Steele a Secret
Part 2
by Julia Simon
Author's Note: Same as Part 1 . . . email comments (good, bad, all) to . . . Now our feature presentation . . .


Laura woke up and quickly moved herself to her bathroom, hanging her head over the toilet. The only thing she could think was, "Thank God I put my hair up last night!" She stayed there for a few minutes after her sickness, giving herself time to recollect herself. "So, *this* is morning sickness, yay," Laura thought sarcastically. Laura stood up, and peeled off her nightgown while starting water for a shower. Stepping under the hot rays, her mind found its own path.

Laura could see Remington close to her, but she couldn't seem to reach him. He looked comfortable, sitting in an armchair, relaxed. He was facing away from her, looking into a fireplace, but not his apartment fireplace. Remington and Laura were in a house, away from work, away from her normal lifestyle. Every time Laura moved her hands out to touch him, feel him, she was hit by an invisible wall, clear but solid. She made fists and pounded on the wall as rain poured onto her neck and back. She heard thunder overhead just as the invisible wall gave way to her hand; the wall had actually been a window, looking into an untouchable scene of serenity. As Laura heard more thunder and saw sparks of lightning, the glass shattered, cutting her hand, sending Laura into a wave of pain.

She closed her eyes and opened them again, finding that the rain was her shower and the thunder was someone pounding away on her loft door. The cut, however, had not been just part of her nightmare; in actuality she had fallen, hurt, after pounding her hand through the glass shower door. Lifting herself off the bathroom floor, Laura pulled her legs and arms in tight, holding her cut wrist. She faintly heard the loft door opening and suddenly recognized the footsteps coming toward the bathroom. Soon after, Laura heard him call out.

Remington scanned the apartment hesitantly. He called out her name, and upon getting no response, began to have doubts. What if she is still mad about last night? What if she isn't here? What if she didn't want to see him? What if she had been taken? What if she was hurt? What if she *couldn't* answer him? Remington looked around the loft again, this time searching for signs that the occupant was in. Then he heard it: the water in the shower was running, and someone had moaned. Remington moved toward the bathroom, praying to God that he had actually heard someone moan, and hadn't just imagined it.

Laura lay there, clutching her wrist close to her chest and moved to grab a large towel close by. She pulled the fabric around her body and shivered with cold, as an unexpected wave of morning sickness/nausea racked her body. Unable to crawl to the toilet, Laura rolled over and vomited on the floor tiles. She had just finished wiping her mouth with the towel, when she heard him softly knock. She smiled despite her situation, and then grimaced, knowing how he would react to her state of dishevelment. She closed her eyes slowly, hoping that this too was just a dream. It wasn't.

Remington had knocked, and gotten no response. With a little thought, he opened the bathroom door. He stopped short on the sight inside. Huddled in the middle of the bathroom floor, was the towel-covered body of his wife. Blood, glass, and vomit mixed in an odious combination on the tiles, and she was still. Remington feared someone had come in and hurt her beyond all comprehension. This, thank God, was not the case at all. Moving slowly towards her body, he squatted down next to Laura and looked for signs of life in her face. To Remington's relief, she turned her head to him and stared out of large and vacant brown eyes. Remington followed his first impulse and pulled her huddled mass to him, wrapping his arms around her.

She had tried to gauge his reaction, but couldn't. She knew he was shocked and worried, but his face was otherwise unreadable. She let him lift her up and carry her up the stairs to her makeshift bedroom. He gently placed her on the bed, and pulled a quilt over her, towel and all. He leaned towards her, stroking her hair and brushing it away from her face. Remington got off the bed, and walked to her chest of drawers, pulling out undergarments and a pair of jeans. He moved to the next set of drawers and found a shirt for her. Laura rolled over as he went to her kitchen to get a dishcloth. Coming back to her, Remington silently pulled the quilt down and the towel off. He wrapped her wrist in the dishcloth after wiping as much blood off her body as possible. As soon as he had dressed her, Remington picked up her cold body and walked to her loft door. Managing to retrieve his keys from his pocket and shut the sliding metal door, Remington hoisted her higher in his arms as he started down the three flights of stairs.

Laura smiled to herself, realizing that he had just carried her down the dreaded stairs in her apartment building. She knew Remington hated making the trek by himself, let alone carrying another person, and this touched her deeply. He was so willing to show her his affection, and she felt like a louse for being unable to let him into her world emotionally. Laura coughed and tried to hide it, ineffectively, and this caused him to hasten his speed to the Auburn. Once there, Remington laid Laura down in the passenger seat, before moving around the car to the driver's side. Starting the Auburn, Remington pulled out of the parking space and steered the car towards the hospital.

The Emergency Room waiting area was already bustling at 10:13 in the morning, as Remington helped Laura into a seat. Retrieving the necessary forms from the receptionist, he sat beside her and filled out the papers, all in silence. When their names were finally called forty-five minutes later, Remington guided Laura through the hall to another waiting room. They sat inside a few minutes before the doctor appeared before them.

"Remington, it's always a pleasure," Dr. Wexlan said, turning to Laura, "and you must be the infamous Miss Holt. Excuse me, its Mrs. Steele now isn't it? I'm Dr. Ian Wexlan, and I've heard quite a bit about you. Now, Steele, what can I do for you today?" Laura held out her dishcloth-wrapped wrist, grimly nodding toward it. "Ah, I see we had a little accident this morning, eh Mrs. Steele? Well, let's just look at the wound beneath the wrapping."

Dr. Wexlan had removed the bloodied cloth, and was cleaning the large gash on Laura's arm, when he looked toward Remington. "Mr. Steele, would you mind waiting outside please while I finish up with your wife. It won't be long, I promise, but I'd like to speak to her alone for right now. Thank you," he said as he opened the door for Remington. Returning to his seat after escorting Remington out, Dr. Wexlan turned towards Laura and frowned. "Listen, Laura- may I call you Laura? -I can see the tension between you and your husband. May I ask what caused this accident today?"

"Oh, Dr. Wexlan, it's not what your thinking. Remington didn't do anything; I was just having a very vivid dream in the shower. I seemed to have smashed my hand through the glass shower door. It was stupid of me, really. I should never have fallen asleep in the shower in the first place." Laura lowered her head; she was ashamed of the situation she had put herself in this morning. Dr. Wexlan noticed this immediately.

"Laura, are you keeping something from your husband? Something that could have caused such a vivid dream this morning?" As an afterthought he added: "And please call me Ian." Ian sat patiently in front of this woman, wondering what could be bothering her so badly that it caused such a horrible accident. Why would she want to punch her hand through a glass shower door? Was the secret that bad?

"Dr. Wexlan -uh Ian-- I'm not keeping anything from him," Laura motioned towards the door, "we're partners in every way: work, life, home. We have no secrets." Laura hoped she sounded more honest than she looked. Ian also saw this hesitation to answer as dishonesty rearing its ugly head. He took hold of Laura's hurt arm and continued his medical treatment, all the while never looking away from her face.

"Now, how about the truth, Laura? That sounded about as phony as you look right now. What secret are you keeping to yourself? What can't you tell your husband?" Laura looked up at him, and then hung her head. "My God, Laura! What kind of secret are you keeping from him?"

"I can't tell you. I can't tell anyone. It involves too much. I'd be risking jail time if I told you." Laura stared at something past Ian's shoulder. Seeing that he wasn't going to take "no" for an answer, Laura turned and looked him square in the eyes. They were blue, but nothing like Remington's, she thought. "I'm going to have a baby."

"This was the big secret that has caused so much trouble?" Ian looked disbelieving. "Besides, having a baby isn't a crime, so why would you're telling me risk "jail time", as you put it?" Ian asked, clearly confused. "Doesn't Remington want children?"

Laura, looking past him again, responded. "It's not that he doesn't *want* children, it's just that I don't want this to be a "child of convenience", so to speak. I can't tell you anymore than that, it could be detrimental to my life." Ian finished up the stitches, and moved to get the medical bandages.

"A 'child of convenience'? Might I also remind you that anything you tell me, stays between you and me? Doctor/patient confidentiality, you know." Ian followed her reaction carefully, gauging how much she would tell him. "Now, let's start from the beginning. How did this all come about?"

Ian listened as Laura, reluctantly at first, told him the long, long story of the past few months. She told him all about the INS problems, and the fake marriage. She had explained the time in Ireland and what had happened to change their relationship. Laura had finished by explaining the events and conversations of the past 16 hours. He had finished wrapping her cut, and now stared at the woman before him. "Do you want a child?" Ian had voiced the unasked question. The ball was in Laura's court now.

To Part Three

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