- Ménage Á
Summary: This is my second attempt
at RS Fiction. It takes place shortly after `Hearts Of Steele'
but just before `To Stop A Steele' - episodes from way back in
the 1st season. Remember, this is set fairly early on in the
relationship of Laura Holt and Mr Steele. I've tried to capture
the spirit of the person he was at that time (ditto with Laura)
but naturally, I've gone with the flow in places!
*Americans may notice odd words/terms (e.g. grey rather than
gray) - I'm English and that's how we Brits spell!
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction for entertainment purposes
only. I am not attempting to make a single penny or profit from
this. I do not own the rights to any of the characters from the
television series "Remington Steele" and am not affiliated
in any way to MTM productions or any television network screening
Rating: NC17 (I think!) but definitely `R' for adult content
and sexual innuendo so if you are easily offended please do not
"Remington Steele Investigations. How may I help you?"
The vivacious brunette grabbed a pad and pen. "I'm afraid
Mr Steele is in conference at the moment. May I take a message?
Uh-huh-How are you spelling that? L-e-i-g-h-t-o-n S-t-C-l-a-i-r.
As soon as Mr Steele is out of his meeting, I will pass that
onMe? I'm Bernice Fox, Laura's - I mean, Mr Steele's secretary-Dulcet,
honey-toned?Greek Goddess?-That's one I haven't heard before!
Thank you Mr. St. Clair and good day to you too!" She hung
up the receiver with a smile on her face. What a shameless flatterer
this old friend of the man calling himself Remington Steele was!
It certainly explained from whom his protégé had
received training in charm! She hummed dreamily to herself as
the tall, fair-haired man opened his office door and walked towards
"Murphy, bow! You are standing before a dulcet, honey-toned,
young lady who conjures up apparitions of Greek Goddesses!"
"What are you talking about?" he quizzed good-naturedly.
"I just spoke to an old friend of you-know-who. A Mr. Leighton
"Leighton St. Clair? What kind of a name is that? It belongs
in a corny soap! Yep, I can see it now, `General Hospital' starring
James Brolin as Doctor Leighton St. Clair! He cuts, he nips,
he tucks, he'll melt your heart!"
- Bernice playfully slapped his arm. "Ha,
Ha. Very funny! But he was kinda debonair, very smooth. A real
charmer. Knows exactly what to say to a woman."
- "Oh no! Our impostor has an evil
- "They were supposed to be meeting
up tonight, but Mr. St. Clair's had to cancel. Anyway, he liked
the sound of my voice and that's how he described me!"
- "Some private investigator you are!
If you need an explanation, it's called flirting. Men have been
known to do it too!" She flicked her hair to emphasise the
- "Yikes! There is another one on this
planet just like him!" He pointed in the direction of Steele's
door. "Speaking of you-know-who, what round are they up
to in there?"
- "I can't count that high. Has God
invented a number that high?"
- "It's been over half an hour."
- "Yep and they're getting louder.
I clearly heard her call him an idiot just before I spoke to
Mr. St. Clair."
- "Not exactly a startling revelation,
is it? He is an idiot! Oh, for the good old days when it used
to be so peaceful around here! Nice, fictitious, figurehead that
didn't exist. Laura and I solving the cases together, alone.
Then that crook worms his way in and ruins everything!"
- "Oh yeah! He's really spoiled the
show! Now that our previously invisible boss is a real man, we
get more press! More publicity! More cases! More money! It's
such a drag!"
- "Whose side are you on?" he
- "We've been over this so many times.
Laura thinks he performs a valuable service for her agency as
the flashy front man."
- "Flashy front man? You won't believe
what he did today! If you ask me, he's starting to get a little
too involved with things around here. He's always showing up
at the wrong time, always getting it wrong, always interfering
where he's not wanted, always spouting ridiculous movie references
to solve serious crimes and taking all the limelight while Laura's
forced into the background."
- "Like it or not, that seems to be
the way it is now."
- "I don't like it."
- "I know Murphy. I know."
Inside Steele's office, Laura Holt, the woman behind the eponymous
detective agency, glared at the handsome, dark-haired, impeccably
dressed man seated behind the desk. A heated discussion had become
a full-blown row since he'd arrived back at the office three
quarters of an hour ago.
"I still say it was stupid! Reckless! You could have gotten
yourself killed today!"
- He glowered at the bundle of rage in front
of him. "I can take care of myself! I have done so for a
good many years now!"
- "If that's the way you look after
yourself, it's a wonder you're still alive!" she shot back
putting her hands on her hips.
- He knew it was her signal that she was
just getting warmed up. He'd seen it often enough. None of her
other employees ignited her ire the way he did and no one he
knew could unleash his temper with the ease that she always seemed
- "Why are we arguing about this? I
helped to solve the case, didn't I? My hunch was correct, wasn't
- Laura paced, refusing to be placated.
"You went off on your own Mr Steele without consulting me,
without informing me or anyone else of your plans or intentions!
You could have seriously jeopardized the case!" She turned
to face him, "That's not part of our arrangement. It's not
how Murphy and I do things around here!"
- He bristled at the unfavourable comparison
to her longstanding partner, "Fine! What would you have
said if I had told you what I was going to do?"
- She raised her voice a decibel and locked
her brown eyes with his blue ones, "That is precisely the
point Mr Steele! You didn't tell me! It was frivolous and completely
irresponsible! The quintessential you!" She slapped her
thighs in frustration.
- Something in him snapped. "Oh! Heaven
forbid that Laura Holt actually give me wholehearted credit for
anything I do!" He banged the desk in frustration. "I
may not be a trained private detective like you but I am not
an imbecile! This isn't just about your annoyance at my so-called
frivolity is it?" He stood up and yelled, "After all
this time, after all I've done, you still don't trust me!"
- She took a sharp intake of breath. He
was right but there was no way she was going to let him know
that. "If we're going to make this arrangement work, if
we're going to be a team, you have to act more responsibly and
think of other people besides yourself! I can't juggle clients,
worry about you, piece clues together, answer - "
- "You were worried about me?"
interrupting her in mid-rant, he walked over to the centre of
the office where she was still briskly pacing.
- Laura was suddenly very aware of his presence.
She tossed her chestnut brown hair and smoothed the skirt of
her tailored suit self-consciously. "I'd worry about anyone
who chooses to break into a sadistic murderer's house without
informing their co-workers and without taking back-up."
- He was silent for a few seconds, as if
giving the matter thought. "My sincere apologies Miss Holt.
I offer no excuses for my behaviour today. I was only trying
- She sighed. It was utterly unbelievable.
How did he do it? He had this incredible knack of firing her
rage and then killing it stone dead.
- "Mr Steele all I ask of you is that
you help me by not putting yourself at unnecessary risk."
- "Is that all you want from me Miss
Holt? I'm disappointed!" His eyes twinkled and the charged
atmosphere lifted as quickly as it had arrived.
Laura's fury at his transgression dissipated and was soon replaced
by a completely different emotion. She had always loved excitement
and danger. An abundance of both was used to form part of her
professional career. That was what the private investigation
game was all about. She expected nothing less; it was part of
the job. But it had never, ever spilled over into her personal
life. Until now. This man she was becoming seriously addicted
to embodied the very two things she studiously avoided outside
the office. The risks attached to him were intoxicating. He was
intoxicating. What was that cologne he always wore? It smelt
- She mentally forced herself to get a grip
and consider the matter at hand but regardless of which way she
turned it, he was the matter at hand. Laura thought back to a
seminal conversation with Bernice: the day she'd finally faced
reality, admitted defeat and confessed her sexual attraction
to their mystery man. In spite of living with Wilson for a couple
of years and dating him before that too, they had rarely shared
the level of intensity she was experiencing on a daily basis
with the man the general public recognized as Remington Steele.
At stray moments when her hormones rebelled, she was sorely tempted
to hop in the sack with him. It would certainly go a long way
towards dissolving all the tension between them. What a way to
get rid of it too! The walls she'd erected to protect herself
after her father's desertion and the failed relationship with
Wilson were threatening to tumble. He was getting to her, breaking
down her defenses just by being himself. Whoever that was.
- The more she knew him the less she knew
him, and all this did was fire her fascination further. Damn
him to hell for being so irresistible! Damn their mutual attraction!
Damn her yearning to feel his mouth and hands on her! Damn and
double damn all those dreamy visions of his naked body and what
it would feel like to have him thrusting into her own. From on
top of her. And beneath her. And behind her. Damn! Damn! Damn!
His combination of good looks, charm and relentless flirting
was proving lethal: huge reserves of her willpower were now required
to keep him at bay. Frowning, she contemplated the conundrum
that seemed to occupy her thoughts more and more: how is it possible
to have such a fraught relationship with a man you're not sleeping
He in turn gazed at the woman whose previously ordered life he
had turned upside down. In the early days his attraction to her
had been deeply sexual: mainly because she wasn't giving him
any! At first he reasoned that they would be sleeping together
before long. It was just a matter of time: resistance from a
female? It was foreign territory to him, unheard of and utterly
ridiculous! But somewhere along the line, sex with her had become
only part of the equation, not the sum total.
- The inescapable fact was that she intrigued
him in other ways too. She was unlike anyone he had ever encountered.
And his coterie of conquests spanned continents. Here was a bright,
sincere, honest and independent woman far removed from the type
that usually interested him. Admittedly, Laura would never make
Playboy material being small-breasted, petite and freckled but
he didn't care about that. It made her more human, more real.
Despite the undoubted spark between them, he'd never had to work
so hard at a relationship in his entire life. Perversely the
chase, the challenge, the pursuit of Laura Holt excited him deeply.
He had to constantly think on his feet around her, to seize opportunities
when they presented themselves. She adhered so fastidiously to
her ridiculous rule of not mixing business with pleasure that
chipping away at it was almost more satisfying than sex itself.
- Bless all those wonderful women for giving
him so much pleasure so easily, but it was too predictable. And
forgettable. As soon as he came, he left. It was perfectly reasonable
behaviour; they could have no complaints about his performance
in bed. Besides, he needed his mind stimulated too, not just
his crotch. Victory would be so much sweeter when he finally
succeeded with the formidable Miss Holt.
- A physical reaction to her was one thing.
But an emotional reaction? A reappraisal of one's life? That
was quite another. He was forced to acknowledge that this was
one of the key reasons why she was special, why she was unique.
He could feel himself developing certain sensations and instincts
whenever he was around her and nowadays, even when he wasn't.
Feelings that had previously been completely alien; like truth
and honesty. It was bloody scary. A female reducing him to this?
Painstaking self-introspection had become the order of the day,
a sure sign that he was in serious danger of getting in too deep.
For starters, a rendezvous with a woman would no longer end with
her spending the night back at his apartment. The last bedroom
tryst had left him with a disturbing feeling that he was sullying
something he couldn't quite put his finger on. Besides, it was
better this way; far easier to run away from their beds than
engineer reasons for them to leave his. He should have
done it sooner.
- He smiled at his potent enigma, his impossible
challenge. He knew that he wanted her more than any other woman
he'd come across since Anna. It was a feeling so intense that
it shocked him. Two nights ago, he had awakened with a start
from his latest explicit fantasy involving Laura. In it, he had
touched her, caressed her from head to toe, tasted every inch
of her, savoured the joining of their bodies and climaxed with
shattering force inside her. It had been so vivid that cold reality
had come as a damned disappointment. It preoccupied him nowadays
to the extent of mindless obsession. Why hadn't she succumbed
yet? Why was progress between them so protracted?
In the reception area, a puzzled Bernice and Murphy looked at
"What happened? He shouted something about her not trusting
him and all of a sudden, it's all gone very quiet in there."
- "With any luck, she's finally killed
him and saved me the trouble! Do you think I should interrupt?"
he asked concerned.
- "No, she can handle him. You know
it's funny, but I'm almost more scared for you-know-who than
Laura. She's lethal once she lets rip at him."
- Murphy fumed, "It's nothing he doesn't
deserve! This time he's really asked for it! Take it from me,
he has done some stupid things since he's been here but today
he excelled himself!"
- She fiddled with her hair. "Calm
down, I believe you! Wow! It's so quiet. Y'know Murphy, this
is like being in one of those parallel-universe episodes of `The
Twilight Zone!' I've kinda grown used to hearing them scream
blue murder at each other all the time. I sort the mail in the
mornings and they're at it. I take them tea or coffee and they're
still at it. They go on appointments, come back hours later,
slam their office doors and before you know it, they're at it
again! They're as regular as clockwork. I can actually set my
watch by them!"
- "I can't remember ever bickering
with Laura like that. It's been months, you'd think they'd have
run out of topics by now! What do they find to fight about every
- "He annoys her. She annoys him. We
duck. End of story."
- "Yeah? Well as long as their story
has no `happily ever after', I'll be glad."
Bernice chose not to comment. What could she say to Murphy? That
Laura never stopped talking about the foreigner with five passports
in their gal-to-gal chats? That she'd hidden a photograph of
him in a book at her house? That she'd stuffed another picture
in an old folder at the back of her filing cabinet? That she
was oblivious to how Murphy felt about her? That he could probably
hope for no more than a kind of brotherly love? Bernice was on
the outside looking in and this gave her a clear vantage point
of the situation unfolding at the Remington Steele detective
agency. A love triangle to rival anything the scriptwriters of
`Dallas' could come up with was being played out right before
her eyes. She didn't envy Laura's predicament despite the appeal
of both men: one of them was going to get hurt. After a pause
she continued, "What do you think they're doing if they're
- It was meant as an innocuous question,
an inquisitive query but both of them realized that perhaps it
- He didn't hesitate, "I'll give them
five minutes and then I'm going in there!"
"You know, it was very clever of you to deduce who the murderer
of Mrs Davis was since Mr Davis had a solid alibi and there was
no evidence of a paid hit-man."
- "I tried to tell you at the time
Laura. `Strangers On A Train', Farley Granger, Robert Walker,
Warner Brothers, 1951. An undoubted Hitchcock masterpiece! Two
men meet on a train. Robert Walker proposes that they each murder
the person who is the bane of the other's life. The Davis situation
was so similar except that both Davis and Thompson knew each
other fairly well and both were willing parties to their equally
dastardly deed. You know Laura, they almost got away with the
- "Is there going to be a movie which
reflects every case we work on?"
- "It certainly appears that way, eh?
Is it art imitating life or life imitating art?"
- They smiled at each other: a warm, companionable
exchange that had no hope of lasting. In an instant, the mood
changed and Laura felt herself being steadily pulled towards
- She immediately said, "I've got a
report to dictate to Bernice. I need to bring this Davis case
to an end."
- "Uh-huh." He wrapped his arms
around her waist but made no attempt to kiss her.
"Venice. Queen of the Adriatic. A very romantic city."
- Laura persevered. "It will be a long
one for Bernice to do. It's important. It can't wait."
- He didn't break stride. "Perfect
for a long weekend. We'll see Venice in all her - " there
was a deliberate pause so that the next words would have greater
impact, "naked glory." Steele gently squeezed her body
then moved his hands up and down her spine.
- Laura swallowed. "Not the best part
of the job I admit, but just as necessary."
- "We'll hire a gondola and lie in
each other's arms whispering sweet nothings as we smoothly wind
our way down the Grand Canal. Who knows? We might even see some
of the city itself before we leave!" He tilted her head
up with his right hand, as he caressed her back with his left.
- It was getting harder to concentrate.
"The client expects it first thing in the morning. Mustn't
disappoint the client."
- "The Rialto Bridge, the Doges' Palace,
the Piazza San Marco, the Basilica of St Mark's. Wonderful galleries
too. There was one in particular I used to frequent. Magnificent
collection of Renaissance art." He joined his hands together
at the base of her spine and bent his head to place feather-light
kisses on her neck.
- Laura sucked in air. Breathe, she told
herself. Breathe. "Errr...the errr-report is a vital-aspect
of-this business-Mr Steele," in desperation she added, "Sir."
- He raised his head at that. "Sir?
Very commendable Miss Holt. Pet names for our hotel bedroom.
I'll call you," he broke off for a couple of seconds, "snookums."
- Of their own volition, her arms moved
to his neck as their embrace tightened in preparation for the
inevitable kiss. She could clearly feel the contours of his body
against hers and was beginning to float away on the heady sensations
it evoked. All the friction, the sparring, the rancour that had
gone before, it served as the appetizer. This was the main course.
And they both knew it. Steele hoped he'd finally get dessert.
The intercom buzzed just before their lips touched. Laura instantly
snapped back to business-like reality. He sensed the difference
in her body and inwardly cursed the interruption. As soon as
he got a chance, he was going to cut the wires on that bloody
thing once and for all.
- "Ignore it. Whoever it is, we're
- "The day is not over yet, Mr Steele
and we still have business to conduct." She extricated herself
from him and walked over to answer it refusing to contemplate
which emotion she felt more: frustration or relief.
- "Yes Bernice?"
- "I have a message for-Mr Steele."
- "Oh! Yes! We'll be right out,"
she looked over to where he was still standing. "Mr Steele
and I have just completed our discussion." It was a loaded
comment. He got her drift. Foiled again.
- They moved into the reception area. Bernice
immediately picked up her pad. "Now let's see-ah yes-a Mr.
Leighton St. Clair called for you." She flipped a couple
of pages before reading from her notes, "He said he's sorry
to cancel seeing you tonight at such short notice but something's
come up. He's on his way to Cannes, but that he'll call you when
Laura's interest was immediately piqued. Who was this person?
What was his connection to Mr Steele? She turned to face the
man in question and after telling herself to keep it subtle,
fished for information, "It sounds as if this friend of
yours is in rather a hurry. He's left you high and dry tonight."
- "Hasn't he though?" Steele lightly
agreed as he tugged his right ear lobe.
He too was curious about his mentor Daniel Chambers' behaviour.
Using the alias `Leighton St. Clair' meant one thing and one
thing only: it was their secret code that a big scam had come
up. It must be bloody huge to take him halfway across the world
without the two of them meeting up. He smiled as he recalled
some of the ambitious capers they'd pulled off together in the
past. They were close for so many years but, at some point, everyone
has to spread their wings and fly alone. He'd wanted the man
he looked on as a father-figure to see at first hand that the
young ruffian he'd found hustling on the streets of Brixton in
South London was now a respected, celebrated private detective.
How Daniel would love that! What was he up to now? Steele hoped
he was okay.
Laura hid her frustration at the ease with which he slipped out
of answering her and tried again, "Your friend has a very
distinctive name. Where did you two meet?"
- Murphy jumped in, "They were probably
- "Where did we meet? Oooh, here and
there." Steele answered enigmatically.
- "Why do I even bother to ask?"
Laura sighed and beckoned for Bernice to follow her so that they
could begin compiling the Davis report.
- Murphy regarded his rival intently, his
scowl heavily laced with suspicion. In turn, Steele's face became
adorned with the most beatific grin.
- "What are you so happy about?"
- "Anytime I'm in your delightful company
is a cause for celebration Murphy!" Steele grinned that
crooked grin of his.
- "I wouldn't be smiling too much if
I was you. You nearly mucked up yet another case."
- "Oh really? Laura didn't think so.
In fact she commended me for correctly identifying the murderer.
Of course it would be remiss of me not to thank Alfred Hitchcock
for inadvertently providing the real breakthrough."
- Murphy crossed his arms. "Aren't
you itching to get back to wherever you came from? Think of all
those lovely gems you could be stealing or museums you could
be breaking into. Haven't you had enough of playing detective
- "Leave? And let my natural talent
for this line of work go begging?" Steele retorted indignantly.
- "What natural talent? You have no
training, no certificates, no apprenticeship, nothing!"
Murphy banged the reception desk to emphasize his point.
- "But a rare intuition, call it a
gift if you will."
- "I won't."
- "No. Didn't think you would. Pity.
After all, we're supposed to be professionals."
- "You'll always be a con man to me
and to Laura too. She still doesn't trust you, you know. "
- Steele considered his words and smiled,
"We're working on it."
- Murphy frowned and took a step closer
to Steele, "We? It's something Laura and I already have.
Trust is the cornerstone of our relationship, has been for many
years and will be long after you're gone."
- Steele surveyed his fingernails. "Sorry
to have to disappoint you old chap but I've grown rather fond
of Remington Steele. He's so smooth, so debonair, so decent!
I'm rather loath to abandon him."
- The American took another step forward
and snapped, "Leopards don't change their spots."
- "A change is as good as a rest,"
was the immediate response topped off with a smirk.
- Murphy persisted, "You can't teach
an old dog new tricks."
- "If at first you don't succeed, try
- "Once a thief, always a thief."
- Steele smugly pointed to himself insisting,
"I'm an artist."
- They squared up to each other than backed
away as the door to Laura's office opened.
"So that's why I said to Dan that he should bring Irving
along as your date tonight. Won't that be nice Laura? Just the
four of us!"
- "Oh yes! I'm sure Irving will be
worth waiting for."
- "Irving?" both men cried simultaneously.
- "Who's Irving, Laura?" Murphy
- "You're seeing someone named `Irving',
Miss Holt?" Steele queried disdainfully.
- "Bernice and I are going out tonight.
Irving is a friend of Bernice's boyfriend, Dan and he's my date
for the evening."
- "Date?" the two rivals inquired
at the same time.
- "Yes. Date. I know I don't have to
remind you Mr Steele about the concept of male/ female bonding
but Murphy, you really should get out there again."
- Neither potential suitor could find their
voice at that moment. It simply hadn't occurred to them that
Laura might look outside the office for romance.
- "I've got an idea!" she suddenly
whooped. "Mr Steele has had a cancellation and you're always
at a loose end Murph, so why don't you two go out on the town
tonight? Get to know each other better. I bet it would improve
working relations around here!"
- Both men were stunned into silence.
- Eventually the American piped up, "Laura.
That has got to be the craziest notion you've
- ever had!"
- Steele added, "Murphy and I engaging
in social interaction? I must admit, it does rather boggle the
- Laura put her hands on her hips and played
her trump card. "As the head of this agency, I'm ordering
you both to spend a couple of hours in each other's company.
What harm can it possibly do? It's for the good of our working
relationship, all three of us! Do it for my sake if you won't
do it for yourselves!"
- Both men glanced at the other and then
back to Laura with a resigned look on their face. Neither would
refuse her anything in front of the other.
- "Fine." Murphy said.
- "As you wish." Steele agreed.
- "Good. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm
going to go and get ready." Laura marched back to her office
and picked up the dress hanging on the back of her door while
the two men vented their frustration at Bernice.
- Murphy wasted no time. "You fixed
Laura up with another man? Who is this guy anyway?"
- "Miss Wolfe, was it absolutely necessary
to drag Miss Holt into one of your tawdry assignations?"
- Bernice sat down at her desk and proceeded
to paint her nails a fiery red. "Do I have to remind both
of you that Laura is officially single?" she remarked with
- indifference. "Now if you'll excuse
me, I'd like to concentrate fully on making myself more beautiful."
- "Take all the time you need, Miss
Wolfe. After all, you're not getting any younger!" Steele
ran into his office as Bernice aimed the stapler at him.
Laura sang softly to herself as she brushed her hair. She was
looking forward to her night out with Bernice. Her secretary
prided herself on being the belle of the ball, the life and soul
of the party and she never disappointed. They'd shared some raucous
evenings together, giggling away like schoolgirls or daring each
other to carry out sophomoric pranks. Hell, it felt good to cut
loose at times like that! To be as wild, free and spontaneous
as the old Laura had been until Wilson had so cruelly hurt her.
She needed this. She needed time away fromthe office, time away
from-distractions. Time away fromhim. Her carefully chosen dress,
a russet coloured silk, brought out the golden lights in her
hair. It clung to her breasts and hips, the sleeveless design
helping to emphasise her slenderness. She applied a light eye
make-up and rounded the whole look off by faintly brushing a
soft peach lip gloss over her lips. She surveyed herself in the
small mirror; pleased with her face but wishing she could see
how the rest of her looked.
In the reception area both Steele and Murphy wolf-whistled their
appreciation when Bernice Fox finally emerged from Murphy's office.
The white, sequinned gown sticking to her body was an extremely
tight fit leaving nothing to the imagination.
- "You like? Tonight I figured I'd
go for subtlety!" she laughed.
- "Miss Wolfe you are a vision. X-rated
but a vision nonetheless!" Steele offered.
Murphy grinned and shook his head. "You look hot, Bernice.
- "Thanks. Say, Laura's called for
Fred. Can we drop you two someplace?"
- "Fred? Where are you both headed?"
- "Downtown. We're meeting our dates
at some fancy restaurant. Come on guys, it'll be really funny.
All of us in the limo together!"
- "Sure," Murphy agreed. The less
time he had to spend alone with the creep, the better. A thought
struck him, "Hey Bernice, you still haven't told me who
this Irving fella is."
- "He's just a friend of Dan's. I've
never met him so I can't tell you anything."
- At that moment, Laura's office door opened.
"Ready Bernice?" she asked.
- "Yeah, can Fred drop Murphy andMr
- "Oh yes!" she answered happily.
"I'm pleased that you're both taking my little suggestion
- "Do we have a choice?" Murphy
queried testily. "By the way Laura, you look beautiful.
That Irving's one lucky guy." He walked over and pecked
her on the cheek.
- "Thanks Murph!" she beamed in
- Steele announced his presence by not uttering
a single word. Instead he let his eyes roam freely over her body,
lingering slightly on her small uptilted breasts. She looked
at him below slightly lowered lashes, longing for a compliment
but he was resolutely silent. When his gaze met her own, she
turned her head away. The intensity of his stare unsettled her.
- "Well!" she said brightly, too
brightly. "Let's get this show on the road!" Laura
strode purposefully towards the exit.
- Steele and Murphy looked at each other
then ran ahead to grab a suite door each. As soon as she had
passed through, they sped towards the lifts to press the buttons,
leaving the office doors swinging back violently into Bernice's
- "I guess I'll just open the door
for myself!" she called out, but her sarcasm fell on deaf
- In the interim period of Fred bringing
the limo around, the two women cheerfully chatted away while
the two men indiscreetly jostled on the pavement for position.
They both wanted to sit next to Laura.
- "Isn't that your mate from the magazine
publishers on the seventh floor over there?" Steele asked,
"It would be awfully rude not to say `hello' to him. Go
ahead. We'll wait."
- "Not a chance." Murphy growled.
"If you're so bothered about him, you go over and say `hi'
while I stay here."
- "Would you both put a sock in it
please?" Bernice rounded off her reprimand with a huge tut.
How did Laura stand this day after day after day?
- "Evening Mr Steele, Miss Holt,"
Fred saluted and opened the car door. Bernice grabbed Laura's
hand and pushed her in first following closely behind so that
neither man could sit beside her. Despite the soothing music
playing in the car, Steele and Murphy sat facing the ladies glaring
unrelentingly at the smug secretary.
- "So Miss Holt, you're seeing someone
christened `Irving' tonight?"
- She immediately became defensive, "You
remembered his name Mr Steele! We'll make a detective of you
- "Nervous Miss Holt?"
- "No I am not." She tossed her
head, "What makes you say that anyway?"
- "You keep wringing your hands and
you've got that furrowed look you get in your brow when you're
concerned about something. Not to worry, you'll be pleased to
hear that there have been no major advancements in the mating
ritual since 1981 so you'll be fine tonight!"
- "Are you trying to say that I haven't
had a date since 1981?"
- "Me?" he said innocently, "No!
Wouldn't dare to presume such a notion!"
- Her temper was rising, "Listen buster
just because you're not fussy whom you squander your hormones
on doesn't mean - "
- Bernice cut in. "Laura, ignore him.
And you keep quiet too Murphy! Honestly, men! Faster Fred so
we can dump these two please!"
Jake's Bar was the kind of hang out that attracted anyone and
everyone. It was barely eight o'clock yet the place was already
heaving with suits who'd arrived straight from the office, as
well as bleached, buxom, blondes determined to ensnare men into
buying them drinks and groups of partygoers en route to the hippest
night spots. Steele and Murphy headed for a booth at the back
of the bar. A few heads turned to look at them. Some people pointed
in awe and one woman was moved enough to dash from her party
waving a pen and a piece of paper.
"Oh my Gaaaad! Wait `til the girls in the office hear about
this! You're Remington Steele! Me in the same place as Remington
Steele! Oh Mr Steele! Your picture in the papers doesn't do you
justice! Can I have your autograph please?"
- The object of her adoration instantly
assumed the professional media-friendly image he presented to
the world at large. In truth, it wasn't an arduous task. He enjoyed
all the attention he now received. It made him feel like a movie
- "Of course you may. But let me put
my name to something more personal for you." He reached
into his inside pocket, pulled out a business card and signed
it. "Please do not hesitate to contact me should you ever
require the services of my splendid agency." He smiled as
he presented her with the keepsake, placing his hand over hers
for a brief second.
- The ecstatic lady threw her arms around
his neck and pecked his cheek. "Thank you Mr Steele!"
She excitedly ran back to her friends and squealed in rapturous
delight. Murphy felt an uncontrollable urge to be sick.
- "This is getting rather embarrassing.
I'm finding it increasingly difficult to stop adulating women
hurling their, ah, pleasant forms against me. The travails I
put up with for the sake of the agency!"
- The response was sardonic, "My heart
bleeds for you."
- Steele hid his urge to chuckle. If baiting
Murphy were a recognized sport, he'd be the
- Olympic champion.
- They took their seats and looked at the
walls, at the pictures on the walls, at the neon signs, at the
boisterous people having a good time around them, anywhere but
at each other. A gum-snapping waitress arrived five minutes later.
"What can I get you gentlemen?" she asked as she flipped
the paper on her pad. Murphy immediately requested a Budweiser
then sat back, arms folded, waiting.
- "I'll have a Manhattan, heavy on
the whisky if you don't mind," Steele paused to look at
the name on her badge, "Michelle." He flashed her a
brilliant white smile.
- The waitress beamed warmly at him in return.
"I love your accent! You're not from around here are ya,
handsome?" she queried as Murphy rolled his eyes heavenwards.
- Steele smoothly answered her, "Let's
just say, I'm a well travelled man, eh?"
- "Really?" She reached out and
suggestively caressed his tie, "How far do you go?"
- "Errr Miss?" Murphy interrupted,
"I'd like my drink this century if that's alright with you!"
- Michelle turned around, "Spoilsport!"
she retorted and promptly left them.
- "What an engaging young lady! A credit
to her profession!" Steele enthused brightly.
- Murphy made no answer. Someone had selected
REO Speedwagon's recent hit `Keep On Loving You' from the jukebox.
Steele listened for a moment before commenting,
- "Terrible tune. Makes one feel positively
- Murphy would only say, "I like it."
- Michelle returned with their drinks and
slipped a piece of paper into the dark-haired
- man's hand. "I'm off-duty now but
feel free to call me anytime Mr `well-travelled-man.' I'll take
you places you've never been before and you won't have to leave
my bedroom to get there!" She winked at him before sashaying
off to the staff exit.
- Murphy was torn between envy, disgust
and admiration. How does the creep do it? What's his secret?
Women just seem to fall at his feet. Even Bernice had been impressed
with him at first. And as for Laura-well, that was too sore a
"So," his companion began in an attempt to make conversation
but for once his powers of articulation failed him.
- "So," Murphy responded lifting
his bottle of Bud to his mouth, wishing he were anywhere but
where he was and with anyone but whom he was with. Steele watched
him intently for a moment, took a couple of sips of his Manhattan
and finally broke the deadlock.
- "Ok. I think the time has come to
get down to the nitty-gritty, to speak plainly."
- "Fine with me. Think you can handle
telling the truth for a change?" Murphy retorted.
- Steele considered the barb for an instant
then decided to let it go. "Maybe I'm being overly sensitive
here but I get the distinct impression that you're still not
very fond of me."
- Murphy took another swig from his bottle.
"Cut the cute lines. Your charm doesn't work on me. I'm
the wrong sex. I had my suspicions about you from that very first
day and I was right to have them." He leaned forward and
pointed at Steele, "I trust you as far as I can throw you."
- "That much, eh?" came the flippant
- All the pent-up frustration and resentment
Murphy had long felt was bubbling to the surface. "I can't
wait for you to seriously screw up and take off to wherever you
came from. I just hope our agency can survive the mess you'll
inevitably leave behind."
- Steele fiddled with his napkin, "Is
that the only thing about me that's bothering you?" he asked
- "Isn't that enough?"
- "I don't think we've scratched the
surface yet old chap."
- "Let me guess. You spent six months
in Austria as an assistant to Dr Freud." His tone oozed
- Steele looked at him for a moment before
saying, "I'll get the next round mate."
- "Listen mate!" Murphy
tersely emphasized the word, "I'm very fussy about who I
- "Well as you can see, I'm not!"
Steele grinned at him, beckoning a waitress over to order the
same again. After a pause of several seconds, he addressed his
wary associate again. "Can you honestly put your hand on
your heart and say with one hundred per cent conviction what
you'll be doing six months from now? Or where you'll be? Or who
you'll be with?"
- "That's different." Murphy insisted.
- "I see. One rule for you and another
for me. Is that it?"
- "If I do go anywhere, I'm not likely
to leave Laura up to her neck in trouble."
- "Meaning I will?" Steele asked
quietly. "You really think I want to hurt her?"
- Murphy sighed. "Not intentionally,
I guess. No. But -" He stopped talking as the waitress placed
their drinks in front of them.
- "You were saying?" Steele prompted.
- "Laura never took risks with her
business in the past and she's taking a massive one with you
now. I don't want it to blow up in her face. Her work means everything
- "An admirable sentiment. I know you
won't believe me but I think your anxiety for her is commendable.
In your shoes, I'd probably feel and act in exactly the same
manner. However, we both know that your objection to me is not
based solely on professional anxiety for Miss Holt's agency."
- Murphy's eyes narrowed and he downed his
beer in one go. "Tell me one thing. I've seen Felicia, I've
seen Gayle, Marie, Misha, Deidra, Nadine, Christ - there's too
many to name! With all those women and more to choose from, why
Laura? She couldn't be more different to them! What can you possibly
see in her?"
- Steele didn't hesitate, "The same
things you see. Is that so hard to believe?"
- "Yes. Frankly, it is. I don't see
her as just another conquest, another notch on a bedpost. She
deserves more than that."
- "At last we agree on something Murphy.
I knew if we worked at it long enough, we'd find some common
- They were quiet again as the sounds of
`Celebration' by Kool And The Gang blared out all around them:
revellers were whooping and cheering along to the song, pulling
their partners up to dance, turning Jake's Bar into a mini discotheque.
Steele listened for a moment, caught by the infectious mood of
the crowd before he faced Murphy again.
"So. You think you're more worthy of her affections than
I am, is that it?"
- "I'm not discussing my feelings for
Laura with you."
- "I suppose that would be asking for
too much." He took another sip of his drink before suddenly
exclaiming, " `The Talk Of The Town,' Cary Grant, Ronald
Colman, Jean Arthur, Columbia 1942!"
- Murphy looked exasperated, "It may
have escaped your attention but we solved the case this afternoon!
I don't need to hear yet another movie reference!"
- Steele ignored him, "Granted, the
story's a little contrived in places but overall it's a fine
film full of wonderful bon mots! Our suave, handsome,
hero Cary is framed for murder and only earnest law professor
Ronald Colman can save him. Unfortunately complications arise
in the heavenly shape of Jean Arthur who interests both men and
has to choose between them. You know the old saying Murphy, `two's
company, three's a crowd.' " Steele couldn't help feeling
pleased with the slight gibe he managed to direct at his rival
via recounting the story line.
- It earned him a frown, "Didn't you
just say Cary was innocent? If he'd been a crook, the lady's
choice would have been an easy one."
They were silent for a moment; each lost in their own reverie.
Murphy thought back to the day that Gordon Hunter had hired the
agency to safeguard a consignment of Royal Lavulite. If they'd
stuck to the rule of passing on clients insisting on dealing
directly with their fictitious boss, he wouldn't be here now
with the man who'd originally intended to steal those very same
gems. A miscreant posing to the world as the honourable, clever,
sleuth Remington Steele. A thief that had somehow managed to
get under Laura's skin. He wasn't blind and he wouldn't delude
himself: this man, this nemesis of his, was serious competition
for the affections of the woman who meant so much to him.
Murphy had been content to wait while she got over her heartbreaking
split from Wilson Jeffries. He'd told her that if she needed
anything, no matter how late at night, he'd be there for her.
Of course, Laura being Laura, she'd never called but at least
the option was there. He now firmly believed that maybe he'd
been too patient, too understanding and too selfless. Murphy
sighed. He should have made his move earlier, taken a chance
and revealed his feelings, even if there was a consequent risk
of her only being with him on the rebound. It would have been
better than nothing. Complacency was also to blame. For so long
it had just been the two of them and he'd grown used to that,
seeing no reason for it to ever change. Just the two of them
liaising with clients, just the two of them doing legwork, just
the two of them celebrating tough cases. Now there were three,and
it was too damn crowded.
Murphy knew that Laura cared very much for him but he could see
that she also had feelings for the man facing him. It's uncanny
but whenever you're fond of someone, you develop extra-sensitive
antennae: you pick up certain vibes around the object of your
affection especially from over-admiring admirers. Murphy had
sensed something that very first day between his partner and
the stranger. His misgivings were confirmed only twenty-four
hours later when Laura had almost burst with excitement telling
Bernice about her night on the town with the clown. He was diametrically
opposed to this impostor in so many ways, surely Laura would
prefer an honest-to-goodness, straight-ahead guy like him, a
man with no kinks, no curves, no angles to one who had nothing
to offer except good looks and smarmy charm? They'd always been
a good team professionally and he was convinced that they could
have had something very special together. Murphy caught himself
as he realised he was speaking in the past tense. They still
could have something very special but now he would have to
work a little harder to get her to see it too. Life could really
kick you in the teeth sometimes.
Eventually the more talkative man broke into his reflection by
speaking again. "It seems we are destined never to be the
best of chums because we both care a great deal for the same
woman. At the very least, we can toast to our exquisite taste!"
- Murphy reflected on his words and stated
emphatically, "There can only be one winner."
- Smelling a challenge, Steele's droll mood
immediately changed to deadly serious. He leaned forward, "Where
Laura's concerned, I have no intention of losing."
- Murphy stared at his adversary for a second
before declaring, "Neither have I."
- In spite of themselves and their predicament,
they smiled at each other. It was probably the most genuine,
warm, smile they'd shared so far in their cranky acquaintance.
Or ever would share. The gauntlet had been thrown down. Both
knew this was the point of no return and that defeat would entail
disastrous consequences for one of them. Failure was not an option.
There was too much at stake. The beaten man would have to be
a daily witness to an intolerable loss. That is, if he chose
to stick around.
- "So just for tonight, what say we
call it a truce, eh? Let's just be two regular guys having a
drink in a bar."
- Murphy couldn't resist saying, "There's
nothing regular about you."
- "Oh come now! Get into the spirit
of the evening! What an apt song for such a moment! Let's celebrate!"
- "What are you babbling on about now?"
- "Look Murphy, we've reached an understanding
of sorts regarding Laura. Right now, she and Miss Wolfe are painting
the town red, and up to no good too, thanks to Miss Wolfe's outrageous
influence! Are we going to sit here and let the women have all
the fun? Hell no! I say we men should do the same!"
- He stared at the miscreant who had become
the bane of his life and considered the proposition. The choice
was stark: home to bed alone, or take up his crazy offer. "I
can't believe I'm agreeing to this! Fine. But just because we're
out tonight together does not mean I'll stop trying to send you
packing." Murphy warned.
- Steele smirked, "Wouldn't have it
any other way old chap. Keeps us both on our toes. However, just
remember the day I said this, `all's fair in love and war.' "
- "I think you'll find that Shakespeare
- "Really Murphy, your preoccupation
- "So what now?"
- "Now? Now we need company of the
female persuasion. Get some more drinks in! This will be the
kind of celebration you'll need plenty of Dutch courage for!
Talking of Dutch, did I ever tell you about the time I took-on
second thought, I'll save that story for later!" With casual
deliberation Steele issued a dare, "Think you can keep up?"
- Murphy's heckles rose. "With you?
Are you kidding?" There was no way he planned on finishing
second to this crook. He intended to beat him at everything.
Starting right now.
"Wonderful! Tonight you become a man! You take care of the
liquids, I'll go rustle us up some lovely ladies."
- "How are you going to do that?"
- "This is a bar. Women have been known
to drink here too! I'll be back shortly."
- Steele left the booth and wandered off
out of Murphy's eyeshot. As soon as he reached a telephone, he
furtively glanced around him before dialling the number. "Candy?-It's
Harry. I'm calling in a favour-Don't worry, you'll be paid handsomely
to compensate for all those wallets you won't be picking tonight-Easiest
money you'll ever make and I promise you a good time too. Who
are you working with these days?-No, I don't know her but that's
perfect for tonight.-How quickly can you and Deborah - is that
her real name?-Excellent. Is she -" he paused as if unsure
how to phrase his meaning, " - up for a good time, if you
gather my inference?No. Not with me, with my drinking companionI
suppose one could call him handsome in a cherubic kind of way.
He's tall, fair, a good tailor would go a long way but yes, I
do believe ladies find him relatively attractive. How quickly
can you and Deborah make yourselves very presentable and get
down here?You're to look like secretaries and by the way, that
is your chosen profession for tonight-I'm at an establishment
called Jake's Bar-Yes that's the one! You know it?Of course!
I should have guessed! Listen, this is very important. My friend
and I are sitting in a booth at the back. When you get here,
you do not know me. Ask if our empty seats are taken and we'll
progress from there. Candy, fawn over me but don't overdo it.
My plan is for you to leave with me and for Deborah to leave
with my associate. When they are safely in a cab together, we'll
go our separate ways. Understood?-Good. See you in an hour. Try
and make it forty five minutes!" He hung up and made his
way back to his seat, knowing that he had to find a way to kill
Murphy saw that he was returning alone and folded his arms. "I
took care of my end of the bargain. What happened to yours? Where
are the ladies?"
"Ah! I seem to have momentarily lost my Midas touch. Let's
shoot some pool and I'll try again later after I emerge from
yet another contest with you victorious!" Steele grinned
and picked up his drink.
"You don't let up for a minute do you? I can't wait to beat
the pants off you!"
They found a table and proceeded to play. Before long, Murphy
was three games to one up and too pleased to be winning to realize
that he was being hustled by a crafty pool shark. Steele knew
that his scheme had a better chance of working if Murphy was
in high-spirits. What better way to get him in the mood than
to give him this match on a plate? It was a small price to pay
for the bigger prize he had every intention of collecting. He
mentally scolded himself for slipping up.
All night he'd forced himself not to think about her or what
she was doing or who she was doing it with. This was no time
to get side tracked by visions of that bloody impossible woman!
That stubborn, arrogant, condescending, bossy, infuriating...Inwardly
he sighed. His loyal, generous, compassionate, impish, strangely
alluring, enticing Laura. Damn it. She shouldn't be seeing other
men, she should be encouraging him to fill that role instead.
And yes, she had looked utterly heavenly tonight, exquisite.
If she'd been wearing that lovely dress for him instead of some
twit named `Irving', he wouldn't have hesitated to tell her what
it was doing to him, seeing her in it. He knew she'd been waiting
for his approbation, for his approval but there was no way in
hell he'd tell her that she looked wonderful when another man
stood to benefit! Despite the other women whose bedrooms he occasionally
flitted in and out of, he liked thinking of Miss Holt as his
and his alone. It always warmed him to do so. Then it scared
the living daylights out of him.
Despite the conflicts, the arguments, the daily battle of wills,
the unresolved sexual tension, increasingly they were making
a good team at the office: he felt sure she was of the same opinion.
It was at the bedroom door where matters were not so clear cut.
They were inching closer but progress was infuriatingly slow.
It was so bloody frustrating! He wished he knew exactly where
he stood with her but quicksand was a firmer platform than his
tenuous relationship with Laura Holt. How had she done it? How
had she made him care without giving him the one thing he cared
about from a woman?
He glanced at his watch whenever he wasn't observed, mentally
calculating the time they needed to be back at their booth in
order for Candy to meet them accidentally on purpose. They had
drawn a crowd: most were curious to find out exactly who it was
brashly announcing every game he won with a yell of delight.
"Oh yes! I win again! I am the best! Read it and weep buster!
You are dog meat!"
- Steele feigned a frown, "If I didn't
know better Murphy, I'd swear you were hustling me! You didn't
tell me you were this good. Next time I'll propose a civilized
game of scrabble instead! But for tonight, I bow to your superior
skill with a cue stick! Let's go back to our table if it isn't
taken, and have another round."
- Murphy readily and exuberantly acquiesced.
In spite of himself, he was actually enjoying the evening now.
As the two men approached the booth, a raucous party of four
was just leaving it.
- "Good timing, eh? Miss?" The
waitress strolled over. "Can we have another Manhattan here
- "Bourbon. Neat."
"And a neat bourbon please? Thank you."
- By now, Jake's Bar was rammed to the rafters
and the jukebox was pumping out `Upside Down' by Diana Ross.
The waitress returned with their order. A couple of minutes later,
a pretty blonde asked Steele if the empty seats in their booth
- "On the contrary ladies, please.
Join us." The gentlemen stood up as each lady took a seat
and slid along.
- "Hi!" the voluptuous brunette
seated next to Murphy introduced herself. "My name is Deborah
and this is my best friend Candy." They all shook hands.
Steele noted the look that passed between Deborah and his associate
and allowed himself a smile of quiet satisfaction.
- "Hello. I'm Murphy Michaels and this
- "Jerry! Jerry Warriner!" he
hastily jumped in and smoothly continued, "What my good
friend here was going to tell you next is that we're insurance
salesmen in town to close a substantial deal. Isn't that right
- "Errr-yep." The other man looked
decidedly uncomfortable with the little white lie.
- Steele was nonplussed, "May we buy
you two enchanting ladies a drink?"
- "That's very kind of you but - "
Deborah began only to be interrupted.
- "No buts please! We insist, don't
- "Errr-yeah. We insist. I'll buy.
What are you having?"
- "Make it, two dry white wines please.
Thank you." The brunette smiled sweetly at Murphy, looking
deep into his eyes as he summoned the waitress over and added
yet another Manhattan and neat bourbon to the order. She then
turned her attention to Steele. "This isn't a line but haven't
I seen you somewhere before?"
- "NO!" both men exclaimed wildly
- "My buddy here is always mistaken
for that nerd Potsie from `Happy Days' or Starbuck from `Battlestar
Galactica,' aren't you?" Murphy offered, smirking as Steele
scowled at him.
- "Squint your eyes, lean back and
imagine him in those silly costumes Starbuck used to wear. If
you can, picture him in one of those glittery capes or the skin-tight
leggings and you'll see what I mean! What's the name of that
actor who was Starbuck again?"
- Deborah considered his query for a second,
"Is it Robert Urich?"
- "Nah." Candy joined in, "He
was Dan Tanna in `Vegas' and he was also in `Soap'. Remember?
The tennis player that got killed? He was Burt's son."
- "Wait a minute!" Deborah held
her hands up, "I thought Danny was Burt's son? You know,
the hot dish played by what's-his-name? Oh yeah, Ted Wass!"
- "Oh my God! He was so cute! I only
watched Soap for him!" Candy said.