STEELE 'O MY HEART, PART XI: STEELE WONDERING
By: Susan Deborah Smith
First printed: More Red Holt Steele #13/14
Summary: Are Laura and Remington ready to start a family?
Disclaimer: This "Remington Steele" story is not-for-profit and is purely for entertainment purposes. The author and this site do not own the characters and are in no way affiliated with "Remington Steele," the actors, their agents, the producers, MTM Productions, the NBC Television Network or any station or network carrying the show in syndication, or anyone in the industry.
Laura sat and gazed out the window. She sat and thought of nothing, as if she were numb. For a week, they'd been at work night and day on a case, and she hadn't had much time to think, which was probably for the best. Now, with some leisure, she found that she couldn't.
Remington poked his head in. "Good news," he said. "I finished the paperwork on the Thorson case."
Her attention came to him slowly. "Oh," she replied. "Good."
Puzzled, he came in and glanced at the view. Nothing he could see was of any interest.
"Laura?" He passed a hand in front of her eyes.
"Sorry," she said with a start. "Daydreaming."
He nodded. He knew her too well. "About anything in particular?"
"Oh, no, not really." She looked away, and then back at him. "I think maybe I'm pregnant," she said finally.
It seemed to him that he stopped breathing. Then a thrill shuddered through him, forcing his lungs to their proper function. A child. Her child, his child, their child.
For him, this was joyous news, but there was nothing of joy in Laura. He tried to make sense of her words and her demeanor.
"You think you're pregnant?" he repeated carefully.
"I think so, yes."
"You've taken a test? Seen a doctor?"
"When have I had time? We've been on this case every minute Her eyes were full of fire; she was ready to fight. Then she relaxed; there was nothing to fight about. "I was waiting," she said. "I wanted to talk to you first."
He felt as if he was circling a timid animal, as if the wrong word would set her off and she'd be gone from sight. When he thought he was close enough, that she wouldn't run, he took her hands and pulled her to him.
"I don't know what to say," he said. "It's wonderful. I wish you were happy."
"I don't know what to feel."
"All right. It's all right..."
He rocked her slowly, comforting her. Laura was a perfectly rational person, someone who had her life neatly mapped out. Then he'd come crashing into her orderly world and torn up the maps. Her struggle through the morass that had been their relationship, through the early days of their marriage, through the unexplored territory of extemporaneous bizarreness that was their life together, had resulted at last in what appeared to be a blueprint for happiness. They had left out one thing, though, this one thing. They had known each other so long, that any plans they had made involved them. They'd been so wrapped up in each other that that they were unable to foresee the natural consequences of love.
Returning to the facts, he said, "How late are you?"
"Six days," she said.
Six days. His encyclopedic knowledge of women did not extend into this area.
"That enough for a test?"
She was a little shaky in this area herself. "I think so. I don't know."
"What say we find a drugstore and read some labels?"
For nearly a week, in the back of her mind had been worry. She'd had two problems: her reaction, and his. If he was glad, she reasoned, fifty percent of the problem was solved; now she had only herself to convince.
"Okay," she agreed.
The door to Mrs. Steele's office banged open. "All right, Mildred, see you tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" said Mildred, who hadn't that long ago settled down at her desk.
"Mrs. Steele," said Mr. Steele. "Bit indisposed. Nothing serious."
Mildred put on a long face and nodded understandingly. She'd grown used to these two suddenly packing up; one or the other was always "indisposed."
"Ain't love grand," she murmured with a smile as the Steeles vanished down the hall.
They stood together at Thrifty's, Remington carefully comparing labels, Laura feeling like a teenager trying to buy contraceptives. She picked up a box of tampons, and put it down again, checking her watch.
"Which of these do you prefer?" he asked, holding out two boxes.
She felt cold suddenly, scared to death. "Whichever is easier, quicker, better, and gets us out of here."
He studied the labels again. "This one, I think."
"Fine." She grabbed his arm, threw money at the cashier, and dragged him out to the car.
The test had to be done in the morning, which gave them the afternoon and evening to themselves. A nap seemed reasonable to Remington; they'd been wearing themselves out on this case, and if Laura was, actually, expecting, she should be getting her rest.
She sat on the bed; he sat beside her and pulled off her shoes. Taking her feet into his lap, he massaged them gently; she settled back on the pillows and sighed.
Then he lay down beside her. She turned away from him; he put his arms around her.
"This is nice," he said. He clasped his hands under her breast. "We can relax and give this a little thought. Think it through, make some plans." He paused. "I know you're unhappy -- "
"I'm not unhappy!" she exclaimed, struggling out of his embrace.
He sat up beside her. "Then what?"
"I'm facing the biggest upheaval in my life, everything's out of control."
"Everything's not out of control," he countered. "There's always something to be done."
She glared at him over her shoulder. "Oh, that's not even an option."
"If you're not ready," he said. "If you didn't want it..."
"Just forget it!" she shouted, getting up to pace. "It's ours. It's ours," she repeated softly. "Of course I want it."
"All right. All right. Just calm down, then, eh?" He pulled her back down onto the bed and lay again behind her, his arms wrapped around her waist. "Let's be objective about this, shall we? Let's go over the negative aspects of the situation."
"Nine months of inconvenience," she said.
"Followed by twenty years of inconvenience."
"I'll gain sixty pounds."
"Probably. Yes. But it'll look good on you."
"Give me air," said Laura.
"It will, Laura. It's occurred to me, at times, that you are a bit under-fed." He smiled. "Anything else?"
A vision of terrifying proportions, one that had been lurking around the edges of her anxiety, rose up before her eyes. "I'll turn into my mother."
"You don't think so?"
She was reassured more than he knew. "Okay."
"All right then. Enough gloom and doom. What are some of the good points?"
She lay there silently, staring at the wall. Were there any good points?
"Feel free to jump in anytime," he suggested.
"It's ours," she said again.
He swallowed. She couldn't know what those words meant to him.
"And I guess -- you want children."
"This isn't about me, though, is it?"
"And -- I do, too," she confessed.
"There we are."
"I just hadn't expected any this soon. I wanted..." She turned over to face him, smiling a little. "I wanted to get used to having a husband first."
"We'll be wonderful parents, Laura."
"I'm glad you're so sure."
"Look at us!" he exclaimed. "Devoted to each other, devoted to our work. Life's a bowl of cherries to us! We have our priorities straight. You have the education, I have the experience
"Experience?" she repeated.
"Laura, you must admit, you've led rather a sheltered life."
"Sheltered?" she said.
"Rather a bit, yes."
"Get out of here."
He sat up and held her close. "Laura," he said. "You know how I feel about my early life, and I know how you feel about yours. I think, together, we know what a child needs, maybe far better than most."
"Look at me," he went on. "Virtually an orphan. Unloved, unwanted, making a life for myself. You taught me the virtue of staying in one spot. Now I'll have someone new, someone I can put it into practice for."
"I think it was years," she said, "before I gave up the idea that I'd come home from school one day and he'd be there, working in the yard, or at his desk..."
"Well," said Remington. "This one won't have that to worry about. Unless, of course, you put on your travelling shoes."
She was feeling much better. "I guess it's because we never talked about it. Except in the most general way."
"We're talking now."
"Because we weren't planning it."
"A happy surprise," he said.
"You really think so?"
"Can I be honest with you, Laura," he asked. "Absolutely, totally honest, without fear of influencing your feelings or obligating you to anything?"
He kissed her tenderly. "I love you very much," he said. "If it's true, I'll be very, very happy."
"You will?" she said.
"I'll have the chance to make up for some of the damage done us by our own fathers, eh? The opportunity to be part of a family."
She put her arms around his neck. "You are part of a family," she told him. "The Holt-Steeles. Established 1987."
"Indeed," he said softly, and in the waning light of afternoon, they made love, not knowing if they were to be parents or not.
When the alarm went off, Remington was alone in the bed. A brief search revealed Laura to be outside on the terrace, drinking coffee and staring at nothing. He couldn't tell from her demeanor whether the news was good or bad, or even what good or bad news might mean.
"Morning," he said. He took the cup from her hand and had a sip. It was stone cold.
"Hi," she said.
"Feeling all right?"
"I don't know." She looked up. "The test was a waste of money, Remington."
Even now, after seven months of marriage, she didn't use his name very often. To call him, to get his attention, yes, but in conversation, it was as often Mr. Steele, or an implied "hey, you." He accepted this, took it correctly to mean that he had an identity to her beyond this name held acquired, the same way she accepted his great fondness for her own name and the fact that he used it more often than an average person might in the course of an average conversation.
He seemed a bit unfocused. She took his hand. "Remington?"
"Was it?" he asked. "A waste of money, I mean."
"Not pregnant," she said. "Just late."
He sat down and brought her hand to his lips. "Well, then," he said.
"It's funny," she went on, turning her gaze again to the view. "After your little pep talk, I was kind of starting to look forward to it." She smiled wistfully. "You know. Baby clothes. Lamaze classes. Pushing the pram up the street--"
"Perhaps it's all for the best," he told her. "Now we can plan for it a bit better. Put ourselves in the right mind from the start."
Her eyes came back to him. "I'm sorry," she said, touching his face. "I know you're disappointed."
"Well, yes, I am, a little," he confessed.
"It would've looked great to Immigration, wouldn't it?"
"Ah, yes. Miss Lynch would've been flabbergasted."
"Thank you," she said suddenly.
"For reacting in just the right way. Sometimes I have trouble merging the old Remington Steele with the new one."
"Always the same Remington Steele," he said. "Just new goals, and new perspectives."
"I forget how patient you always are with Frances' kids. I forget -- how things are, sometimes."
"So long as I'm here to remind you," he answered.
"I love you, you know?" she said.
"Indeed I do," he replied. He kissed her hand again, and her wrist, and then leaned close and pressed his face against her hair. "What shall I make us for breakfast?"
"Oh, I don't know," said Laura. "I'll eat anything you fix."
"Truly the highest compliment a chef can receive." He went into the kitchen and put some muffins in the oven to heat, then whipped up an omelet.
Pouring a big glass of milk for Laura, he put everything onto a tray and carried it out to the terrace.
"Lovely morning," he said, setting the table.
"Yes," she agreed. "What's that?"
"Milk. Excellent source of calcium. As I was saying, you are a bit undernourished."
"You think I'm skinny?"
"Not at all. You're a very athletic girl, lovely shape, wear clothes beautifully. But I think you could be -- well, not more Rubinesque, exactly, but perhaps -- more filled out. Yes, that's it. Just a tad more filled out."
She kicked him under the table.
"Ten pounds couldn't hurt, Laura," he went on mildly.
At the office, where Laura was able to solve two cases in the space of an hour, and bill their four-hour minimum for each, Remington was struggling to reach Laura's gynecologist.
Dr. Fleming," he said, when he was put through at last. "Thank heaven. Remington Steele here. My wife Laura is a patient of yours."
"Laura Steele?" she repeated. "Oh, Laura Holt! Sure, of course."
"I'm wondering if Laura and I might stop by and see you today."
"Is there a problem? I'm pretty booked. If it's an emergency--"
"No, no, not an emergency-room sort of problem. More of a nagging worry. A deep concern. I don't know if there's a problem or not, which is why I'd like you to see her right away."
"We're not talking about unexplained bleeding, fever, or pain, are we?" she asked.
"Oh, no, nothing like that at all."
"No recurrence of this summer's episode then."
"No, no. In fact, I'm more concerned than she is, apparently."
He could hear in her voice the condescending smile she was no doubt wearing.
"Let me put you back to my secretary, Mr. Steele. She'll try to work something out."
Deciding to play hardball, he said, "How about this, then. If you can fit us in today, the next background check you need on a prospective employee is on the house."
"Collection work? Perhaps you have a client who doesn't respond to threatening letters? We'd be glad to pay a call and squeeze it out of them, eh?"
There was a long pause and the sound of pages turning.
"If you can be here exactly at eleven," she said, "I can see her."
"Excellent, Doctor. True humanitarian. Thanks very much."
As he hung up, Laura leaned in at the door. "This must be some kind of record," she said. "Three cases in under ninety minutes. Twelve billable hours in less than an hour and a half!"
"Laura, I think you've been spending too much time looking at L.A. Law."
"I love this business!" she said. "More than a day's base operating expenses, and I just got here!" She sat down on the desk. "Not very interesting, though."
"Yes, well, when we're parents, you and I, we'll have to learn to satisfy ourselves with these tepid little cases. No more traipsing up and down the countryside, prowling the mean streets, dodging bullets at every turn. No, no, no. It's all trace skipping from here on in."
"Why am I suddenly less disappointed?" she asked.
"Not to worry," he replied. "We'll still be able to pursue the occasional big-time glamorous case. We'll leave the kiddies with Mildred and be off, just like the old days." He glanced at his watch and sat up with a start. "Let's go," he said.
"Early lunch. Special reservation. Lucky to get it."
"Come along, Laura."
They went out of the building and across the plaza to Avenue of the Stars.
"We're going to Yamato's?" Laura complained.
"No, no, no," he said as they crossed the street. "I've a surprise in mind." He guided her up the steps of the 1840 building and held the door.
"This is Dr. Fleming's building," she said. "Oh, no," she exclaimed as he escorted her into the elevator. "You didn't make an appointment!"
"Just thinking of your well-being, my love," he answered.
"If I need to see a doctor," she yelled, "I'll bloody well see one! When I feel like it!"
The doors to the elevator slid open. "Now, Laura," he soothed, pushing open a door marked "Rosemary Fleming, M.D./Lara Torill, M.D./Andrea McLean, R.N.P."
The lobby was filled with women, not a man to be seen anywhere.
"Mrs. Steele," he said to the receptionist. "To see Dr. Fleming."
Laura shook off his arm. "Laura Steele," she said. "I understand I have an appointment."
The woman hunted through the schedule book, then turned it sideways to read a notation. "Oh, yes. Your husband's been phoning all morning. Have a seat."
"I don't appreciate this," said Laura furiously, throwing herself onto a sofa and grabbing up the first magazine she could find.
"It's all right, Laura," said Remington. "I know that deep in your heart you're thanking me for my quick thinking in this situation."
"I'm thanking you to mind your own business."
"If your health isn't my business, I don't know what is."
"You could worry about your health for a change. When was the last time you saw a doctor?"
"Mrs. Steele?" A nurse poked her head around the door and beckoned.
Laura jumped to her feet.
"Want me to come in with you?" he asked.
She glared at him, and stalked after the nurse.
After hearing how she'd been squeezed in, Laura was surprised at the amount of time devoted to her. The nurse weighed her, took her blood pressure and temperature, made small talk, and gave her a little paper dress to put on. There'd been days when, during a regularly scheduled appointment, she'd been shut in a room for an hour without a word. Dr. Fleming did not always have the greatest success with her staff.
She was hardly into the paper gown when Dr. Fleming knocked on the door and came in.
"Laura," she said. "Good to see you."
"Hi," said Laura.
After briefly consulting the chart, the doctor laid it aside and pressed the stethoscope against Laura's chest.
"What's the problem?" she asked. She moved Laura's hair out of the way and listened, low on her back, and then higher.
"There is no problem," said Laura. "Except possibly in Mr. Steele's head."
Dr. Fleming smiled. "Deep breath," she said. "He told me he wasn't sure if there was a problem or not. But he seemed very worried."
"All in his head," said Laura, but with less conviction.
Looping the stethoscope around her neck, the doctor said, "Tell me about it."
Laura was, in fact, somewhat relieved to tell her about it.
Dr. Fleming nodded and took notes. "How late were you?" she asked.
"Seven days from the longest cycle you've ever had, the shortest, or from the date you were expecting your period."
"Seven days from the longest."
"Thirty one days."
She flipped back through the file. "And on which day were you expecting it?"
"The twenty ninth."
"So we're looking at a thirty eight day cycle here."
"That's longer than average, but not unheard of." The doctor looked at Laura, then back at the chart. "When you got your period this morning," she said, "was it unusually heavy? Did you experience any pain?"
Shaking her head, she answered, "No. The usual, I guess. Maybe."
"Maybe a little heavier. I couldn't say for sure."
"Okay. What about pain? Cramping? Anything?"
"Mm hmm." Dr. Fleming eased her back on the table and adjusted the stirrups. "It doesn't sound too serious, but let's be sure. Slide down a little more." Drawing on a pair of gloves, she examined Laura carefully. Then she turned off the light, tossed one glove in the wastebasket, and stood up.
"That hurt?" she asked, pressing down hard on Laura's abdomen.Laura shifted. "Not really."
It was unpleasant, but not painful. "No."
"Okay. Sit up." Discarding the other glove, Dr. Fleming washed her hands and pulled a chair up beside the table. "The likeliest thing," she said, "is that when you're in a steady relationship, like a marriage, you tend to get careless about contraception. Then, if you're even a day late, it suddenly comes home to you just how careless you've been. Then you start to worry, and the more worried you are, the less likely your period is to start. I don't think there's anything more to it than that."
"It's possible, of course, that it was a very early pregnancy and miscarriage. I'd expect to see noticeably heavy bleeding and at least some cramping with that, but not always." The doctor was inclined to pursue the conversation; her patient didn't look all that confident in either possibility.
"What do you think?"
"It's not a clear-cut kind of thing, Laura." The doctor shrugged. "You were more than a week late with your normal period. That's the guideline. But my first theory is just as valid."
"So I could've been pregnant?"
Fleming hesitated. "You could've been, yes."
Laura frowned. "It's possible, I guess."
"That maybe I was -- pregnant."
"You don't have to agree with me. You know yourself better than I do. A very early miscarriage is far commoner than most people think. It's a very efficient, natural way of discarding an embryo that's just not viable, for whatever reason. It saves you a lot of trouble and worry."
Laura looked up with kind of an ironic half-smile. "Exchanging one kind for another," she said.
"A miscarriage of this sort means there's something wrong with the fetus, not with you. It doesn't mean you can't get pregnant again right away, and it doesn't mean that you'll have trouble carrying to term."
"So even if it was that, it's not serious?"
"Not at all. It's better this way. Faulty implantation, maybe a minor infection -- a pregnancy that your body abandons at this point is a pregnancy you wouldn't want anyway."
Clearly, Laura wanted it to be one thing, and was convinced it was another. "It might've been. I don't know."
"I can go either way, myself."
"It's just that I've never been this late before. And we're not always 100 percent careful. And I've really been too busy to -- dwell on it."
"We're on rocky psychological ground. Which would you rather believe?"
As with Steele, Laura could be honest with herself if with no one else. "Maybe I was -- pregnant. If you think so. But please don't tell my husband."
"Of course not."
Laura rubbed her wrist as if it had been bound. "He's excessively concerned for my health."
"After your run-in with TSS, I don't blame him. And it certainly doesn't hurt to make sure. If there'd been fever, or pain--"
"I would've been the one on the phone, believe me.it
"Good." Dr. Fleming turned over a page and wrote some more. "It's perfectly normal to feel some depression or sadness. Whether you were actually pregnant or not, you were gearing up for it emotionally, and it's a let down."
"I'm kind of surprised. I never -- I know this sounds foolish, but I never pictured myself getting pregnant. With children, yes, but -- with everything in place."
"Planning to get them mail order?"
Laura was forced to smile.
The doctor went on making notes. "Did you want to switch to something more reliable?"
"No," said Laura. "No. We're actually discussing having a baby now, which we weren't, before, and I guess - No, I don't want anything."The doctor smiled. "I see. After you'd faced the idea head on, you became rather fond of it."
Laura shrugged. "He was a lot more interested than I imagined."
With a wry smile, she said, "Me, too."
"In that case, I have some ideas which I'd like to talk over with the both of you."
"When you're dressed."
"Dr. Fleming," said Laura.
The doctor turned from the door.
"Since it's not certain, one way or the other -- I'd just as soon Remington thought it was anxiety making me a little late. All right?"
"Absolutely. I'll see you in my office."
When Laura arrived, Remington and Dr. Fleming were already settled.
"Ah, there you are, darling," he said, rising. He held a chair for her and sat down again.
Laura was finding it hard to regain her antagonistic mood.
"I've already explained to Remington that you seem perfectly fine to me, and that there's no reason to suspect any problem that would prevent you from conceiving."
"Good," said Laura, for want of anything else.
"However, there are a couple of things that concern me that I'd like to discuss with you. First, is the matter of your recent illness. Toxic Shock Syndrome is exactly that -- a shock to the body. I'd like to see you give yourself a bit more time to recover from it."
Remington had his filofax out.
"What are you doing?" said Laura.
"I'm taking this down."
She rolled her eyes. Dr. Fleming tried to suppress a smile.
"Exactly how long do you propose, Doctor?" he asked.
"Let's say two months," she replied. "Which brings me to item two, contraception. I assume you're still using a diaphragm, or in conjunction with condoms."
"Yes," said Laura.
"Okay. And I take it that you now have it in mind to maybe start a family fairly soon."
Remington glanced at Laura. "It's under discussion," he said.
"All right, then. There've been some recent studies that show a slight increase in the incidence of birth defects in children born to women who were using chemical contraception at the time they became pregnant. I'm talking about foams, jellies, sponges, pretreated condoms, things like that. What I'd like to suggest is that you go off the diaphragm completely for the next two months. Don't use any foams or sponges or any of that. Then, when you decide to start trying, the chemicals will have worn out of your system, and you'll have one less thing to worry about."
"That's crossing a lot off the list," said Laura. "What do you recommend in the meantime?"
"Untreated condoms," shrugged the doctor. "There's abstinence, of course, which isn't relevant here. If you're interested, I can teach you a new, improved variation on the rhythm method. It's really quite effective, if you're devoted to it, or if you use condoms as well, and the bonus is, you can use the same technique later to determine the optimal time for conception."
"I'd be willing to have a go," said Remington, with a glance at Laura. "There's just one problem. If it's dangerous for Laura to become pregnant, shouldn't we be using something more reliable?"
"She didn't say it was dangerous," Laura began hotly.
"I didn't say it was dangerous," Dr. Fleming agreed. "I simply said it would be better if she gave herself more time. Let's say she walks out of here today and conceives at her next ovulation. Fine. I can't imagine her having anything but a perfectly normal pregnancy, and a perfectly healthy baby. But as long as you're giving it some forethought, delay it a bit. I'd rather err on the side of caution."
"My sentiments exactly," said Remington.
"Caution also tells us that the fewer drugs and chemicals in the system, the better for everyone. Since the situation isn't dangerous or life-threatening, let's compromise. Try not to get pregnant. And try not to use chemical contraceptives."
He took careful notes as Dr. Fleming explained the new natural method of birth control. He asked insightful questions. He read his notes back to be sure everything was clear. Laura was ready to kill him.
Folding the brochures the doctor offered into a neat bundle, he arose and shook hands.
"Thank you very much for your reassurance, Doctor," he said. "And if you'll just send the particulars of your collections case over to the office, we'll get on it straightaway."
"You offered her a collections case?" said Laura, in the elevator. "Gratis?"
"In return for an on the spot appointment."
"You know, I could have told you exactly what she did, word for word."
"Word for word? You were a wee bit surprised when she suggested dropping the Gynol II in the dustbin."
"I'm talking about why I was late."
"And I accepted your explanation. But as with you, my love, I wanted to hear it from a professional." He smiled. "Better to be sure, Laura. Better to be sure."
She sighed and slipped her arm through his. "Sometimes, Mr. Steele," she said, "you are a very nice man."
He took her to Harry's for lunch, with the idea that hearty Italian cuisine and good red wine would further assist to build up her strength. is The doctor had agreed that Laura could certainly stand to gain ten pounds, and even fifteen, considering the loss she'd sustained when she was in the hospital.
"So," he said, opening his filofax. "I trust you were paying close attention."
He looked up. "Then I take it we're agreed, that we do want children, that we'd like to have a baby fairly soon?"
"Sure." She twirled some fettuccini onto her fork.
"Sure?" he repeated. "Laura, 'sure' is not an adequate response to a question about a major life's decision."
"It's not? Quit complaining. It's positive."
"I'm sure I can't be blamed for asking for a bit more enthusiasm."
"What if I'd said no?" she asked.
He turned pale, but recovered quickly. "Naturally, I'd abide by your decision, since it affects you most intimately. I'd have little to say about it."
"That's it?" she exclaimed. "I say no baby, and you sit back and accept it?"
"Even though you want them."
"I want you more."
She looked at him. "You'd just accept it."
"Laura, unless we got into the realm of surgery, the decision wouldn't be irrevocable, would it? I'd try to persuade you. Over the next ten or fifteen years, I think the odds are pretty good -- "
Reaching across the table, she took his hand. "I'm sorry," she said. "You're right about me. I just like to test you sometimes. Sometimes it's too good to be true, that we're together and we agree on something."
"I'm rather glad someone cares enough to do the testing." He hesitated. "Dr. Fleming did mention that we could expect to feel a little low."
"After all, we'd come to expect a positive test, we'd invested seven dollars and fifty nine cents..."
"I meant what I said this morning," she told him. "I was getting kind of excited about the idea."
"Really?" He speared a mushroom and held it out to her.
Laura guided it off the fork with her tongue and swallowed. "Mm, yes. I guess we've had a lot of carefree days together already, haven't we?"
"We've been partners for so long, it's almost always been like we're married. Sort of."
"Indeed. I often wondered why we wasted precious funds maintaining two households."
"We'll have to move," she said suddenly.
"That place is hardly big enough for two of us."
"We'll start scanning the advertisements at once. What was it your sister said? Good schools? We'll relocate near a good school."
"We are near a good school. The Marlborough is right up the street."
"Good school, Mr. Steele."
"For our daughters, yes. But what of our children of the male persuasion?"
"We can talk about it later," said Laura.
He called the waiter and ordered champagne. "To the Holt-Steeles," he said.
She touched her glass to his. "As many of them as there might someday be."
They returned to the office at two o'clock, where Remington was happy to put in a few hours of real work and came up with a case that required their attendance at a glamorous function at the J. Paul Getty Museum that very evening.
A week later, Immigration phoned to announce that another interview had been arranged. That night, Laura lay in bed and stared at the ceiling.
"Remington," she said.
He was just drifting off to sleep. "Hmm? What?"
"Yes, yes, I'm awake." He turned over, to prove it.
"I wasn't going to tell you this," she said. "I wasn't ever going to tell you, but since we're still going to interviews--"
She sat up in the darkness. "I wasn't really late," she said. "It was--Well, Dr. Fleming and I think it might've been a really early miscarriage."
For a long time he was silent, stroking her hair. "I know," he said finally.
"What do you mean, you know?" she exclaimed. "I told her..."
"Don't blame the good doctor," he said. "Give me credit for knowing my lovely bride. It wasn't just disappointment at not being pregnant that you were feeling."
"I'm sorry," she said. For some reason, she found herself fighting back tears.
"No, no, no," he whispered. He sat up and put his arms around her. "Don't be. It's better this way."
"How better?" She was sobbing now, and he wasn't sure if it was for deceiving him, or for the baby that never was.
"Ah, there now, Laura. I can read. Handy little pamphlets in the doctor's office. No doubt left about for the enlightenment of any ignorant male who might happen by. Full of details no man ever expects to need to know. One of them suggested that a miscarriage shortly after conception means that something's wrong with it, and to have another try."
"You were so excited," she said. "And it was such a disappointment. I didn't want to make it worse."
"So you kept it to yourself. Didn't even give me the chance to be your tower of strength."
"That's not your job," she said.
"Certainly it is."
"Then it's my job, too."
"Ah. I see. You were being my tower of strength."
"Well, then." He rocked her gently. "We'll give it a month or two, and then we'll try again, eh?"
"I don't know why I'm so sad," Laura told him. "If I'd waited one more day, I wouldn't've thought much about it."
"But you told me, and I turned it into a big thing." He kissed her hair. it is a big thing. But I'm sorry if I made it more painful."
"I never wanted Frances' life."
"But it's bearing down on you."
"I don't know. I'm not sure what I want."
"We don't have to decide tonight, do we?" he said. "We can get some sleep, have some happy dreams, eh?"
"Last New Year's," she said, "If I'd had any idea..."
"That's what makes life interesting, isn't it? 'I think God made the world to be curved so that we cannot see too far ahead on the road.' Out of Africa. Meryl Streep. Robert Redford. Columbia, 1986."