FAMILY STEELE: STEELE HEARTS, OPEN HEARTH (PART 5)
By: Phaedra Phelan
Summary: Remington and Laura work on their first case as new parents.
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 mid-October, 1988, and Remington and Laura Steele were getting well adjusted to their new routine in their role as parents of Chlöe and Cassie, who were thriving at the age of two months, rapidly developing and growing as the tiny individual personalities that they were.
Laura had proved to be excellently endowed with everything required to be a mother and was well able to nourish them with her fine production of milk. Having taken a very analytical approach to breast feeding and having read everything available on the subject, she had been able to put her little girls on a regular three to four hour nursing schedule so that she would be able to plan her life and activities. She herself had only one problem—eating enough to support the three of them. Her milk production was fine but she was constantly hungry. She was eating over four thousand calories a day and she had lost all of the weight she had gained with the pregnancy and a few more pounds besides. Her waist was back to its sylph like slenderness and the only change still evident was the striking full bosom she had developed with breastfeeding and she carried it proudly like a badge of her womanhood.
This evening was the last one that Remington and Laura would spend in the apartment where they began their married life, the place that Remington Steele had called home for more than six years, and they both felt a certain reluctance to leave this place. There were boxes all over and the place was in total disarray but it was still home. As Laura finished the twins’ midnight feeding, she was seated in a comfortable love seat that seemed the perfect place to easily feed her twins. Remington took the little girls one at a time, cherishing each one in his arms, kissing each one tenderly before putting each one in their crib. They cuddled close to one another as if they were still in the womb, and slept easily. Laura loved to watch Remington at these times with his babies, humming to them, talking to them, adoring them. Cassie and Chlöe seemed to thrive on this attention from their father, being extremely calm and good-natured of disposition ever since their birth.
After putting the babies in their crib, Remington came back to Laura who had been sitting just enjoying watching him with his children. Taking her by the hand, he drew her up from the chair and into his arms so that he could kiss her. After the period of forced abstinence following the birth of the twins had ended, it seemed that they were unable to get enough physical coupling. The birth of their children had simply added another dimension to the passion they shared for one another that made their coming together only more broad and profound.
“Laura, it is our last night in this place where we have so many memories, isn’t it?”
“Yes, so many.”
“We spent so many hours together in this apartment even before we got married. Sharing my bed with you has been such a time of happiness, comfort.” Remington touched the fullness of her bosom with his slender fingertips.
“You like me like this, don’t you?” Laura flirted mercilessly with him, well aware of the effect her changed figure had upon him, confident now of the strong attraction she held for him.
“Dear Lord, yes! Yes!”
Remington’s blue eyes were the deepest cobalt as Laura gazed into them and as he stared passionately into Laura’s brown eyes, Remington saw them turn almost hazel signaling her own warm response to his arms around her.
“Remy, I love you so much.” Laura whispered the words.
“And you, I love you Laura.” They never tired of declaring their love to each other. Remington had kept his promise given when he first became able verbalize his love to Laura, and he did not let a day pass when he did not tell her that he loved her with all his heart.
Remington and Laura found their way through the stacks of boxes to their bed. This was a night for reflection and remembrance for them, a night to tell one another all their feelings, their tongues completely loosened by the emotions that overwhelmed them.
“Darling, Laura, do you remember the first time we kissed in this place?”
“I remember everything, Remy. How could I forget that first kiss here in your kitchen! You were so sleepy and tired after that case at the sleep clinic. You had kissed me before, but you had never kissed me like that. It frightened me because it aroused me so much at that moment.”
“I was overcome. God, how I wanted you. I forgot everything else when we kissed that day. I forgot that I had guests in my house, that we were not alone. I forgot it all as I kissed you and you kissed me back.”
“I felt then that one day we would be together, but I had no idea that we would wait so long, that the road to where we are now would be so difficult.”
“I will never forget the day you got into this bed with me when I was laid up with a broken leg after that criminally insane boy who was your building manager rigged my elevator.”
“Wally, my secret admirer. What a pitiful case he was?”
“Almost got both of us killed, eh?”
“Well, that was when you started talking seriously about marriage and children—what I would do with the little tykes if I had them. You pulled me down into your arms in this very bed and told me where my ‘place’ was.” Laura smiled indulgently.
“And where did I say that place was, love?” Remington teased.
“You said that my ‘place’ was beside you, ‘pillowing’ next to you. I got rid of Mildred and I took care of you the rest of that day and the next one as well.”
“You gave me that marvelous bed bath. I don’t think I ever experienced anything like it.” Remington flushed as he remembered Laura attending him in such an intimate way.
“Well, I considered it a kind of fact-finding expedition. Your were at my mercy after all.” Laura chuckled softly. She was always surprised when her worldly-wise husband blushed before her.
“Then you undressed and got into bed with me. I had such vivid memories of the one time we’d come together that night in the motel after Rudy’s death and I wanted you again, Laura. I had that horrible cast on my leg and I was on pain medication but I will never forget your kissing me—touching me, Laura.”
“And you, Remy. You were pretty good for a man who was supposed to be wracked up with a broken leg.” Laura teased Remington as her eyes told him that she had not forgotten any moment of those two days they had spent together either.
“Well, my arms weren’t broken, and my mind was—very active. And you weren’t incapacitated at all, my dear.” Remington kissed Laura tenderly now, her temple, her cheek, the spot between her collarbones that was so responsive to the slightest touch of his lips before he continued.
“I remember that Sunday afternoon when you came here two days after we had left the ‘Sensitivity Spa.’ I was here, thinking about that walk on the beach a couple of days before, about the breakthrough we had experienced in our relationship after that terrible row in that encounter group. I needed you so that day and . . .”
“We were in pitiful shape. We couldn’t drive all the way back to Los Angeles without stopping to be together. That scenic outlook with the view of the ocean where we stopped . . .”
“We did not look at the view, love. That night we almost added our names to the list of people who had ‘made it’ in the Auburn, didn’t we?” Remington pursed his lips in that decidedly sensual manner that was unique to him as he traced the outline of Laura’s lips with his fingertip.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about—about us. I knew that you were only trying to protect me and it had been so difficult to get out of that car and walk away from you that Friday night and go up to my lonely loft.”
“I did not dare go in with you. I was so close to the edge. I was in such need. I came home to this apartment and suffered that night, Laura. It wasn’t just physical. That eventually takes care of itself one way or another. It was psychical, emotional. I had never felt such emotional need for a woman. I had the memory of our coming together that one time and that was all I had. I knew what we had both been missing for so long and that it was different from anything I had ever experienced.”
“I felt the same thing. I was so lonely, Remy—the need, the wanting to feel the warmth of your body close to me, to hear you talk to me, to feel you touch me. Suddenly I was so completely vulnerable and I didn’t care. I got up Sunday morning and I took my temperature, established that I was no longer ovulating, paced and paced trying to decide what to do, and then my feet just led me here.”
“When I opened that door and you were standing there, it was all over, wasn’t it?”
Laura nodded, her eyes misting a little.
They were both fell silent, remembering that afternoon.
“Remington, I—I had to come today. I had to come.”
Remington closed the door and they stood stunned at the sight of one another. Remington was unshaven, haggard from his sleepless night, his cobalt blue eyes languid with yearning. He wore soft denim jeans and his plaid linen shirt was completely open, revealing his handsome chest adorned with black hair. Laura, in a cream-colored soft silk shirtdress with its bias-cut full skirt falling almost to her ankles, seemed so tiny and defenseless in comparison with him that Remington’s heart skipped a beat. Her whole demeanor toward him was different—all the defenses, all the resistance blown away. Remington would never forget the way she looked that day, so beautiful, her expression so open with no attempt to hide the yearning that had brought her to his door.
“I think that we have some unfinished business between us,”she said softly.
“Are you sure, Laura?”
“Dear God, yes! Yes! Remy. . .” Laura’s eyes told the whole story and Remington caught her up into his arms, kissing her over and over, groaning his passionate need for her as she surrendered completely to his embrace. There was no will in her to resist him anymore, no restraint, no holding back that afternoon as Remington lifted Laura in his arms and carried her to his bed.
“We had quite a time that day, love, eh?”
“I believe that Sandra Brathwaite would have called it a ‘marathon.’ ” Laura said softly, imitating Sandra’s dropping the ‘h’ in marathon in typical West Indian fashion.
“Did you realize that afternoon that we needed to be married, Laura? Would you have married me then, if I had proposed?”
“You did propose. Remember?”
“Yes, in the heat of passion—and I meant it. I wanted to marry you then and there.”
“I knew it on one level but I was still having such a block on the issue of the words, the verbal commitment.”
“I knew then that I wanted to live with you as husband, Laura. I wanted no affair. I had changed so from when I first walked into your life—when I would have been happy having had a purely sexual liaison with ‘no strings.’ Now I wanted it all. I wanted a marriage. So many nights I dreamed of impregnating you and giving you children. But I could not bring myself to say what you wanted to hear.”
Laura’s expression was wistful as she recalled Remington’s words when they were in the heat of that afternoon together.
“Laura, please don’t let me get accustomed to this. I will not be able to live without it. Oh God, I will never have enough of you. Have mercy on me, Laura, and marry me. Laura!”
Remington’s agonized cry for mercy was what finally helped Laura to bring that tryst to a close. She had wakened past midnight in his arms, her legs still tangled in his, her own heart beating in rhythm with his and she knew that what he had said was true. Coming together physically and yet not being able to come all the way into the relationship was not the answer. Her heart was his but she was still so afraid—afraid of ultimate rejection, afraid of waking up one morning and finding him gone from her life, from her bed.
Laura stirred in Remington’s arms. He wakened instantly, drawing her close to him but when he realized that she was putting emotional distance between them again, he released her.
“You want to go home, don’t you?” Remington said the words simply and quietly.
“Oh, Rem, I am so sorry. I—I should have never come over here if I weren’t able to, to. . .”
“To accept me totally, to be willing to be my wife. That is what I want, Laura. I don’t want you to ever leave me.”
Laura started to cry and Remington held her tenderly as she cried and cried.
“What is wrong with me, Rem? Tell me, what is wrong with me? Why can’t I just move forward? What is holding me back?”
“Probably a variation of the same thing that makes it so hard for me to tell you the words that you want to hear. But you know how I feel for you. The words just seem to be locked inside me, Laura. They have been there for such a very long time. One day they will come out.”
Remington kissed Laura, and his tender feelings mingled with her own fiery passions overwhelmed her and she responded, yielding her mouth completely to his. Neither of them was able to quell the passion that had now come to full bloom in them and this night as they lay together it became futile to try as their physical and emotional need eclipsed everything else.
“Hours later I awakened and you were gone, Laura.”
“I didn’t want to go, but it was not fair of me to stay. You were ready to move on to marriage and I—I wasn’t.”
“I was devastated when you left early that morning. And I was angry—angry with myself for not being able to be what you wanted me to be, angry with you because I had asked you to marry me and you had refused me. We had awakened everything that we had been struggling to keep under some semblance of control for such a long time and I was very vulnerable, Laura. I couldn’t think of you without feeling it in the pit of my stomach. I had always been able to contain myself and now I was holding on by just a thread of self control.”
“That’s why you didn’t come in to work till noon that Monday, isn’t it? And why you were in such a terrible mood.”
“Till I saw you walk away from me . . . and you seemed so pathetically sad.”
“What is the matter with you, Laura?”
“You don’t need to concern yourself. I’m just not feeling well.”
Remington was instantly seized with remorse and came from behind his desk to apologize to Laura. He was gallant to a fault, and he had not intended to cause her any harm in their amorous interlude together.
“I am very sorry, Laura. I fear that we both got somewhat carried away. I don’t know what to say other than I am very sorry that you are not feeling well, and I. . .”
“You don’t need to say anything else, Remington. You said it all last night.”
“I asked you to marry me and you refused me. I have never asked a woman to marry me before, Laura.” His eyes told her that what he was being absolutely truthful with him. She was the first.
“That was in the heat of passion. You didn’t mean it.”
“I didn’t mean it! I have never proposed to any woman in or out of the heat of passion! Woman, are you insane? Are you truly and certifiably insane?” Remington was becoming totally exasperated with Laura.
“No, I am not crazy! At least I don’t think so.” Laura was defensive and then backed off that declaration.
“Well, here we are in the light of day—fully clothed—two rational human beings who obviously care for one another. Will you marry me, Laura Holt?” Remington’s blue eyes were clear and resolute as he spoke firmly to Laura.
“I can’t marry you now. I just can’t. I’m scared.”
Remington Steele took both Laura’s wrists in his hands and pulled her up against him. Laura almost swooned when she felt his flesh against hers.
“But you want this. You need this as much as I do, Laura. This is not a game. I am a man, Laura. This is not Wilson, or—or Milton, or some college professor you are vamping. This not Marty Klopman, or some other juvenile heartthrob. This is me, Remington Steele, or whoever the deuce I am, and I will not be played with, toyed with! You weren’t too frightened of them, I dare say. What is the matter, Laura? Are you afraid to have dealings with a real man?” Remington’s grip on her was viselike, and she could not move. She had never been so aware of his superior strength as when he held her at that moment.
“Oh, God, I can’t think, Remington, when—when you hold me so close.”
Remington released her wrists and gently pushed her away from him.
“I’m sorry, Laura. I—I just thought that the day we became lovers would be the happiest day of my life and I realized last night that that wasn’t what I wanted at all. I want so much more than that, Laura. And for some strange reason I thought that you wanted more than that as well.”
“You know that I want to be with you. I—I don’t understand you. You come on to me all the time and then when we finally get to some place with that, you say that it is not enough for you. I need time. I just need time.”
“Time? Time? We have had so much time, Laura. Lord, we should not be having this conversation. I think that I am going to go home for the day—if there is no case pressing. I am getting the roles mixed up a bit here. You just call the shots. When you want me to be Remington Steele, private investigator, you let me know. And when you want me to be your lover, your Remy, you let me know that too because I can’t keep straight who the devil I am supposed to be.”
Remington walked past her and out of the office. He had to be alone. He was torn betweeen her rejection of his proposal and her acceptance of him as her lover, and he had to find someplace to sort it all out.
“Where did you go when you left the office that day?” Laura asked.
“I got in the Auburn and just started driving. I drove back up Highway 101 along the ocean almost to where we were at the “Sensitivity Spa.” I had to clear my head. It was very late when I got back to Los Angeles and I—I came to you—to your loft.”
It was nearly midnight when Laura slid open the door to her apartment to admit Remington Steele. He was exhausted physically from the long drive and emotionally drained from the turmoil in their relationship. His finely tailored look was in some disarray, but Laura only saw the anguish in his eyes.
“I have no where else to go, Laura. It’s only you I want. It’s only you I need.” His voice caught in his throat. “Take your time. Do whatever you want to me, Laura. Just don’t take us back to where we were before. I need you too much, woman.” His blue eyes were full as Laura took him by the hand and led him to her bed.
“Sit down and let me help you, Remy.” She knelt in front of him and after removing his shoes and socks, gently rubbed his feet. Laura took his jacket and hung it up and then she undressed him. “Here now. You just get into bed. It’s going to be all right.”
“I need you, Laura. I need you so much right now, babe.”
“I know, lover. I see. I’ll take care of you”
“You made love to me, Laura. I was in such pathetic shape that night. I had been left in such a quandary after you refused to marry me. I had always fantasized about that moment—my asking and your accepting—that I was traumatized when you rejected my proposal.
“You wept silently the whole time we made love. I had never been with a man who cried while making love before. I was so touched—tasting your tears like that, hearing you finally sob in my arms when it happened for you.”
“I had never cried with a woman like that. It was a strange night, wasn’t it? We have both cried many times making love to one another since that night, haven’t we?”
“Yes, darling, we have—and for many reasons. Sometimes it just seems that the tears come—tears of joy, tears of relief—tears.”
“That was a difficult time for us, Laura—being together and not together. There was more peace in our flesh but there was emotional stress because we couldn’t seem to move forward.”
“And then one day you decided to enter a marriage of convenience to keep from being deported.”
“And you would not let me do it, darling. You decided to move forward with our relationship that day. It had to be at your suggestion. I could not weather another rejection from you. I have often wondered why you accepted me that day when you had so adamantly refused me before.”
“I am sure you remember our going to that weekend wedding in New York—when we came back to find out that we had supposedly been killed in this apartment?”
“I remember it well. You finally did have that adjoining door between our hotel rooms opened, didn’t you?” Remington smiled, his eyes twinkling as he recalled that romantic weekend at the Plaza Hotel in New York.
“There was no reason to close that door any more, was there?”
“No, darling, there was no reason any longer.”
“Well, after that case was solved and we got back into our lives as Remington Steele and Laura Holt, I decided that maybe I did need some professional help. There is a psychiatrist whose sister went to Stanford with me—John Whitestone-Williams. I went to see him about the problem I was having in moving forward in our relationship.”
“You went to a shrink?” Remington was dumfounded at this revelation.
“I had to. I began to feel like I was losing my mind—wanting you so on one level and being so afraid to move ahead on the other level. That day you asked me if I were crazy, you made me wonder about myself.”
“And? What did the good doctor have to say?”
“Well, you know how it is. You just lie there and talk. You tell him everything—everything. I told him how you came into the agency. Anything I said was confidential—patient/doctor privilege, you know. We only had four sessions together and I just told him—everything—about my father, about Wilson, about all the other men that I had been with before you came along, about my inability to find complete sexual fulfillment till you, about my fears.”
Laura looked at Remington, analyzing his reaction to this confession of hers and she saw amazement in his eyes.
“Look, something was wrong with me. I knew it. He really wanted to see you as well but I knew that you would never consent to come—not at that time anyway. He told me that it seemed to him that you had passed every test that I could possibly put before you and that I was going to have to be willing to take risks in my life or I would never be happy again. In that we had become sexually involved, he felt that we would only do ourselves additional damage by refusing to move on to the next step in the relationship. He advised that the next time you mentioned marriage I should accept you without hesitation, and then see where that would lead us. He also said that he would be willing to counsel us both as a couple in the event we had problems after that.”
“And I had decided that I could not bear to ask you again—that I would wait on you.”
“Dr. Williams said that I might have to ask you. I said that I couldn’t do that. I just couldn’t. That was where we were when you decided to marry Clarissa, the happy hooker.”
“So that is why you went bananas that day, lover.” Remington shook his head in amazement, smiling.
“I—I didn’t know what to do. There you were—doing the most insane thing you could do and I knew that, that you were mine, that I wanted to marry you. I wanted to marry you, Remington Steele. I couldn’t let you slip through my fingers like that.”
“Laura, Laura,” Remington whispered hoarsely as he kissed Laura now upon her mouth—overcome with love for her, wanting to validate what he felt for her all over again. “I love you, Laura. I love you so much more than anything. Oh, my sweet crazy Laura, that day was the happiest day of my life in spite of everything that was so wrong with it—because I was finally married to you. When I lay beside you in my bed that night and knew that you were my wife, I was—willing to do anything to make it work.”
“It’s working, isn’t it?”
Remington nodded as they kissed again and again.
“Laura, yes, yes!”
Remington caressed Laura, masterfully wooing her to share her body with him. And she joyfully yielded, fluttering like a pinioned butterfly in his arms, crooning his name—surrendering to him with every fiber of her being. Remington lost normal power of speech—gasping and babbling incoherently as he gave all his life force to Laura, who was reduced to insanity in his arms welcoming the release that he brought to her.
“Oh, Lord, dear Lord,” Remington whispered as they sank into the warmth of the afterglow.
“Remy, Remy,” Laura sighed. “It’s never exactly the same as the last time. I always think that it’s going to be the same, but it never is, love.”
“The vivid memories, so intense—deep. But then next time it’s like it never happened before, like I’m emptying myself into you for the very first time.”
“Remy . . . Please . . .” Laura whispered as the exquisite pleasure of their connection overwhelmed her again.
“Yes, yes!” Remington cried in response, as they gave themselves to one another again.
The next morning was moving day at the Rossmore apartment. They were going to the Hollywood Hills. Remington wakened to the sound of Laura in the bathroom showering. Remington looked at their bed, rumpled and in complete disarray, and smiled, remembering. It was just past seven-thirty and, hearing his little girls begin to stir, Remington went to attend to them. They needed to be changed and he deftly took care of them so that they would be dry and comfortable for their morning feeding.
The little girls smiled up at him and cooed happily as Remington hummed and talked constantly to them. This day he noticed for the first time a sprinkling of tiny freckles on the belly of each chubby little black-haired baby.
“Oh, my, you will break hearts one day with these, my wee ones,” he said.
Laura came out of the shower at that moment.
“They finally showed up, love,” he said.
“The freckles. Look.” He showed them to Laura and she smiled.
“Well, I guess they are my babies after all. I had begun to wonder if they had any of my chromosomes.”
“I never wondered, love.” Remington embraced his wife, bending to find her plump womanly breasts under her robe and nuzzling them affectionately, much to the distraction of them both.
“I think I should nurse the twins. Our helpers will soon be here—won’t they?”
Remington kissed her again, reluctantly disengaging himself from her and Laura picked up one of the twins and sat down to give the mornng feeding.
* * * * * * *
By ten o’clock the apartment was a flurry of activity as moving men, along with Peter and Harriett and Hector Figueroa—all there to oversee the move to the Hollywood Hills.
Laura and Harriett went up to the new house with the twins to await the arrival of the moving van. Esperanza was there on hand to take charge of the infants in the midst of all this activity so that Laura would be free to attend to the house.
“Señora Steele, they are so easy to watch.” Esperanza loved the little ones and was altogether trustworthy in every way.
“Laura, you are looking great,” Harriett said. “Almost got your figure back, eh?”
“Almost—except for these.” She put her hands under her now round breasts. “I think I finally have grown-up woman’s breasts.”
“Well, you don’t mind that I am sure. I see my big brother mesmerized by the sight of you, lass. I’m so happy for the two of you.”
“These men are something, aren’t they?” Laura smiled, reflecting on the insatiable passion of Remington.
“I don’t mind it at all. I just can’t get enough of Peter. I will be glad when we get settled because we will have our routine back. Of course it helps being able to leave Sean and Chlöe with Daniel and Frances for a few days.”
“How is it coming with him getting licensed here in the States?”
“It’s coming, Laura. But, you know something quite curious has happened. One of the schools has offered to get his license for him but they don’t require any test—just a payment of a pretty handsome fee. Is that normally the case?”
Laura stopped what she was doing and regarded Harriett.
“No, not at all. We need to check up on that.” She looked for her husband who was in the midst of directing the moving men. “Remington?”
“Yes, love.” Remington came immediately to her side. He was wearing a khaki sport shirt opened halfway to his waist and jeans that clung to his finely defined rear in a way that made Laura almost forget why she had called him to her.
“Harriett, have you ever seen a more beautiful sight that this woman here today. Motherhood has made her positively voluptuous.” He looked Laura up and down so thoroughly that she felt herself blushing.
Harriett just grinned and shook her head, enjoying seeing her brother so happy.
“Uh, it’s about Peter’s licensing as a physician here in the States. Harriett says that the school he’s dealing with wants no testing at all—just a hefty fee to get his license.”
“Did they ask for his credentials from Ireland?”
“Yes, but they were more concerned about the money,” Harriett offered.
“Well, how much money are we talking?”
“They want ten thousand dollars, Rem.”
“Ten thousand.” Remington whistled a low whistle. “That seems rather on the high side. Let us do some checking before Peter commits to anything like that. It sounds peculiar. Laura, what’s the normal fee for something like that?”
“Not anywhere near that, Rem. They say they will guarantee his licensing for that fee.”
At that moment the moving people brought in more pieces and their attention was diverted to the matters at hand.
It was nearly four in the afternoon when the house began to really take shape. Maria, the Steele’s housekeeper, took the situation in hand and Esperanza had kept busy with the twins. When it was time for their four o’clock feeding, Laura took her babies into the master bedroom and found the love seat where she could comfortably nurse the little ones.
Remington came into the bedroom and surveyed the scene. The room already had a familiar feel about it with its pale gray walls and spare furnishings. They had changed the character of the house from the heavy antiques of the Romovs’ to a very clean and contemporary look that reflected their personalities. The bedroom had a small room that adjoined it and Laura had the nursery set up there.
“It’s already looking like home, eh?” Remington said the words as he bent to kiss Laura.
“I think so. I can’t believe this. This is such a lovely house.”
“What say we order Chinese food in and call it a day?”
And so they did.
Later in the evening Peter came by to get Harriett and to check out the new Steele home.
“This is a great place, Remington, a great place. We are very happy for you and Laura.”
Peter and Remington stood outside the living room on the balcony that afforded a magnificent view of the whole city of Los Angeles.
“You know, Remington, I really want this move to America to work out for Harriett and me.”
“I dare say there was some apprehension about it.”
“Yes, and no. You know the culture, Ireland. It is something that means a great deal to me and to Harriett. I am not a fatalist at all. I believe that you can control what happens to you to some extent by the decisions that you make. You see I wasn’t born in the Dublin area. I’m from northern Ireland. My family was caught up in that terrible business that seems to have no end.”
“Your family was Protestant then,” Remington stated.
“My father was Protestant and my mother was Catholic. My parents fell in love in college and thought that they could change things. Well, they never stopped loving each other, but they had to leave Belfast. We moved to Dublin when I was just ten years old. We have never been able to heal the breach in the family. I moved to Edinburgh away from the family. Harriett and I practice no religion. We are believers, true believers, but it ends there. I want to bring my children completely out of that environment. I cannot say anymore than that. Do you understand, Remington?”
“I understand—for different reasons. I have seen so much hypocrisy, so much falsity in people who carried the veneer of religion. And yet I know that, but for the Lord’s care, I would not be here today. When I thought that I had lost Laura to a gangster’s bullet, I prayed, Peter. I prayed that she would live. And when she was kidnapped a few months ago, carrying our twins in her belly, I prayed that God would return her to me. One of these days I hope to find that part of myself, Peter. I know He’s there.”
Peter nodded in agreement and the two men just stood for a long while in the warm night air, contemplating the city laid out before them below.
“The other reason that I want to move to America has to do with Harriett. It is really the primary reason. She has deep-seated anxieties, stemming from the way she was treated as a child. I love her desperately, but sometimes I think she feels that it’s only her arse I’m after.”
Remington smiled wryly. “I know the feeling. It took me four years to convince Laura that it was not just about her beautiful behind. Actually it was just about her arse at the beginning. I saw a woman that just knocked me off my feet and I wanted to have her and move on. But I soon came to realize that my need for her went far beyond that.”
“Does she understand that now?” Peter’s inquiry was sincere, his striking green eyes revealing his concern.
“I think so—most of the time. She knows it’s about more than just flesh.” Remington paused. “I’m so in love with her, Peter. Sometimes I think that my passion for her is a weakness. We are so very—carnal. I sometimes wonder how the Lord feels about our carnal nature. And yet when—when I am with her. . . and it happens for me, I always cry out to him, Peter. What does it all mean?”
“I dare say that we will never know, Remington. I do see that finding you has made Harriett immensely happy. I don’t profess to know what this twin thing is all about, but I think that she should be nearer to you than half way round the world. We also want to have another child. The pregnancies have been very hard on Harriett. She had to be off her feet for most of the time to hold them and she had two miscarriages before Sean was born. I like your Dr. Sandra Brathwaite. As a physician, I know that all doctors are not the same, and I would like Harriett to have the very best this next time.”
“Well, Sandra Brathwaite is the best there is.”
They walked back into the living room where Laura and Harriett were discussing the placement of furniture as each cuddled a twin.
“Darling, please tell Remington about the certification business and how queer that setup is,” Harriett said to Peter as he came and sat close to her.
“Yes, they want five thousand now and five thousand when the certification comes through, but no test, no proof of anything.”
“There are those who will give credentials to doctors who are trained in other countries so that they may practice here in America, but there are definite tests that must be passed and standards that must be met,” Laura said.
“I think that we should have Mildred and Alessandra check hese people out via the office computer,” Remington suggested.
“We will get to it tomorrow when we get into the office again, Peter,” Laura said.
“Well, we’re going along now. We have to pick up the children in Tarzana,” Harriett said as they made ready to go. Peter caught her around her waist and hugged her tightly. It was obvious that he could not help himself, that he was overwhelmed by her beauty and the powerful chemistry between them.. Harriett’s thick black hair hung to her shoulders in thick natural waves and her clear flawless complexion and intense blue eyes only accentuated her stunning long stemmed figure in a simple black tee shirt and black jeans. Peter, with his red hair and strong athletic good looks was perfect for her. Harriett often teasingly called him her “rugby coach” because he didn’t fit the profile of a physician’s looks.
“Why don’t you two just stay up here tonight?” Laura asked. “It’s so late that the children will all be in bed by the time you get to Tarzana. Call Frances and tell her that you will get them tomorrow. You can use that guest bedroom that we put together this afternoon. Harriett, you know where the linens are.”
Remington welcomed the idea.
“Make yourselves at home and help us inaugurate this place tonight. We’ll open another bottle of cabernet since you won’t be driving, eh?”
The four of them sat back down and enjoyed the rest of the evening together. They were comfortable—family—relaxed, and it was after the twins midnight feeding before they all went off to bed.
Remington turned to Laura, his blue eyes twinkling in anticipation of what was to come. There were no words necessary this night. His face flushed darkly and Laura’s cheeks and forehead flushed as well as the urge to copulate overcame both of them.
“Laura, you’ve quite driven me to distraction today.”
“Well, I had a hard time too trying to concentrate on what I was doing. You looked so dishy.”
“Dishy, eh?” Remington smiled, his lips turning up at the corners seductively.
“Something about the rugged, unshaven look. I just don’t know what to do with you when you’re like this.” Laura’s fingers traced the outline of his mouth and then turned her hand over to let the tactile sensation of his unshaven cheek against the back of her hand send shivers along her spine.
“I think that you do know what to do. But what say we try out that hot tub to relax our tired bones together for a while first.”
They undressed and slipped down into the hot water together and just lay there as the soft warm breeze of the night air completely relaxed them. The next thing Laura remembered was Remington carrying her off to their bed.
* * * * * * *
Laura had not been back to work in the office since the birth of the twins, but the move in to the new house was her target date to resume activity out of the office as well. With Maria’s help the house was soon in order and Remington looked forward to once again having Laura in the office. He also loved the idea that his children would be constantly nearby as he was quite the attentive and doting father.
Everything went according to plan on Monday morning. The twins were dressed and ready and Laura was dressed and ready early. Esperanza was to drive the twins there and Laura and Remington would go ahead in the Auburn. They needed to see how the whole thing was going to work for them as a family. As they came into the office, each one bearing a baby carrier, Mildred, Alessandra, and Hector were there to welcome them. Esperanza was there as well to look after the twins as needed.
It was an exciting day for all of them. The twins were ensconced in the nursery that had been converted from one of the rear offices and everything went very smoothly.
Laura looked fabulous—just like her old self, with the exception of her enhanced bosom, and Remington was altogether the proud husband and father. As he sat behind his desk holding one twin in his arms and Laura sat on the sofa in a navy business suit, discreetly nursing the other, they looked at each other knowingly.
“We can do this, can’t we?” Laura said happily smiling the dimpled smile that he loved so.
Remington just nodded, his blue eyes twinkling.
The morning was a time for Laura to find herself again in the office in her new and changed circumstance. She realized that Remington had truly become a full partner in the agency—what they found themselves referring to as now “the family business.”
In the early afternoon they had surprise visitor. It was a woman whom Laura had met at the LaLeche League meetings she attended as a nursing mother.
Megan O’Reilly was one of those incredibly competent women that Laura admired so—a career woman who successfully juggled business and family responsibilities and didn’t look like she was losing her mind in the process. And Megan was just as impressed with Laura. They had actually met in Lamaze class. Megan had been expecting her fifth child at the same time as Laura had been carrying Cassie and Chlöe, and their sessions lapped over for about three months. They hit it off then. The statuesque redhead with the outgoing personality was only too happy to visit the Remington Steele Agency to see what Laura and her dashing husband were doing, but she also had a situation that needed help.
Remington sat in his characteristic position behind his desk, fingertips to fingertips, and Laura sat nearby as Megan told her story.
“You realize, Laura, that breastfeeding is big business these days. And it’s the educated, middle class and upper class women who are doing it—women like you. They want all the things that can make it convenient for them to do this—and that is what my business is about—fancy nursing bras, special blouses to make it easy to breastfeed discreetly, breast pumps, etc.”
Laura nodded and Remington smiled. Laura had all of Megan’s products. There was frozen breast milk in special plastic bags in freezers at home and now at the office. Laura had a complete wardrobe of the lacy nursing bras that Megan’s company sold and was wearing one of the blouses that was designed with its intricately pleated front with Velcro closures that offered hidden but easy access for nursing.
“Well, about three months ago we stopped making money—profits. But we’re still selling more than ever. I’ve gone over my books and I can’t find anything, but, Laura, if we continue to lose money at this rate, we will be out of business—no matter how much we sell.”
Laura and Remington reflected for a moment.
“What is the financial structure of your company, Mrs. O’Reilly?” Remington asked.
“We’re a group of five women—equal partners with equal power in the company. But no one has any idea as to what the problem is. I’ve discussed this individually with each partner.”
“Are you satisfied that each is telling you the truth?” Laura asked.
“How would I know? That is why I came here. Perhaps you could find the weak spot, the source of the problem.”
“We would have to get on the inside of your company, Megan. Do you know these women, Laura—her partners?”
“No, actually we haven’t met.”
“I would gather that this is not a male-dominated business we are talking about here.” Remington smiled as he spoke.
“No, we pride ourselves on the fact that all the principal officers are women.”
“Then perhaps Laura would be the one to come to investigate your company. It might be distracting for me to come along.”
“Oh no, Mr. Steele. I think that both of you would be no problem. We have been discussing the possibility of our company going public, so it would not be unusual to have an outside financial consultant looking over matters.”
Remington smiled engagingly. “Ladies, I do have the highest regard for mothers’ milk—especially since the birth of our twins. We will come through your company and see what we can turn up. We’d like to do a nighttime survey of things as well to see what we might turn up.”
“That sounds very good, Mr. Steele. You will have access to everything.” Remington sensed the subtle but definite inference in her comment and the look Megan O’Reilly gave him left no question as to her meaning.
“We will check things out and get back with you as soon as we find out anything, Megan,” Laura said as she rose to usher Megan O’Reilly out of the office and then closed the door behind her.
Remington saw her delight to get back to her work.
“You are happy to take this case, aren’t you, Laura?”
“Yes, I am.”
Laura came over behind the desk and Remington pulled her down into his arms.
“Will you accompany me on our midnight surveillance, Mrs. Steele?”
‘I’d love to, Mr. Steele.”
Remington kissed Laura, gently at first, but then more definitely, his mouth completely joining with hers in the passionate manner that completely melted Laura down to the her very foundations.
“I’m glad to have you back here, love. I’ve missed this—kissing you between appointments, having you on my lap like this.”
“And I’ve missed it too,” Laura whispered.
Remington drew her close and claimed her lips again, his hands caught up in her long hair.
“My, my.” Remington’s voice became husky with desire as Laura took the initiative and kissed him, both of them caught up in the passion of the moment when they were interrupted by the phone ringing.
Remington picked up the call, still holding Laura on his lap, his hand wandering up and down the inside of her thigh.
“Yes, Mildred, I will speak to her.” He covered the receiver and spoke to Laura. “It’s Mrs. O’Reilly. Something she forgot to tell us.”
“Yes, Mrs. O’ Reilly.”
“You may feel free to call me ‘Megan,’ Mr. Steele.”
“Yes . . . Megan.”
“I want you to know that I am very impressed with you and would like to meet you privately. Is my meaning clear?”
“Perhaps it is, but perhaps you have misunderstood, Mrs. O’Reilly.”
“I understand that I want you, Mr. Steele.”
“We will discuss this at a later time—face to face. Good afternoon, Mrs. O’Reilly.”
“What was that all about?” Laura asked.
“Nothing, Laura, absolutely nothing. Now where were we?” Remington said as he drew his wife into his embrace again.
Later that evening Remington and Laura donned their black surveillance clothes and drove the Auburn to Mother’s Milk, Inc., leaving their twins in the competent care of Esperanza who, by living in with them would hopefully give them the freedom to pursue their work as much like before as possible.
When they arrived at the site, the place had been shut down for the night with the exception of a lone watchman nodding at the entrance of the building. Laura and Remington easily bypassed him and found themselves in the offices of the business. The five partners’ offices were all located in the same general area and they went into each one. Laura got into their computers and began copying information while Remington checked the hard copy files for anything that might look suspicious. The whole operation took just over an hour and when Remington and Laura passed the still sleepy watchman, it was nearly two a.m. They had been quietly efficient, working as a team with no need of talk.
As they slipped back out to the parking lot and got into the Auburn, Remington caught Laura into his arms and kissed her hard.
“There’s only one thing more stimulating than working with you, love,” he said, “and I think you know what that is.”
“Yes,” Laura said softly.
Remington put the Auburn into gear and eased out of the parking lot to head home. As they drove away, there was the sound of a small explosion and flames shot from the factory part of the building where they had just been.
“This place is going to be crawling with fire and police department personnel in minutes. I don’t think we want to be found here, Laura.”
“Evidently someone didn’t want us to get the inside scoop on Mother’s Milk, Inc.”
When Remington and Laura reached home, they phoned Megan O’Reilly.
“There was an explosion and fire out at the plant tonight—just as we were leaving, Mrs. O’Reilly.”
“Yes.” Megan O’Reilly’s voice was flat and emotionless, revealing that she was still in some state of shock. “They found Lorna Singleton dead in the debris. She was my best friend—since high school days.”
“I am very sorry. We will contact you first thing tomorrow morning to assess matters.”
Remington put the phone down.
“One of the partners was found dead in the debris at the plant. We’re looking at a possible homicide here.”
“My God! All this over mothers’ milk! What’s going on here?”
“I don’t know but I think we should sleep on it. Come to bed, love. The twins will be waking for their four o’clock feeding soon.”
Laura felt her swollen breasts and smiled. “Yes, they will. It’s amazing, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is—the lovely ebb and flow of the female of the species.” He drew her close and kissed her.
“There’s just one problem, Remy.”
Remington sighed in mock resignation. “You’re hungry?”
He smiled indulgently. “Well, we will have to make you a snack.”
“How about peanut butter and strawberry jam on warm toast? I’ve loved it every since that ordeal in England when Felicia brought me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”
“Yes. Sit with me and we can discuss the case while you eat. I don’t think we’re going to do much sleeping tonight.”
Laura went to dress for bed and returned soon to find Remington laying out her early morning snack along with a pot of tea and crackers and milk for himself.
“How are our little ones?”
“Still sleeping soundly. In another month or so they will start to sleep all night.”
“And we’ll have our nighttime back?”
“Yes, love.” Laura smiled and leaned toward her husband who sat beside her at the kitchen counter.
Remington reached out, unfastened the front of her soft cotton gown and gently touched the nipples of her breasts with just the tips of his slender fingers. Laura caught his hand to her bosom as the subtlety of his sensuous touch overwhelmed her.
“They are beautiful, Laura, full like this. I love looking at you, touching you. They have changed so, haven’t they?”
“They still have freckles.”
“But they are the breasts of a woman, not an ingenue.”
Laura looked down at her bosom. “I guess that I’m pretty proud of myself at that. I finally have a rack, huh?”
“You certainly do—in the fullest sense of the word.” Remington’s blue eyes were smiling at her. “And . . .you’ve got those frozen plastic bags of milk everywhere. No danger of running out, eh?”
“I have so much—and this way Esperanza can give it to the twins if I miss a feeding or I can use it if I’m sick. That equipment from Mothers’ Milk is great for making this really easy and convenient.”
“It’s difficult to imagine that something so pure and beautiful as mothers’ milk could be the cause of deceit and even perhaps murder. It doesn’t seem right, Laura.”
“I know. Five women—all devoted to the concept of breastfeeding, women who have experienced it for themselves—and one of them has another issue, another agenda. What could it be?”
“Money laundering, protection money, simple pure embezzlement because of gambling or other debts,” Remington stated.
“Those are all good possibilities. But all these women look squeaky clean on the surface, Remy.”
“That’s exactly why we made our little visit earlier. Whoever torched that place evidently had no idea that we would have been there.”
“In fact they were probably in the building at the same time as we were there.”
“Highly possible and quite probable, Laura. We’ll have Mildred and Alessandra go through what we gathered tomorrow and see if we can make some headway on this case.”
“In the meantime. . .”
Remington let his finger trace the outline of Laura’s finely shaped mouth, his face flushed, his cobalt eyes telling his need.
“Yes . . . in the meantime . . .”
* * * * * * *
The next day Mildred and Alessandra poured over the information Remington and Laura had gleaned from the files at the plant the night before. Megan O'R’eilly was to be at the office at noon for an appointment to discuss the case. She arrived promptly a few minutes early.
“Now Mrs. O’Reilly, you, Lorna Singleton, Carlotta Eberhardt, Jane Marshall and Yolanda Wentworth all went into this business as equal partners five years ago?” Remington assembled the facts of the case in his own mind.
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Did each of you bring the same amount of equity to the venture—or did some bring other things—expertise, etc?” Laura asked.
“We each put ten thousand dollars in initially as seed money. Lorna—Lorna designed the apparel—the sexy nursing bras, the blouses with the ingenious hidden openings. She was fantastic—the truly creative one among us. The others of us brought our business sense and or enthusiasm for the project.”
“That would be Carlotta Eberhardt, Jane Marshall and yourself,” Laura established.
“Yes. Of course Yolanda was our PR person. Being married to a pro basketball player helped. We have really targeted women who had been reluctant to breastfeed in the past—and as a high profile black family, Wentworth’s were excellent spokespersons for us.”
“And all of you ladies—are married? There are spouses involved?” Remington asked delicately.
“We were all married and at the outset we were all nursing. We met at LaLeche, you see.”
“And now?” Laura asked.
Megan O’Reilly dropped her head and hesitated before replying.
“I want to be perfectly honest with you. I don’t feel that this has anything to do with the case but I want to speak to you in strictest confidence on this. Lehman Singleton and I—we have been involved for the past year. Lorna found out about two months ago. They were still together—but Lehman and I have continued to see each other. I make no apology and accept full blame for the affair—but it exists nonetheless.”
“And your husband, Mr. O’Reilly?” Remington Steele inquired.
“He knew that Lehman and I had been involved. He and Lorna had a brief fling. I believe that it was over several months ago”
“And this was all right with all concerned?” Remington Steele was trying to conceal his amazement.
“We are all adults. We all have young children. Life goes on. It was not an ideal situation but we were all trying to handle it.”
“And—er, Lehman Singleton? Where is he now?”
“I spoke with him earlier this morning—after it happened. We thought it would be better if we did not see each other for a few days. He’s at their home in Brentwood.”
“Well, Mrs. O’Reilly, I think that we should have a conversation with the widower of Lorna Singleton.”
“Oh, I know that Lehman could not have been involved—in the missing money, or in Lorna’s death.”
“We have to talk with him anyway. This is a very convoluted situation you have out there with a lot of room for problems.” Remington said. “Let me take you to Mildred Krebs. She needs some data from you. Come with me, please.”
When Remington had Megan O’Reilly in the outer reception area, he turned to her. She immediately smiled in response but her smile faded when he spoke.
“Mrs. O’Reilly, I feel that you should know that there is absolutely nothing to be achieved by seeking more than a business relationship with me. I do not play. I do not even think about it. I do not wish to judge you as to your personal life, but I must say that there is neither place nor room in my marriage for the slightest dalliance. Do I make myself clear?”
“Why, yes.” Megan O’Reilly was stunned by Remington Steele’s firm rebuff but quickly recovered and forced a smile. “Could I pass that information to your secretary later? Perhaps I will just phone her.”
“That will be just fine, Mrs. O’Reilly.” Remington Steele was all business as he ushered her from the offices.
Remington and Laura put Mildred and Alessandra to work to determine insurance and trust beneficiaries and other similar information.
“My dear Mr. Steele, I think we need to check out Lorna Singleton’s office again. We might be missing something.”
“I think we have missed a lot. Have you ever seen such a faithless lot?”
“Not among people who are supposed to be friends. There is something quite wrong here, Remy.”
“Laura, please don’t ever stop loving me. I don’t want us to ever become like these people.” Remington took his wife’s hand in his.
“I promise, love.”
“That woman came on to me. She asked for it—just like that.”
“I know. I knew yesterday. I sensed it.”
“And you trusted me.”
“Yes, I trusted you. I trust you.” The words felt strange coming from Laura’s lips. “I haven’t ever told a man that.” She put her hand to her mouth in amazement.
“I know that. It’s stronger even than ‘I love you’ coming from you, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is. It is a strong as I can make it, Remy.” Laura’s hands were shaking as Remington took both hers in his and kissed them.
“Lord, have we finally gotten there, babe?”
“Yes, we have. Oh, Remy!” Laura threw her arms around her husband and they hugged and kissed each other passionately and then stood quietly embracing for a long moment before forcing themselves back to the case at hand.
Laura finally spoke again.
“I am sure that there is a police line out there at the plant. Why don’t we go over to the house and talk to Lehman Singleton there.”
Later that afternoon Remington and Laura drove into the driveway of the charming stucco home that was the Singleton residence in Tarzana. It was late afternoon and as Remington and Laura approached the house, they noticed that the front door was ajar so they cautiously entered the house after knocking. When they got into the bedroom, Laura began to search through drawers and Remington moved on to check the bathroom.
“Laura.” Remington’s voice had that ominous tone it always had when he made an unpleasant discovery. "I fear that the Singleton children are now orphans.”
Laura joined him in the bathroom to see Lehman Singleton drowned in his bathtub with his head bashed in.
“My God! Somebody has gotten rid of both of them!”
“Call Detective Jarvis, Laura. This case is blowing up in our faces.”
Jarvis approached them later as they stood by later watching his team mop up the operation at the Singleton home.
“It seems that you are just one step ahead of each of the events of this case, Steele. Are you sure that there is no information you should pass on to me?”
“Actually we are in the dark ourselves, Jarvis. We are going back to our office and try to sort out what we have here and we will certainly let you know as soon as we find out anything.”
“If I didn’t know you better, I would have to detain you.”
“Lieutenant, you realize that my twins are waiting for me at home. Surely you don’t want to interfere with the nourishment of two-month-olds,” Laura said sweetly.
Jarvis threw up his hands, and, shaking his head, permitted them to leave.
“Far be it from me to interfere with happy family life.”
* * * * * *
Laura and Remington went back to their office to try to sort things out in a case that was rapidly becoming a very deadly one.
Esperanza was caring for the twins and was delighted to see Laura arrive, as the little ones were becoming hungry and anxious. Laura and Remington each picked up a fretful baby and went into Remington’s office where Laura began to nurse Cassie while Remington entertained Chlöe by walking her back and forth. Laura watched her infant, fascinated at how hungrily she sucked.
“Laura, this case mystifies me. Where is the money going? And why?”
“Somehow I think the key may lie in the spouses of these women. Perhaps one of them is not so committed to the company and was exerting pressure on that wife to abscond with funds. And then perhaps one of the spouses is doing it without his wife’s knowledge. Let’s see what Mildred and Alessandra have come up with.” Laura continued to nurse Cassie, her mind occupied by the case as she cherished her little girl and Remington dandled Chlöe on his knee.
“Why don’t you give me Chlöe now, Remy, and you can take Cassie.”
Remington brought Chlöe to Laura and she helped her find her dainty nipple hidden within the intricate folds of the tailored specially designed nursing blouse that she wore.
Remington bent to kiss Laura.
“You’re beautiful like this and fascinating.”
“Umm,” Laura responded to his kiss. “You know I could get involved with a case and forget that I even have children, but my breasts won’t let me forget. When my breasts are full like this, I know to look for my babies. It’s me they want, my milk that sustains them. Nothing ever belonged to me so completely . . .”
“Except me, darling.”
“Yes, you, love. You are mine, aren’t you, Remington Steele,” Laura said, her expression soft and almost shy as she vocalized her claim on him.
“As much as those babes that are nursing at your lovely breasts.”
Remington sat down beside Laura and put his free arm around her and kissed her tenderly upon her mouth, realizing how precious moments like this were for them and their young family.
“I think about the Singleton children—orphaned now—and we can’t even figure out why,” Laura said, resting her head upon Remington’s shoulder, “and then our babies—being so completely loved. Life is not fair.”
“I think we definitely need to check out the spouses of the other ladies. What type of fellow do you think that Megan is married to? She’s a strong woman, that one—determined.”
“Well, someone might say that I’m ‘determined’ and ‘strong,’ ” Laura teased.
“But you have the most appealing soft side, love. I see nothing soft in that woman.”
“Is that why you could turn her down so easily?”
“No, I turned her down because I don’t want anyone but you.” Remington pecked her gently with his pursed lips again upon her temple. He thought to himself of how much he would have enjoyed the conquest of a strong heady woman like Megan O’Reilly just for the sake of the conquest in former times, and how that such conquests held no appeal for him now.
“But let’s say it wasn’t really about money at all. We already know there was crisscross hanky-panky going on. We’ve got ten people—five couples. There was room for a lot of trouble in paradise.”
“Why don’t we let the babes have their nap, and go back to work on this, Laura? They seem to be knocked out for a while now.”
Mildred and Alessandra had amassed a huge amount of information on all the members of Mother’s Milk, Inc. and were going through it systematically as Remington and Laura joined them.
“Mr. Steele, the money was definitely going out,” Mildred said. “I find five thousand dollars each month going to a company called Island Finance in St. Martin, but that company does not exist. It’s really a drop box for a numbered Swiss bank account.”
“Well, let’s find out who has been making regular overseas trips to St. Martin. That should be our clue.” Laura said.
‘We need to talk to someone on the inside of the company—confidential secretary, administrative assistant,” Remington said. “We can also try to see if we can get any insight on the others marriages in this group.”
“Do you think there might have been some more extramarital stuff goin’ on, Boss?” Mildred asked.
“There has to be a motive for all this,” Laura said. “Misappropriation of funds is one thing, but murder is something else entirely.”
“Let’s send out for food and try to make some sense of this thing, ladies.”
“Yes, I am ravenous,” Laura said, very conscious these days of the fact that she was eating for three people.
“Forgive me, darling, I should have thought of food sooner.” Remington took Laura’s hand and drew her up from her chair and into his arms and kissed her lightly on her forehead. “We’ve been here all day. Should I order from that Italian place you like?”
“That’s just fine.”
. Just then the phone rang and Alessandra went to answer it.
“It’s for you, Mr. Steele.”
“Yes, yes, Lieutenant Jarvis.” Remington’s face registered his alarm. “Yes, we will be happy to be of whatever assistance possible.” He put the phone back on its receiver and was silent for a moment before speaking. “There has been another murder—Megan O’Reilly was found in her car at a scenic overlook off Pacific Palisades—shot dead.” His voice was calm but Remington’s awareness of the danger of the situation was evident in his expression.
“Oh, my God!” Laura said, coming back toward him, “What is going on?”
“We’d better find out soon or Mother’s Milk, Inc, will be completely out of business,” Remington said wryly.
“Well, where is John O’Reilly? What does he know?” Mildred asked.
“The police are questioning him now. He seems quite broken up over the loss of his wife.” Remington answered, still quite rattled over the news just received.
Laura had that expression that she always got when the wheels of her keen mind were turning at top speed.
“Suppose, just suppose that this is a combination motive here—infidelity and theft?”
“It wouldn’t be the first time that money and sex became a deadly mix,” Remington replied.
“But who?” Mildred asked.
“And with whom?” Alessandra echoed, her gray eyes wide.
“That’s just what we need to find out.” Laura said.
“With both Singletons out of the picture, it becomes evident that both of them posed a threat to someone. Since Mrs. Singleton was the first to lose her life, let’s assume that the basic premise for the murder centered around her in particular.”
“Unless she was killed accidentally in the course of the commission of another crime,” Laura added.
“But the obvious murder of Lehman Singleton in his bathtub as a result of a blow on the head establishes that someone had a motive and that Mrs. Singleton’s death was no accident, Laura. She didn’t just happen to fall and bang her head. Jarvis told me today that she was knocked out before the fire.” Remington said.
“So someone wanted them both dead.”
“That appears to be the situation. The Singleton children will inherit in trust the parents share of the company,” Mildred offered.
“And where are these children now?” Laura’s face registered alarm as she suddenly realized the danger the Singleton children might be in.
“I think that the whereabouts of the Singleton bairn is our next most pressing matter of business,” Remington said. “And then to check up on John O’Reilly. I would like to establish that his grief is altogether genuine.”
“The Singleton kids are at this address, Chief,” Mildred said. “They are with a cousin in Inglewood for the time being.”
“Let’s head over there, Remington. Mildred, have Esperanza take the twins home and put them to bed. We will catch up with them later.” Laura and Remington were heading toward the door, leaving Mildred and Alessandra to do research on John O’Reilly.
Remington and Laura were quiet as they drove up to the home where the Singleton children were being sheltered. There was a car, a van with darkened windows in the driveway. It’s motor was running.
Just as Remington stopped their car the front door burst open and a man carrying a child under each arm came out.
“Hold on there! Unhand those children!” Remington shouted, surprising and distracting him momentarily. The older of the children, a boy about five, bit the man’s hand. He screamed and cursed, letting go of the little boy, who then kicked the man in the shins, causing him to drop the toddler he carried in his other arm. He escaped to the waiting van, backed out of the driveway, wheels squealing, and took off, leaving Remington and Laura with the two squalling children.
“What the deuce was that!” Remington exclaimed. “Laura, who was watching those children?”
“Oh God, not another murder, I hope,” Laura said wearily. “The cousin?”
“Wait with the children. I’ll check inside.”
Remington went into the bungalow and there lay a woman unconscious on the floor. She had obviously been struck in the head.
The ambulance and police were called and, by the time the ambulance had taken the seriously injured woman to the hospital and Lieutenant Jarvis had finished his inquiry, the terrified children had calmed and were clinging to Remington and Laura.
“Lieutenant, what is to happen to these children. They are truly orphans now.” Remington posed the question.
“Well, they go to Childrens’ Protective Services for now. If there is no other immediate family, they will probably be placed as foster children.”
“Remington?” Laura caught her husband’s eyes and their minds and hearts were together without a word.
“We’ll take the tykes home for the time being—no need for foster care,” Remington said decisively. And that was that.
“Their names are Jonathan and Joanna, Remy.”
“And they are apparently in some danger. Let’s get them home before the bad guys can regroup.”
“Good thing we’re in the Mercedes,” Laura said. “The Auburn would have presented a problem here.”
“I think our Auburn days are just about over, love,” Remington said with a wink.
“You know that the Singletons had no other living relatives, Remy. Do you think that we might possibly be getting involved in something rather complicated?”
“Do you want to keep these children if the opportunity presents itself, Laura? You decide.”
Laura looked down at the beautiful dark haired child in her arms and her eyes filled with tears and spilled over.
“What would we want to happen to our little ones if we were suddenly snatched from them?”
“That’s what I love about you, Laura.” Remington gently kissed her cheek before he started up the Mercedes and pulled off.
“I think that we should keep secret the whereabouts of the Singleton children for now, don’t you?”
The little girl whimpered in Laura’s arms and Laura almost instinctively opened the fold in her blouse and gave the child her breast. Joanna latched on and suckled, calming instantly.
Laura smiled in wonder at Remington. “I guess it’s the natural thing to do.”
“Yes, love, it’s very natural and very beautiful.” Remington caught his lower lip in his teeth as the tenderness of the moment touched him as well.
“She misses her mother.”
“I know the feeling, Laura.” Remington smiled slightly and drove on to their house in the hills.
Esperanza and Maria were very excited over the children and immediately took them in hand. Jonathan was exhausted and willingly submitted to milk and cookies and an early bedtime.
Laura tried to give Joanna to Esperanza but she cried ‘Mama’ so pitifully that Laura took her and let her nurse until she fell asleep at her breast.
“Oh, Mama Laura, quel buena!” Esperanza exclaimed.
“Yes, quel buena indeed,” Remington said, his eyes twinkling. “My wife is truly a woman of many talents.”
“I’ve never been this popular in my life,” Laura quipped.
“Nor more lovely,” Remington said, causing her to blush deeply.
Esperanza returned to bring Chlöe and Cassie and took the now sleeping Joanna off to bed.
“So this is how it would feel to have four children instead of two,” Laura said. “It wouldn’t be too bad with the help we have.”
“Do you want to keep them if it is possible, Laura?”
“If they have no one, no family—yes—if you agree, of course.”
Remington cherished his daughter Chlöe in his arms.
“I guess you might have a brother and sister, little one. This family thing is pretty important around here,” he said to her.
Laura just smiled and continued to nurse Cassie as Remington removed his tie and unbuttoned his shirt and relaxed on the sofa with his wife and children.
Laura winked at him flirtatiously.
“Is that wink a promise, Laura?”
“You bet it is, Mr. Steele,” Laura responded without hesitation.
“Do you see your mother flirting mercilessly with me, little one?” He cooed to his daughter in his arms. “She takes such advantage of me, Chlöe. Are you going to be such a heartbreaker when you grow up? Umm?”
The phone rang and it was Mildred.
“I think we’ve found a few things here. You and Mrs. Steele might want to come down so we can show you what we’ve got. I know that it’s already evening, but we’re dealing with a time factor that you might be concerned about.”
“What do you have, Mildred?”
“I’ve found regular payments from Singletons’ personal bank account into the numbered St. Martin account. Then we have regular flights by John O’Reilly to St. Martin over the last eighteen months. The O’Reillys are the only ones of the group that have been to St. Martin, so that part is pretty clear. Judging by the schedule of his trips, another one is due now.”
“We’re coming over there, Mildred,” Laura said, as she listened on the other phone.
Remington covered the receiver with his hand and spoke in an aside to Laura, “What happened to your promise?”
“I keep all my promises,” Laura said, smiling, as she went to put their sleeping babies to bed.
It was nearly nine in the evening when Remington and Laura got back to the office and Mildred, who was up to her ears in paperwork.
“Mildred, you should be home,” Laura said.
“I just got on this trail and I couldn’t stop. Here, look at this.”
“John O’Reilly, eh?” Remington mused.
“Alessandra talked to one of the executive secretaries over there. She knew her from her days at Unidac. She said that Megan O’Reilly and Lehman Singleton had been involved in a serious affair for over a year now.”
“Yes, she told us that.” Laura said.
“But Alessandra’s source says that Megan had been in a long term relationship with Charlie Wentworth as well.”
“The black NBA man,” Remington said, raising one eyebrow.
“Megan O’ Reilly! How’s that for still waters! She’s the last one I would have suspected. She came to us for help,” Laura said.
“Well, the waters weren’t still at all, Laura,” Remington interjected. “Our friend Megan was apparently ‘looking for Mister Goodbar.’ ”
“Alessandra’s source says that Lorna Singleton was two-timing John O’Reilly recently also with Charlie Wentworth and that O’Reilly was also very unhappy about that but couldn’t say anything about it.” Mildred added.
“Too much like the pot calling the kettle black—no pun intended. That’s why that Wentworth name was so familiar. O’Reilly was no competition for tall, dark, handsome, and rich.”
“There was a message from Charlie Wentworth on the machine. He wants you to call him tonight—no matter how late,” Mildred said.
“Call him and tell him we want to talk to him. See if we can come over there now.” Remington said.
“So John O’Reilly staged that accident to cover the murder of Lorna Singleton,” Laura could see it clearly.
“Jealousy and fear of the money game being discovered,” Remington offered. “He was the one slipping into Megan’s office after hours playing with the books to beef up the Swiss bank account. She probably had no idea of what he was up to. Perhaps Lorna stumbled onto him doing that and that is what led to her death.”
“Then next, Lehman Singleton, so that the children’s part could revert to the company till they turned twenty-one,” Laura said.
“He didn’t know that a clause in their trust gives all the money to medical research in the event of their children’s death,” Mildred explained.
“Then he killed his wife, Megan. He didn’t love her anymore and wanted her share too. What a scoundrel!” Remington exclaimed.
“He’s booked a flight for St.Martin,” Mildred said.
“What time is the flight?”
“It’s for eight tomorrow morning, Boss.”
“It’s eleven now. We have time to stop by Wentworths’ and then on to O’Reilly’s,” Remington said. “Where’s Hector?”
“Home in bed, I guess,” Mildred said.
“Wake him up and put him on the line, Mildred,” Laura said. “And call Fred. We’re going to need the limo.”
“We’ll put you in a taxi and send you home from here, Mildred. Laura and I will wait for Fred and the limo.”
It was nearly midnight when Remington and Laura got out of the limo at the Bel Air mansion that was Charlie and Yolanda Wentworth’s home. They were immediately admitted to the house and found Charlie and Yolanda who obviously had been dealing with some unpleasantness.
At nearly seven feet Wentworth was an imposing presence but as soon as he spoke, he became altogether charming. His wife, Yolanda, was bourgeois black—a contrast to Charlie who was honest about his humble beginnings in the slums of East Los Angeles.
“We felt that we should say something to you folks, Mr. Steele. We know that you have been investigating the murders. And we became aware today that our names—I should say my name—has been mentioned.”
“Mrs. Wentworth, you are aware of all of this,” Laura gently inquired.
“I know. I know about Charlie and Megan, Charlie and Lorna, Charlie and a half dozen other women. We recently had a confrontation about it and Charlie has agreed to go into counseling. Otherwise I—I don’t, I can’t go on like this.” Yolanda Wentworth’s cool façade cracked and she sagged against her husband.
“It’s my fault—all of it. I could blame the women but I won’t. I have to take responsibility. I am at the end of my career in basketball. I have maybe one more season at best. I realize that when the basketball career is over, I want Yolanda with me—for better or worse. I want our children to have an intact family.”
“So you don’t think that your activity could have contributed to this situation Our prime suspect in the murders of two women that you were having affairs with was also sexually involved with them.. It’s strong stuff—jealousy, and rarely worth the price it exacts, mate.”
Charlie Wentworth dropped his head.
“He could not compete with you on any level—wealth, fame, sexuality—and it may have driven him over the edge.”
“I think that we have all the information we need, Mr. Steele. The Wentworths have a lot to work out here. Let’s get to O’Reilly before he gets out of town.”
“He’s leaving?” Yolanda Wentworth said, surprise in her voice. “John is your prime suspect?”
“Is there something we should know, Mrs. Wentworth?” Remington asked.
“He said that he wasn’t going anywhere. He said . . .” She looked pleadingly at Charlie. “I’m sorry, Charlie. I only wanted to hurt you the way that you have hurt me. He said that someone else must have had it in for Lehman and Lorna.”
“You and O’Reilly! When! When!”
“When you were sleeping with his wife. That’s when. And we were a hell of a cheering section I want you to know.” Yolanda turned away and began to cry silently. “I’m sorry. That’s not true. He wasn’t even decent in bed. I think I’m going to be sick.”
Charlie Wentworth was stunned. “I don’t know what to say. She . . . she always was faithful. I thought she was faithful.”
“Well, I think that you folks have some rather heavy personal matters to attend to. We are heading over to O’Reilly’s now,” Remington said and turned to Laura. “I think there is nothing more for us to do here.”
“It’s after midnight, Mr. Steele,” Charlie Wentworth said.
“I’ll wager John O’Reilly is not sleeping tonight, and it’s not because he’s grief-stricken.”
“It was nearly three a.m. when Remington, Hector, and Laura arrived at the O’Reilly place in Burbank. Fred parked the limo a half block up the street. Lights were still on in the house.
“Be very careful, Laura. Hector and I should try to get the drop on this fellow. I don’t want you in any line of fire here. Do you understand? We have children. If something happens to me . . .”
Laura sat in the darkened car and watched Remington and Hector approach the front door of the house. They knocked and O’Reilly opened the door and let them in.
“Well, it’s kind a late for a house call, isn’t it, Mr. Steele.?”
“Just wanted to offer our condolences. We thought that you would perhaps be up.”
Remington glanced at the suitcases packed nearby.
“Planning a trip at this time, mate?” Remington asked.
“Business—couldn’t be put off. I’ll be back in time for Megan’s memorial service.” O’Reilly was a tall plain man, a paunch making him look older than his forty years. His eyes were cold and calculating in this situation.
“They’re with their grandparents. I thought it would be best during this difficult time.”
“You know, O’Reilly, we’ve discovered some peculiar aspects to this case-—your affair with Lorna Singleton for one thing, the money trail to St. Martin for another. And then there is the matter of your late wife’s affair with Lehman Singleton. It adds up to quite a case against you. Did you think you could actually get away with it?”
“I plan to.” O’Reilly said—and his gray eyes were like ice as he tried unsuccessfully to stare Remington Steele down.
“And what about your children?”
“I don’t know if they all are really even mine. Megan was involved with Charlie before they were born. I don’t want any half-black bastards. She made a fool of me. Everyone knew those children were not mine. She laughed at me when I accused her. ‘You finally figured out after all these years,’ she said. She didn’t care what I did with Lorna Singleton as long as she had Charlie whenever she wanted him. She brought him right into this house and slept with him in our bed, for God’s sake. And then Megan went and took up with Lehman Singleton as well, that buffoon. She was trash, Steele, just trash.”
“And then Lorna decided to try Charlie Wentworth out as well. You just couldn’t keep a woman to yourself, could you? Is that why you seduced Yolanda Wentworth—to get back at Charlie?”
“Yeah, I used his woman. He was neglecting her and that pretentious cow was fair game.”
“You are swine, O’Reilly. A man who will use a woman he doesn’t even care about just to get back at another man. No wonder they all double-timed you.”
“Shut up! I don’t want to hear it.”
“Why don’t you just turn yourself in, mate? Nothing is to be gained by resisting further. You cannot escape. The police are out there now.”
“Suppose I do resist?”
“There are two of us.”
“You don’t carry a gun.”
“I don’t have to.”
Remington Steele blue eyes were focused unswervingly on John O’Reilly, his hands in his pockets.
“I’m walking out of here.”
“Perhaps. Perhaps not. Actually I doubt that you will walk out of here if you don’t surrender at this point.”
O’Reilly suddenly lunged at Steele who stepped aside, allowing Hector to strike him with a clean uppercut that dazed O’Reilly. Remington grabbed him and held him.
At the sound of commotion Laura, who had been standing outside near the front door opened it cautiously to see her husband dispatching O’Reilly.
As Remington and Hector ushered the now subdued O’Reilly out, he suddenly broke free, grabbed Laura like a shield with his arm across her throat.
“You’re not takin’ me. Get back!”
“Let my wife go, mate.” Remington said without emotion. “We’ve known each other a while now. Don’t let it end like this.” Remington tried to control his voice, but he was deathly afraid for Laura.
“You! You with your perfect marriage and your perfect life! What do you know about me, about the hell I lived in!”
“It doesn’t matter, O’Reilly.” Remington said.
Lt. Jarvis was approaching O’Reilly from the back in the darkness.
“I—I’ve got a gun in her back!”
“No, you don’t. And you’re going to take your hands off my wife immediately.”
O’Reilly then felt Lt. Jarvis’ gun in his back and dropped his hold on Laura, who ran into Remington’s arms as Jarvis took O’Reilly into custody and cuffed him.
“It’s over, O’Reilly,” Jarvis said. “I’m arresting you for the murders of Lehman and Lorna Singleton and Megan O’Reilly.” Jarvis began to read O’Reilly his rights.
The police led O’Reilly off and Laura, Remington, and Hector walked back to the limo in the early morning darkness.
“Amazing! Mr. Steele. That coward kills all those people.”
“Greed and jealousy are a deadly mix, Hector,” Laura said.
“He couldn’t keep no woman,” Hector surmised. “I think that was the bottom line.”
“Perhaps you are right, Hector, He certainly had problems in that area, didn’t he?” Remington responded rather sanguinely.
“Did I detect a note of sarcasm there, Mr. Steete?” Laura asked after the limo had dropped Hector at his car.
“Well, perhaps. Apparently O’Reilly was woefully inept as a lover.”
“And a fellow son of Ireland as well.”
“And there the similarity ends, love.” Remington paused. “I was frightened for you, Laura. I knew he didn’t have a gun because he didn’t use it in the house, but the sight of him with his arm around your neck . . .”
“I’m all right. We can’t live in fear, Remy. Life just goes on.”
“I just love you so much that the thought of your being hurt just makes me crazy.”
“I love you too.”
They sat quietly close together for a long while as they rode along, and then Remington kissed Laura tenderly, and then again more insistently.
“It’s like the old days, stealing kisses in the limo, um?” Laura said.
“Did I steal them or were they proffered voluntarily?” Remington teased gently, kissing Laura’s cheeks and forehead before finding her mouth again.
“Well, you had no problem accepting what was ‘proffered,’ ” Laura returned the tease as their lips parted for just a moment before Remington claimed her mouth again in a most passionate kiss. “Oh, my,” Laura whispered, “aren’t you the least bit tired?”
“Not in the least, Mrs. Steele,” Remington murmured as the limo drove up to their house and deposited them there.
Remington sent Fred on and turned back to Laura, catching her by the hand as they walked together into the house.
Dawn was breaking as they found their way to their kitchen. Remington smeared paté on crackers and consumed one after another as Laura watched, amused at his appetite. She herself downed two huge glasses of milk and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“It’s almost breakfast time, Laura. We worked all night and I’m quite hungry.”
“Well, I know my appetite is so huge because I’m lactating.”
“And little Joanna is going to want a cocktail now and again, I dare say,” Remington quipped.
Laura looked at her Remington with his open shirt hanging outside his trousers. He was tired from the night of intense emotional activity, his face shadowed by an overnight’s growth of beard, but his blue eyes still fired with passion—and she loved him. She reached for him, tousling his dark hair.
“O’Reilly accused us of having a perfect marriage. What do you think, Remy?”
“Well, as they say in the parlance, ‘It ain’t perfect,’ but it’s close enough for me.”
Remington drew Laura close and kissed her on her neck, then on the freckled spot that he loved just below her collarbones as he unbuttoned her blouse and slipped it off her shoulders so that he could kiss her swollen freckled breasts.
“Oh, dear Lord,” he whispered as Laura gasped in response to his blandishments.
“I think the twins are about to wake up for their early morning feeding. Then . . .”
“You have a promise to keep, darling,” Remington said as they went off to see after their children.
Laura lay down and nursed her little girls and Remington changed them and put them snugly back into bed.
When Laura finally turned her attention to her husband again, he had undressed and was lying on their bed waiting for her. He did not have to ask her to come to him.
“Oh, woman,” Remington sighed, taking her into his arms, kissing her hard, bruising her mouth with his, tasting her. He pleasured himself, pleasured her—drawing her onto him, joining and becoming one with her in a passion that burned so hot that that they were rendered nearly senseless when the climax rolled over them.
“Thank you, love,” Remington whispered, just before he fell asleep.
“For keeping your promise.”
* * * * * *
When they awakened, it was to the sound of Esperanza’s voice calling back the Singleton children.
“Ven, ven tu! You must not go in there.”
It was to no avail as Jonathan and Joanna bounded right into Remington and Laura’s bedroom and onto their bed.
“So sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Steele.” Esperanza was very embarrassed at the sight of Remington and Laura in their marriage bed.
“It’s all right, Esperanza, we’ll handle them,” Laura said sleepily, throwing the sheet over Remington’s exposed backside. “Wake up! Wake up!”
“Um, hey, what’s this?” Remington gradually came to as young Jonathan sat on him.
Little Joanna pulled at Laura’s breast.
“Oh, baby girl, it’s all right. Come to Mama.” The toddler took Laura’s breast and began to nurse.
“You got hair all over you, mister. Ain’t you go no pj’s?”
“Yes, I have pj’s, son, but I don’t wear them all the—why am I answering these questions, Laura?” Remington looked quizzically at his wife.
“I guess this is what it’s like when babies start to grow up a little.”
“Let’s go pee. You gotta pee, don’t you?” Jonathan took Remington’s hand and pulled him out of the bed.
“Find some pajamas, love,” Laura said “ . . .somewhere.”
Remington and Jonathan went into the bathroom where Remington pulled his robe from behind the door and the two of them stood in front of the toilet and urinated together.
“Wow!” Jonathan stared up at Remington and the powerful stream that continued several seconds after he was finished.
“I’m all grown up, son.”
“Your wee-wee don’t look like my daddy’s looks.”
“Not everybody looks the same, Son.”
“Mommie didn’t like Daddy’s wee-wee . . .”
Remington cut him off. “His penis. The word is penis, Son, not wee-wee. And by the way, why are you up so early?”
“I go to headstart.”
“Well, we’ll have to see about getting you back into headstart.”
“But I get in my mommy and daddy’s bed every morning. When are they coming back and who are you?”
Remington sat down on the edge of the bathtub and took the boy in hand.
“They—they aren’t comin’ back, Laddie. A bad man hurt them and they passed away.”
“Are they in heaven?”
“I don’t know, son. They’re just resting, sleeping right now.”
“Are you gonna be my Daddy?”
“Do you want me to be?”
“Yeah, I do. I need a Daddy.” The boy’s eyes filled and he started to cry. Remington just hugged him and kissed him.
“It’s all right. I’m—I’m Remington Steele, and I’ll be here for you, Laddie.”
“Can I sleep some more in your bed?”
“Yes, but only in the mornings.” Remington looked for his pajama bottoms behind the but found none. Then Remington went back into the bedroom, found a pair of pajama bottoms in his drawer and pulled them on under Jonathan’s watchful eye. He tossed a robe to Laura, who was still nursing Joanna.
The twins were waking up and the little boy followed him as Remington went to change them and bring them to Laura for their morning feeding.
“I think this is what our family life is going to be like from now on, Laura.”
Jonathan regarded both of them gravely.
“Do you ride on her?” He was referring to Laura and his meaning was clear.
“Yes, but not in front of you, Laddie. Kisses and hugs and snuggles but no rides. That’s for Daddy and Mommie alone.”
“I think this child has seen much more of life than is necessary for a four-year-old, Laura.”
Esperanza knocked on their bedroom door.
“I come to take children now. You need private time. Come, Jonathan.” She picked up Joanna who had fallen asleep. I put them in one of the guest rooms, okay?”
“Yes, Esperanza. Perhaps we can make up the room next to ours for them for now.”
As Remington closed the door, Laura put Chlöe and Cassie back to bed.
“Now where were we, Mrs. Steele?”
“We were trying to sleep, love.”
“Sleep is gone. I see what Peter meant about privacy with children. We’re going to have to make some adjustments.”
“I guess mornings become ‘shared space,’ Remy.”
“We will have to wake up very early for our early morning trysts, love.”
“And I don’t doubt that you will,” Laura said, a knowing look in her eyes.
“That boy wants me to be his Daddy and I can’t refuse him, Laura.”
“I know—anymore than I can refuse Joanna when she comes for my breast.” Laura smiled wistfully.
“Suddenly we’re a family of six, Laura.”
“We’re headed toward that bairnteam.”
“I love you, Daddy Steele.”
“God knows that I love you, Laura.” The sight of Laura, her skin so pure and clean, her thick chestnut hair loose and down on her shoulders, the contours of her body so evident under her bright green silk robe, captivated Remington completely as he led her back to their bed.
“I want to see freckles, love,” he said simply, his heart pounding in his chest as he took her into his arms and slipped the robe off her shoulders.
There was a discreet knock on the door.
Remington sighed in quiet resignation and wrapped his robe around his lean body, taking a couple of deep breaths in an attempt calm his passions as Laura tried to suppress a giggle.
“Just a moment,” he called out, attempting nonchalance.
Laura put her robe back on and brushed past him, very amused at his struggle to regain control of himself.
“Why don’t you just get back in bed, Remy dear,” she sang out as she went to the bedroom door and opened it to Maria who was bearing a tray of breakfast—homemade flour tortillas, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, bacon, guava jam, and steaming coffee.
“I want to make you good breakfast, Señora Steele. My Hector tell me you solve the case. I am so happy my Hector is working for you. Now you must eat and rest after your long night’s work.”
“Thank you, Maria,” Laura said. “Are you decent, love?” Remington slid under the covers as Maria brought the heavily laden tray into their room and set it down.
“Wonderful, wonderful, Maria. Thank you,” he said.
“De nada, Señor Steele. You have your breakfast now.” Maria bustled from the room and Laura carefully locked the door behind her.
“I’m hungry, Rem. Don’t you want to eat? I should think you’d be ravenous.”
“I am, love.” Remington grinned mischievously at her as she brought the tray to their bed where they playfully fed each other, wrapping the creamy scrambled eggs, bacon and fried potatoes in the soft warm tortillas spread with guava jam, washing it all down with the hot strong Spanish coffee.
Finally Remington took the tray and put it aside on the floor beside their bed and turned back to his wife.
“Laura.” He did not have to say more. The timbre of his voice and his cobalt blue eyes said it all.