- Give Me A Steele
- By Ilsa
- Part One
Summary: This is my third attempt
at RS Fiction. It takes place shortly after `Sting of Steele'
but before `Steele In Circulation' episodes from way back in
the 1st season. Remember, this is set quite early on in the relationship
of Laura Holt and Mr Steele. I've tried to capture the spirit
of the person he was at that time (ditto with Laura) but naturally,
I've gone with the flow in places!
*Americans may notice odd words/terms (e.g. grey rather than
gray) I'm English and that's how we Brits spell!
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction for entertainment purposes
only. I am not attempting to make a single penny or profit from
this. I do not own the rights to any of the characters from the
television series "Remington Steele" and am not affiliated
in any way to MTM productions or any television network screening
Rating: `R' This work contains some adult content and sexual
innuendo so if you are very easily offended please do not read
It was a quiet Thursday afternoon at Remington Steele Investigations
so the vivacious brunette absent-mindedly sang as she filed her
nails. "You-oo make me feel, mighty real! You-oo make me
feel mighty real! You make me feel, mighty real! Make me feel,
mighty real. Make me feel, mighty real"
A door opened and a voice filled with humour gently mocked her.
"Bernice please! If you're going to screech along to the
tunes, at least put it on a station I like!"
She stared at the tall, genial, fair-haired man in exasperation.
"Murphy, Sylvester's `You Make Me Feel Mighty Real' is a
disco anthem! I remember the first night I heard it. My girlfriends
and me were in Studio 54, part of a privileged few that actually
got past the front door! What a night that was! We saw Mick Jagger
in there and he came up to us and..."
"Disco?" he wrinkled his nose in disdain.
Bernice blew on her nails. "Oh excuse me! I forgot. While
I was getting down to `the hustle' you were working out how to
use electricity! Come on Murphy, get with it!"
"To that?" he shook his head.
"What's with this aversion to disco? It's music for people
who like to have a good time and-never mind! I've just answered
my own question! I'll turn it off. Jeez! What do" The telephone
"Remington Steele Investigations, can I help you?...I'm
afraid Mr Steele is in conference at the moment, may I take a
message?...I'm Bernice Fox, Laur...Mr Steele's secretary. And
you are?...A personal friend. I see. May I have your name or
a number where he can reach you?...So I'm to tell him that a
female friend called and that she'll call back?...Fine. Good
day to you too."
"What was that all about?" Murphy asked as she replaced
"Who knows with that guy! Whoever she was, she's English
and she sounds like she's having an affair with her reflection!"
"Bernice I'm shocked!" Murphy chuckled heartily.
"He has some strange people calling here for him,"
she commented as she hastily scribbled in her notepad.
- Murphy shrugged his shoulders. "Strange people calling
for a weird guy? Makes perfect sense to me."
"Oh well! Who cares about you-know-who? I've got a hot date
tonight and this could be the one!"
He perched himself on the edge of her desk. "You say that
"Hey Murphy Michaels watch it! At least I'm out there giving
the guys of Los Angeles their shot at the big time! Can you say
"I'm not into guys Bernice!" he grinned into her indignant
"You know what I mean! When was the last time you relaxed
and enjoyed some female companionship? When was the last time
you had a date? When was the last time you had a good time even?
Look at yourself Murphy, you're a good-looking guy! I know millions
of women who'd snap you up given half the chance. You're a definite
catch! What are you waiting for?" Tirade over, Bernice immediately
wished for a shovel to dig her out of the hole she'd put herself
in. They both knew whom he was waiting for.
She quickly changed tact. "I've got to ask your opinion
"My date's taking me to a concert but I don't know what
to wear. Which do you prefer?" She pulled out two items
from a plastic carrier bag. "This?" She held up a black
sequinned top, "or this?" The alternative was a red
"Bernice why are you asking me? You look good in anything."
"I want a man's opinion for tonight. Come on, choose!"
"Can I do one-potato two-potato?"
"Darn it! Okay. Go for the red. He'll appreciate it."
Murphy got up and started to walk towards his office but stopped
at the sound of familiar raised voices at the suite doors.
Laura Holt, the brains behind one of the biggest deceptions in
Los Angeles, stepped in first. Her beauty was understated rather
than obvious but her allure was magnetic. She made a striking
picture dressed in a cream tailored trouser suit with her chestnut
brown mane swinging loosely around her shoulders. Her manner
towards the man accompanying her was authoritative and dismissive:
a reaction to his crankiness which was in turn a direct response
to - in his opinion her all too pragmatic attitude. They'd been
at odds from the very first day of their working partnership
and by now, her staff was accustomed to the daily and seemingly
"Oh for heaven's sake!" she exclaimed, "I can't
believe you're still making such a big deal about this! One of
us had to go in there Mr Steele and it couldn't be me!"
The impeccably dressed, impossibly handsome, dark-haired man
playing the head of the eponymous agency dug his hands into his
pockets. He was blessed with a lethal combination: good looks,
boundless sex appeal and a myriad of combinations for an accent.
The journey that took him to Los Angeles started in the Republic
of Ireland and crossed the Irish Sea to England then Brixton
in South London. Rescue from adversity came in the shape of mentor
Daniel Chalmers who bestowed an excellent but unlawful tutelage
on his young charge. Years of scheming romps across Europe followed
but the only evidence of their roguish presence was the trail
of filthy rich victims and willing female conquests. The younger
man, gripped by wanderlust, eventually sought independence but
his travels continued. It was in his blood. Or had been until
recently. He fixed his bright blue eyes on his associate's face
as he addressed her.
"That's the last time Miss Holt! Positively and irrevocably
the last time I let you talk me into anything like that again.
I've never been so humiliated in all my life!"
"Somehow I find that hard to believe Mr Steele. I bet you've
encountered far worse situations in that deep, mysterious past
of yours." Spotting her longstanding partner, Laura immediately
turned her attention to him.
"Murphy! You're back with the autopsy report, right? What
did you find out for the Jennings case? Talk to me about it in
"Hold on a minute. Just so I can follow all the fun, what's
he crying about this time?" Murphy pointed at the frowning
Laura scanned her mail as she answered him. "We had a little
matter to take care of."
"Yes?" he prodded.
She looked back at Steele with a giggle. "Very little. Isn't
that right?" He scowled at her and marched into his office.
Murphy beamed. "Come on! Don't keep me in suspense! He's
annoyed as hell so whatever it is, it's already priceless!"
"I can't wait too!" her secretary added. "Give!"
Laura hesitated for a couple of seconds. Her eager audience beckoned
her to spill the beans so she relented. "The case we've
just resolved. How do I put this? Well, a young man employed
by a certain establishment required our services because a co-worker
was blackmailing him. He had no idea who it was and that's where
we came in."
Both employees stared at each other before returning their gaze
to the true head of the agency.
"That's it? He storms into his office in a foul mood because
"I haven't finished Murphy. All will be revealed in more
ways than one! The client works for an establishment providing
a very intimate, very private type of service to some of LA's
finest society ladies. The clientele are the type of matronly
women who wait until their husbands are away before they indulge
in scandalous fantasies and..." She paused as they broke
into fits of riotous laughter.
"Skeeziks went undercover as an escort for an assortment
of Mrs Robinsons? That's great!" Bernice wiped the tears
from the corners of her eyes.
"I haven't finished."
"You mean, there's more Laura? It isn't even my birthday!"
Murphy couldn't hide his delight.
"The owner is a fifty six-year-old former soap actress with
a rapacious appetite for good-looking men. She has very specific
requirements so her employees are put through a unique audition
designed to let me put this as delicately as I can - showcase
"Yes? Come on Laura! Don't leave us hanging!" Murphy
"Oh dear! I shouldn't tell you this but it involves gyrating
to some kind of disco tune in very skimpy underwear! Let's just
say, the underwear only covers the front. I'll leave the rest
to your vivid imaginations!"
Laura couldn't stop her giggles and all three made enough noise
to prompt Steele to open his door. He surveyed the scene and
immediately guessed the reason for their mirth.
"That's right, go ahead and laugh! Don't worry about me.
Oh no! Never mind my own deep, personal trauma from that opprobrious
experience! You all just enjoy yourselves. Lap it up!"
"It's a celebration. You're the butt of a joke!" Murphy
placed just enough emphasis on the word to earn a glare from
Steele as the ladies collapsed laughing again.
Laura couldn't resist teasing him too. "Mr Steele, I personally
promise never to accuse you of making an ass of yourself again!"
"That's right!" Murphy rejoined. "You should be
happy. You helped to solve the case and that's the bottom line!"
Bernice, never one to miss an opportunity to bait him, ventured
a gibe of her own. "Sounds to me like you got a bum deal
on this one!"
"Your concern overwhelms me Miss Wolfe!" Steele responded
turning away from the secretary to face Murphy. "I've had
all the sympathy and understanding I can take for one afternoon
so if you'll excuse me, I'll leave you to your pithy wit."
Moving towards Laura he wryly announced, "I feel a monumental
urge to shower. I doubt if ten years of ablutions are enough
to cleanse me of that horrifying audition Miss Holt." She
smiled but made no answer.
He took a step closer to her. "I'll have horrible nightmares
for weeks now Laura. Dreadful, scary nightmares where insatiable,
matronly women attempt to ravish me whilst a pounding, disco
soundtrack plays in the background!" Her smile widened but
she was resolutely silent.
Steele took another step, closing the gap between them to the
point where he could smell her hair. "Now Doctor Holt, you
wouldn't want me to suffer from insomnia again would you? Eh?"
He gently nudged her, "What say you nurse me through the
nights to come and we play hide the thermometer?"
Before she could respond, Murphy jumped in. "Didn't you
just say you were going home to shower?"
Steele answered him but kept his gaze on Laura. "Indeed
I am Murphy. Indeed I am."
"Mr Steele, before we see the back of you-" Bernice
paused to give her words extra resonance while Laura and Murphy
bit their lips, "I have a message from an English woman
who said she's a friend of yours. She wouldn't leave her name
or a number but she said she'd call back."
Laura mentally counted to ten. Who the hell had called him? Was
it that scheming blonde Felicia again? While she was no fan of
the airheads Mr Steele had dated in the past, she conceded that
at least they were too stupid to be dangerous. On the other hand,
the conniving blonde was sharp and also trouble with a capital
Felicia had arrived in LA with the full intention of blackmailing
her former lover into criminal behaviour to get herself out of
bother. It was a clever scheme and she was particularly pleased
with it. However, the man she knew as Michael O'Leary managed
to thwart her scam in a way she'd never anticipated. He stood
her up preferring to steal the painting with his female associate
The true significance of this development was not lost on her:
she was far too shrewd for that and even though it suited her
past love to fool himself, it was obvious that he was changing
in a fundamental way. He'd berated her when she told him so,
dismissed her opinion as "stupid." But Felicia wasn't
duped for an instant. Conning people was her business too.
It was a fleeting visit but a couple of days in her company proved
more than enough for Laura. Felicia had annoyed her intensely
and she particularly disliked the spiteful blonde's incessant
attempts to provoke her by revealing intimate details of her
affair with `darling Michael.'
All this had occurred early on in Laura's association with the
attractive miscreant but it had severely dented her self-assurance.
Up till then, she'd only seen him parade a bevy of bimbos in
front of her, women who knew him no better than she did. This
one was different. Felicia had shared a key part of his mysterious
past and besides being intrigued, Laura realised with a jolt
that she was also jealous of the blonde witch. If she could have
cheerfully throttled the pair of them, it would have been difficult
choosing which one first!
Crucially, Laura remained unaware that the bitchy blonde had
tried but failed to persuade Steele to return to Europe with
her for more feckless purloining. That knowledge may have gone
some way in helping her learn to trust her charming con artist
more and although they were slowly inching closer, his enigmatic,
inglorious past was a hurdle she felt they needed to clear.
"An English woman? No name or number, eh? As usual, you've
excelled at your job Miss Wolfe!" She poked her tongue at
him. Steele bade everyone farewell and walked out of the suite
He pressed the lift buttons automatically but his mind was preoccupied.
Who had the mystery woman caller been? Felicia? The obvious choice
but he reasoned that she would definitely have left her name.
Felicia passing up an opportunity to tease and torment Laura?
Never in a million years! Steele smiled at the rather novel idea
of the unflappable Miss Holt jealous over him but the last time
he'd tried that tact - the Darlene subterfuge - it had backfired
An awful thought suddenly struck him, one that made him shudder
involuntarily. What if it had been Shannon? Dear God no! It couldn't
have been! Could it? Shannon in Los Angeles? Contingency plan:
grab Laura and get as far away as possible. The moon! That's
it, they'd fly to the moon. Good plan.
Back at the office, Laura let out a deep sigh. "Were we
"Are you kidding? Where's his sense of humour? Where's yours
for that matter?" Murphy asked.
She smiled. "If only I could have seen that audition! Imagine
our debonair, dapper Mr Steele getting down and dirty to a driving
beat in just a g-string!" An amoral gleam lit up her eyes
as she pictured just that.
Murphy caught her lewd expression and guessed where her train
of thought was at that moment. Not liking it one bit, he changed
"What's on your agenda for tonight partner?"
"I'm taking it easy. I might go to aerobics class but I'm
definitely catching up on my sleep."
"You'll be at home then?"
"Hmmm? Sorry! Yes but let's talk business and that Jennings
case now. Tell me what you found out."
They walked towards her office as Bernice picked up her nail
file and called out, "Laura. Valerie Rees from your sculpture
class called to remind you about the meeting at Buona Sera's
"Oh! Thanks for the message."
As she opened the door and stepped inside, Murphy burst out laughing
again. "I'm sorry but I don't think I'll be able to hear
Sylvester's `You Make Me Feel Mighty Real' without thinking of
"Huh?" she asked bemused.
"Never mind!" he grinned.
The limousine pulled up outside a modest house. The passenger
got out and looked around him before cheerfully greeting his
"Thanks Fred. Listen mate, I don't think I'll be needing
you anymore this evening okay?"
"Yes Mr Steele. Goodnight sir."
"Goodnight Fred." Steele had a wry smile on his face
as he watched the car drive away.
A limo at his beck and call: unbelievable! This time last year,
he'd been chasing that damned elusive consignment of Royal Lavulite
around Paris in a run-down Citroen! How strange the funny little
twists and turns his life had a habit of throwing up were. If
he hadn't decided to pursue the gems across the Atlantic to America.
If another detective agency had been assigned security of the
jewels. If he hadn't been in the vicinity to take that phoney
call for a fictitious male named Remington Steele. If one circumstance
had been out of sync he may never have met Laura.
His gaze turned towards the front door. Striding purposefully
towards it, he rang the doorbell. Steele heard her quick footsteps
and as the door opened, she shoved a wooden spoon covered in
some kind of sauce straight into his face. "Here. Taste
this and tell me what you think. Now I want you to be completely
honest with me."
"Can I at least cross the threshold first?"
"I'm sorry. Come in, I'm just making-oh no! My pasta!"
She dashed off towards the kitchen.
"Running away from me already?" he called out as he
shut the door.
Steele followed the sound of clanging pot lids with trepidation
noting the distinct smell of burning food in the air.
"Laura?" He leant against the doorway taking in the
scene and it was all he could do not to laugh aloud. Her kitchen
worktop was covered in jars, boxes and packets, a few strands
of dried linguine were on the floor and the cooker itself was
a combination of colours. Private investigator Laura Holt, the
most competent woman he had ever met, always so sure of herself,
always in control, always in command, was an unmitigated disaster
in the kitchen.
Steele moved towards her and sniffed the smells emanating from
her pots suspiciously.
"Do you have a pen and paper Miss Holt?"
Puzzled, she stopped stirring the contents of one pan, "Why
do you want a pen and paper?"
"I feel a sudden urge to draw up my last will and testament,"
he grinned. "Shall I leave you my potted plants?"
Her tone oozed sarcasm. "What would I do without your unerring
support Mr Steele! However the last laugh's on me because if
I don't rescue this somehow, you're not eating tonight!"
"What a choice. Death by poisoning or death by starvation!"
Laura swung her wooden spoon intending to cuff him gently on
the head but he ducked and took advantage of her being slightly
off-balance to lift her thighs into his arms. She slid down his
body and his embrace tightened as they gazed at each other.
Laura spoke first. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours."
He raised an eyebrow. "I must be in heaven. What time is
Elvis coming round?"
"I'm talking about my fan dance for your disco strut."
He grimaced. "Couldn't I just take you to see `Saturday
Night Fever' instead?"
She smiled. "At last! One I do remember. John Travolta"
"Karen Lynn Gorney, Paramount 1977," he finished automatically.
Her eyes wandered down to his chest then back up again. "Now
why would I want to see John Travolta dancing in a movie when
I can have you dance for me instead?"
"Now why would I want to dance for you when I'd rather dance
with you instead?" he countered leaving Laura in
no doubt as to his precise meaning.
She changed the subject. "Dinner's ruined."
"I hate to tell you this but you can't cook to save your
life. Why don't you let me give you, ah, lessons Miss Holt?"
"You mean, you'll teach me everything you know, Mr Steele?"
Her smile was cool but suggestive.
He responded in kind. "Laura, you desperately need one-to-one
"I see. And just how many of these private sessions do you
think I need?"
He feigned weighty consideration of her question. "We should
do it as often as we can. After all, practice makes perfect."
"Yes, it does. So where should we do it? Your place or mine?"
"The `where' is immaterial. What does it matter as long
as we're, ah, cooking together?"
"Correct me if I'm wrong Mr Steele but are we still talking
about cooking lessons? You know, your kitchen and food?"
"Now Miss Holt! What else could we possibly be talking about?
Eh?" Steele murmured softly, his mouth only inches away
from her own.
He took her lips in slow drugging kisses and the sensuous pleasure
racked her entire body. His mouth left hers to languidly travel
down the column of her throat. Laura let the wooden spoon drop
to the floor and entwined her fingers in his hair to incite him
to further caresses. Both were lost in the moment, completely
oblivious to their rather messy surroundings.
Steele tried to control his desire but it was a futile task.
Irrespective of her looks or attire whether she was clothed in
smart, tailored suits, casual leisurewear or jeans and a T-shirt,
he always wanted her. Hell, he'd take her on the kitchen floor
right now if she'd let him. With a low moan he took possession
of her mouth once again, more demanding now as he urgently pressed
her body to his.
Laura hadn't expected an onslaught so early into their evening
together but she responded without thought. All day she'd yearned
for his hands, his mouth and the close proximity of his body.
He was just too damned hard to resist. Besides, she didn't want
to stop him. Yet. Steele's hands wandered across her jeans to
pull her shirt free and touch the heated skin underneath. She
shivered as he freely explored her waist, easily evoking a response
wherever he roamed but suddenly she broke away collapsing into
peals of laughter.
"I seem to have a real talent for reducing you to fits of
giggles today," he stated sardonically.
Laura tried to stifle her snigger. "I'm sorry but look at
us! We're getting carried away over my burnt linguine quattro
"Reassuring to know it's good for something! Eh, Laura?"
he grinned wickedly.
"Astute observation Mr Steele," she responded dryly.
"But what are we going to do about dinner? We can't eat
what I made, it's inedible."
Privately, Steele wholeheartedly agreed. The disastrous end products
of her numerous cooking experiments easily explained why she
was so slim! He tactfully suggested pizza.
"Again? Every time you come here you end up eating pizza
while I'm spoilt rotten by your culinary skills. It doesn't seem
a fair trade off somehow."
"Not to worry. I can think of other ways you can redress
She ignored his teasing and pointed to the telephone. "Dial!
You're familiar with the number by now. I'm going to ch"
The doorbell interrupted her flow.
"You expecting someone?" Steele queried.
"No, not at this hour. I'll get rid of whoever it is. Can
you order something for me please?" Laura walked towards
the door straightening her clothing and composing herself before
she called out, "Who is it?"
"Hey partner! It's me."
Laura froze for a split second. This was the worst scenario she
could ever have imagined. In her kitchen stood a man she was
dangerously attracted to, a man she could barely keep her hands
off, a man she wanted to spend her evening with. On the doorstep
was her trusted associate Murphy: a man who had declared feelings
for her that she would never reciprocate. A man who had sworn
that he wouldn't stop trying to win her heart. A man who bitterly
resented everything about that other man, especially the apparent
ease with which his playful sex appeal had turned her head.
In the daytime, her relationship with the engaging rascal who
had assumed Remington Steele's identity was business-like and
ordered. He played his role as the head of her agency: reassuring
the clients, giving interviews to the press, helping her in his
own inimitable style using movie plots to solve cases. To all
intents and purposes, it was a professional association and although
Murphy and Bernice suspected there was something between them,
they had no idea how far it had progressed.
From the very first day he'd arrived at her office and into the
guise of Remington Steele, Laura had insisted on a rule of not
mixing business with pleasure. At first, they'd stuck to it like
glue. Or at least, she had. He'd taken it as a challenge, relentlessly
flirting with her and shamelessly employing every method to break
down her defences.
However, her dictum had become more and more of a travesty because
it was continuously breached by both of them. At the office or
in the limo they snatched the odd kiss whenever they could. Out
on assignments they posed as lovers or husband and wife more
often than they really needed to and they celebrated the successful
conclusion of a case together. Alone.
This unwritten, unspoken, mutual understanding between her and
Mr Steele was a highly unusual situation; one Laura had never
experienced before. Like vampires rising to bask in the cover
of night, their nocturnal activity took on a very intimate aspect
where caresses became fevered, where soul-destroying kisses were
fervently exchanged, where both bodies cried out for the same
thing and raced towards it until she pulled back.
The dichotomy of night and day aroused and frightened her. Laura
would watch him sign official papers or give a speech at a conference
and shake her head in wonder. It was difficult to comprehend
that the formally suited man before her, still something of a
stranger, as infinitely mysterious as ever, was the same one
who had gently stroked her face and moulded the contours of her
body to the hardness of his only hours before. The duality deeply
excited her and she'd always find herself wishing for the night
For Laura the parameters were clearly marked and it seemed that
way for Mr Steele too: day equated to work, night was for play
and foreplay. It was their secret world and right now she could
only cope with it if it stayed that way. The last thing she wanted
was for the lines to blur. That would mean confronting something
she wasn't sure either of them were ready to face yet. Besides,
she had a business to run and that had to take priority: she
needed Murphy and she needed Steele. It was a tricky balancing
act but she was determined to see it through and make it succeed.
She didn't want to lie to one of her closest friends but she
didn't want him to see the truth in its harsh reality either.
Evasive action seemed the best way out.
"Murph, give me a minute. I've just come out of the shower!"
"Okay. Take your time."
She ran back into the kitchen, wrenched the phone away from Steele
and hung it up. He stared at her in bemusement. "I was just
about to say goodbye! They're going to think I'm extremely rude.
What are you doing?"
Grabbing Steele she frantically led him away shrieking, "My
bedroom! Quick! Now! Hurry!"
"Excellent idea Laura. Excellent! Take me in the bedroom
and then, take me in the bedroom!" He topped off his facetious
remark with a wink.
In desperation, she pushed him towards the bed. "You don't
understand. Something awkward has come up!"
"Really? What a coincidence! Something's come up for me
too!" He pulled her down onto the bed on top of him and
began kissing her neck.
She struggled to escape his embrace, "Mr Steele! Now is
not the time!"
He lifted his head, "But you just said"
Desperation was starting to set in. "I've got to go to the
door! Can you stay here and wait for me? I won't be long. Whatever
you do, please don't come out until I come in!"
Steele broke into a broad grin, "You want me to stay in
your bed and not move until you come back?"
"I didn't say in my bed, I said on my bed!"
"That's what I love about you Laura, you're so succinct!"
She stood up and moved away from him, "I've got to go now!
Stay here and don't move!"
He reclined fully on her bed and smirked, "Don't lose the
mood Miss Holt!"
She ran back to the front door, smoothed her hair, counted to
ten and opened it with a breathless smile, "Hi Murph, come
"Sorry for turning up unannounced but I remembered you said
you weren't doing anything tonight so I figured I'd drop by and
keep you company."
"Oh! That'svery sweet of you. Errrlet's sit down."
"Hang on Laura." He moved his left hand from his back
and presented her with a bunch of red roses. "For you."
"Murphy! They're beautiful."
He beamed, "Are you gonna stare at them all night or are
you gonna put them in a vase?"
She laughed. "I've got one in the kitchen."
"Go ahead, I'm right behind you."
She started towards her kitchen and then remembered the state
it was in.
"Murph, don't come any further. I was cooking dinner for
me andmyself and it didn't exactly go according to plan."
"You were cooking? Say no more, I'll go and sit down!"
Laura arranged the flowers and sighed. They really were lovely.
What a mess. How had this happened? How had she become an object
of desire for two such very different men? What was so special
about her? She was just plain, old Laura Holt. She wasn't the
kind of girl that `Vogue' would feature on their covers and she
wasn't `Playboy' material either.
Laura recalled some of the women that Mr Steele had gone out
with but again, she was nothing like them: those tall, buxom,
air-headed, heavily made-up bimbos that had fawned all over him.
Bitches. Murphy's choices tended to be the all-American girl
types. It had been a while since he'd dated so comparison was
difficult but she conceded that she was probably closer in looks
and temperament to his women than the Betty Boops Mr Steele had
wasted his bodily fluids on. Or rather, in.
She placed the vase on the small table in front of the couch
and sat down. "Isn't the Jennings case tricky? It's stumping"
"Laura, put that detective brain of yours away for two minutes!"
"Sorry!" she apologised sheepishly. "Force of
habit, I guess."
"I bumped into Robin O'Connor last week. Did I tell you?"
"No! Oh my God! Robin O'Connor. There's a blast from the
past. How is he?"
"He's fine. He asked after you. He's married with two kids
"Robin O'Connor got married? Mr love-`em-and-leave-`em is
now Mr stability? I don't believe it!"
Murphy leant back on the sofa and stretched out his legs. "I
didn't believe it either but times change and people change.
Lots of people have changed since we knew them at Havenhurst
Laura. Y'know I heard a rumour once that Robin made a pass at
you during one of the Christmas parties."
She giggled at the memory. "He came on to anyone in a skirt
He laughed, "Maybe you should have worn trousers more often!"
Laura let out a dreamy sigh. "Havenhurst! We had some good
times there didn't we?"
"We had some good times at the Remington Steele detective
agency too," he turned to look at her. "Some very good
What Laura thought she saw in his expression unsettled her so
she gently changed the subject. "Can I get you a drink Murph?"
He knew what she was doing but he indulged her. "Sure. I'd
love a beer if you've got one."
Steele began to wonder what was taking Laura so long. Hearing
voices, he tiptoed to the door and gingerly opened it realising
that she'd invited whomever it was inside. Why had she done that?
He strained to listen and eventually recognised the voice. What
the bloody hell was he doing here so late at night? Part
of him was tempted to strip and walk out there in just his boxer
shorts and let Murphy draw whatever conclusions he wished. But
instinctively he knew that if he did, Laura would never forgive
him. He had no choice: he would have to wait until Murphy went
home. However as soon as the coast was clear, he and Miss Holt
were going to have a nice little chat about certain things. He
forced himself to remain icy calm. But with each passing minute,
his resolve was weakening.
"And so the killer was trapped by his own house key Laura.
Can you believe how stupid some people are?"
She joined him in his laughter. "That's one of the funniest
stories I've ever heard! If there's a top ten of dumb criminals,
that idiot has to go in the top three at least!"
"I figured I owed you a great yarn after the one you told
us this afternoon. Him in a g-string, dancing to a disco tune!
I'd gladly give up everything I own to have seen that!"
"Yeah!" Laura agreed with an involuntarily smacking
of her lips. "Me too!"
"God, I love that." Murphy placed his bottle on the
small table in front of him.
"What?" she asked.
"Hearing you laugh." His expression was serious so
she chose to lighten the mood.
"What can I say? I'm a naturally happy person."
"Listen, there's something I need to"
The doorbell intervened and Laura sprang up. "Hold that
As she moved towards the front door Murphy sighed. It was agony
being so close and yet unable to reach out and touch her. He
had prepared himself for his ultimate nightmare: finding her
home alone with his keen rival. That crook. The foreigner with
five passports. The man-with-no-name masquerading as their so-called
`boss'. Murphy was deeply relieved that his gut instinct had
proved incorrect. He now intended to make the most of the precious
time he had her to himself.
Ever since the impostor had wormed his way into their detective
agency, Laura's eyes only seemed fixed in one direction.
What the hell did she see in that guy? What did all the other
women see? Did they even bother to look past his face and that
stomach-churning, charming, smarmy style? Because as far as Murphy
was concerned that was the extent of his depth. But still it
bothered him. He couldn't figure it out. Why Laura?
She was the only person he knew who seemed to have both feet
firmly planted on the ground. Yet she had fallen so easily for
his brand of charisma whereas Bernice - the belle of the ball,
the life and soul of any party, a more obvious candidate to succumb
- had grown immune to him. Why couldn't that fate have befallen
the woman he cared so much about instead? Since past love Wilson
Jeffries had hurt her, she had thrown herself into the agency
and he'd been right there alongside her. He felt sure that eventually
they would have had something very special but fate cruelly intervened.
It threw a dissolute con-artist into their path and from that
day Laura began to slip out of his grasp. Even revealing his
long-held feelings hadn't produced the desired result. His partner
had gently but firmly rebuffed his advances without offering
a reason. In truth, there was no need. They both knew whom she
was attracted to. However, Murphy vowed to keep fighting: he'd
get her to see him in a different light. It wasn't over but he
couldn't shake off a dreadful premonition that the fat lady was
warming up her vocal chords.
"Who is it?" Laura called out.
"Pizza delivery ma'am."
Laura winced involuntarily. Damn. She'd forgotten about the food.
"Hold on!" She dug into the pockets of her jeans praying
there was money there and heaved a sigh of relief. Shoving the
notes into the hands of the youngster, she told him to keep the
change as she took the boxes.
"Were you expecting someone?" Murphy asked, pointing
at the pizza.
"Huh?" she stared back blankly.
"That's a lot of pizza you've got there."
"Oh! I was hungry. Aerobics class. Going for the burn always
gives me an appetite!" That would have to do. She hoped
he'd buy it. "You hungry Murph?"
"Sure! What did you get?"
Laura was about to open both boxes and tell him to choose a flavour
until she remembered that Mr Steele's pizza had onions. Everyone
knew she hated onions on pizza. What a dead give-away that would
be! So instead she walked towards her kitchen calling out, "Pepperoni.
One slice or two?"
"Just one. Hey partner, I'd love another beer too if there's
They ate companionably reminiscing over Havenhurst, discussing
mutual acquaintances and debating work issues in general but
all the while, at the back of Laura's mind, was the man ensconced
in her bedroom.
"Y'know, I keep going back to that Hoskins case. You remember?
The one where I played Remington Steele?"
She laughed heartily. "You were fantastic! Hoskins really
swallowed it. The cigar was a great touch and the"
Murphy jumped in with the question he'd long wanted to ask. "Which
Remington Steele is closer to the man you envisioned? His or
Laura played for time. "In what sense Murph?"
"Well. When you invented him, you must have had a picture
of him in mind. Who got closer?"
"Wellhe's an amalgam looks wise. I can't point to someone
on TV or a man walking down the street and say `he looks exactly
like that' but I did give him solid qualities. The kind I most
admire in a man like compassion, honesty, integrity, desire to
help others. Maybe I aimed too high, maybe it's impossible living
up to someone else's dreams and expectations and bringing them
to life but you both brought something unique to the role of
"And what's that?"
Gently, Laura touched his arm. "Yourselves, Murphy. Your
own traits, your own personalities. Hard to believe that one
man could have so many different facets isn't it?"
"I've got the answer I wanted because if you gave him honesty
and integrity, I beat you-know-who hands down!" He grinned
and she playfully hit him.
"Speaking of him, I gotta be honest, I half-expected to
see him here tonight."
Laura instantly became wary, "What makes you say that?"
"Let's just say, it wouldn't have surprised me." Murphy
took a swig of his drink.
"Why wouldn't it have surprised you?" she probed.
"Oh come on Laura! The guy's brains are in his pants when
it comes to you. A blind person can see that." She took
a swig of her beer as he continued. "I wouldn't put anything
past that guy. There's no level low enough where you're concerned."
She laughed, partly in humour but also relief. "Mr Steele
would be stooping to some kind of base level if he came to my
Murphy couldn't help chuckling too. "I'm trying to be serious
here Laura! No matter how innocent his actions appear, there's
always an ulterior motive lurking in the background!"
"I'll bear that in mind."
He covered her hand with his own for a brief second before saying,
"Good. I'd better be going, we've got a busy day tomorrow.
Hey, I had fun tonight. We should do this more often."
"Yes. Yes we should."
They got off the couch and walked to the front door together.
Laura opened it as Murphy smiled at her, bending down to peck
"See you in the morning partner."
"Thanks for coming by Murph and thank you for the beautiful
Laura closed the door and looked at her watch. It was eleven
thirty. ELEVEN THIRTY! Where had her evening gone? She slowly
walked into her bedroom and the sight that greeted her made her
"Mr Steele!" she gasped. The only visible part of him
was his bare chest. The rest of his body was under her sheets.
"What are you doing in my bed?"
He slowly sat up, his eyes appraising as he gazed boldly at her.
"Waiting for you of course, as you instructed what else
would I be doing? What else did I have to do?"
"W-waiting for me?" she repeated breathlessly.
He crossed his arms. "Tell me Miss Holt, who was at the
door three hours ago, eh?"
"You're not going to believe this. Or maybe you will believe
this. I didn't believe it myself but then again, it's not that
"Spit it out Laura."
She paced up and down briskly. "I'm coming to that Mr Steele!
It was Murphy."
"Oh, I see. Actually no I don't."
Puzzled she stopped and turned to face him, "Don't what?"
"I don't understand why you hid me away."
"I told you something awkward had come up"
"Okay, so Murphy arrived unexpectedly. He could just as
easily have turned
up at my flat while you were there. Do you think I would have
hidden you in my laundry hamper?"
Her temper was rising. "You're being ridiculous!"
"Am I? Am I really Laura? You hide me away in your bedroom
and I'm being ridiculous?" Steele strove to remain icy calm
but his control was on a knife-edge.
"I refuse to talk to you while you're in my bed dressed
He shrugged. "Fine. I'm not in the mood for talking anyway."
"Mr Steele, you're giving me a headache."
"Let me guess what that means," he murmured under his
Laura's heckles rose at his thinly disguised inference. "I
beg your pardon?" she stated between gritted teeth with
her hands on her hips. If he knew what was good for him, he'd
shut up right now.
Steele's annoyance burst out of him, "You want to know what
your problem is?"
"As you see it? Not particularly but something tells me
you're going to tell me anyway."
He pointed at her accusingly, "You're a coward that's what
"EXCUSE ME!" she took a couple of steps closer to the
"I think you heard me clearly Miss Holt. You couldn't let
Murphy see me here tonight because if you did, you'd have to
face some rather unpleasant truths about yourself and that makes
you a coward."
"Who the hell do you think you are? Sigmund Freud?"
He ignored her indignant outburst. "You'd have to admit
to Murphy and Bernice that you harbour some kind of feeling for
me. And we can't have that, can we? We can't have Miss Proficient,
Miss Capable, Miss Efficient"
"Don't flatter yourself! I've worked with both of them far
longer than you have. The truth is that I don't want anything
to upset my partnership with Murphy."
"He's a detective Laura! Sooner or later he's going to figure
it out for himself! All you're doing is insulting his intelligence
not to mention delaying the inevitable. By the way, I'm hungry.
Couldn't you have heated up my pizza on the way in here?"
She stared at him, confounded. "We're arguing! We're having
a fight! How can you even think about eating when we're having
"Laura, a grown man has to eat! Besides, we're not going
to fight all night are we?" He started to smile but suddenly
his flippant question didn't seem as innocuous as it once was.
"Or are we?"
She resumed pacing. "You're so sure of yourself aren't you?
So sure of me! I'm `delaying the inevitable' by not letting Murphy
see us together outside of the office? What makes you think I'm
delaying an inevitability?"
She was worked up and despite everything, it amused him. "Because,
Miss Holt, it's obviously driving you crazy that you've got feelings
for me!" He looked around her room in desperation. "Are
you sure you haven't got any ood lying around in here for me
to nibble on while we fight? I'm really hungry and you're not
being a very gracious host."
"Driving me crazy?" she repeated incredulously, "If
anyone's crazy about
anyone, you're crazy about me! And would you stop thinking about
stomach for a minute!"
Steele immediately shot back a response aimed at backing her
into a corner.
"Are you saying that you don't have feelings for me? Well,
that must have been your salacious twin sister who jumped me
in the wine cellar, eh? Who asked me if there was any danger
in feeling too much too soon?"
Laura bristled. He had her there. Damn him. "I'm saying
that your version implies one way traffic Mr Steele," she
replied turning her nose in the air.
"Okay. Fine. Have it your own way. It's a mutual attraction,
"Yes I am for the moment."
"Well. I'm glad one of us is," he responded wryly.
"Will you stop doing that!"
"Doing what?" He rubbed his stomach as if that alone
would stop it grumbling.
"Making snide remarks."
"May I remind you that nothing's solved here? I'm still
the one who's been bored stiff for three hours and ravenously
hungry all that time just because you couldn't face Murphy with
"What do you want me to do?" she asked slapping her
thighs in helpless exasperation.
"What do you think you should do?" he countered.
"I asked first."
Steele considered the question. He wanted to be honest with her
but it was easier to cover. "What say you let me see your
fan dance from this vantage point, eh?" He raised and lowered
his eyebrows suggestively.
She glowered at the ease with which he slipped out of answering
her and sighed. "Life used to be so easy. I miss that sometimes."
"I knew you'd come around to my way of thinking eventually!"
She sat down on the bed next to him. "Maybe we should cool
things down between us. Take some time out. Not see each other
outside the office."
He gave her suggestion some thought. "Okay. If that's what
She stared at him. "Oh. You've agreed to this pretty easily."
Steele patted her hand condescendingly. "Well, I'm only
doing it to help you Miss Holt. I'm concerned for your wellbeing.
I didn't realise my presence was so unsettling, so unnerving
for you. God, I must be truly irresistible!"
Steele smirked smugly removing his hands to cross them behind
his head. Then he winked.
His egotistical manner irked her. "Wait a minute! Are you
saying that I'm only suggesting this because I can't resist you?
Of all the conceited"
"You said it yourself Laura. You want an easy life. If that's
not taking the easy way out, I don't"
"Who kissed who first tonight? Who undressed whom first
tonight? If I remember rightly, it was you! So if anyone's damned
irresistible around here, it's me!" She emphasised the point
by stabbing his chest with her forefinger.
"I see. So in other words, that kiss in the wine cellar
was because you find me utterly repulsive?"
Laura refused to give in. "Well it's not as if you didn't
"You're impossible. You know that?" he snapped.
Like the cat that got the double cream, Laura relished the opportunity
to throw his frequent adage back to his face. "Why Mr Steele!
You disappoint me! I thought you were a man who liked impossible
Her conceit bothered him. She had him there. Damn her. If this
round of bickering were tallied in tennis terms, the score would
Steele decided to up the ante. Rising to her gibe, he captured
her hand in his. "Why don't we put our little theories to
the test and see who succumbs first, eh?"
"What do you mean?" she asked suspiciously.
"I mean, let's see who really is the irresistible one. Let's
find out who has the stronger will. Who refrains from initiating
that first kiss, that first meaningful touch, that first explicit
caress," he crossed his arms.
"That's the stupidest idea you've ever had and that's saying
something!" she cried.
Steele put his hands up in an apparent gesture of surrender.
"I understand completely if you can't do it, if you're not
up to it and feel you'd lose comprehensively then"
Never one to back away from a dare, Laura jumped in. "I
said it was the stupidest idea you've ever had, I didn't say
I wouldn't do it! What are the terms?"
"If I win, to use your charmingly crude phrase, I finally
get to hop in the sack with you." He flashed her a brilliant
She rolled her eyes heavenwards. "What a surprise. And if
"You finally get to hop in the sack with me!"
Laura huffed impatiently. "Would you be serious for a minute
"I was serious."
"Levity Laura, just a little levity. I propose no more hide
and seek if Murphy, or Miss Wolfe for that matter, encounters
us in our apartments together. I'm not going through another
evening like this one. Oh, also that we go away for a
weekend together. The Bahamas is rather nice at this time of
year," he mused.
"You've attached two things!"
"I'm a good sport Miss Holt. I'll allow you to do the same."
"How generous of you. If I win, I'll have that year of your
life that I didn't get on the Donovan case plus your real name."
Her eyes twinkled.
"Good God! That again?"
"What's the matter. Afraid you'll lose?"
He slowly broke into a beatific grin. "Let's shake on it
"Oooh! Physical contact Mr Steele, is that allowed?"
she bantered playfully.
"Of course it is. A handshake is perfectly avuncular conduct.
Our bet refers to action taken by either of us which is deemed
anything but. Agreed?"
"Oh yes indeed Mr Steele! Agreed." They cautiously
extended their arms to seal the challenge.
"We haven't actually stated when this bet of ours officially
"Nothing gets by you Laura! Do you have an alarm clock?"
"Of course I do. Why?"
"Set it for five minutes."
She reached for her clock and paused. "You know, in the
interests of behavioural science, we should really set it for
Steele caught the gleam in her eyes and nodded sagely. "After
grave consideration Miss Holt, I think we should both acknowledge
to ourselves and to each other that we would have been happy
to commence our bet in my originally proposed five and your initially
proffered ten minutes time. That's why I nominate a neutral fifteen
"That's a very logical, rational argument Mr Steele. And
may I say, persuasively put too?"
"Wasn't it though?" he looked very pleased with himself.
"Fifteen minutes it is then."
Steele watched her intently as she carefully moved the hands
forward to precisely twelve forty-five, he heard the click as
the alarm was set in place and he noted that she moved the hands
back to just over fifteen minutes before setting the clock face
down on her bedside table.
"All done?" he queried.
"All done." Laura confirmed.
Despite the fact that they couldn't see the time, both glanced
fleetingly at the clock then Steele locked his blue eyes with
her brown ones and they grabbed each other. There were no preliminaries:
the clock was, literally, ticking.
Laura adjusted her position pulling him on top of her as they
kissed hungrily without hesitation or restraint. As much as she'd
appreciated Murphy's gesture and enjoyed his company, there just
wasn't that spark. It was such a contrast to her bond with Mr
Steele where tense passion passed between them like an electric
current. It never took much to set it off and tonight the fact
that they were racing with the clock added an extra dimension.
He parted her lips with an intensity that took her breath away
and moved his hands possessively across her body. She was gasping
when his lips finally released hers, shivering as his mouth travelled
across to her cheek and earlobe. As always, his touch sparked
a burning desire, an urge within her to feel the heat of his
She rolled over so that he was now underneath her and let her
hands wander across his chest, her fingers dancing through his
chest hair as they continued their journey up towards his face.
Steele let out a ragged groan at her administrations and hurriedly
unbuttoned her shirt.
What was it about Laura that turned him on so much? More often
than not, she irritated the very hell out of him. He couldn't
even remember a day when they hadn't quarrelled or squabbled
over something. Small-breasted - virtually flat-chested petite,
freckled, intelligent but opinionated and obstinate to the point
of bullheadedness. In short, she bore no resemblance to the voluptuous,
acquiescent females he'd previously found himself enraptured
with. At first his attraction to her had been purely sexual,
heady lust. A beautiful woman and, if his coterie of conquests
across several continents were to be believed, a splendid looking
chap such as himself were a potent combination but Laura hadn't
read the script. His preoccupation with her stubborn resistance
became mindless fixation as he sought to add her to his list.
Admittedly, it wasn't terribly gallant of him but as the days
turned into months that southerly region of his body wasn't the
only part aroused by her presence. His mind was too.
He relished sparring with her, scoring points off her and playing
games with her. He admired her drive and ambition and he now
realised that their fierce competitiveness would probably ensure
a relationship revolving around a daily battle of wills. There
weren't many people who could boast of occasionally getting the
better of him; she was one of the privileged few who could.
He knew she still didn't trust him and underneath his protective
lining of flippant bravado, it hurt. Deeply. Was this the reason
why he'd stayed around after all this time? Not so long ago,
the next venture would already be calling him: the next city,
the next country, the next continent. Was he still in Los Angeles
because of a determination to prove himself worthy of this bloody
headstrong woman? Did the same logic also apply to her creation
but his increasing reality, the mantle of Remington Steele? What
a scary thought. Scarier than that wretched audition.
Steele turned so that she was now beneath him. Laura felt his
hot breath on her neck as his mouth teased her senses and suddenly
it was too much.
Treacherous hormones were bombarding her doubts about him and
her fears for herself. Godammit. She wanted to feel him moving
inside her, thrusting deeply into her. She wanted to yield, to
surrender totally to the pleasure. They both moaned and she felt
his mouth settling on hers again as the loud shrill rang out
penetrating their passion-filled brains. Springing apart with
alacrity, Steele cursed the timing wishing he'd suggested thirty
He gathered up his clothes and rapidly pulled them on gasping
as he spoke, "A little sampleof our weekend togetherafter
I win our betMiss Holt!"
"Hah!" Laura exclaimed, fingers trembling as she hastily
buttoned her shirt. "Don't be too sure of yourself MR STEELE!"
Sarcasm permeated her enunciation. "I look forward to finally
learning your real name when I win our bet!"
Laura smoothed her clothing and ran her fingers through her hair
before getting off the bed. They stood for a moment, facing each
other, neither speaking. He was on the left side, she on the
right and as if hypnotised they both stared down at the piece
of furniture dividing them. The room suddenly seemed to clamour
with an unspoken force. The silence was deafening. It hummed
with power: like the reverberation of a bowstring after it released
Laura broke the spell first, "Don't forget your watch. It's"
"Good thinking! Good thinking. I wondered why I felt so
naked." His words hit a raw spot so she spoke quickly to
turn the conversation.
"Your pizza's got onions on it."
He knew what she was doing but he played along. "Of course
it has. It's an unwritten law. No self-respecting pizza would
leave the pizzeria without them. Shall we?" Steele walked
into the kitchen and she followed closely behind. It was impossible
not to miss the sight and fragrance of Murphy's impressive flowers.
"Developing an interest in horticulture are we Miss Holt?"
He pointed at the roses but she sniffed indignantly and made
no comment. Smarting slightly, Steele picked up the box lying
on her counter. "I'm taking my pizza home with me."
Laura crossed her arms. "Well I'm not going to eat it."
He sighed. "What an evening. Left starving in every sense
of the word!"
She laughed at his rueful tone. "Oh come on Mr Steele! At
the very least, it was eventful. Right?"
"Do you have to have an answer for everything?" he
Laura opened the door and they automatically closed in for a
kiss until both
remembered the consequences of seeing it through. Drawing apart,
they gazed at each other.
"Goodnight Miss Holt."
"See you in the morning Mr Steele."
She locked the door with an evil smile on her face: he was putty
in her hands. Steele whistled cheerfully as he flagged down a
passing taxi. This was going to be easy. He made a mental note
to instruct Miss Wolfe to pick up some brochures and book the
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