honored, sir, to meet you. I did not even know that Daniel-my father had a twin brother-but it is obvious that you are his identical twin."
Remington Steele shook David Chalmers hand warmly and led him to a seat.
"Welcome-welcome to our home, sir." It was Laura who had come into the living room wrapped in a navy cashmere robe that emphasized her now somewhat fragile beauty.
Remington and Laura both fell silent, awestruck, as they contemplated this man who looked exactly like Daniel Chalmers.
"I am truly sorry that we are at a loss like this, but we-we were very close to Daniel."
"You are Daniel's son. You are my nephew. Daniel and I were very close as twins naturally would be-up until our university years. That is when Daniel got involved in cheating at Cambridge and was expelled in disgrace. Our father never could accept the fact that one of his sons had brought such disgrace upon the family and turned him out without a shilling. I was forbidden to have anything to do with Daniel or I would be turned out as well. You can imagine a young man of privilege being suddenly turned out like that. Daniel went from bad to worse. To raise money Daniel got involved in some foolish illegal scheme that landed him a prison term." David Chalmers sighed and continued.
"I knew your mother. I remember the day that you were born into this world. I want to tell you about your origin and your early years."
"The day my mother passed away is the day that I was born."
"Yes. It should never have happened. Your mother was from a very well-known London family of Irish background. When they discovered that she was with child-by a disreputable young man who had landed himself in prison no less, they did everything they could to conceal her situation. They sent her to the country for her confinement where she found herself in a life-threatening delivery without adequate medical attention. I had gone to visit Margaret just before you were born."
"My mother's name was Margaret?"
"Margaret Ann O'Sullivan. She was a beautiful black Irish girl with skin like fine porcelain and the same blue eyes and ebony hair that you have. I went out to County Cork, Ireland where she was exiled during her confinement. She was only seven months into it but she was very large and she was not faring well with the pregnancy. I remember-I remember that she put her hands under her belly in a gesture of love for her child within her and she said 'I will name him Michael Harrison Daniel Chalmers O'Sullivan if I have a son.' That is what she wanted to name you. That is your name, son-after your father, Michael Harrison Daniel Chalmers O'Sullivan."
Remington's eyes filled with tears now and he did not try to hide them or brush them away as Laura just held his hand tightly.
"That very afternoon your mother went into labor and the midwife was called. I stayed. I stayed through the night. At about midnight I went for the doctor. I knew it wasn't going well. When finally he came, he tried valiantly to save her but she had no strength left. She had started hemorrhaging. She had lost too much blood. She touched you, your hair-you were born with a full head of black hair-called your name, and passed away. The-the second baby, a girl, was delivered by emergency Cesarean section a few minutes later-after you mother had expired." David Chalmers dropped his head now, unable to go further.
Laura looked from her weeping husband to his uncle who sat with his head in his hands.
"Oh, dear God, I'm a twin. Oh, dear God! She never even knew she was carrying twins?" Remington completely broke down at this news. Laura sat and rubbed his shoulders and held him trying to help him bear the emotions that he was feeling. Finally Remington calmed somewhat and Laura took a deep breath. Her own eyes were full of tears.
"I think that perhaps some brandy would be in order about now."
Remington nodded in agreement and Laura got up and began to pour the brandy for them. David Chalmers accepted the snifter of cognac from Laura.
"Thank you, my dear," he said, sipping the brandy gratefully. "I haven't spoken of Margaret with anyone for so long. I-I thought that I could do this without losing my composure, but I fear that is proving impossible. I am sure that it is evident to you both by now that I deeply cared for Margaret. I loved her-first. I was at the point of asking her to be my wife, but then she met Daniel. He was so flamboyant, wild, taking chances. He swept her off her feet. Daniel and I, we were really mirror twins, I being the conservative, circumspect, careful one. I never forgave Daniel for ruining Margaret's life. It wasn't bad enough that he took her from me. They say 'all's fair,' you know. But then he was totally irresponsible-made her pregnant before marrying her, got himself thrown into prison so that he couldn't marry her even if he wanted to. He was an irresponsible rake. And when Margaret died giving birth to twins for him, I vowed that he would never see his children if I had anything to do with it. I kept that vow, and though I knew where you were, I never disclosed it to Daniel. He found you on his own."
Remington shook his head, tears still flowing. Laura handed him a linen handkerchief and he put his face into it and just cried silently..
"What-what happened to my-sister?" Remington could barely speak.
"You were separated at birth and she was given to one of your mother's cousins to raise. Her name is Harriett Michelle Chalmers O'Sullivan Rourke and she lives in Dublin with her husband and two young children. She writes children's books and her husband is a pediatrician. She is a beautiful woman with black hair and blue eyes, smashing good-looking."
Remington Steele sat in stunned disbelief, his mind full to overflowing with questions, emotions.
"Did Daniel know-that there were twins?"
"He only knew about you at first. I told him about Harriett later-when she decided finally that she wanted to meet her birth father. That was only last year and when I told Daniel, he was already terminally ill. It was too late."
"You have no idea what it means to Remington to receive this information. He-we have both had so many questions-and Daniel died before he could give us anything further." Laura was totally stunned by all the information they had received.
Remington stood up and went to David Chalmers and the two men embraced. It was a moment full of emotion for all of them. Laura took Remington's handkerchief now and was weeping into it.
"Dear God, this is my uncle-my family-my blood." The two men embraced again. "I am Harrison Michael Daniel Chalmers O'Sullivan."
"Yes, but you are also Remington Steele, Son. I worked for many years as an advisor to MI-6, British Intelligence. I knew where you were most of the time. Then I briefly lost track for about several months when you came here to America. I picked you up again just before you came to England, looking for your father. Actually I was the one that pulled the necessary strings to get you that passport with the name Remington Steele. I have old friends in the U.S. State Department. Last year, when Daniel died, was knighted posthumously and buried with honors, was the final blow. I had been knighted ten years before for my service to the government. Daniel and I could have shared that. It had become obvious to me that he had tried to redeem himself by getting to know you and be like a father to you."
"Oh, my word, you are truly 'Sir' David," Remington finally was collecting himself, realizing that he had truly found his family, his roots.
"And do you have family, sir?' Laura asked.
"I never married. After Margaret, there was no one that came along for me. I guess that I had a very bad case for that black-haired Irish girl. We do have other relatives in Ireland and in England, Remington-I will call you that. That is your identity whether you like it or not. The other information is for you, for your emotional health, for closure, for whatever else it may accomplish for you. I have always felt that you should have this information one day and that is why I made this trip to Los Angeles." He turned to Laura. "And you, my dear, you were seriously injured. We were so concerned when we-my sister Chloe and I-heard."
"Yes, she was the one that helped me make the decision to make this trip. She always wanted to see her nephew. You are a handsome one, Remington. You have made a good life for yourself here and I am very proud to be your uncle. I hope that you are recuperating well, Laura."
"Actually I just came home today. I'm mending, sir." Laura attempted to sound bright.
"It was a very close call, sir. I almost lost her. And-we just found out that she is pregnant. We are very happy." Remington put his arm around Laura protectively.
"Well, now you have something else to add to your knowledge of your gene pool-twins. They run in the family. There have been twins, either fraternal or identical, in every generation since the middle of the nineteenth century." Sir David Chalmers smiled. "And you know about the possibility of Rh-factor?"
"Yes, we have just faced that with Laura's life-threatening injury and pregnancy."
"You have been married just a few months now." David Chalmers stated it as a matter of fact.
"Yes, seven months ago actually. It was a very private affair actually." Remington smiled at Laura as they both recalled their wedding. "We had a reception last fall with all our friends and-Laura's family, restating our vows so that everyone could understand what happened to Laura and me-how deeply we feel about each other." As Remington spoke, he looked at Laura, and this time what they saw in one anothers eyes caused them to both blush and drop their heads.
Sir David looked amused and pleased. Remington and Laura were so obviously in love. There was something about them, something so pure and beautiful that seemed to have washed over them. Laura looked pale and fragile in her convalescent state and Remington was devilishly handsome, but in their eyes there was peace, contentment. David Chalmers had no doubt that this young woman fulfilled all of his nephew's passionate needs.
"Oh, dear, this is such a shock coming at this time. I don't know what to say actually."
"It's time, Remington." David's voice carried his deep sense of satisfaction at seeing his nephew in person finally.
Laura sat very close to Remington, holding his hand, as Sir David spoke again.
"There are some matters that we should discuss. First of all, I have started adoption proceedings so that you can become my legal heir. I have simply incorporated your given name into the name you now carry. Also, I am divesting myself of certain holdings in western Canada which shall become yours upon completion of the paperwork. This is not the time to go into all of that, but while I am here we can take care of those matters as well. I plan to be here for a few more days."
"Sir, I grateful for your generosity. I am truly grateful."
"So, it is fairly obvious to me that you two are still honeymooning." David Chalmers smiled knowingly. "I would love to have you come to England and spend some time meeting the rest of your family."
"Why thank you, Sir. I know that we will come, but I want Laura to regain some strength before taking a long trip. And then there is the pregnancy. Perhaps we can visit before she gets too far along."
"Perhaps in a couple of months-after her doctors have set her free, we'll definitely come, won't we, darling?"
"Oh, yes. . . I am so happy for you both." Laura's voice broke and Remington took her into his arms as she wept for joy with him.
"There, there, Laura."
"I just know how much this means to you. I've wanted this for you for so long."
"But you accepted me without it, Laura. That's why I love you so very much," Remington whispered.
"Son, you and your wife need some time alone right now, I dare say."
"Oh, no, we'll be all right. Please. . . after all, we're-family." Remington smiled affectionately at Laura as he spoke. "I am so completely in love with this woman, and, more than anything else I've wanted to be able to tell her who I really am-and I couldn't-not until just now here this afternoon."
Remington took Laura's face in his hands and kissed her forehead and they were all very quiet for a long moment.
David Chalmers then took two small gift-wrapped parcels from his briefcase and handed them to Remington.
"These are some things that I want you to have, Michael Daniel Harrison O'Sullivan Remington Steele, something for you and something for you, Laura. You many want to look at them now."
Remington opened the smaller packet given him and inside found a gorgeous ruby ring bearing the Chalmers family crest.
"Oh, my, I don't quite know what to say, sir."
"It's beautiful," Laura said softly. She took the ring and put it on Remington's finger and kissed the back of his hand.
"Thank you, sir. thank you, my-Uncle." Remington could hardly say the word.
"Remington, why don't you open Laura's for her?" David Chalmers spoke quietly.
Remington obeyed and tore open the package in his characteristic manner while Laura tried to salvage the lovely wrapping paper. It contained a long narrow velvet jewel case and, when Remington opened it, Laura gasped. There, nestled in the velvet folds was a glorious diamond pendant weighing at least three carats with matching eardrops.
"Oh, they're beautiful, sir, but-but you can't give these to me."
"They're yours, my dear, part of the family jewels that should rightfully belong to you. You are my nephew's wife, my niece. Remington is the only male heir to the family name. I have no children. Do you understand, my dear?"
"Yes, yes," Laura went to Sir David and kissed his cheek. "Thank you. You are so very kind. I-I am just so happy for both of you."
"My nephew has a real treasure in you, Laura. It is truly you who gave him his identity when you made him Remington Steele. I dare say these gems are but a paltry reflection of your beauty in his eyes."
Remington stood smiling at Laura with such undisguised adoration that, when she turned her attention from David to him, she just walked into his arms.
"Wear them proudly, my darling. You are more beautiful than any jewel on the face of the earth." Remington's voice was husky with emotion as he held Laura close.
David Chalmers sat watching Remington and Laura. He could see that his trip was well worth whatever effort had been required to be with his nephew and share such a momentous time with him. Remington was such a striking man, more handsome than he and Daniel had ever been, and so obviously in love with his Laura-this beautiful woman. He had known from the beginning how brilliant and resourceful she had been, but to see how she had brought his wild and somewhat disreputable nephew under control and given him a career and identity that made full use of his unusual gifts-that was quite a feat. That lovely dimpled smile, the deep expressive eyes, luxuriant chestnut hair-yes, his nephew had chosen wisely-strength, intelligence, beauty.
"Sir-Uncle. . .David, let me pour a drink to celebrate this special moment for us all." Remington went to the bar. "What would you like?"
"A little more cognac will be fine, Son." The sound of the word 'son' sent chills up Remington's spine. His eyes met Laura's and she sensed the intense emotion he was feeling.
"That sounds good. Would that things had been different, you would have been my father."
Remington poured the fine French brandy and they drank it together. Laura sat in Remington's embrace, her head on his chest.
"Remington, why don't we call it a day. There are other things for us to discuss, but now is not the time. I plan to be here for the rest of the week. We will have much time to talk, to rebuild. Now you need time with your wife. I am staying at the Bonaventure."
Laura spoke. "But, Sir-Uncle David, won't you have dinner with us? We were going to have it brought in. but-but why don't we go out to eat-to celebrate. We could call Mildred, our confidential secretary. She's like part of our family. I know that she would love this."
"Laura, are you up to this? Are you sure?" Remington was concerned, remembering her dead faint earlier in the afternoon. He took Laura's shoulders and looked intently at her.
"Yes, I'm sure. You won't let me overdo it, I'm sure." Laura smiled up at him. "Let me go and call Mildred. Where shall I tell her to meet us?"
"How about Mario's? It's not too far away." Remington was still thinking of Laura's diminished strength, as he watched her go into their bedroom to call Mildred.
"Son, you are still quite worried about her. Is Laura recovering well?"
"Oh, yes, she has a marvelous constitution. She is just still weak. She still has sutures in her. It was very bad, but she is expected to recover completely. It's not that, sir. I-I guess I'm battling my own fears. Seeing her cut down like that, nearly losing her. I love her so. I'm just so afraid of ever having to face a single day of life without knowing that I have her. It has taken us four, sometimes tortuous years to reach this point in our lives and I cannot bear to think of anything taking away the happiness that we have now."
"I was impressed with her from the time that I realized that you were involved with her. You know I spoke with Daniel on a just a few occasions during these past years. Once, when he first found you, I warned him against introducing you to the somewhat shady life that he had pursued. I was quite distressed to find that he had not taken my advice but there was nothing that I could do. On another occasion, when I realized that he was trying to draw you away from Laura Holt and the life that you had found as Remington Steele, I threatened to tell you about him if he did not desist. That young woman was the best thing that could possibly have happened to you. The third occasion was when he came to me to tell me that he was terminally ill. He wanted me to give you whatever information you might want in the event he was unable to do so. When you did not contact me shortly after his death, I realized that Daniel had not been able to give you the full story."
"Amazing-my uncle in MI6. You knew about me-about my life in the streets, in Brixton."
"I had hoped that your experiences in Brixton would teach you that a life of dishonesty and crime was not what you wanted. Later I had your juvenile arrest record expunged when you became Remington Steele."
"God, you are good. And I never knew. I always wondered how Laura was able to talk the U.S. State Department into giving me a U.S Passport." Remington chuckled and shook his head.
"We also were aware that Anthony Roselli was trying to prove your marriage invalid to exert leverage upon you to help him. Anthony is loyal but his methods have not always been what we would have desired. At any rate, the marriage was legal. It was beyond the three-mile limit in international waters. You don't have to have blood tests, license and such for a marriage in international waters. The man who married you, owned the boat and was legally acting as captain. We knew that also."
Remington recalled Mildred's words the day that they got married on that fishing boat. 'We're beyond the three-mile limit. It's as legal as hell.'
"I guess that you have been looking after me all these years. It's strange, knowing that you were there-in the shadows-caring for me in your own way. I loved Daniel, but I had no idea that he was my father till the very end. It was a really strange relationship actually. Now I realize why that was the case. Laura found out who he was, you know, and confronted Daniel with it. But you were looking after me. Dear Lord, how can I ever thank you."
"You can thank me by having a happy life and by letting me be a part of it. Your Laura is something very special. She's a marvelous woman-brilliant, beautiful, and obviously deeply in love with you. But you must allow life to happen as it happens. Just keep loving her, Son. A very wise man once said 'time and chance befall us all.' We cannot calculate what may or may not happen to us or to those we love. We must just accept our portion of love and joy and be very, very grateful." David Chalmers put his hand on Remington's shoulder in a gesture of affection.
"I am just so hopelessly addicted to Laura, sir. There's really been no other woman in my life since the day Laura and I met. And believe me, there were times when I feared that she would never be mine. She was incredibly hard to win." Remington smiled, remembering.
"Sometimes the most precious things are impossible to obtain. . . and sometimes almost impossible, but the results. . ."
"-are worth all the effort, pain, suffering, eh?"
"Thank you, Uncle." The word began to flow more smoothly from Remington's lips. "You see, our problem was my inability to express my deepest feelings to Laura. I knew that I cared so much for her, but just couldn't tell her." Remington sat back down on the sofa and David Chalmers with him. His voice was full of the turmoil that had been deep inside him for so long. There was so much that he wanted to say, so much that he wanted to ask and he felt totally comfortable with David Chalmers.
"When the woman that I thought to be my mother passed away, there was no one left to love me-no one left to want me, and I didn't allow myself to love anyone after that."
"That was your mother's cousin, Jane Ferguson, who took you and tried to rear you. She died in a car crash when you were just four years old. Our family wanted to take you then, but the O'Sullivans were very bitter and refused to let us take custody. You were shunted about from one distant relative to another among them with no truly good situation. Your Aunt Chloe never married and she wanted to have both you children to raise but we just could not get our hands on either of you. When your sister turned eighteen, I was able to arrange for her education to be cared for. Then when she became twenty-one, I made myself known to her and we have maintained a very close relationship with your sister until now. She knows about you and wants very much to get to know her brother. Daniel had made such a bold mess of things that our two families were completely estranged and we were unable to do anything until she was an adult."
"Sir, I tried many times to tell Laura my feelings, but each time the words froze in my throat. Even after we were married-which is another story-I couldn't say the words. And she couldn't say the words because she was afraid to make herself that vulnerable. (She has had her own family issues.) But then, two weeks ago when Laura was shot, and-and I saw her bleeding, wounded-so close to the edge that I thought she was a goner, the words came. They came without urging. There was this tremendous sense of catharsis mixed with an agony like I've never known. I thought I was losing her and our unborn child. There she was-whispering that she loved me too, bleeding in my arms." Remington looked directly at his uncle. "I cried. I cried like I've never cried in my life."
"Thank God, she lived. Thank God." David Chalmers felt such empathy for his nephew, such affection for this one lost for so long but now found to him, this one who could have been the son that he and Margaret O'Sullivan might have brought into the world.
"Since the accident, we have declared our feelings to each other countless times. Today, coming home from the hospital is really a beginning of everything for us in a sense. And now, knowing my name, knowing you, that you are my uncle. I-I don't know exactly how to say this, but I really feel as if I've truly found a father today. It's marvelous, isn't it."
"For all of us," David Chalmers said quietly.
Just then the doorbell rang.
"Whoever could that be? I can't imagine that Mildred is here already."
Remington Steele opened the door to admit an extremely agitated Jacqueline DuBois, a striking figure with her thick swinging blond hair in contrast to the black turtle neck sweater and tailored slacks she was wearing.
"Oh, Monsieur Steel, je regret, but I have only you to turn to." Jacqueline realized the presence of David Chalmers and halted. "So sorry. You have guest."
"C'est bien, Jacqueline. C'est mon oncle." Remington smiled at Chalmers.
"Ah, enchanté. Je m'appele Jacqueline Dubois."
"And I'm David Chalmers." David Chalmers took note appreciatively of Jacqueline and of course she took note of him.
"Sir David Chalmers actually. Madam DuBois, what is the matter?" Remington was concerned.
"Mon Dieu, Marc, he calls. He is at the office. He say he know why those bad men wanted to take my salon. He is in danger. I know he is in danger, Monsieur Steele." Jacqueline was close to hysteria.
"Well, I guess that we will just have to check things out down there."
Laura came out of the bedroom at this point. She was dressed for dinner in an elegantly simple black one-shouldered dress with a huge butterfly of jet bugle beads adorning the yoke of the dress. Her burnished hair flowed to her shoulders.
Everyone stopped short at her stunning appearance.
"I found this new dress hanging in my closet. I think it must have come from someone who knows which shoulder to leave exposed. Jacqueline, thank you very, very much. I've always wanted a left-handed one-shouldered dress. It's beautiful."
"It's fabulous, darling."
"Magnifique," seconded Jacqueline.
"Jacqueline, there's something the matter." Laura sensed her emotions.
Remington responded, "Marc is down at the salon. He says that he has important evidence for us. Jacqueline is concerned, understandably, for his safety. Darling, I'm going to have to go down there."
"Of course. I'll come."
"I'd love to tag along, Remington." David Chalmers was most interested in seeing his nephew at work. "I'll try to stay out of the way."
"Laura, are you sure. . ?" Remington's eyes were troubled.
"I've got to start somewhere. I've got to conquer my fears or I'll never be able to work again."
Remington looked from Laura to David Chalmers, who raised his eyebrows slightly, conveying to Remington his meaning.
"All right, Laura. You must do what you must do. But you will stay in the limo till we have an all clear."
"I'm in no condition to get in the way. Thanks for understanding me, Remington."
"Well, let's go, everybody!" The doorbell rang again as Remington spoke.
"Oh, my! That's Mildred with the limo. I forgot with all the excitement." Laura spoke as the bell finished ringing.
Remington opened to Mildred who walked in-quite surprised to see Jacqueline and totally shocked to see David Chalmers.
"You said you had a surprise, but. . . is this who I'm thinking?"
"No, Mildred, it's not who you're thinking." Laura's eyes glowed. "Remington's uncle is visiting-Sir David Chalmers-from London. He is Daniel Chalmers' twin brother."
"How nice to meet you, Miss. . ."
"Krebs. Mildred Krebs. It's a pleasure. I-I don't know what to say actually. It's just wonderful." Mildred was smiling broadly now as her mind processed the implications of this visit.
"Mildred, let's save all this for just a little later, dear. We have urgent business to attend to down at Jacqueline's. What say we take off?" Remington was organizing now. "Mildred, you'll ride with Jacqueline. Laura and I and my uncle will be in the limo. Let's go toutes le monde!" Remington got Laura's white faux fur coat from the front closet and wrapped it around her.
The whole entourage trouped out of the flat with Laura and Remington bringing up the rear. Remington gave Laura a quick kiss on the cheek and they were off.
When they all drove into the parking lot at Jacqueline's, it was just past dusk. Remington turned to Laura. Before he could speak, Laura said, "I'll stay here-just in case we have to call the police-or something." She looked at Remington. He could see the fear in her eyes and her hands were like ice.
"You're remembering it all, aren't you, love?"
Laura nodded. "I'm afraid, Remy."
"Stay here and let me see what is going on in there." Remington planted a tender kiss upon Laura's lips.
"I'll stay here with Laura," David Chalmers said.
"Mildred can come with me. We'll see what's happening before having Jacqueline come in." Remington smiled. "Besides, she's probably got that ill-tempered dog with her."
Laura not spoke excitedly. "Remington, someone's going in there."
"It's Thomas Grayson, Jacqueline's man in charge of finance-a very straightforward sort actually." His aside was to his uncle.
"Remington, do you suppose that he may not be so straightforward after all? Someone had to tell the mob the financial status and other inside information on Jacqueline's, someone who would know what a plum it would be for them."
"Laura, I'm going in there. If Marc is there, and if what you say is true, he is in grave danger."
Remington got out of the limo and headed for the same back door that Grayson had entered, motioning to Mildred to come with him. As Remington and Mildred walked casually across the parking lot, Laura's eyes were fixed intently upon him.
"You do love him very much, Laura, don't you?"
Laura looked right at David Chalmers when she answered. "I began to love him the first day, that first time that he walked into my office."
"I see the devotion, the love in your eyes when you are with him."
"I am so happy that you came today." Laura's voice was serious and contemplative.
"I am thankful that you are alive and well and on the road to complete recovery. This news today would have been meaningless to him if he had not been able to share it with you, Laura."
David Chalmers took Laura's hand and kissed it.
Remington and Mildred headed immediately to Marc's office upon entering the building housing Jacqueline's salon and workroom. When they got near Grayson's office, they heard voices. It was Marc, quite agitated and excited, arguing with someone. His lightly French-accented voice was easily identifiable.
"It has been you all of the time. Such deceit-making me think that I was the dishonorable one."
"You're a fool, Marc! When you got away, you should have kept running."
"I'm not such a fool as you think, Grayson. I knew that there must be someone here-someone that knew all about the business-someone to tell Negretti. The evidence is all here, Grayson." Marc gestured toward the computer on Grayson's desk.
From just outside Grayson's office, Remington Steele whispered to Mildred, "I venture Grayson wasn't as straightforward as I thought. Slight miscalculation there, eh?"
"I'll say!" Mildred replied.
Remington motioned for her to stay as he moved in on the developments in Grayson's office.
"Marc, you have gone too far. Unfortunately for you this is where you will definitely have to drop off the screen."
Grayson drew a small revolver from his pocket and began to menace Marc with it.
"We are going for a ride, Marc. We are going to walk right out of here and get into my car as though nothing was amiss."
Grayson jammed the gun into Marc's ribs.
"You will never get away with this."
"Yes, I most certainly will. And you have even helped with that interesting disguise you're wearing. With that beard no one will have glimpsed Marc DuBois here at all, will they?"
Just then, at the back of the building, Laura saw a suspicious-looking black car ease quietly into the parking lot. She was instantly at attention.
"Oh, no, I don't like this at all. Call the police, Fred. We may have real trouble here."
Laura moved to get out of the car, her fears forgotten.
"Laura, do you think. . ." Chalmers was concerned for her, but when he saw Laura's determined expression, he knew that she had made up her mind.
"That's my husband. I can't let anything happen to him."
"I'm coming along."
When Jacqueline saw Laura and Chalmers get out of the limo, she got out of her Mercedes, Aldo in arms and followed them.
The men in the black car stayed put, watching and waiting.
Inside, Grayson was ushering Marc out at gunpoint, but when the door opened to Grayson's office, Remington stepped in front of Marc. Grayson was startled, but maintained control of the situation.
"I will kill him, Steele. Get out of my way!" Grayson shouted.
Remington was restrained, cautious. "Grayson, it's all over. The police have been called."
"Out of my way, Steele."
Just then Mildred shoved a huge rack of gowns right at Grayson. It struck him, causing him to lose his grip on Marc. Marc ran for cover and Grayson, still holding his gun, ran for the door with Remington Steele in hot pursuit.
Laura had just stepped inside the rear door and she saw the gun this time. There was a large hamper near her full of bolts of fabric. With what seemed to be a superhuman effort for her, Laura pushed it into Grayson's path. It stopped directly in front of the door, effectively blocking the exit. Grayson piled onto it and Remington piled onto Grayson, successfully pummeling him into submission.
There was a general mêlée, with Jacqueline and Chalmers trying to get in, Aldo squeezing through and charging the fallen Grayson. Mildred, having confiscated Grayson's gun, had dropped it into the hamper and was trying to push the hamper out of the doorway.
"How did you move this thing, Miss Holt? It weighs a ton!"
"I-I don't know, Mildred." Remington looked quizzically at Laura and at the hamper and just grinned and shook his head in disbelief.
David Chalmers finally pushed the loaded hamper out of the doorway and he and Jacqueline came in.
At that moment they all heard the police sirens and rushed outside just in time to see the police cut off the two gangsters from the mob trying to make a getaway in the mysterious black car. Remington had Grayson in tow.
"You've got one more over here, Officers."
Jacqueline and Marc were embracing warmly while Aldo sat crying for attention.
"Maman, c'est fini. C'est fini."
"Oh, Marc, mon fils, mon cher."
Remington Steele regarded the rest of the group.
"Alors, mes amies, how about dinner?"
It was a little later at Mario's that Remington and Laura were reviewing the case with David Chalmers.
"So it was really Grayson whose gambling debts drew the attention of the mob," Laura explained.
"They forced him into a sort of partnership with Negretti," Remington interjected. "That is why our getting Negretti didn't really save the situation. They still had their man in there."
Laura continued, "Marc knew that he had some gambling debts-but he paid them off. Negretti made him think that his indiscretions made him vulnerable. It was a kind of mind game they played with him."
"But Marc couldn't figure out how they knew so much. That's why he went into hiding-to find out. He was a pretty smart cookie, after all, Chief."
"Marc found Grayson's files outlining the whole deal in his computer and that's when he called us." Remington spoke with a sense of real satisfaction as he summed up the case.
"That is completely fascinating." It was David Chalmers. "I'm glad that you have finally concluded this one. Now perhaps our Laura can finish recuperating."
"Yes, I hope so, sir." Laura smiled. She was exhausted by the day, the excitement, and sat resting her head on her husband's shoulder.
"I, for one, was also fascinated with Jacqueline DuBois. She seems to be quite a woman." David Chalmers' had a certain glow when he mentioned Jacqueline..
"Well, she is going to join us here. She is charming, isn't she?" Laura said.
At that moment Jacqueline DuBois arrived. Sir David Chalmers gallantly stood to greet her and placed her right next to him whereupon they began an animated conversation about her early life with the French Resistance movement. Laura, Remington, and Mildred all took note and smiled.
"Perhaps my uncle will find other reasons to visit Los Angeles in the future. He's more like his brother than he realizes," Remington said quietly to Laura and she nodded in agreement.
The strains of Andy Williams singing "While We're Young" started and Remington said to Laura, "They're playing our song, darling. Will you dance with me?" and to the others, "Excuse us, please."
Laura and Remington got up, walking hand in hand to the dance floor, where Remington took her into his arms and they began to dance very slowly together. Laura still could not lift her right arm so she just stood in Remington's embrace with her arms around his waist.
"What are you thinking, love?" Laura asked.
"Would you believe a movie reference?"
"Really?" Laura smiled up at Remington."
" 'Sound of Music'-Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, 20th Century Fox, 1965. Plummer and Julie Andrews sing this marvelously romantic duet that ends, 'Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.' "
"Nothing comes from nothing; nothing ever could. . ." Laura remembered the words. "What did we do, Michael Harrison Daniel Chalmers O'Sullivan Remington Steele?"
Remington shook his head and closed his eyes, his handsome features registering the deep sense of pathos within him.
"I almost lost you, Laura. I came so close to losing you, and losing the bairn you carry."
"I know, Remy. My whole life as the mother of your children flashed before me when your uncle broke that news today. Carrying the bairn-yes, I want to do that now."
"Laura, I am so in love with you."
When Remington's and Laura's eyes met now, Laura nodded and then, unable to meet the intensity of his gaze any longer, put her head on Remington's shoulder.
Remington held Laura even closer and spoke softly into her ear. "I, Michael Harrison Daniel Chalmers O'Sullivan Remington Steele, take you, Laura, to be my wedded wife."
Laura responded, her eyes looking into Remington's. "I, Laura, take you, Michael Harrison Daniel Chalmers O'Sullivan Remington Steele, to be my wedded husband."
"To have and to hold, to love and to cherish till death us do part-and there too I pledge thee my troth." They whispered the words in unison.
Remington bent to kiss Laura's lips ever so gently once, and then again, and then again and again as they slowly danced to the lovely melody.
"My goodness, they are so beautiful together." It was Mildred speaking to David Chalmers and Jacqueline Dubois as she reached for her handkerchief.
"Yes, they are. My nephew and his wife-I think they are very happy." David Chalmers cleared his throat, his own emotions surfacing powerfully. Jacqueline eyes filled. The sight of Remington and Laura dancing together so, their lips touching tenderly again and again was made especially poignant to all of them, but especially to Mildred and David Chalmers, realizing as they did how very tragically things could have ended for Laura and Remington Steele.
When the dance ended, Remington and Laura walked slowly from the dance floor, their hands tightly clasped, their eyes glistening, and David Chalmers, Mildred, and Jacqueline got up and came forward to embrace them both.
Remington murmured to Laura, "Let's go home, Kitten."