Friends of Steele
Part 7

Daniel sat there for some time after the door closed behind Mildred, his mind racing. Dare he take the chance that Mildred wouldn't make good on her threat, he wondered? He rose slowly at last, and went to refill his glass. No, he couldn't take that risk. Harry had to find out the truth from him if there was to be any hope of salvaging their future relationship.

Mildred's words kept replaying themselves in his mind, over and over again. "Hey, isn't this what you've been preparing him for ever since you two met? To claim his true inheritance?" Perhaps, without knowing it, she had given him a way to tell Harry the truth after all. Part of it, anyway. Enough to see how he would handle all of it.

He sat down his drink, and glancing at his watch, mentally calculated the time difference. It was still early in London. But he didn't have time to wait. Dialing, he waited for the connection to be made, then for the line to be answered. "Haversham?…Daniel Chalmers here…Yes, I know what time it is…I need you to send some documents to me in Los Angeles…That's right. Los Angeles…"

Mildred wasn't surprised to find herself the first person in the office the next morning. According to what Fred told her when she called him, he had dropped Miss Holt and Mr. Steele at the Chief's place after dinner, and had been dismissed for the rest of the evening. Her suspicions were confirmed when her employers arrived together, both smiling and looking VERY happy.

"Good morning, Mildred," Mr. Steele said in his usual bright and cheery tone.

"Now this is more like it," Mildred told them, her smile wide. "Guess you two have patched things up?"

Laura rested her head on Mr. Steele's shoulder. "We're working on it, Mildred," she answered. "Has Charlotte Miller called yet?"

"The only call has been from Mr. Davis," Mildred told her, handing her the message slip. "He's rescheduled his appointment for ten instead of eleven."

"When Charlotte calls, Mildred," Mr. Steele said, "Put her through, would you? We're supposed to meet her to sign some papers on the house."

"Already? Moving pretty fast, aren't you?"

"It's the perfect house, Mildred," Laura said, her eyes shining with excited enthusiasm. "Right on the beach. The view is wonderful. And we'll never find another house like it for what the current owner is asking."

"Which is?" When Mr. Steele told her, Mildred gave a low whistle. "You're right. Sounds like a steal to me." She glanced at the appointment calendar. "After your meeting with Mr. Davis, you're free until three."

"Excellent," Mr. Steele commented, turning to his office. "I could use some coffee."

"Coming right up," Mildred told him as the telephone rang. "Remington Steele Investigations. . .Miss Miller." Mr. Steele stopped and turned around, taking the telephone from her.

"Thank you, Mildred. Charlie. Good morning…" he pulled Laura to his side as he spoke to the realtor. "Yes, we've slept on it. And we've decided to take the house…Excellent…One?" he glanced at Laura, silently asking her if that would be all right. Laura nodded. "One o'clock it is, Charlie…What's that?…Daniel? No, I haven't heard from him this morning…Really? That is odd. Daniel's not usually up and about that early…Yes, I'll tell him. See you later." He hung up, his expression thoughtful.

Laura looked at him. "What was that about Daniel?"

"Oh, she said she left a message at his hotel for him to call her last evening. He didn't. And she tried to call him early this morning, only to be told that he was already out of the hotel."

"I'm sure he's fine," Laura said. "Why don't you go call the hotel yourself and see if he's back yet? Ask him to dinner this evening."

He gave her a quick kiss. "Wonderful idea. Wonder if he'd mind if I invited Charlie over as well? To- even out the numbers?" Mildred rose and hustled into the coffee room, not wanting to hear any more on the subject of Charlotte Miller and Daniel.

So he hadn't called Mr. Steele yet. What if he decided to leave Los Angeles rather than risk telling Mr. Steele the truth? She poured two cups of coffee and carried them into the main office, handing the mug to Laura. "Here you go, hon," she said, then placed Mr. Steele's cup and saucer on the desk before him.

Mr. Steele hung up the telephone with a frown. "He's still registered, so he hasn't left town."

"Maybe he's planning something," Laura suggested.

He shook his head, picking up the bone china cup. "No. He assured me at lunch yesterday that he's not doing that kind of thing anymore. I think he might be serious about retiring this time."

Mildred started back toward the door, only to stop as Mr. Steele asked, "Do you have plans for this evening, Mildred?"

"This evening?" she asked, looking at him. "Why do you ask?"

"Laura thought you might like to come to dinner this evening."

"Dinner?" Great, she thought. The last thing she needed was to spend an evening watching Charlotte Miller hanging all over Daniel.

"Harry suggested inviting Charlotte, but that would mean I'd be forced into spending the entire listening to him and Daniel and Charlotte reliving their various escapades," Laura explained. "I'd much rather you be there. At least it would be the two of us against the two of them. We might be able to keep their minds off of larceny," she added with a grin.

Two and two. "What about Miss Miller?" Mildred asked, needing confirmation.

"I'm sure that Daniel will call her if he wants to see her," Mr. Steele told her. "Can you come?"

"You bet," Mildred told him, then realized she'd sound a touch TOO eager. "I mean, I got nothing else to do this evening. I'll be there."


"Would you be a dear and find Mr. Davis' file for me, Mildred?" Laura asked.

"You got it, Miss Holt," Mildred said, escaping into the reception area to go through the file cabinet and locate the Davis folder. If Daniel didn't follow through, she might just be able to "push" him into coming clean with Mr. Steele over dinner. Looking up, she found the same delivery man who had been there the previous morning- holding another box. "Can I help you?"

"Miss Krebs?"


He handed her the box and tipped his hat. "These are for you. Have a nice day."

The box contained yet another dozen red roses, and Mildred was shaking her head over them as the door to Mr. Steele's office opened and Laura came out. "Mildred, did you find-?" Her eyes widened. "MORE roses, Mildred?"

Mildred quickly hid the card on her desk. "Aren't they gorgeous, Miss Holt?"

Laura agreed as she took the file Mildred handed to her. "They certainly are. Your secret admirer again?"


Laura stood there, watching as Mildred examined the blooms. "How come I have the feeling that you know exactly who he is and just aren't telling us?"

"Maybe because I want to keep it to myself for a little longer," Mildred told her. "I'm not sure how it's going to work out just yet."

"I see. He must care quite a lot for you to send you roses two days running," she commented. "I can't wait to meet him." She tapped the folder. "I'd better get in there so we can go over Mr. Davis' file before he gets here."

Mildred went to find another vase, and placed the new roses in it, on the opposite corner from the first dozen. Pulling the card from beneath the blotter where she'd hidden it, she read, "Thank you." At least he wasn't angry with her, Mildred thought. And that boded well for his telling Mr. Steele the truth, didn't it? She hoped so. She most certainly hoped so…

"I'm getting worried about him, Laura," Mr. Steele was saying as they came back from lunch. "Where could he be?"

Mildred watched the couple as they crossed to take the messages she had ready for them. "The desk clerk at his hotel told you that he'd picked up his messages, and then left again. I'm sure he's just out sightseeing or something. Visiting friends," she suggested. "You DID say that he has friends in the area."

"I know," Mr. Steele sighed in frustration, glancing through his messages. "Still no word from him. You're sure Daniel hasn't called, Mildred?"

"Haven't heard from him, Mr. Steele. I'm sorry. I'm sure Miss Holt's right. He's just- taking in the sights."

"Hmm," Mr. Steele said, sounding unconvinced. "I'm getting the uncomfortable feeling that you might have been right earlier, Laura. He's up to something."

Daniel was about to get into the elevator, having gathered his courage to face not only Harry, but Mildred, when a familiar voice caused him to wince and freeze. "Daniel! What a happy coincidence that we should be here at the same time again today," Charlotte said, slipping her arm through his and drawing him into the empty elevator with her.

"Charlotte, my dear. What a surprise. Are you here to see Harry and Laura?"

"Yes. They're going to sign the papers on their new house today. You didn't return my call," she scolded, sliding her arms around his neck. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were trying to avoid me."

"Now why would I do want to do that, Charlotte?" he asked. "Just because the last time I saw you was when you absconded with the painting that we had stolen with the intent to return for the reward-"

She pouted. "Ancient history, Daniel. Can I help it if I got a better offer?"

"leaving me in the lurch," he recalled. "I very nearly didn't escape with my skin intact from that little fiasco. Wound up spending the better part of a year in Hong Kong until the furor died down."

Charlotte sighed. "There's something different about you."

"Different? Different how?"

"I don't know. I can't quite put my finger on it." She pulled his head down to hers, lips meeting lips. Daniel returned the kiss with practiced expertise. "There's someone else, isn't there?"

"And if I said yes, what would you do?"

She smiled as the doors of the elevator slid open. "Find out who she is- and scratch her eyes out, of course, darling."

"Charlotte," Daniel said, frowning as he looked into her green eyes.

"It was just a joke, darling," she assured him with a smile. Pressing herself closer, she whispered, "Why don't we go back to my place? Spend some time together."

Daniel placed a hand over the door to keep it open. "I thought Harry was expecting you?" he reminded her, hiding his concern over her threat. "I'd hate for you to be late for your appointment with him."

She sighed again, giving him a last kiss before turning to lead the way to the offices of Remington Steele Investigations. "But don't think you're getting away from me so easily, Daniel Chalmers," she said as he opened the door for her.

Daniel saw Mildred's glance flicker toward Charlotte's hand on his arm, saw the flash of what he hoped was jealousy in Mildred's eyes. At least she hadn't written him off completely, he told himself. Not if his being with Charlotte could evoke that response. "Good afternoon, Mildred," he said with a smile.

"Mr. Chalmers. Miss Miller. Miss Holt and Mr. Steele are expecting you," she told the woman as she picked up the telephone. "I'll let them know you're here."

"Thank you," Charlotte replied before turning back to Daniel. "Have dinner with me tonight," she said quietly.

"Miss Miller is here, Mr. Steele," Mildred said into the telephone. "And so is Mr. Chalmers."

Daniel smiled at Charlotte. "I'd love to, Charlotte, but Harry's invited me to dinner this evening," he told her as the door to Harry's office opened and he came out. "Ah, Harry."

"Daniel." He turned that blue gaze on Charlotte. "Why don't you go on in, Charlie? Laura's waiting. I'll be right along."

"Don't go anywhere, Daniel," she purred. "I haven't finished with you yet."

Harry watched her enter the office. "Trouble?" he asked.

"Nothing I can't handle, my boy," Daniel assured his friend.

"Where have you been all day? I've left at least three messages for you to call."

"I was taking care of a few things," Daniel said.

"What about dinner?"

"I'll be there."

"Harry?" Laura's voice called from the office. "Are you going to join us?"

"Coming," he called back. "Stay here," Harry told him as he headed toward his office and closed the door behind him.

Daniel touched the second vase of roses on Mildred's desk. "Your secret admirer isn't ver imaginative, is he? Rose two days in a row?"

"I don't know. I like roses," she said. "What's up with you and the barracuda?"

"If you're referring to Charlotte, we met downstairs and came up in the elevator together."

"And just what HAVE you been doing all morning?"

"Gathering a few things together that I'll need to tell Harry about his inheritance."

He saw the approving light in Mildred's eyes and was surprised by the way it made him feel. "Then- you're going to tell him?"

"You didn't leave me much choice, did you?" he asked. "Just allow me to do it in my own way."

The suspicion was back again. "what's that supposed to mean?" she wanted to know.

"You'll see, my dear."

Luckily for Daniel, Charlotte was called away by her office moments after the contract was signed. She still refused to leave without Daniel's promise to call her the next day, however, and he breathed a sigh of relief when she finally left the office. But as he turned around, that relief evaporated as he now faced the most difficult thing he had ever sought to do.

"Harry," he began. "Can we talk- you too, Laura."

Harry's gaze narrowed. "Of course, Daniel."

Daniel removed the thick envelope from his pocket as Harry and Laura sat down on the sofa in Harry's office. "Are you still looking for your father, Harry?"

"I haven't done much in the way of searching since that last trip to London," Harry said. "why do you ask?"

"Because I believe I may have found what you're looking for," Daniel announced. "I think I've found out who your father was, Harry…"

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Original content ©2000 by Nancy Eddy