Time Frame: A week after the end of "Steeled with a Kiss"
Synopsis: Laura, Remington, and Mildred go to London
to take care of Daniel's estate, and an old freind of Remington's
delivers a startling surprise.
In a dark back room of a London pub, a nervous little man stood, cap in hand, as he tried to meet the black gaze of the man sitting before him. "I swear, Mr. Colverson, I ain't seen 'er in three days. It's like she'd just- dropped off the face of the earth."
Ian Colverson's eyes narrowed. "I don't believe you, Mickey. I think you'd do anything to protect Trina. Even lie to me."
Mickey swallowed heavily. "Oh, no sir, Mr. Colverson. I'd never do anything like that. If I knew where she was, I'd tell you."
Ian's eyes barely flickered to the man standing just behind Mickey and to his right, a silent signal. George grabbed Mickey's right arm and twisted it painfully behind his back. Ian sat back, unmoved by Mickey's cries of pain. He nodded again, and George relaxed the hold, but retained his hold on the arm. "Now. Let's try this again, shall we?"
"I give you my word, Mr. Colverson. She and the boy are -gone."
"Then I'll take the money you owe me now," Ian said, fixing his hawk-like gaze on the frightened man.
"But-but I ain't got it," Mickey insisted. "You said that if I tried to find the bird-"
"I said that if you *found* my wife, your debt would be cleared. Did you find her?"
"N-No," Mickey admitted, and as George started pulling up on his arm again, he said, "But I'll find 'er. I will, Mr. Colverson. Gimme another chance. One more chance, that's all I ask."
Ian sat there for a long moment before waving George away. "One more chance, Mickey. But you won't get a third. Find her. And the boy. Soon."
"Yes sir, Mr. Colverson," Mickey said, backing away from the man toward the door into the pub. "I'll find 'em. They've gotta be in London somewhere."
Ian's gaze remained on the door as he told George. "Follow him. The moment he finds Trina or the boy, I want them here."
George nodded, his shaved dark head reflecting the scant lighting. "Whatever you say, Boss. What about Mickey?"
"I think - once he tracks down my wife and the boy - Mickey will have outlived his usefulness."
George nodded again and left the room as Ian sat back in the chair, picking up the framed photo of the dark haired woman sitting with a dark haired little boy. "Soon, my dear Trina. Soon. Betrayal has a price . . ."
Mildred finished packing the last suitcase and carried it across the hall to Mr. and Mrs. Steele's suite, giving the bath and bedroom a last look over to make sure they hadn't forgotten anything. Glancing at her watch, she noted that if they got back within the next hour, the three of them would have just enough time to catch their flight back to Los Angeles.
She had tried to convince them to let her go straight home from Ireland, but Mr. Steele had insisted that he might need her help sorting out Daniel Chalmers' estate. Mildred snorted. Hadn't been much of an estate, really. Just a few old boxes of letters and things and mementos of various cons that he and "Harry" had been involved in over the years before "Harry" had become Remington Steele. What little money Daniel had managed to save had been taxed down to almost nothing.
Mildred glanced at her watch again as someone knocked loudly on the door. "Coming!" Mildred said, thinking that perhaps the Boss and Miss H- Mrs. Steele, she corrected silently, had misplaced their key.
Another knock came just as she pulled the panel open to reveal a dark haired, blue eyed woman with a little boy of about five or six at her side. "Can I help you?" she asked.
"Maybe," the woman said, her accent clearly Cockney as she tried to see past Mildred into the suite. "Is- 'arry 'ere?"
"No," Mildred said, figuring that this was another of the boss' "old friends" come looking for him. "He's not in at the moment. Who are you?"
"Oh, just an old friend," she told Mildred with a sad smile. "I really need to see 'im. Is 'e comin' back soon?"
"He and his *wife* should be back any minute," Mildred said deliberately. "And then we're due at the airport to catch a flight back home."
"Good. I mean, that's good. That 'e's goin' 'ome. Could I wait?" she asked, looking up and down the hall. "I won't take up much of 'is time. I just a need a minute t'tell 'im something important, like, you know?"
It wasn't the woman that convinced Mildred. It was the dark haired little boy who stood there with such a solemn face- and big blue eyes. "I guess it'll be okay," Mildred told the woman, stepping back from the door for them to enter.
The woman led the little boy to the sofa. "Sit here, Johnny," she said as she lifted the child onto the cushions, then sat down beside him on the edge of the seat.
Mildred leaned against the arm of a chair. "How long have you known- Harry?" she asked.
"We first met about, oh, six years ago next month. 'E'd just come back t'London from Monte Carlo and needed a friend." Looking around, she smiled. "I always new 'e'd make it big. 'ad the touch, 'e did." She smoothed Johnny's dark hair. "Could you get a glass of water for my little boy? 'E's thirsty, aren't you, Johnny?"
Mildred hesitated, debating on the advisability of leaving the woman and her son alone, but one look at that sad, frightened little face and she was lost again. "I'll be right back."
She went into the bathroom and picked up a glass, filling it with water. As she started back toward the sitting room, she heard the door to the suite close, and thinking that Mr. and Mrs. Steele had returned, she rushed onward. But neither of them were anywhere to be seen.
In fact, the only person in the room at all was the little boy, who was calmly sitting on the sofa precisely where he'd been when Mildred had left the room. "Hello?" Mildred called, the glass of water still in her hand as she looked around. Hurrying to the door, she pulled it open and looked to her right down the hall, and then to the left. There was no sign of the dark haired young woman with the sad blue eyes.
Mildred went back into the suite and saw that Johnny was turned around now, looking at her- more specifically, at the glass of water in her hand. "Here," she said. "Where's your mother?"
"She left," he said matter-of-factly, as though he was used to being left with strangers, and then gulped down the glass of water as if he'd been dry as a bone, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand as he held out the empty glass. "May I 'ave some more, please?"
Mildred had a sinking feeling that they weren't going to make their flight after all . . .
The dark haired young woman left the hotel and turned started down the sidewalk, only find herself pulled into an alleyway. "There you are," Mickey said. "I've been lookin' all over town for you," he said accusingly.
"Mickey! What are-" she stopped, her eyes widening. "You're workin' for *'im*, aren't you?"
"No. I'm tryin' to help you and the boy get away. 'E's trouble, Trina. Real trouble- where is the boy?" he asked, looking behind her.
"I left 'im with some friends," she said. "Figured it wasn't safe, me out on the streets havin' to drag the kid around." She went still as Mickey's eyes widened in fear, and then she started to move away, only to find herself held tightly by an iron like arm around her chest. Looking up, she gave up struggling for a moment. "George." Glaring at Mickey, she said, "You led 'im to me!"
"No," Mickey insisted. "That ain't how it is! I-" he stopped, smiling nervously at George, realizing that he'd just given his game away. "I was goin' to talk her into going back to see Mr. Colverson, George, I was," he insisted, and flinched closer to the wall as the deadly switch-blade appeared in George's large hand.
"No," Trina cried softly. "Don't-" but her cry was too late as Mickey slid down the wall, his hands over the knife wound in his stomach. She started to struggle as George wiped the blade on Mickey's shirt and closed it- placing it against her side. "Ian won't like it if you bring me back dead," she said.
"He's going to kill you anyway," the man told her. "After you tell him where the boy is."
"Never," Trina said, fear for her son giving her the strength to pull away from the large man, kicking his shin as hard as she could before running out of the alley and into the street- directly in front of the oncoming lorry . . .
Remington and Laura were just getting out of the taxi when they heard the screech of tires and a woman's scream. "What on earth?" Laura questioned.
"Sounds like someone missed their footing," Remington noted, following her down the sidewalk to join the crowd of people gathered before the lorry that was stopped in the street. "Excuse me," he told a large dark-skinned man with a bald head as they almost collided.
"What happened?" Laura asked a middle aged woman.
"Some crazy girl ran out in front of the lorry," the woman explained.
"Poor thing. Looked terrified, she did," the woman's friend commented.
"Of course she was terrified, Daisy," the first woman responded with some asperity. "You'd be terrified too if a lorry were bearing down on you as it was her."
"I meant before that, Myrtle," Daisy said. "She was terrified when she came running from the alley. Like she'd seen something there that frightened her."
Laura moved off toward the alley, but Remington moved closer to the lorry, peering through the crowd for a glimpse of the poor girl that Myrtle and Daisy had been discussing. When he saw her, his breath caught in his throat. "Oh, no," he cried softly. "No, Trina."
Laura returned to the crowd of people in time to see Remington kneel slowly beside the broken, lifeless body of the young woman as the police arrived. "Step away, everyone," the young man ordered.
Laura touched his arm. "There's a dead man over in the alley," she told him. "Looks like he was stabbed."
"Were you a witness, ma'am?" the officer asked, sending one of his men to check the alley.
"No," Laura told him. "My husband and I were just returning to the hotel when we heard the brakes squeal and woman scream. I'm Laura Holt-Steele," she said. Nodding toward where Remington was still with the dead woman, she added, "My husband is-"
"Remington Steele," the officer said, smiling. "I've seen his picture in the papers." He went to kneel on the other side of Remington, and Laura followed, standing close by as he asked, "any identification on the body?"
Remington shook his head. "No. But her name was Trina Castlemain. At least, that was her name six years ago," he said, touching her left hand were a gold wedding band adorned the third finger. Her father ran a pub in Brixton." He searched his memory. "The Blood and Bull, I think it was."
The officer nodded. "We'll find her people, Mr. Steele. I take it you knew the lady?"
Remington nodded, touching Trina's dark hair. "She was a friend during a very dark in my life. Kept me going when I would have given up," he said, and then looked up at Laura, as if suddenly realizing that she was there as she placed a hand on his shoulder.
"We have reservations on an eight o'clock flight to Los Angeles, officer," Laura said softly, "but if you need us to stay-" She felt Remington reach up to give her hand a grateful squeeze as he rose to his feet.
"I don't think that will be necessary, Mrs. Steele. I think we can handle it from here on out."
"If it's all the same to you," Remington said, "We might extend our stay for another day or so-"
"I'm sure it's just cut and dried. The man in the alley is a known pickpocket," the officer said, taking the notepad that one of his men handed him. "Name was Mickey Gruber. He probably tried to steal her purse, and she used his knife on him and got scared and ran. Happens."
Remington nodded, looking at Trina's body as the police spread a blanket over it. "Yes. I suppose it does," he agreed quietly, letting Laura pull him away from the disbursing crowd back toward the hotel. Once away from the police, he leaned down to tell Laura, "Mickey Gruber never used a knife. Hated the bloody things. He was a second rate pick with a weakness for betting on anything that crawled over the finish line dead last. Someone killed him, and Trina saw who did it and ran to get away before the same thing happened to her."
"Who *was* this- Trina?" Laura asked.
He sat down on a sofa in the lobby of the hotel, suddenly too exhausted to go any further. Laura sank onto the edge of a chair close to him, their knees almost touching. "I met Trina after I came back from Monte Carlo - almost six years ago. After- After I thought Anna had died."
"Anna Simpson," Laura said, recalling the statuesque blonde that had almost gotten Remington killed trying to play him against her husband.
"I came back to London, thinking to cry on Daniel's shoulder, I suppose. But he was out pocket- and so I drifted back to Brixton, picking up Johnny Todd on the way. I didn't use the name, but people there still knew me by it. Trina was waiting tables in her father's pub when we met- if it hadn't been for her, Laura- I think I would have given up. Hell, I did give up. I sank back into Brixton as though I'd never left. But Trina kept me from going under. Made me fight to stay alive, to regain my need to get out of there-"
"How long were you together?" Laura asked.
"A month." He smiled at her surprise. "I realized that I couldn't keep brooding about Anna's death forever. And a job came up- took me to Mexico City."
"You just- left Trina in Brixton?"
"It was what she wanted," Remington said. "She told me that she'd only hold me back. That I belonged here in this world now, not there. And that she wouldn't be comfortable in such posh surroundings," he said, smiling a little at the memory. "I did go back to try and find her when I got back from Mexico- but she was gone. And her father refused to tell me where. So I found something else to occupy me."
"Another job," Laura guessed.
"Seems the South African government had these blue gemstones there were tied up in litigation," he explained. "Took me to Paris, and then back here to London-"
"And then to Los Angeles," Laura finished.
Remington took her hands in his. "And the rest, as they say, is history. I'm sorry I never told you about Trina, Laura. I suppose, dismissed her from my mind as part of that whole awful time after Anna-"
Laura placed a hand over his lips. "It's understandable, in a way," she told him. "Anna's death- her supposed death- hit you pretty hard. You still weren't over it a couple of years later when you saw her again." She looked at their hands. "You hadn't seen her again since then? Not even when you came to London to- find yourself?"
"No. I heard that she'd married someone, but I had no idea who- and I had other things to worry about then. I just hoped she was happy. Laura, I can't leave until I find out what happened. I owe Trina that much, at least. She didn't kill Mickey Gruber. Whatever happened in that alleyway sent her into that street and right into the path of that lorry."
Laura smiled. "Back in London not even a week and already using British slang."
"Old habits," he said. "Hard to break." He rose to his feet and held out his hand. "Let's go upstairs. Mildred's probably wondering what happened to us."
Laura took his hand and they started toward the elevators.
"What do you mean she's dead?" Ian asked George.
"She panicked when I stuck Mickey," George explained. "Took off and ran in front of a lorry-"
"And the boy?"
"He wasn't with her."
"Where is he?"
"You didn't think to ask?"
"There wasn't time," George insisted. "And after, the police were all over the place, talking to some American detective who happened to be on the scene."
Ian went still. "American detective?"
"Yes. A tall, man, dark hair. Well- dressed. Even better than you. Sounded like he'd lived in London for awhile. And a shorter bird. All American. Real looker, she was. I think the police called him-"
"Remington Steele," Ian finished.
"That was it," George said.
"Where did this happen again?" Ian asked, picking up a letter opener from his desk and toying with it.
"Outside the Chestershire Hotel, Mr. Colverson."
"I want you to go back there and keep an eye on Steele. It's possible that Trina left the boy with him."
"Why would she do that?" George asked, looking confused.
Ian's smile was twisted. "You let me worry about that. Get going. And don't let me down again, George."
"If I see the kid, should I grab him?"
"If the opportunity presents itself, yes. But if not, just report back to me. I'll make any decisions. The boy is not to be hurt. Not yet, anyway."
When George left, Ian rammed the letter opener into the wood of the desk. She'd escaped him. But he'd have the last laugh, when it was all said and done.
Mildred was just coming from the bedroom when Laura and Remington entered the suite. She quickly moved to close the louvered doors, smiling nervously. "Hi there. Get everything squared away?" she asked.
"For the most part," Laura said as Remington moved toward the bar to pour them both a glass of wine. "Mildred, Mr. Steele- Remington and I have decided to spend a few more days here in London- if you want to go back to LA-"
"Uh, -" She froze as the doors moved behind her.
"What's going on, Mildred?" Laura asked, ignoring the glass in Remington's hand.
"Who's in the bedroom, Mildred?" Remington asked.
"Uh, an- old friend of yours dropped by while you were gone," Mildred told Remington. "A-A woman. Pretty in a sad sort of way. Dark hair- blue eyes-"
"Trina," Remington said, looking toward the ceiling. "She came here to see me. She was in trouble and I wasn't here-" he sat down heavily on the arm of a chair as Laura moved to rub his shoulders.
"What did she say, Mildred?"
"Not much- but she did leave something for you, Boss," Mildred said, wincing as she hesitated and tried to keep the doors closed again as they moved.
"Mildred-!" Laura said, moving to pull the older woman aside and fold the doors back. Her gaze was at eye level, so Laura missed him at first.
But Remington didn't. He sank down into the chair. "Oh dear God."
Laura lowered her eyes to see what he had reacted so strongly to. "Hello," she said, looking into a pair of deep blue eyes framed by a shock of thick black hair. "And what's your name?" she asked pleasantly, bending down to the child's eye level.
"Johnny Castlemain," he answered easily. "What's yours?"
"Oh dear God," Remington sighed again.