This is my 6th RS Fic and my first Mr and Mrs Steele story. In
'Steele Hanging On In There' - Shannon's damaging statement claiming
that the Steele's marriage was fraudulent was given back to Steele
by Roselli with the promise that it would keep INS off his back.
Bear that in mind as you read this. I have no knowledge of American
immigration law so I'm not going there!
Authors Note: 'Gretna Green' is seen as one of the most romantic places to get married in the U.K Couples used to elope there because, unlike everywhere else, you could be legally married at 16 without parental permission. Lovers of 'Pride & Prejudice' will be aware of this: it's where the dastardly Wickham was first thought to have taken Lydia Bennett but that's another story!
*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: NC17 for adult content and sexual innuendo so if you are easily offended please do not read on.
Mr and Mrs Steele were still trying to come to terms with their marriage but the spectre of INS, the reason for it in the first place, hung heavily over their heads. After leaving Ireland, they'd stopped off in England's capital city so that Mr Steele could finally show Mrs Steele around some of the famous sights and high spots.
Hand in hand, they'd strolled around Covent Garden enjoying the uncharacteristically warm weather. Buskers, mime artists and musicians entertained the appreciative crowd and the lilt of Laura's laughter continuously filled the air.
As he'd watched her, Steele was struck by an idea. He knew
he'd require Mildred's undoubted efficiency to help pull it off
but if anyone could do it, it was the proficient secretary-cum-receptionist-cum
After dining at Richoux's in Knightsbridge, Steele casually expressed a wish to see Edinburgh Castle.
"It's a place of great historical interest," he'd told her, "Remarkable fortress, former royal residence and splendid, panoramic views of the city too."
She'd smiled and feeling impetuous had easily acquiesced, "Why not?"
They all threw enough clothes into bags for a couple of days stay in Scotland and on arrival in Edinburgh, journeyed straight to their hotel. Mildred immediately departed for her room and once they had entered theirs, Steele waited for Laura to unpack before shocking her into silence by admitting that they were not remaining in the beautiful, ancient city. They were really there to travel on to Gretna Green and get married. For real, this time.
"What?" she sank on the bed, stunned.
"You. Me. Gretna Green. Marriage. A priest speaking the English language - give or take a few thousand miles. A magical moment. A worthy setting," he grinned.
"But - but - I had no idea -" she stammered.
"That's the whole point of a surprise Laura. The benefiting party is supposed to remain in the dark."
"But - but - Mildred -"
"I swore Mildred to secrecy."
She rubbed her knees. "I'm - I'm overwhelmed. I don't know what to say."
"You automatically respond, 'yes' and then we fall into each other's arms and test out the springs on this bed." Steele flopped down next to her and bounced on the mattress wiggling his eyebrows.
His swagger provoked her. "Wait a minute buster! Where's my traditional proposal? Where's that down on one knee thing that other women get? So far, I've been short-changed on every level! My first wedding wouldn't be out of place on a stupid sitcom and now I'm supposed to accept another one without some nice words, without a declaration of some kind. Get reciting Mr Steele and make it good otherwise you can marry Mildred." She crossed her arms.
He stared at her, realised she was serious, got off the bed and began pacing. "Some nice words . some nice words .. let me see."
"I don't believe this! Why go to all this trouble in the first place? You must have had a reason?"
"Of course I did!" he exclaimed.
"Well, say it." She stood up.
"Well, what about you? You must have had a reason for finally consummating our relationship - for making our marriage not exactly the civil kind."
Laura sniffed. "Of course I did."
"Well there you are! You say it," he pointed at her.
"You say it first," she pointed back. "I'm the one being proposed to, remember?"
He tugged his earlobe. "What if we say it together?"
"You must be joking!" she placed her hands on her hips.
"I've got a second hand on my watch, we can count down to the time we both have to say -"
"This is stupid!"
"Those aren't the words we're supposed to say Laura."
She gritted her teeth and repeated her stance. "This is stupid."
"Unless we're not talking about the same thing?" he shrugged.
She gaped at him. "What else could we be talking about?"
"You tell me."
Laura crossed her arms and sat back on the bed. "Not this time. Those diversionary tactics of yours won't wash. This is me, remember? I know you. I want my proposal and I want it now."
He paced again then turned to her. "Just for the sake of argument, would you really, seriously make me marry Mildred?"
"And if I don't get it, you can sleep on the couch for the remainder of our not-exactly-legal current marriage."
"Oh come now Laura, actions speak louder than words! What about deeds? What about acts and feats? The fact that we're here now positively shouts that I have feelings for you."
"I'm tired. I'll just get you something for the couch. Goodnight Mr Steele."
"You meant that?" Aghast, he gazed at her.
She threw a pillow at him. "Catch!" Then she set about the task of pulling the bed apart. Bundling up the duvet, she flung it at his feet and stomped off into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.
Steele hugged the pillow to his chest, completely flummoxed. What the bloody hell had just happened? She'd called his abortive attempt to get her alone in San Francisco, the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for her. Now he'd gone one better and brought her to a picturesque, idyllic locale to tie the knot. Surely that exceeded anything else? And yet the thought behind his gesture wasn't enough. She needed to hear the words. Never mind that he wanted to marry her for real - she wanted the bloody words. She meant the world to him and -
The bathroom door opened and Laura emerged, hair brushed, face scrubbed, looking positively radiant in a close-fitting white lace nightdress. Steele gawked, transfixed, as she moved across to the bed and got in. Now that he finally knew every inch of her body, and therefore what he'd be missing, he felt as forlorn as a child refused chocolate and sweeties by its mother. Except that what she was denying him was infinitely more satisfying than sweeties and chocolate.
To his utter dismay, the sight of her barely covered figure induced an involuntary reaction. A massive involuntary reaction. He strategically lowered the pillow. His wife noticed and despite her annoyance at him, found herself giggling.
"That's right Mrs Steele, go ahead and laugh! Never mind my sorry plight. You just enjoy yourself."
"The bathroom's free."
"It's your own fault. All you had to do was propose to me nicely. If you want to stand there all night with that pillow - fine. You look ridiculous by the way."
"Thank you darling. I feel ridiculous."
"Goodnight Mr Steele." She turned over then mumbled into her pillow, "Turn out the light when you've made up the couch."
"Rub it in why don't you?"
"You've made your bed, in a manner of speaking, you lie in it. Alone," she murmured.
"But Laura, everything's arranged! Mildred's organised the legal stuff and she had a devil of a time doing it but it's done, she's bought our clothes, chosen our service, our -"
"How can there can be a wedding when the bride-to-be hasn't been asked?" she yawned.
Blood pressure rising he snapped, "You are the most stubborn, the most bull-headed, the most -"
"And you always were a sore loser. Can I get some sleep now?"
Recognising the tone of finality in her voice, Steele glared at the shape on the bed and stormed into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.
Laura listened to the sound of the shower running and resolved not to back down. He owed her this. All the years they'd been together and what words of endearment did she have to show for it? 'I'll never stop wanting you.' That was it. Hah! That was about as romantic as he'd ever gotten verbally.
Of course she'd marry him, she lo - had those kinds of feelings for him too. Well, at least she reasoned that she must do otherwise why stick with it for so long? Why put herself through so much emotional torture? Even when their relationship reached its nadir, when poor, sweet, William Westfield had offered a way out, what had she done? Run away from an ironclad, lifetime guarantee of domestic stability to - to this. To him.
And what had it wrought? The lousy ingrate almost marrying a hooker. A disastrous wedding to keep him in America. A catastrophic honeymoon in Mexico. A distraction in the form of Roselli. A kook of a woman from his past. A trumped up case in London. Espionage in Ireland. His father dying without telling him who he really was. But finally, time in their castle alone together. Making love. It had given her a feeling that they were leaving the worst behind them, well - there was still that whole INS business and Clarissa. The fact that he hadn't told her about it, that he'd seriously considered marrying someone else. Civil marriage or no civil marriage, he'd kept it from her and -
The bathroom door opened and Steele emerged, hair wet, body damp and pyjama bottoms clinging to his form. Laura coolly turned away from him but inside her hormones were raging. She could jump his bones right now.
He flapped the duvet, laid it out on the couch and switched off the light. The room plunged into darkness save for the streak of moonlight peeping through the curtains.
"Goodnight Mrs Steele."
She screwed her eyes tight and clenched her fist. Sometimes, when he called her that, it affected her deeply. A dart of ruefulness mixed with want instantly shot through her body from her heart to her womb. When she believed she had command of her emotions, she responded in kind.
An hour later, Steele was still tossing and turning. Sleep on his makeshift bed, had proved elusive for numerous reasons.
"Laura?" he sat up and called out.
"Really, are you awake?"
"If I say no, will you let me sleep?"
She sat up. "Okay. Fine. I'm awake."
He scratched his head. "Errrm . I've never met anyone quite like you. Stubborn, obstinate, headstrong by the way, you're also a terrible cook too. Never, ever prepare meals in my kitchen using any of my utensils. If you do, I'll have Detective Jarvis arrest you for attempted murder and then I'll divorce you after making you eat what you've attempted to cook first."
"You woke me up for this?"
"Will you just listen? These admissions of the heart things are difficult enough without you jumping in at every minute." He cleared his throat. "Laura, I'm - well, I'm - I - I'm -" He sighed. "I now feel perfectly idiotic. I don't think I'm very good at this sort of thing."
"No good at all."
"Look, I'd be lost without you and you know it anyway so why the bloody hell are you putting me through this, eh?"
"I'm twisted that way. Go on, Mr Steele. I'm waiting."
He got off the sofa, walked over to the bed, switched on the side lamp, sat down and reached for her left hand before gallantly kissing it. "Laura Holt, will you do me the honour of, ah, irritating the living hell out of me for the next fifty years or so?"
She stared at him. Blinked. Then slapped her legs. "That's the proposal that's supposed to sweep me off my feet? That's the best I'm gonna get from you? The proposal I've waited all my life for?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "Probably."
She rolled her eyes heavenwards. "I can see it now. My children -"
"Our children Laura."
" - will ask, 'how did daddy propose?' and I'll say, 'daddy's a masochist. He wanted me to nag him to death.' "
"There, see!" Steele gesticulated, spreading his
arms in self-congratulation.
"I knew it would grow on you."
"Well it's not Byron, or Shelley or Keats -" she mused.
"They didn't spend four and a half years sleeping on couches."
She smiled then laughed. Sexy, dopey, insecure, dishonest, shady, enigmatic, double-dealing, mysterious, loving, warm man. It had only taken some Royal Lavulite, a magnum of champagne, their mutual attraction, nearly five years of frustration and heartache but now he really would be hers. At last.
"Okay. Let's do it. Now was that so hard?"
He beamed then rubbed his hands. "Move over, love."
"Are you kidding? I've spent over an hour getting this side warm."
"But I always sleep on the right!"
"Would you prefer it back on the couch Mr Steele?"
"Point taken Mrs Steele." He stood up.
"And bring the duvet too please."
He spread it over the bed and got in beside her. Enfolding her in a tight embrace, Steele kissed his wife tenderly as she arched her body against him. He took his time to slowly explore her face with his lips before returning to her mouth. They smiled at each other and then he drew back to survey her body.
"I'm deeply in lust with you Mrs Steele. Always have been, always will be."
She smiled. "I am too. In lust. With you, I mean."
He helped her ease her nightdress over her shoulders and she in turn assisted him with his pyjama bottoms.
"Laura?" Steele said as his lips and tongue teased the tip of one taut breast and his hand caressed the other.
"Yes?" she gasped in reply, running her hands through his hair.
He grinned into her eyes. "Be gentle with me. I'm getting married in the morning."
The day after the day and night before, Mildred and the newly weds were enjoying a nice lunch after exploring Edinburgh Castle.
"Talk about history! That place puts Disneyland in perspective."
"Ah but Mildred Disney made some fine movies and -"
"Mr Steele, please. Thank you for our lovely wedding yesterday Mildred."
"Oh honey! You looked so beautiful. I got the idea for your wedding dress from 'Notorious.' I was watching it last week -"
"Hitchcock's brooding masterpiece. Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman. RKO, 1946. Ostentatiously a film about espionage but at its heart, a masochistic love affair. Ah yes, shades of Freud, of Oedipal -"
"Go on Mildred," Laura prompted, stopping her husband in his tracks.
"Well, there's a part in the move where Ingrid wears this beautiful white dress and -"
"Aha! You're referring to Alicia's assignment at Sebastian's home. She meets the dragon lady, known to you and me as Sebastian's mother, and the malevolence permeating -"
"Go on Mildred."
"Anyway, as I was looking for your wedding gown, this white dress of Ingrid's kept popping into my head. Well, it wasn't exactly a dress, it was more like a two-piece formal gown, this was the 1940s after all, but then - hey! The boss has probably got it on video! You can -"
"Probably? Probably Mildred? If I didn't know you so well, I'd be offended. What self-respecting film buff would be without the finest example of -"
"Go on Mildred."
"Well, I was just gonna say you can watch it and see for yourself. Obviously your skirt was a little shorter and narrower than Ingrid's, but voila!"
"It's exactly the kind of outfit I would have bought myself. I'll always treasure it. I finally felt like a real bride. Everything was perfect yesterday," Laura sighed dreamily.
Her husband smiled warmly into her eyes, "Everything was perfect last night too."
He chuckled and flapped his napkin. "How much tissue did you get through yesterday Mildred? I'm sure half of London heard your sniffles."
"Oh chief, I've never cried so much. Don't you just love weddings?"
"Only when I'm marrying the right woman," he quipped, reaching for Laura's hand but she pulled away. He gave her a quizzical look. She refused to meet his eyes.
Mildred prattled on through the main course and dessert about aspects of their wedding not noticing that the pair in question were speaking to her but not to each other. When coffee arrived, she excused herself to complete her shopping. They were all going back to London in the morning and she needed gifts for her bowling team mates. With a cheery wave and a promise to see them back at the hotel, she departed.
"What was that all about?" Steele immediately demanded.
"What was what all about?" Laura calmly picked up her cup.
"I reached for your hand. You reacted as if I'd scalded you."
She sipped her coffee, making him wait, before looking him
in the eye.
"Am I supposed to laugh at your flippant jokes about your attempt to marry a hooker?"
"That again? Laura, how many times do I have to tell you that it was just a ploy, a scam, a subterfuge, a way of staying in Los Angeles - with you. I never would have -"
"You were in trouble with the INS. You didn't tell me, you didn't talk to me about it. Then you compound it all by going through with a stupid, fraudulent marriage to Clarissa. Didn't it ever occur to you that you would've had to spend two years with that woman? That you put everything we had, our business, our relationship, our friendship, on the line?"
He stared at her. "Laura, I wasn't thinking straight and -"
"You weren't thinking at all!" she yelled at him, oblivious to the other patrons in the restaurant.
"Didn't I just admit that?" he bellowed back.
"I'm leaving." Laura grabbed her purse and flounced out of the restaurant.
Steele threw some money on the table and ran after her. She hadn't got far. He grabbed her arm and jerked her to him.
"What are you doing? Let go of me!" she struggled to shake him off.
"Maybe I did make a mistake with Clarissa -" He corrected himself. "I almost made a mistake with Clarissa but at least I had a valid reason. I had the INS on my back and for once my trademark nous, my Houdini qualities, vanished into thin air. I panicked Laura. That's my excuse. What's yours, eh?"
Puzzled, her brow furrowed. "My excuse for what?"
"Why are you bringing him into this? We're not talking about him, we're talking about your hooker!"
"She's not my hooker, she's not my anything! You're being completely ridiculous!" he dug his hands deeply into his pockets.
"You were going to marry her!" Laura shouted.
"To stay with you!" he bawled back.
"How could you stay with me when you would've had to live with her? You imbecile!" she yelled.
"Didn't I just say I wasn't thinking straight?" he roared into her face.
She pointed and seethed. "When I first met you, you deliberately deceived me, you lied to me, you made a fool of me and what did I do? I kept you around. I gave you your name, your identity, your line of work, your home. Four and a half years later, you did it to me again. And what did I do? I married you - twice! I can't decide who's the bigger idiot, you or me!"
Consternation took the fury out of him. "Laura, I wanted to tell you, really I did. But I - I just couldn't."
"You hurt me. It still hurts."
"You hurt me with Roselli."
"Oh for God's sake! It's not the same thing, You were going to marry Clarissa, I was never going to marry him!"
Steele leant forward. "And I suppose that makes it alright?"
"Makes what alright?"
"I caught you rolling around with him on the master bed in our castle, remember?"
Laura huffed exasperatedly. "You're exaggerating. Besides, I thought he was you."
"You looked at the vastly inferior cut of his clothes and thought that was me?"
"It was dark! I thought you were setting the mood for us."
"I don't know which is the greater insult. You on the bed with him or you thinking I'd dress as he does."
She looked him straight in the eye. "The minute I realised my mistake, I got rid of him."
Steele tugged his earlobe. "Did you? Did you really Laura? I'm not so sure."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I had a nice little chat with our Anthony. I don't think we've seen the last of him - that slippery agent is rather enamoured with you Mrs Steele."
The bubble of anguish she believed she'd buried deep inside, suppressed out of fear that if it rose to the surface, the tears would flow and might not stop, burst. Emotional distress propelled her to lambaste him with every fibre of her being. She yelled louder and harder than he'd ever heard before.
"So what if he is? That's his problem. And maybe we could have avoided all the mess with Tony and that Shannon woman, yet another one from your mysterious past, and Keyes and Mexico and all that other stuff, if you'd just been honest with me about the INS and your hooker in the first place!"
"For the last time, she's not my hooker and it was only going to be a civ -"
Incensed, Laura swung at him, landing a couple of blows before he caught both her wrists and held them in a vicelike grip. All it did was enrage her more. She screamed at him at the top of her lungs as she battled to break free.
"You lying louse! You conniving ingrate! You cut-rate con man! You cheap fraud! I wish I'd never married you - twice! I'm going back to our honeymoon suite - hah! - alone. You can go to hell and even that's too good for you! LET ME GO!"
Steele complied. She brusquely shoved him and stomped off to the taxi rank. He stared after her.