Give Me A Steele Sometime
By Ilsa Lund
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 the show.
Rating: `R' This work contains some adult content and sexual innuendo so if you are very easily offended please do not read on.

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 interrupted her.
"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 the receiver.
"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 every week."
"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 the same?"
"I'm not into guys Bernice!" he grinned into her indignant face.
"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 about something."
"Oh yeah?"
"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 sleeveless blouse.
"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 endless bickering.
"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 my office."
"Hold on a minute. Just so I can follow all the fun, what's he crying about this time?" Murphy pointed at the frowning man.
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 of that?"
"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 their talents."
"Yes? Come on Laura! Don't leave us hanging!" Murphy urged.
"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 T.

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 instead!

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 doors.
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 dreadfully.
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 too cruel?"
"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 the subject.
"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 restaurant tomorrow."
"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 you-know-who now!"
"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 chauffeur.
"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 tuition."
"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 formaggi!"
"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 the balance!"
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 again.

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 in!"
"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 now."
"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 Murph!"
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 times."
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 thought!"

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 one going."
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 mine?"
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 Remington Steele."
"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 home?"
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 her cheek.
"See you in the morning partner."
"Thanks for coming by Murph and thank you for the beautiful flowers. Goodnight."

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 start.

"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 unbelievable to"
"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 like that!"
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 breath.
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 you are!"
"EXCUSE ME!" she took a couple of steps closer to the bed.
"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 a fight?"
"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 your damn
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, satisfied?"
"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 me here."
"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 you want."
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 enjoy it!"
"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 challenges?"
Her conceit bothered him. She had him there. Damn her. If this round of bickering were tallied in tennis terms, the score would be deuce.
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 white smile.
She rolled her eyes heavenwards. "What a surprise. And if I win?"
"You finally get to hop in the sack with me!"
Laura huffed impatiently. "Would you be serious for a minute please?"
"I was serious."
"Mr Steele!"
"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 Miss Holt."
"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 begins."
"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 ten minutes."
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 instead."
"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 skin.

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 minutes instead.

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 an arrow.

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 asked perplexed.
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 tickets.


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