- Holt With Nerves
- By Wolfgang
- This story is for those who liked
"Holt Loosening A Steele Grip" and didn't find the
courage or time to inform me about it - and especially for those
who liked it and told me so (Thank you again). This is the continuation
- Merry Christmas and a Happy New
Year to all of you!
- Summary: After their engagement
not everything's going the way they envisioned it!
- Disclaimer: I don't own the characters
of Remington Steele and Laura Holt. I just borrowed them for
entertainment. Any resemblance to any existing person is purely
- Mildred shook her head. What had
happened to her kids she didn't know. After the announcement
of their engagement three weeks ago they seemed to be the happiest
couple you could think of. Now it was as if they were facing
doomsday. When they talked it was all quite professional. They
seemed to avoid touching each other, but she had seen them watching
the other longingly when they'd thought the other one wasn't
looking. All she could see was that they loved each other, but
something was standing between them. She had asked both of them
about it, but they both had been quite evasive about it. 'If
I were cynic I'd say it's their usual up and down and it's nothing
to worry about,' she thought sarcastically, but she did worry.
Although they hadn't been able to talk about their feelings with
each other they always had confided her this way or that way.
At least they had admitted it when she had been asking them,
but now it seemed that they didn't know what was wrong, and that
worried her. 'Well', she thought, 'I hope they can
diffuse this bomb before it's dropped, because I certainly don't
wanna stay near the center of the explosion!'
- Though they couldn't be content
with their personal lives they could be with their professional
one. They had a constant stream of clients, and she hardly found
the time to go on with her own license, but with their problems
she didn't want to distract them with another one concerning
employing a new secretary.
- It was a hot September afternoon,
and they weren't awaiting another client, perhaps she could persuade
them to take an early evening. She wasn't sure about them, they
were quite willing to work right into the night. Perhaps they're
just lacking private time. "Yeah, lie to yourself",
she muttered, "If they wanted some private time they
would take it."
- The door of the agency opened and
a man came in carrying a briefcase. He looked modest but he seemed
to be quite nervous. After looking around he immediately walked
her direction. "Excuse me, is Mr. Steele in?" he asked
in a hoarse voice.
- Mildred scrutinized him. He didn't
only look nervous, he looked frightened. He also seemed to have
not rested well for some time judging his features. "Who
wants to know?" she asked formally.
- "Oh, sorry, my name is Bob
Fenton and it's very urgent."
- "Mr. Fenton, do you have an
appointment?" She knew too well that he didn't have one.
- "Oh, ah, Ms -" he looked
quickly at the brass-plate, "Ms Krebs, no, I don't have
an appointment, but my life depends on my talking to Mr. Steele
as soon as possible." He really looked desperate.
- "Mr. Fenton, you know that
Mr. Steele is a very busy man, perhaps you could tell me about
your business before I decide to interrupt him or not. You don't
know how many times I've heard requests like yours before."
- "Ah Ms Krebs, you have to believe
me, it is urgent, and it's also important that as few people
as possible know about my business here."
- "Is it something illegal?"
she asked suspiciously. "I have to inf-"
- "No! Yes, in a way," he
interrupted her. "I wish I could go to the cops, but if
I do this I'm a walking dead man! They will know!"
- "I could ask Mr. Steele's associate,
Miss Holt -"
- "Just Steele, please!"
- She looked angrily at him and reached
for the phone. "Mr. Steele, there's a Mr. Fenton who insists
on talking with you." - "No, he doesn't have an appointment."
- "He seems to be concerned about something." - "Okay,
I send him in." Before she could repeat the message Mr.
Fenton was on his way to the office of Mr. Steele. He entered
it and was surprised to see Mr. Steele opening another door.
- "Miss Holt, would you please
join us? We may have a new client."
- "Mr. Steele, I thought we'd
talk alone," Bob Fenton intervened.
- "Mr., ah, Fenton, it's not
a habit of mine to keep anything secret to my associate. I can
assure you of her discretion. If you can't accept my methods
of work you are free to leave," he said firmly.
- "Oh, yes, of course,"
he said weakly, "I heard you're engaged." It sounded
as if this explained everything to him.
- Laura was on the point of asking
him what that meant when she felt Remington's hand on her shoulder.
She looked up, saw the concern in his eyes and reluctantly let
it go. It would do no good debating this remark, and obviously
their new client had a severe problem.
- "Take a seat," Steele
offered while he and Laura walked to the opposite side of the
desk. "How can we be of service?"
- "Ah, have you ever heard of
someone called 'The Marten'?" Mr. Fenton started nervously.
"Our ways crossed two or three times on business, and the
last time he wasn't satisfied with the results I got. Accidentally
I got hold of some papers that are very important to him - and
also dangerous. He probably knows by now that I've got them.
He will use any means to get them back, and he's not that particular
when he's that desperate."
- "Well, I've heard of him. He
seems to play a more or less important role in the local underworld,
but I don't understand how we could help you in this matter.
I suggest you go straight to the police. If you have papers of
this import that are proof of his illegal affairs there certainly
will be a way to make a deal with the district attorney. They
will also be able to guarantee your safety on a more solid base
than our agency could."
- "You don't understand, Mr.
Steele! His henchmen are already on my track. As soon as I set
my foot in a police-station I won't have time to write my will."
- "Mr. Fenton, I'm quite aware
of the danger this - organization means for you, but I don't
see any way to help you out of this. We are not bodyguards. So
what do you want?"
- "Well, I thought I could leave
the papers with you and just in case I got caught I could trade
for my freedom."
- Steele paled. That wasn't a good
idea. He hadn't revealed everything of what he had heard about
'The Marten'. Although he was not the brightest light in the
underworld he was notorious for his cruelty and unscrupulousness
- even among his henchmen. That was probably responsible for
his still being a minor criminal, because he didn't encourage
loyalty this way.
- When he made efforts to deny this
request Laura asked him: "Mr. Steele, could we talk in private?"
- He sighed and nodded. They both
entered the other room and closed the door. "Harry, why
don't you want to help him?"
- "Laura, 'The Marten' is a very
dangerous man, he's so dangerous that even people with a very
shady kind of business avoid him. Only very desperate people
trade with him. According to his reputation he's a kind of -
of a sadist. He's also very suspicious. He doesn't like any witnesses.
Let alone the fact that he," he pointed towards the other
door, "is consulting us could make us prime targets. I am
- "So you just want to leave
him to his fate?" she asked incredulous. "I can't believe
- "Laura, I don't like the idea,
either, but I don't think we have another choice. The police
are prepared for such cases, we're not!"
- "When I invented Remington
Steele I thought of someone who would protect those who needed
- Now it was his turn to become angry.
"Does this include committing suicide? Do you really believe
I declined this lightheartedly?"
- She looked briefly at him, then
bent her head. "I'm sorry. But if it's true what you heard
then we're already involved. If those papers are this dangerous
he won't run any risks. So we've got no choice. If he goes to
the police they will know, staying with us might solve it."
- He contemplated that and he didn't
like to admit that she was right. If they're lucky they could
get out of this that way. "You certainly have a point,"
he said reluctantly. "Let's hear how he sees the whole operation."
- She could feel he wasn't happy with
the decision, but she hadn't expected him to be. At least he'd
agreed to listen. She couldn't ask for more now. They headed
back to his office. "Mr. Fenton, Mr. Steele and I decided
to accept your case. We -"
- "Mr. Fenton, I don't want to
give you a wrong idea; we didn't accept this case because we
think we are prepared for it, we accepted it because we have
no other alternative. YOU haven't left us any. We all can just
hope to get out of this alive! And I think you were quite aware
of this. Why did you choose the Remington Steele agency anyway?"
- Laura shot him an annoyed look.
This wasn't necessary even though he was right.
- Bob Fenton gulped and didn't look
at all comfortable. "Well, there's a rumor that you had
supported someone who had trouble with one of the bigger bosses.
And it's also rumored that your methods aren't always totally
legal. So I thought you were predestined..." He became very
small when he saw the cold anger in Steele's blue eyes. "Mr.
Steele, please try to understand me!"
- "Mr. Fenton," he said
in a low voice, "If I weren't aware of the intensity of
your problem I wouldn't have accepted this at all. I still think
it would have been best for you to go to the police, but now
it's vital for us to know everything about this, and I hope for
your own sake that you won't hold back anything."
- The next twenty minutes Mr. Fenton
explained his idea about it, answered their questions and finally
handed over the papers and $20,000 in cash - as payment. After
that he left.
- "Well, what do you think about
it?" Laura asked.
- "This will only work as long
as they don't catch him. As soon as they got hold of him he surely
will be dead. And we will be the next ones on their list. At
least he paid for our funerals."
- She could hardly believe her ears.
"Why did you accept it when you're sure that either way
it's going it won't help him?"
- "I did it because I think there
can be something arranged for our own security. If they're on
his track he surely is a dead man, that's nothing we can change.
If they're not on his track we will probably never hear of him
again because he has vanished. Then we can give the papers to
the DA who will be very grateful for this information. And the
$20,000 is a just payment for blackmailing us. And if they got
him we will need it to save our own hide. The same thing with
the papers. I suggest we photocopy them, leave the originals
here, give one copy to the police with the strict order not to
reveal anything unless they have prepared everything. Perhaps
I can ask Monroe for support. He doesn't like 'The Marten' either."
- They made four copies and filled
Mildred in. She wasn't very enthusiastic about it and became
very worried. She almost refused to leave the agency and leave
them alone, but finally she gave in.
- Steele was thinking about asking
Laura about leaving early, but then he dismissed it. They didn't
talk privately although they were kind of cohabiting, one time
in his condo, the other time in her loft. It was as if they didn't
know what to talk and do. It had started about a week ago, and
the tension it caused grew stronger and stronger. As long as
they could occupy themselves with work it seemed they could avoid
the final breakdown, but they couldn't keep it this way very
much longer. Mildred had sensed almost immediately that something
was going wrong. They had to solve it or everything would be
ruined. Laura's snapping at him was an indication for that. He
was sure that she was still loved him, and he still loved her,
so why did they become uncomfortable when they were together
- Laura couldn't stand it anymore.
As long as they were professional they could talk with each other,
but as soon as they went out of topics they just kept silent.
It had become unbearable, something had to happen.
- After leaving the office they had
returned to his condo, he had prepared dinner, no gourmet feast,
of course, but it would still have outdone anything she could
have come up with. They had talked about Bob Fenton and some
of the ideas that were circling in Harry's head how to prevent
disaster. Harry also gave a more detailed description of 'The
Marten' that had sent shivers down her spine. But eventually
they'd run out of things to talk about and she had fled out of
the kitchen while he was taking care of the dishes. She had made
herself ready for bed, now she was laying in it waiting for him
- and what else? Maybe this would break the tension... this way
- Harry didn't anticipate going to
bed at all. Two weeks ago this had been a total different case.
They had gently teased each other, had caressed each other, had
held each other without *crossing the line*. He had always thought
that it would drive him crazy to lay next to Laura knowing that
she loved him and not showing her how *deep* he loved her. But
surprisingly it had turned out to be not this important at all
because he had been sure that it would happen eventually. Playing
games had been fun, and along this road they - she actually -
had decided to call him Harry privately. She'd said that she
always had to think of a typewriter when she called him Remington,
and 'Mr. Steele' was certainly not suitable on such occasions.
- And now? They still held each other,
but it wasn't because of joy, it was looking for comfort and
- He entered the bedroom. He saw her
in the dim light that fell through the open door and paled. He
had to take hold of the doorframe or he would have stumbled out
of the room. Why did she do this? Why did she humiliate them
both? He knew the answer, but it didn't solve anything. He knew
she was desperate, he also felt the desperation but he didn't
know how to fight it. How do you fight something that you can
identify only by its effect? It was like trying to cure the symptoms
but not knowing what caused them.
- He had fantasized about this sight:
her lying naked in the bed awaiting him, ready for everything.
But her bearing betrayed her; she wasn't expecting him with anticipation.
For some moments he thought about his options, his mind racing
furiously. He couldn't do it, it was like the time her house
had been blown up, but he also couldn't turn his back to her
and leave; she'd feel rejected, and that would make things worse.
He had to face her, had to show her how much he loved her and
he had to make sure he wouldn't give in to the temptation it
meant. He knew he couldn't face his image in the mirror if he
- He swallowed hard and gained all
his strength, then he went with shaking legs to his side of the
bed. He could almost feel her gaze. He lay down beside her, then
his hands took hold of her head and he started to kiss her gently
all over her face. He felt her arms moving around his torso.
His arms slid around the upper part of her body, and he stopped
kissing. He laid down placing her head upon his breast. He started
to stroke her bare back gently, he felt her this way for the
first time. He was breathing heavily and tried to control his
- He didn't know how long he was stroking
her, eventually he also caressed the back of her head with the
other hand. Finally he managed to ask in a hoarse whisper: "Why?
You know I can't do it that way. What's wrong?"
- He heard her starting to sob, her
tears leaving cold traces upon his chest. He lost every feeling
of time. After what seemed to be an eternity he heard her whispering
countless times, "I don't know," felt her hands hammering
the bed in frustration. He didn't allow his own tears to fall,
he just caressed her back and head. He didn't say anything, he
didn't trust his voice. Finally her voice faded away, but he
still could hear and feel her crying. He felt so helpless. 'What
can I do? What am I doing wrong?' he wondered thousands of times.
- After some more time her crying
ceased, and he could tell by her soft and slow breathing that
she'd finally fallen asleep, but he didn't stop stroking her,
caressing her. Now he allowed his tears to start falling. It
wouldn't have done any good to show her how much he was hurting
although she probably knew it, but the tears would just have
added to her misery, and he knew that she felt very miserable.
- When his tears finally stopped falling
he gently rolled her on her back. Her face was still wet and
strands of hair were lying in tangles all over it. He smiled
as he pulled them to the side of her face. He wouldn't tell her
but he thought it looked cute when they lay without order. He
simply loved the sight of it, when she wasn't in control. Now
her face looked peaceful, not displaying the hell they both went
through. She also looked so vulnerable. When he saw her like
this he didn't feel so useless. He admired her determination,
her intelligence, her independence, but he couldn't love her
for that. He loved her for so many reasons, her trust, her smile
- the fact that she allowed him to see one side of her she'd
only shown very few people. He didn't love her because she was
vulnerable - every human being was that - he loved her because
she allowed him to see it and to take care of it like she took
care of him. He didn't want to see her hurt - this was the last
thing he wanted to see; it hurt him also, made him feel as though
he'd failed - but he knew only when she opened herself he might
get the full sight of what he just had managed to get some glimpses
of - her playfulness, her passion, her impulsive streak, things
he thought would be a constant source of joy, distraction and
change, things she tried to hide because of her disastrous relationship
with Wilson. He could spend hours just watching her sleeping:
his Laura, like he was her Harry.
- Then his gaze fell to the soft raising
and falling of her chest and he just stopped in time to not touch
her. He covered her cautiously with a blanket hiding the tempting
look she presented, not wanting to wake her. Then he kissed her
forehead and said, "Sleep tight, Laura, darling!"
- After that he turned his back to
her. He was desperate and exhausted. He didn't know how many
scenes like that he could stand but he feared that the next one
could be too much. He knew he had promised once not to leave
her for her own good, but what when he was the threat she had
feared he meant? What if they for some reason were simply incompatible?
He heard her moving and suddenly felt her hand moving involuntarily
past his back. He rolled on his back and captured her hand with
his hand squeezing it gently. She relaxed, looking peacefully
again. He looked at her silently wondering if he was just saving
the image in case he'd never see her that way again, and with
that thought he fell in a restless sleep.
- When Mildred looked at them the
next day she couldn't believe it. 'Nothing's that bad that it
couldn't get worse,' crossed her mind. Obviously something had
happened, and it wasn't connected with this Fenton-case. She
sighed and tried to concentrate on her work.
- Remington left the office after
a short time to have a long talk with Monroe. They discussed
their options and started to make preparations just in case the
worst would happen, but both knew it would take some time to
set everything straight. Monroe couldn't mobilize his men at
such a short note, they just could hope for the best.
- Meanwhile Laura was informing the
police about the papers and 'The Marten'. Later an inconspicuous
looking policeman, an inspector, entered the office. After looking
through the copies he whistled. This would enable them to arrest
the whole organization, but the preparations would take a lot
of time. They also spoke about the possibility of an abduction,
and he offered police protection, but she refused. This would
make them suspicious and endanger the whole operation. He reluctantly
left the original papers in her possession, but he had to admit
that if the worst happened, it would give them at least something
to trade without involving the police obviously although it was
no guarantee for success. He also knew the reputation of 'The
- After their day was done Harry steered
the Auburn to Laura's loft. When he stopped in front of the entrance
door he suggested, "Laura, it may be wise that we do not
spend the evening together." He saw her mouth forming a
thin line while she bent down her head and gripped firmly the
panel. He laid his hand on one of hers. "Laura!"
- She looked up. She saw him watching
her, a picture of insecurity. She knew he'd stay if she asked,
but what would they gain out of it? The general situation hadn't
changed if not aggravated, they still didn't know what was wrong,
and it was very unlikely they could solve it tonight when they
hadn't been able to find a solution earlier. They didn't know
where to start, and that was the worst aspect. She laid her other
hand on his and squeezed it gently. "OK," she managed
to say. "When shall I fetch you tomorrow?" She tried
- "The usual time," he suggested.
- She nodded and left the car. She
watched him driving away then she ascended slowly the three flights
to her loft. A sad smile crossed her lips when she thought about
Harry climbing up the stairs. She knew for certain now that he
had pretended to be out of breath when he was visiting her earlier.
It had been a scheme to either make her quit the loft or make
her pity him. She should have known that for a long time. If
those three derisory flights had really made him out of breath
he'd never have been able to run his stunts as thief. She still
couldn't believe she had fallen for that, perhaps his antipathy
of legwork had made it so credible.
- After entering her loft she laid
her briefcase down and walked to the kitchen. She didn't feel
hungry at all but knew she had to keep her strength. She was
busy the next 30 minutes preparing something trying to remember
some of the tricks he'd shown her when he had been cooking one
of his gourmet feasts and she hadn't been able to resist the
smell. It had seemed to be so easy all the times she had watched
- When she thought everything was
ready she started to eat. After her first bite she immediately
recalled his remark about her coffee *tasting like a hot cup
of the Thames*. She could understand it now: she hadn't thought
that her cooking was that bad, but obviously he had spoiled her
sense of taste within the last three weeks by constantly preparing
meals for them. With an angry motion she wiped away the dishes
that landed on the floor, but she didn't care. She took the briefcase
and went to her living area. For the next two hours she worked
on some case-files, but it took her very long; something - somebody
- was missing. She looked at the clock: 10:30. She thought again
about calling him asking to stay the night, but again she decided
to leave it. Instead she decided to go to bed. If she wake early
she could work on with the files.
- After tossing and turning for about
ten minutes she got up again. She had wanted to hold something,
but her pillow wasn't serving this way. She had to find a substitute
for him or she wouldn't sleep at all she feared. Her eyes went
to a chair where a very huge teddy bear was seated. She took
him up and held him tightly. She remembered the way she got him.
The weekend after her mother's (thank Goodness) short visit they
had spent many hours on a funfair. She had told him about the
many times she had spent in such places, the times she had spent
with her father, about all those wonderful memories she combined
with these locations, and she had been able to tell this without
becoming sad by remembering how this had ended when her father
had left them, not her. She had been surprised about that, it
had always hurt her thinking about that, but with his arm wrapped
around her she had been able to enjoy these memories again.
- He in return had spoken about funny
little incidents that happened during his short career as circus
artist, how he had burned himself practicing as the 'Great Savini',
or the time he almost swallowed the liquor stuff when he was
suddenly facing an older tiger of the circus strolling around.
This incident hadn't been this dangerous - the tiger had suffered
senility and had been getting his bread of charity - but facing
a kitten of this size unexpectedly...
- She had had to laugh about this
when her eyes caught a glimpse of this huge teddy bear in a booth.
Catching her sight he'd tried four times to win it until he had
succeeded admitting later that if it hadn't been for his time
at the circus he wouldn't have known how to do it. When she'd
asked what had happened to the man who wouldn't give a woman
a teddy bear he just had answered that he hadn't given it to
a woman, but to his little Laura, and had grinned. Feigning exasperation
she'd nudged him, and he had pretended to be hurt in such a way
that she couldn't help but laughing that he joined.
- Later that night she had had to
realize that her bed was to small for the three of them, so she'd
seated it on the chair. Laying together she'd thought about crossing
the line finally but with her head placed upon his chest and
listening to his heartbeat while he was caressing her back -
only separated by the thin cloth of her nightie - she had felt
too comfortable and cozy then to make it happen. She had felt
almost the same way last night...
- Last night! She didn't know what
had struck her. She knew it had been a kind of short circuit.
She had wanted to release the tension, she had wanted to hurt
him, she had wanted to have a reason to be angry with him, either
by his rejection or by his taking her. She had seen his hesitance.
Then he'd climbed into the bed and had started to kiss her gently.
She had laid her arms around him. She had felt his arousal, but
she hadn't been able to encourage him more. Then he had lain
down and had placed her head on his chest starting to stroke
her back, then her head. She had finally broken down when he'd
asked why, his voice full of pain. She had started to cry and
all she had been able to do was beating the bed and answering,
"I don't know!", while he had been still caressing
- She knew that he'd probably saved
their relationship - for this time. He had saved both their faces,
and she was grateful for that. She realized that she was crying
again and went to bed clinging to her teddy. She knew he was
afraid that he could lose control if something like this happened
again, but strangely enough she was convinced that this would
never happen, that he was too strong to let it happen. It dawned
to her that she needed him to protect her from herself. And she
missed him so much. She missed his presence. The teddy wouldn't
start soothe her. She hoped that she would never forget how she
felt that night, that she would never do anything to endanger
their relationship, that everytime she felt angry with Harry
she would have the strength to get over it - she never wanted
to feel this way again.
- She tried to concentrate on other
topics to shake off the feeling. The visit of her mother hadn't
been that bad, at least as long as Harry was around. She hadn't
been speechless but had been quite pleased to hear of their engagement.
Naturally she'd asked about a possible date for the marriage
and started to count the persons who simply had to attain this
great event whereat the mayor and the cheif of the police weren't
the most popular persons. They both had shuddered by the thought
of the ever-growing list; if this didn't stop she'd finally invite
the President of the United States. They both had assured her
that they haven't thought about a fixed date, that they had to
work things out. Obviously Harry had scented mischief because
he had stayed with them as long as possible, but after some more
or less open hints of her mother he'd left them alone. It would
have been impolite not to grant them some private moments. He
later confessed that he had thought about calling Daniel to distract
- After he had left the scene Abigail
had lost her reservation. She made it quite clear that she expected
them to marry as soon as possible. Remarks like *nice men like
him don't grow on trees, you know* and *how long do you want
to hold him out?* were still ringing in her ears. Though she
had had her points Laura silently started to wonder if her mother
had ever thought of the possibility that men might have their
own opinions and their own conceptions about such events - especially
when they were essential parts of them. Perhaps that had driven
her father away from them.
- Mercifully Donald had arrived shortly
after Harry's departure and interrupted a longer tirade before
she could get real momentum. Abigail had asked him immediately
if he knew about the happy news and was quite pleased to detect
that she obviously had been the first one who had been notified
about that - Laura had felt no urge to tell her that Mildred
had been informed first - although she'd asked why they hadn't
informed her sister and brother-in-law yet. Donald had congratulated
courteously and had reminded Abigail that Frances and the kids
were awaiting them, and that it was already getting late. They'd
said goodbye and Laura had been quite happy that she had been
spared from a longer one-sided discussion and had prepared herself
for the phone-call soon to come from Frances.
- They'd enjoyed dinner when the phone
had been ringing. It indeed had been Frances who congratulated
her and had told her more or less important things about marriages
and this stuff. She had only listened with half an ear.
- Marriage - how could they think
about it when they even haven't worked out living together, she
wondered while her eyes started to moisten again. How she missed
him. One part of her hoped that he'd missed her as much as she
did, but another part also hoped he wouldn't - he deserved better
- Actually he wasn't feeling anything
at all. When he entered his condo he was surprised to find the
door unlocked. Seeing the mess he stepped further in, his sixth
sense warning him too late that somebody was standing behind
him. All he could feel was a hard blow on the back of his head,
then the lights went down...
- Laura had hastily prepared a cup
of coffee to wake up after this long night and her restless sleep.
Her sip went all over the paper when she caught side of the first
side headline and the portrait of Bob Fenton: "Unknown Man
- "Oh my God," she stammered,
took her briefcase and her keys and raced to her Rabbit. Ignoring
most of the insignificant rules of traffic and some more important
ones she raced to the condo. She entered his condo, saw the mess
- and some dark points on the carpet, looking suspiciously like
dried blood. Her legs almost gave in and she hardly reached an
armchair. She looked and felt like death. After some minutes
she gathered her strength and reached for the phone. She informed
Inspector Cooper, the one from yesterday, that Mr. Steele obviously
had been abducted, his rooms had been searched and that the dead
man in the front page had been Bob Fenton, the man who had delivered
the papers. After that she informed Monroe about the change of
plans. He was swearing terribly, but after managing to calm down
he said that he needed one more day to finish everything. Now
everything depended on her: she had to gain time.
- The phone was ringing. Mildred took
the receiver and started, "Remington Steel A-" when
she was impolitely interrupted by a harsh voice: "Listen,
granny, I wanna speak with this other secretary, Holt or what's
- Mildred had read the papers and
guessed who the one on the other side of the phone was. She didn't
know of her boss' abduction, but the fact that this subject demanded
to speak with Laura, gave her something to think. She was partly
aware of their plans, and one of the finer points was not get
intimidated or leave this impression. "Listen buddy, I'm
not your granny, I wanna know your name and Miss Holt isn't in
yet!" She heard him going for a blow. He didn't like to
be talked this way, perhaps she could distract him until Laura
or her boss arrived.
- "Granny, I've got your boss
and I wouldn't bet a cent for his life if I don't speak to this
Miss Holt right now!"
- Mildred paled. She believed him,
but she couldn't grant his wish - Laura still hadn't arrived.
She just hoped she did the right thing. "Listen, Mr. Doe,"
- another gasp in the line - "This may be true or not, I
can't give you Miss Holt, she hasn't arrived yet, capice?"
She looked up when she heard footsteps. It was Laura looking
very pale but determined. Her face was an only question-mark.
"But you're lucky, she's just coming in." She covered
the receiver with her hand and whispered. "There's someone
calling for you. He said he has the boss."
- "Mr. Doe?"
- "I had to call him someway
and I couldn't come up with something else. He refused to say
his name." She handed her the receiver.
- "Laura Holt here!"
- "Listen, sweetheart, I've got
your boss. You've got the papers. Your boss can't get them for
some reason although we tried to persuade him. If you want to
have him back bring them -"
- "Make a break, John, I've got
a strict timetable, and if it's true that you've got Mr. Steele
I have to attend his appointments, too. I suggest you call around
noon again, I want to speak with him then. And one minor point:
don't damage him too much, I don't trade for damaged goods. If
I don't hear from you then, the police will get the papers. Bye."
She heard him gulping twice. Laying the receiver on the cradle
she could hear a faint 'But' before the line went dead.
- "Mildred, if he tries to call
again, no bargaining. As long as we keep the impression that
we can do without Mr. Steele he won't do him anything. He's desperate
to get this papers, but one sign of weakness, and it's over with
Mr. Steele. Keep that in mind!"
- The phone started to ring again.
Laura went to her office when she heard Mildred picking it up.
"Remington Stee-" - "Mr. Doe, I'm sorry, but she
- Inside her office she called Monroe.
"Monroe, it's me, Laura. Can somebody keep an eye on me?"
- "Yes, everything is arranged."
- "OK, I'm leaving in about one
hour to see if everything's right. I hope the area we've chosen
serves the purpose."
- "I'm sure about it. And keep
your head up. Everything's gonna be alright. Mick's luck hasn't
- "I wish I could believe it."
- "Do I detect a undertone of
pessimism? And I always thought that someone who puts up with
Mick is a hopeless optimist. Come on now, believe in your own
strength. It lies not within our power now, but as long as you
show no sign of uncertainty we've got a fair chance. Your ideas
of how to make the deal are elaborate enough to give him some
- "And if he refuses?"
- "Then Mick is already dead!"
- "Thank you for the encouragement!"
- "Think about Bob Fenton. He
didn't give him a chance to bargain, but he's bargaining with
you. The chances aren't that bad!"
- "I hope you're right, and thank
you for your help."
- "No problem. I'll see you tomorrow
during the exchange. Bye."
- She heard the soft *click* as the
line went dead. "Bye," she whispered.
- 'The Marten' was seething. He had
tried four times to get this Miss Holt again, but this granny
at the reception had always rebuffed him. If those paper weren't
so important. If he had more men. If this stupid ass was thinking
she could play games with him, well, she would have the surprise
of her life. It would be a bit more risky than the simple exchange
and elimination he had had in mind, but he had to be flexible.
Pity was he couldn't deal with Steele the way he wanted to, just
in case plan B failed, but omittance is no acquittance.
- He had to recruit more men. He could
hardly keep his organization in full swing, and he hadn't thought
that this whole affair would keep him this busy. But now he had
to take care of Miss Holt. He called his only two free men. They
weren't be too enthusiastic about the job, their portraits could
be seen in every PD of this state, but that was their problem.
He hadn't ordered them to get almost caught and identified doing
one of their jobs. They were paid for doing them. He didn't care
how as long as they were done.
- While he was filling them in he
seethed more and more. Once he got hold of them he would make
them scream, begging for a fast end. *John Doe!* They would pay
in full measure. Then he took one of his capsules containing
- His two henchmen observed the agency
building. They immediately recognized the Rabbit and started
to follow her. They tried to look inconspicuous, and everything
seemed to be all right. They were totally surprised when another
car started to push them, they lost control and crashed into
a parking car. They hadn't fasten their safety-belts so they
both were injured. The arriving policemen were astonished when
they identified them and gladly withdrew them from circulation
after some ambulance men had taken care of them.