STEELE HAVING A HARD TIME
By: Ilsa Lund
SUMMARY: This is my first attempt at RS Fiction. It takes place shortly after 'Steele Waters Run Deep' - an episode from way back in the first season. Remember, this is set early on in the relationship of Laura Holt and Mr Steele. I've tried to capture the spirit of the person he was at that time (ditto with Laura) but naturally, I've gone with the flow in places!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Americans may notice odd words/terms (e.g. grey rather than gray) - I'm English and that's how we Brits spell!
DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction for entertainment purposes only. I am not attempting to make a single penny or profit from this. I do not own the rights to any of the characters from the television series "Remington Steele" and am not affiliated in any way to MTM productions or any television network screening the show.
RATING: This work contains some adult content and sexual innuendo so if you are under the age of 14 or very easily offended please do not read on.
The man known as debonair, private investigator Remington Steele entered his apartment and closed the door. He furiously pulled at the knot of his tie, almost choking himself in the process. It was Friday evening and the weekend stretched out ahead of him. It had been a typical day - murder here, intrigue there, deliberately annoying Miss Wolfe, mercilessly baiting Murphy and no significant progress romantically with Laura Holt. She'd just evicted him from her house and the frustration he felt was eating him up. He couldn't figure it out. Where was he going wrong?
Steele paced up and down, deep in thought, brow furrowed. A week had passed since the case of George Kaplan - a video game genius who had vanished without a trace. He had also supposedly absconded with $5 million and his company's latest video game plans. The reality was that George Kaplan didn't exist: he was an invention of company president and crook, Alby Fervitz. It was a delicious irony, the Remington Steele agency hired to find a phantom person when they themselves were headed by a figment of Laura Holt's imagination!
Laura. Unconsciously, Steele smiled at the thought of the woman whose life he had invaded and turned upside down by assuming the identity of her fictitious boss. They had briefly posed as lovers while working on the assignment, sharing a kiss which was interrupted before it had a chance to really begin. Even now, the memory of it gave him good but mystifying sensations. He had risked sharp admonishment from her at best or a slap in the face at worst but neither scenario had occurred. Instead she dismissed the moment as 'posing' and had made no reference since to what had happened between them. It was bloody maddening.
Laura. She was unlike any woman he had ever known and he'd known many. As he'd scammed his way across the world, there had been beautiful countesses, glamorous actresses, vibrant models, alluring singers, lustful aristocrats. He knew his good looks brought him a certain amount of leverage and he had shamelessly exploited it, never afraid to capitalise for his own gain. Women had always come pretty easily to him and they were often a pleasant diversion but no more than that. Especially after Anna.
Steele refused to think of the woman he'd loved and lost preferring to contemplate his luck with the fairer sex in general instead. In the past, a tough nut to crack would usually mean his having to sit through dinner first! But after eating, his patience was usually rewarded. Thoroughly.
He enjoyed women and they adored him but it was all getting too predictable, too facile. He realised now that half the time he was on auto-pilot, going through the motions to get what he wanted. Afterwards, he'd leave the bed and walk away without looking back. The women, the sex, it meant nothing to him.
Now he was faced with a tough challenge. Something to really get his teeth into and it was driving him mad. But perversely, he was enjoying it too: the chase, the challenge, the thought of what lay ahead. If - no, strike that - when he succeeded, it would all be worth it. Laura Holt was just the stimulation he needed. It had been a couple of months yet all he had to show for his efforts was the one fleeting kiss. You're slipping old man; he scolded himself as he looked around his luxurious apartment.
It was uncanny, his new identity, his growing reputation, his fresh life on the right side of the law were all down to Laura's tenacity. It was so typical of her to come up with the concept of Remington Steele. Any other woman in her position would have given up their ambition or compromised. But not Laura. When she set her mind on something, she had to have it. This intrigued him, she intrigued him. Laura was nothing like the women he'd previously found himself attracted to. His coterie of tall, long-legged, busty conquests stretched continents but here he was losing his mind over one who was petite, small breasted, stubborn, independent and honest.
She played it straight down the line. Black was black and white was white, there was no in between. A clever, smart and loyal woman who had displayed warm compassion helping him catch the murderer of his friend Wallace.
He wanted to see more of that side of her. Who was he kidding? He wanted to see more of her full stop. He couldn't stop thinking about how good she'd looked in that white dress which had clung provocatively to her body.
Reality was better than any fantasy he'd had about her.
It was happening all too frequently now. At night, alone, it wasn't visions of trysts with former lovers that gave him a shattering climax. It was Laura Holt. What did she wear under those coolly professional office outfits of hers? Satin? Lace? Silk? Nothing? What was she like in bed? Was she a moaner? A screamer? How would she taste? What would her mouth feel like on him? And would she swallow? Damn. This was not doing him any good.
Steele walked towards the telephone and picked up the receiver. Then he put it down again. Suddenly he felt like a schoolboy. This was ridiculous! He was a grown man, for heaven's sake! He took a deep breath and tried again. What the hell would he say? 'Laura, look, we make such a winning combination behind the boardroom door, what say we let go of our inhibitions tonight behind my bedroom door?' No. No good. She'd heard that line last Tuesday and had calmly reiterated that they were in business and their relationship should remain business-like. But she wasn't offended. A most encouraging sign.
He knew that she'd also be at a loose end tonight. He'd taken care of the Teddy situation but the subterfuge had not gone exactly to plan. The bugger was supposed to have called and let her down by the time he'd arrived on her doorstep ready to play knight in shining armour. Teddy. Dreadful name.
But how to capitalise on it? There were only two options open to him: either blatantly but honestly ask Laura Holt out for the evening to coax her into a romantic interlude or get her up to his apartment by employing a pretext. He
Instantly dismissed the first scenario. She'd probably say no and that would be another opportunity wasted. The second option offered the best route for success.
He checked the TV Guide and looked up at the ceiling mouthing a silent, 'thank you'. It was his lucky night, "Marnie. Sean Connery. Tippi Hedren. Universal, 1964" Steele said aloud. He poured himself a drink and raised his glass, "Here's to an evening of feuding, scheming, conniving and lots of sexual tension." It was a toast to the film but he knew it also applied elsewhere. Steele sank down on the couch and thought back to what had happened earlier in the day.
* * * * * *
The sun was shining, it was Friday and any moment now he'd be locking horns again with Laura Holt. Could life get any better? He pushed open the door to the Remington Steele agency and greeted the alluring brunette seated in the reception area.
"Good afternoon Miss Wolfe" Steele beamed.
"Fox!" she immediately replied.
"Ah yes. I knew you were some sort of cunning creature" he responded with a deliberately absent-minded air.
"Excuse me?" she looked completely mystified.
'Bullseye' thought Steele suppressing a smile, "Fox" he offered as he surveyed the letters on her desk.
"Yes?" she queried.
"The cunning creature, you know...red fur...bushy tail. One of the most elusive animals known to man, compelling him to chase it in an effort to tame its wild impulses. Truly remarkable species."
Bernice looked at him in utter bewilderment.
"Well there's nothing for me here. Have Murphy and Miss Holt arrived yet?" She recollected herself sufficiently to tell him that they had not but she remained completely at a loss with regards to their previous conversation. "Very well. Carry on Miss Wolfe" he said moving towards his office.
"Fox!" she shouted after him in exasperation.
Steele picked up his newspaper and settled down behind his desk. After five minutes he put it down again. Where the hell were they?
* * * * * *
At that moment Laura Holt and her associate Michael Murphy were stepping into a lift to ride up to the office. They were laughing at a joke, both in a good mood due to the successful conclusion of another case. Suddenly, Murphy stopped, "Oh no!" he groaned with feeling.
"What?" Laura enquired with a look of concern on her face.
"He's going to be there. Remember the good old days Laura before your Mr Steele walked into our lives?"
She turned to him saying, "He's not my Mr Steele!"
Her associate grinned, "I'm pleased to hear you say that."
She made no comment to that, preferring instead to change the subject. Murphy knew what she was doing but he indulged her and played along.
They had worked together very well for a long time now. Murphy admired Laura's dedication, her drive and her spirit. He had taken it for granted that their relationship would move to a different level eventually, when she was ready. He had been in no rush to push things knowing how badly she had been hurt by past love Wilson Jeffries. Yep, he would have happily carried on waiting until the fateful day he entered their lives: the mystery foreigner with five passports, that charming, smarmy style of his plus that face.
To think he had originally intended to steal the very jewels that the Remington Steele agency had been assigned to protect. He was just a common thief, a criminal! And if that wasn't bad enough, the effect he had on Laura was stomach churning. Murphy wasn't blind nor was he in the business of deluding himself: he could see all too clearly that that British creep had somehow managed to get under Laura's skin.
Murphy grimaced at the memory of his partner the day after she'd spent her first evening with that crook. He remembered the look on her face: it was one he had never seen before, that he'd never been able to bring out in her. She had positively glowed with excitement. Murphy scowled as he thought of that clown getting a reaction like that from Laura after a couple of hours in her company. He'd been with her for ages arousing nothing more than a kind of brotherly love. It was sickening.
Laura was similarly lost in thought. It was Friday and another case was successfully completed. Her agency was in a healthier financial condition than it had been in years. She had to concede that having a real, live man playing Remington Steele, ok, having an attractive, real, live man playing Remington Steele, had had an amazing effect on business. However, she was damned if she was going to let him know that! Inevitably, she was back to the same old questions. Who was he? Where had he come from? What was he before he was Remington Steele? Why was his past so mysterious? What was he hiding? The little scraps of information he'd doled out so far had not appeased her curiosity. Far from it, it had left her craving more.
There was something about this con artist. His good looks, engaging personality and outrageous flirting were combining to break down her defences. On more than a couple of occasions, she'd found herself daydreaming about him especially after that kiss they'd shared on the George Kaplan case. The whole experience was a rude awakening for her. Not the fact that he'd dared to kiss her but how much she'd secretly wanted him to.
Laura had already freely admitted to Bernice that she was romantically attracted to their flashy front man and the secretary had been very understanding encouraging her to, "Go for it!" They were her very words and it was a highly tempting idea. But for the sake of the Remington Steele agency, which she'd worked so hard to build up, the relationship between her and the man who had assumed that identity would remain strictly professional.
Nothing must ever happen between them. Her resolve was absolute even if her body and hormones conspired to betray her. At stray moments towards the end of the day, she found herself wondering what he would look like naked and it mortified her. How was she supposed to resist him if her own mind wouldn't play ball!
To her chagrin, more sexually explicit musings followed: she was mesmerised by the thought of his mouth and hands caressing various parts of her and she couldn't stop herself speculating on how well endowed he might be and what it would feel like to have him moving inside her. But there was no way she was going to risk compromising her business just to get laid.
Even now she could still clearly recall the musky cologne he'd been wearing and the feeling of being in his arms and...Goddammit Laura Holt, she scolded herself, will you stop thinking about him for one moment please? She ordered herself to concentrate on her date instead, Teddy Heath from law firm Feinstein & Feinstein on the 22nd floor. She'd secretly nicknamed him 'Steady Teddy'. He was so typical of most of her liaisons these days: reliable, safe, dependent. Diametrically opposed to Mr Steele in every way. Damn! She'd done it again.
Her brow suddenly furrowed as she contemplated how difficult it was getting to keep him in the role of the flashy front man. For some reason, he was determined to work on actual cases! Of all the ridiculous notions! He had no formal training, no certificates, nothing. What made him think that he could do in a couple of months what it had taken her years to learn? The cheek of the man! His sudden interest in the day-to-day activities of the business was obviously just some ploy to get closer to her. She sniffed indignantly but a smile involuntarily crossed her lips.
As they entered the office, Bernice pointed to Mr Steele's office, mouthing the words, "He's in." Murphy rolled his eyes heavenwards and Laura immediately said, "I need a wrap up on the Malone contract, we've just concluded the Chambers investigation and I need the Peterson presentation." Bernice nodded and turned away to retrieve the files as Steele's door opened.
"Ah! Miss Holt! Murphy, everything tied up satisfactorily I presume?"
"You presume correctly Mr Steele" Laura responded as she checked the mail. "And may I say how delightful you look today?" he continued.
Murphy didn't wait for Laura to answer him, "Gee thanks and there I was wondering whether to wear my jeans or my slacks." His tone dripped sarcasm.
Steele smoothly shot back, "Take it from me Murphy, it makes no difference what you wear." That earned him a glare from his rival. He knew that the gloves were off as far as he and Murphy were concerned. They were keen adversaries intent on capturing the ultimate prize: Laura.
"Gentlemen please, isn't it rather early in the day to start on each other?" the object of their desire started to move towards her office but Steele blocked her path, "Miss Holt, May | see you for a moment in private please?"
Laura gestured for him to follow her.
"Murphy could you look over my draft of the Peterson presentation? We've got to see him shortly."
"Sure thing" he added after a beat, "Partner" directing his gaze at Steele with a triumphant expression on his face.
Laura sat at her desk and started opening her letters, "What did you want to see me about?"
"Miss Holt, it occurs to me that I'm not utilising my talents to your disposal in a completely effective manner" he began,
"What do you mean?" she queried
"Well, I know you feel that I function best in an advisory capacity but I believe I could be of further use to you in the trenches, so to speak."
"What?!" she exclaimed, dropping her letters.
Steele pressed on, "Take the Peterson proposal this afternoon, I could - "
"No you couldn't!"
"What are you so afraid of? Didn't we just solve the mystery of George Kaplan's disappearance together? A client that I unearthed to boot!" He ended smugly.
"Believing in your own publicity again are we? You are not Remington Steele! I invented him! He's a figment of my imagination! Murphy and I do the work, all you have to do is turn up and take the bows! Why? Why? Why won't you do this one simple thing"? She buried her head in her hands.
"Because Laura, I'm absolutely convinced that we'd be good together."
She raised her head to look at him. Their eyes met. What Laura thought she saw there unsettled her. Did she imagine it or had he deliberately injected a double meaning into that last statement? To the matter at hand, Laura Holt, she told herself, to the matter at hand.
She tried to be patient, "Mr Steele, I appreciate your interest but you must understand that you have no formal training in this line of work and -"
"Just who do you think you're protecting eh? Me" he paused, "Or yourself?"
"I beg your pardon?" she rose from her chair, placing her hands on her desk.
He stood directly in front of her, palms down opposite hers, bending to meet her glare, "I think you heard me clearly Miss Holt" he said in a low voice.
"I'm only thinking of the good of my agency!" she announced between gritted teeth determined to meet his challenge.
God, she was cute when she got angry he thought. Underneath that methodical exterior lay such passion, such spirit. It was a sight he was becoming used to. No one else brought it out of her the way he did. And they both knew it.
"You look like you need to relax Laura, you work too hard."
The change of subject threw her for a brief second but she retaliated gamely, "It's one of my vices Mr Steele, you ought to try it sometime."
"I can think of a better vice we can try together Miss Holt" he answered facetiously.
Laura opened her mouth but before she could respond, Murphy popped his head around the door.
"Saved by the bell", Steele commented and backed away from her.
"Ready partner?" Murphy asked with a look in the direction of his chief adversary.
They moved out of her office into the reception area. Laura disappeared to powder her nose and Murphy couldn't resist taking advantage of her absence to aim a sly dig at Steele.
"So. What will you be doing while Laura and I are on this case? Together. Alone" he smugly emphasised the final two words.
The comeback was swift and immediate, "I'll spend the time fondly remembering the very intimate moment Laura and I shared when we worked on the George Kaplan matter." He took great satisfaction in noting the varying emotions that crossed Murphy's face. "Ah yes! Truly a most intoxicating experience. One that we'll repeat together soon. Often" Steele smiled and then added softly for more effect, "She tastes....like strawberries."
The look of consternation his competitor couldn't hide was just the response Steele had aimed for.
Laura returned and immediately said, "Bernice, Murphy and I will not be back this afternoon. Could you call Teddy Heath from Feinstein & Feinstein and tell him to meet me tonight at my place for 7:30?"
"Ah, just a minute Miss Holt" Steele pulled her aside, "Teddy Heath?"
"My date" she declared with a great deal of satisfaction.
"Isn't he the gentleman from the firm of solicitors?" Steele quizzed
"Attorneys" she corrected
"You say potato, I say pota-to" he responded with that crooked grin of his.
"Mr Steele, is there a point to this conversation?" Laura asked wearily
"I didn't think he was your type Miss Holt," he tried to seem indifferent.
"And I didn't think my private life was a matter of public debate Mr Steele" she asserted putting her hands on her hips. Her eyes never left his face.
"Let's go Murphy, Mr Peterson is waiting for us." They left the office without a backward glance.
Bernice picked up the phone and dialled not realising how closely her actions were being watched.
"This is Miss Fox from Remington Steele Investigations, I have a message for Mr Heath."
Steele pretended to be occupied with the heel of his shoe as he listened to Bernice's conversation.
"Hello Cindy...I'm fine. How are you?.....Me? I've got a hot date tonight with a market analyst...yes, this could be the one....Who? Oh him."
Steele saw her shift her chair to the right and lower her voice into the telephone.
"Yes. He's British...no, he's not married. Huh? I don't know if he's seeing anyone seriously but between you and me, I think Laura...Your boss is coming? Oh! I'll make this quick. Can you let Mr Heath know that he's to meet Laura at her place at 7:30 tonight?...You too Cindy. Bye."
Steele was cursing the interruption of her conversation. What was she going to tell that young lady about Laura? He strode purposely towards the phone in his office, dialling the number he'd just memorised.
"Teddy Heath please" Steele said in a very exaggerated English accent.
"Mr Heath is in a meeting. This is his secretary Cindy Perkins."
"Interrupt him at once my dear lady. Have you no idea to whom you are speaking?"
"Excuse me?" she queried.
Steele could sense her confusion and pressed on before she could regroup, "This is Sir Reginald Bowles-Asquith QC. That means Queens Counsel my girl. As in 'Her Majesty'. I've just flown in from London and I desire a word with young Heath. His father and I were at Oxford together."
"Would you hold on for a moment please...Mr?"
"Sir" he corrected, "Sir Reginald Bowles-Asquith"
Steele tapped his fingers on the desk and prepared for stage two.
There was no attempt to mask irritation, "This is Teddy Heath and this had better be good."
"Ah! Young Teddy! Excuse me for being the cause of the suspension of your meeting. How are you?"
"Errr...I'm fine...I'm sorry have we met?"
"Why my dear boy! I was at Oxford with your father and we were good friends. How is he?"
"I lost my parents in a car accident two years ago."
Steele winced but smoothly continued, "Oh dear boy! Your father was larger than life. It is too easy for me to forget that he's no longer with us. I visited regularly but you were a mere child at the time. I am not surprised you find it difficult to remember me clearly" Steele mentally held his breath. The next answer from this potential suitor of Laura's was crucial.
"You were at Oxford with my father? You sound rather young."
There was a hint of suspicion creeping into his tone. Steele knew he didn't have much time.
"Wonder drugs my boy! Amazing the advances in medicine these days! I've kept an eye on your remarkable progress with Feinstein & Feinstein. My firm has a very high six-figure proposition for you regarding a role in one of our oldest central London offices. We look after the affairs of the Duke of Sussex."
Heath's interest in the conversation rose immediately, "Six figure?" he asked.
Steele exhaled: like an angler, he was reeling in his catch now. "There are two other candidates but you are the son of my dear friend so I've taken the liberty of putting in a personal recommendation to Sir David Frobisher-Marks. He's conducting the interviews tonight at the 300 Club before we fly back to London"
"Tonight?" Heath asked
"Yes tonight at 8:00. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I trust that will not be a problem?" It was a statement, not a question.
"No sir! There isn't a problem."
"Excellent! I'll tell Sir David Frobisher-Marks to expect you at 8pm sharp. You'll be a huge success my boy! The toast of London! Toodle pip and tally ho young Heath." Steele put the phone down quickly. Heath had bought it. More importantly, Laura was now free tonight. Steele allowed himself a smile of quiet satisfaction.
* * * * * *
Laura stepped out of the shower and placed a towel around her hair. The Peterson presentation had gone well despite Murphy's obvious distraction. Something was on his mind. Concerned, she'd asked him if he was alright but he'd merely nodded in response. She decided to worry about it on Monday morning if his mood hadn't improved by then.
Suddenly she remembered something and dashed over to the telephone. Peering down, she realised that she'd forgotten to switch the answer phone on. The doorbell interrupted her thoughts. She looked at her watch. It was 6:30pm. Teddy wasn't due for another hour! She grabbed her bathrobe and ran to the door.
"Who is it?" she said as she poked her arm through a sleeve.
She frowned and opened the door saying, "What are you doing here? Don't you have one of your Betty Boop's lined up to waste some hormones on?"
"Really Laura!" he admonished playfully, "I was informed that there were
matters urgently requiring my signature. I cleared my entire schedule for tonight so that we could attend to the particular papers. Voila!" He showed her the bunch of files weighing down his arms.
"It's Friday night!" she exclaimed.
"Nothing gets past you Laura." He couldn't hide his amusement.
"I have a date! "Teddy will be here soon!" she cried.
Steele inwardly cursed at that. Hadn't the tiresome chap phoned and cancelled yet? This would make things infinitely more difficult.
"Miss Holt, I have no intention of getting in the way of such a rare occurrence for you -"
" - however I am merely attempting to demonstrate my interest in our business."
"I don't have time for this right now Mr Steele so if you'll just - " she motioned for him to leave but he ignored her.
"Is that what you're wearing?" he pointed at the bathrobe.
"You know it isn't" she responded wearily.
"Well don't stand here arguing with me. Get dressed." He walked over to her table and dropped the papers on it. Laura stared at him for a moment, opened her mouth, closed it again and went into her bedroom.
"Don't worry Miss Holt. I'll be leaving soon. So what do you think?" he queried
"About my stepping up my role in the Remington Steele agency"
There was a pause for several seconds and then he heard her say, "We'll talk about it later."
The door opened and Laura emerged wearing a plain, grey, polo-necked, long sleeved, jersey dress that stopped just beneath her knees.
"Is that what you're wearing tonight?" Steele asked.
Laura bent down and looked at her attire, "Yes. Is something wrong?"
"Miss Holt. May I make a suggestion?"
"By all means Mr Steele."
"Well with all due respect, it doesn't exactly get the blood pumping."
"You don't like it?" she ventured
"It's a lovely dress. For the office. And you look fetching. But I thought you wanted to impress this Teddy chap?"
Laura looked down at her dress again, "Maybe you're right. I only put it on because I didn't want to give him the wrong idea - ." Too late. She realised her mistake and mentally kicked herself, "However, this evening with Teddy could turn out to be the right idea so I'll go and change."
"Yes. Yes. You do that" Steele rejoined and only when he was sure she was out of sight did he allow himself to smirk. How like her to pre-empt the possibility of sex before she'd even left the house!
It suddenly occurred to him that this Teddy situation was yielding a totally unexpected advantage. Now he could fulfil another fantasy and imagine that Laura was getting dressed up for him. There was no harm in it, was there?
"By the way, have you said something to upset Murphy recently?" she called from her bedroom.
"He seemed preoccupied and distant this afternoon. He hardly spoke to me."
"Really? Can't imagine what could have caused that," The grin on his face started at his left ear and easily finished at his right.
The door opened again and Laura came out struggling with a necklace. Steele stifled a gasp as he took in the sleeveless dress of white silk chiffon with the lowest neckline he had ever seen. It was a tight fit leaving nothing to the imagination and his was already racing. Warning bells sounded off in his head as he felt the hot fire starting down below.
"On second thoughts Laura, that grey number was highly commendable."
"Now what's wrong?" she asked in exasperation.
"Nothing. You look...it is....you are....it's rather an overwhelming dress Laura."
"What does it say to you?"
"I could tell you but it would be more fun to show you" he said with a wink.
"I don't believe this." She rolled her eyes and headed for the bedroom once more.
Steele was frantically concentrating on turn-offs. Think. He ordered himself. Nancy Reagan. Hamburgers. Polyester trousers. Margaret Thatcher. Goddammit. It wasn't working. All he could see was Laura's body, Laura's exposed flesh, Laura's breasts. His want for her was so strong that it shocked him: so immediate that it must already have been lodged in him, waiting, unacknowledged, for this moment.
"You'd better like this next one otherwise I'll kill you" she called out.
"Would you grant a dying man a last request Laura?"
"Mr Steele, has anyone ever told you that you have a one-track mind?"
"Oh come now Miss Holt! I was going to ask you to water my plants. Now who has the one-track mind?"
The door opened again and this time she emerged wearing a simple white dress with a soft suede red belt and red shoes to match.
"Better?" she asked
"Better" he confirmed "However feel free to wear that other white dress to the office on Monday morning!"
"Goodnight Mr Steele" she replied looking at her watch pointedly.
"Laura, can we -"
"Goodnight Mr Steele, so kind of you to stop by" she said pushing him out of the door and slamming it shut.
* * * * * *
Steele sighed and got up off the couch. Recollection was a bitch. If he failed to persuade Laura to spend the evening with him, he'd be in alone with Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren. At least their company would be congenial. He looked around his apartment and moved into the kitchen to prepare a fish soufflé with lobster sauce.
* * * * * *
Laura paced up and down her front room. Where was Teddy? He was over half an hour late. At that moment the phone rang and she rushed to answer it.
"Hello" she breathed heavily into the phone
"Laura? It's me, Teddy!"
"Where are you? Do you realise what time it is?"
"Laura, I'm sorry. I rang earlier and I tried to leave a message but your phone just rang and rang."
"I forgot to switch the answer machine on. Is this a social call or do you have
an actual reason for calling me?"
"Laura. You're not going to believe this!"
"Try me" she stated emphatically.
"An old friend of my father named Sir Reginald Bowles-Asquith called me this afternoon. He works alongside Sir David Frobisher-Marks in an old London firm of solicitors. Anyway they're recruiting and I'm here at the 300 Club to meet with Sir David and -"
"Wait a minute! Wait a minute! What are you talking about? What's all this about London?" Her detective mind was switching into gear.
"That's what I'm tying to tell you Laura! I'm meeting Sir David here in a minute to talk over a six-figure salary for a position within this old London firm! The recommendation came personally from Sir Reginald Bowles-Asquith. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. His words!"
Laura felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand to attention. "This man, this Sir Reginald Bowles-Asquith, what did he sound like?" She forced herself to stay icy calm.
"He's an English man Laura, that's all I can tell you because I've never met him. Apparently he knew me when I was a little boy." Heath couldn't contain his excitement.
"An out-of-the-blue offer? An English man?" Deep-rooted suspicion was beginning to turn into red-hot certainty. It was too much of a coincidence. "And you've never met him?" she mentally counted to five before saying, "Teddy, you've been set-up, conned. There is no Sir Reginald Bowles-Asquith, there is no Sir David Frobisher-Marks and there is no job. It's all part of an elaborate ruse."
"Laura. Are you saying that someone out there went to all this trouble to make a complete fool of me?" She heard his utter bewilderment but at that moment she didn't care.
"This isn't about you Teddy! It's about me! I can't believe he did this! He deliberately broke our date tonight! I'm gonna kill him!" she yelled.
"Kill who? What's going on here?"
"Never mind Teddy. Have a nice life."
"What? Wait! Laura?" He was terribly confused.
"It's obvious that we're too alike to make this work. We're the sort of people who put our careers first so there's no point continuing a romantic dalliance. This is for the best Teddy and one day you'll thank me for it." The conviction in her voice stopped all his protests.
Laura replaced the receiver and fumed. He'd wilfully deceived a harmless man, sent him on a wild goose chase, made her parade around in different dresses for him knowing all along that it was a pointless exercise.
"I'll rip his face off! I'll kick him where it hurts! I'll cut his suits up! I'll..." Suddenly she stopped. What is it they say? Revenge is a dish best served cold? Except in this case, it would be served piping hot. Laura walked towards her bedroom and picked out the white silk chiffon gown she'd had on earlier.
She brushed her hair and touched up her make up. It would be fun making him pay for ruining her evening. The old Laura - wild, spontaneous, passionate, and carefree - was still in there somewhere she realised.
* * * * * *
Steele was tossing a green salad when he heard the buzzer go. He looked at the clock. He wasn't expecting anyone at this hour. He strode over to the door and opened it.
"Laura!" he exclaimed in genuine surprise. "What are you doing here?"
She ignored the question, "Aren't you going to invite me in?"
"Yes, yes. Sorry. Come in." She handed him her jacket and was rewarded with a look of utter shock as he realised which dress she was wearing.
"My date cancelled on me. He mentioned something about a job interview."
"Oh really?" Steele managed to squeeze out.
"Yes" she continued "Pity he couldn't make it. I'd decided to wear this dress for him after all but then I remembered you said something about clearing your schedule for tonight?
"Aha" he confirmed.
"So since we're both footloose and fancy free, I decided that I may as well come over. What are we eating for dinner?"
"Huh? Oh! I made a fish soufflé with lobster sauce."
"You made it yourself? Wow. I'm impressed Mr Steele. Is it ready? I'm famished."
"Shall we?" he motioned towards the kitchen and followed her into it. His mind was in turmoil as he desperately fought to control his rapidly mounting desire for her. Of all the dresses she could have worn!
Laura poured wine into their glasses watching Steele intently as he served the food. Boy, he really was something to look at. It would be so easy to give in to her attraction, to give in to his flirting, to let something happen between them but she told herself to be strong. She was here to punish him not please him. Laura picked up the glasses and placed them on the dining table, waiting for him. Her companion stole a glance at her when he thought he wasn't being observed. He could clearly see her nipples against the dress and it undid him.
Steele chivalrously pulled her seat out.
"Help yourself to salad Miss Holt" he directed as he hurriedly set her plate in front of her and sat down, relieved that a certain part of his anatomy was now out of eye shot.
Laura picked up her fork and commenced clearing her plate. It really was delicious. She complimented him on his cooking. He thanked her but was caught, spellbound by how she was eating.
With every mouthful of food she placed into her mouth, Laura slowly pulled the fork out and licked both sides. Aware that he was staring at her, she exaggerated the motion locking her brown eyes with his blue ones. Steele concentrated on the very difficult task of trying to breathe. By now, his crotch felt like it was on fire. What had gotten into her? Not that he was complaining if it led somewhere. He cleared his throat and attempted conversation.
"Would you like to watch a movie later?"
"Marnie. Sean Connery. Tippi Hedren. Universal 1964. Wonderful stuff. Intrigue. Murder. Romance. The kind of ingredients your dreams are made of Miss Holt."
"You've seen everything haven't you?" An obsession with the silver screen added more depth to his persona. Even she had to admit that.
"Don't tell me you've never seen Hitchcock's Marnie?" he feigned a look of horror.
"Nope. 'Fraid not. I never seem to have the patience required for watching movies."
"Well you can start tonight. No time like the present is there, eh?"
"By the way, this is fantastic. Where did you learn to cook?"
"Oh, here and there" he said smiling.
She crossed her arms, "I see. Yet another mystery from your elusive past."
"Does there have to be a story behind the fact that I can cook?" he asked a little irritably.
She shrugged her shoulders and then laughed, "I can't!"
"Can't? Can't what? I haven't asked yet!" he smirked, relieved to be on familiar ground.
"I can't cook to save my life" she admitted.
"Not to worry Miss Holt. Your other attributes more than make up for your lack of talent in the kitchen" he grinned.
She leaned forward, aware that he had a very good view of her chest and breathed, "Which attributes Mr Steele?" He tore his eyes away from her body and gulped down some wine.
Laura smiled. Little did he know that there was more torture to come. Who would have thought such a disastrous evening would produce so much enjoyment?
He changed tack, "So. The assignment this afternoon went well?"
"Yes. Mr Peterson would like to meet you on Monday."
"Why does he require our services?" Steele hoped she'd see that he was growing genuinely interested in his new line of work.
"The old man suspects his very young ex-wife has secretly re-married which is in direct violation of their divorce settlement. Murphy will stake out her apartment and I'll join him directly after we reassure Mr Peterson that the great Remington Steele will get to the bottom of things."
"I see. And does the great Remington Steele get to do more than function in an advisory capacity on this one?"
She coolly responded, "Mr Steele. It's Friday night. Let's talk about it later."
"Very well. We should get a move on. The film will be starting shortly."
"Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't your television in the bedroom?" she asked innocently.
"Err....yes but I can move it out here if -"
She stood up and leaned forward, "No. The bedroom's perfect for what I have in mind. Care to join me Mr Steele?"
Breathe old man, breathe. Steele told himself. "Could you...give me...a minute please? Need to...call a friend."
"By all means" Laura responded as she walked towards his bedroom.
Once inside, she switched the telly on, found the channel showing 'Marnie' and propped her back against a pillow as she reclined on his bed. She put her right arm out, feeling the empty space beside her. Right now it was difficult not to think of the other women he must have brought in here. Although teaching him a lesson remained her objective, she was honest enough to admit that it was hard on her too. She closed her eyes. So near and yet so far.
Steele was desperately trying to compose himself. He'd gone beyond thinking of older women as turn-offs. This was an emergency of the highest order. He was thinking now of men: Charles Laughton. Sylvester Stallone. Bela Lugosi. What the hell was going on here? What had gotten into Laura? Was this his lucky night? Was she finally going to give in to him? Peter Cushing. Boris Karloff. W C Fields. He splashed some cold water on his face and counted backwards in French.
* * * * * *
Laura heard the bedroom door open and pulled her dress up above her knees. Steele placed himself on the bed, putting as much distance between them as was physically possible. He hoped it looked like a casual manoeuvre but Laura was wise to it.
"I should apologise for intruding on you Mr Steele" she said sweetly.
"No apology necessary Laura" he responded in kind.
"I wonder how Teddy's getting on?" Casual Laura. Keep it casual she told herself.
He raised an eyebrow, "Teddy?"
"Yes Teddy. You know. My date who cancelled on me. Apparently he's got a job interview with an English man for a position within a London firm of solicitors."
"Ah." He desperately wanted to change the subject, "Miss Holt, you need to watch the movie carefully otherwise you'll lose the gist of the plot."
"Oh yes. Sorry" Laura turned her head to hide a smile.
The film progressed to the wedding night scene: Connery's character was having obvious trouble controlling his lust for his sexually repressed wife. Steele willed himself not to look at Laura but almost without knowing what he did, he glanced over at her. He could see her chest rising and falling. His eyes travelled down her body: her hands were in her lap and her legs were crossed.
"Laura - " he began
"Mr Steele" she jumped in, "Would you bring me my glass of wine please?"
He paused for a second. "Of course" he complied.
As soon as he was out of the room, Laura removed her dress and sandals and covered her breasts just above her nipples with the duvet using her arms to hold it in place. She hummed to herself and played with her hair while she waited for his return. He was away for over five minutes snatching the opportunity to splash more cold water on his face and body. The door opened and she heard him before she saw him.
"I took the liberty of - ". Steele gawked wide-eyed at the sight in front of him.
Laura was in his bed. Naked. NAKED! This was too much. Any control he thought he had instantly disappeared. Before he could think, before he could fight it, before he could stop it, he had the mother of all erections.
"Oh my God Laura! What the - ."
"Come here and sit down next to me Mr Steele" she commanded in the most seductive voice she could muster. She'd seen the bulge in his pants and her body had betrayed her by involuntarily reacting to it. Her skin was tingling but with every ounce of determination she could assemble, Laura forced herself to go through with this final act. As if hypnotised and under a spell, he wordlessly obeyed. She took a sip of her wine, set the glass down and pulled him to her, brushing her lips ever so lightly over his.
Steele could actually hear his heart hammering away in his ears, his breathing had become ragged and he was throbbing so hard that he ached.
"Laura" he groaned into her mouth.
"Do you want me, Mr Steele?" her warm breath caressed his ear.
"Why ask questions you already know the answer to?" he countered seeking her lips.
She pulled her head away. "Do you want me, Mr Steele" her tone was more insistent.
"Yes" he said simply. His voice sounded strange to his ears, husky, urgent.
"How much do you want me?" she persisted.
"Isn't it obvious, Miss Holt?" Despite having a brain clouded with the concentration of desire, Steele managed to banter playfully with her.
"Tell me" she pleaded, "It turns me on." Her eyes promised a reward he was intent on collecting.
"Ok. I want you so much. It's driving me bloody crazy!"
"Good!" she exclaimed aiming such a forceful shove at his chest that he fell on the floor.
"Laura, I'm all for passionate foreplay but -"
"YOU LOUSE!" she cried. "How dare you break my date with Teddy! How dare you interfere with my private life like that! Who the hell do you think you are?"
"Aha! I take it Teddy will not be moving to London then?"
"You know damn well he isn't! You watched me get dressed up, you made me change a couple of times knowing all the while that there was no point!" she accused.
"Well perhaps that part was beneath me but aren't you in the least bit flattered that I went to all that trouble for you?" he tried what he thought was his most winning smile but she was having none of it.
"In geometry it's a space between two intersecting lines or planes but with you it's a way of life!"
"Huh? Laura, you've lost me."
"An angle, you cheap con man! There's always one with you isn't there? I'm supposed to fall at your feet because you scheme your way into my Friday night? Is that it? Didn't it ever occur to you to just simply ask? What am I saying. Playing it completely down the line is beyond you."
Steele frowned, "Allow me to get something straight here. Am I to understand that our carnal ardour is not going to erupt into something fulfilling tonight?" he looked at her face with a mixture of hope and desperation.
"You'd better believe it buster!"
"Are you telling me you got dressed up and came all the way here, acting the way you did in retaliation for what I did?" He queried.
"I came here to teach you a lesson Mr Steele and judging by the line of your pants, I'd say I succeeded." She allowed herself a huge smile of supreme satisfaction.
But as usual, he threw her. "You left something out Miss Holt" he stated with total confidence.
His smugness bothered her. She crossed her arms and waited.
"Because it's not quite so easy as that is it? It's not quite so emphatic as you merely giving me my just desserts is it? There's one other factor." He laughed softly, "One you forbore to mention. You want me too Laura. And the fact that you act like a bloody nun around me doesn't fool me. I know. You can't hide it, not from me."
"Why you conceited, egotistical -"
"Look into my eyes and deny it Laura."
"As long as I'm the head of my agency and you're Remington Steele, we are not jumping in the sack together!" she cried.
"In that case Miss Holt, please accept my resignation." he retorted.
"Get this straight. We are never going to bed with each other!"
"Never say never Laura. I'm a man who enjoys impossible challenges. Remember?"
All of a sudden it felt like the initiative in this power play had shifted from her to him. There was only one way to get it back. Laura pulled the duvet off completely revealing her bare flesh to him bar the white lace panties she was wearing. She stepped off the bed, slipped her sandals on and stood up, hands on her hips.
"Take a good look Mr Steele. It's all you'll ever get from me!." She was gratified by the stunned look on his face. She swore he was hyperventilating too. She then picked up her dress and walked out of his bedroom. A couple of minutes later, he heard the front door shut.
* * * * * *
The first thing Laura did as she entered her house was burst into peals of laughter. It had been so long since she'd had such a good time. The look on his face when she'd stood practically naked in front of him! His constant but fruitless attempts to hide his arousal! It was priceless! Delightfully absurd! Serves him right for not being honest with me she thought.
All in all it had been a good day and a wonderful night. Laura had to admit that she enjoyed his company and the fact that he had such an obvious, physical reaction to her presence was a massive turn-on. He had been right when he'd spoken of their mutual attraction: Laura couldn't deny it but despite that, she was determined not to give in. She wanted more from him than just a wink and a tumble. She'd been there, seen that and done it. Now she was ready for something more substantial and maybe more passionate too.
Laura padded around her house tidying and straightening, dusting and cleaning. Then she put on her night gown and brushed her teeth thinking of him all the while. His thick black hair, his sensuous mouth, his long fingers, his accent, the way he said her name when he was aroused. What a challenge it would be turning this charming con artist into the man she envisioned when she originally invented Remington Steele. He had the exterior package already but did he have it where it truly counted, deep inside?
Laura was looking forward to finding out. Who knows what would happen if he ever began to truly measure up? It would be a combination that she probably wouldn't be able to resist. He had already promised her that he wasn't giving up the chase. All she had to do was keep him chasing so that he'd be around for a very, very, very long time.
Laura beamed at her reflection in the mirror. She felt wonderfully alive. As she pulled the covers over herself and settled down she thought of Wilson and realised that it didn't hurt as much as it used to anymore. If it had worked out, he would have given her an iron clad, lifetime guarantee of domestic stability. Instead she was in danger, serious danger, of losing her mind, body, heart and soul to a man who could only take things a day at a time. She fell asleep dreaming of her Mr Steele. "Harry" she said aloud with a smile of pure bliss.
* * * * * *
As the door slammed shut, Steele sighed, got up from his bedroom floor and headed for the shower. From the moment she'd taken her coat off, three hours ago, he had been in a high state of arousal. Even now, he was still painfully erect and desperately needing release. She had chosen her strategy well and despite his intense, excruciating frustration, he had to give her credit for it. "Touché Miss Holt" he acknowledged.
The cool water was most welcome. He savoured his memory of seeing her for the first time in that skimpy dress. He visualised her skin, the smell of her perfume, her unexpected arrival at his apartment, the way she'd licked the fork, his shock at seeing her under his duvet but what finally made him come
was the vision of Laura in her strappy sandals, white lace knickers and nothing else. Her small but beautiful breasts fully exposed to his gaze.
Spent but sated, Steele pulled on his pyjama bottoms and collapsed into his bed. Laura's actions had hardened his resolve. Well, that wasn't the only thing she'd hardened: he had to smile at the unintentional pun. Any niggling doubts were now removed: he was absolutely sure. He would do whatever it would take to make her his and his alone.
His gut instinct had been the right one: she was very special. He had wanted her from the moment he'd set eyes on her and with each passing day his feelings were intensifying. He would have the pleasure of knowing her intimately soon but until then fantasy was the only recourse. Steele drifted off into a deep sleep, a beatific grin on his face as he dreamt about Laura Holt's splendid naked body and how it would feel pressed tightly against his own.