Steele Blushing (Part 2)

by Mrs. Peppler

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Author’s Note: I just borrowed the characters. I don’t make money off them. All rights, etc., belong to MTM. No posting without my permission. NC-17. This didn’t happen, but it sure would have been fun!

Laura was mortified. For Heaven’s sake, she'd thrown herself at Mr. Steele. She'd neatly shoved him to the ground and crawled on top of him for a scorching hot liplock. Oh Lord, the things that man could do with his tongue. She was sure he thought her insane when she bounded off him and bolted out the door.

Riding the elevator to the bottom floor, she fanned herself, embarrassed by her reaction when she felt the bulge in his jeans cradled in the apex of her own legs. What was she thinking? One of these days, he was going to walk out the door in sheer sexual frustration. It wasn’t fair for her to keep him hanging on like this. There was a name for girls like her in high school -- girls who deliberately made moves on their boyfriends, then walked away when things heated up.

One of these days, she was going to push Mr. Steele over the edge. She was certain his icy calm control wouldn’t allow him to ravish her -- but she might find herself awfully lonely instead. She wanted him. Sometimes she thought she would go insane with the need for him, but she held herself aloof. Would she drive him away? Could she blame him for giving up on her? Not two weeks ago in London, he had said he was looking for his name in order to make a commitment to her. What in the hell was she waiting for?

Remington stayed on the floor, drinking his wine and throwing the rest of the stack of pornographic magazines into the fire. He idly paged through one of them again before adding it to the flames. What was he doing wrong? Hadn’t he shown Laura by now how good they were together? He knew she was attracted to him. Sometimes it seemed as if she couldn’t get enough of his kisses. But that was all. No sneaking touches, no teasing fondles, no stray kisses under the shirt. Just once he managed to brush a light finger across her breast, and she froze him out for a solid two weeks. Why in bloody hell was she so afraid? He loved her; she loved him -- though they hadn’t exactly put it into words. They worked well together; they had a wonderful time in private. What else could he do? At this point he wasn’t even sure three little words and a wedding ring would net him bed time with Laura.

* * * * *

The next day was Friday, and as usual, Laura was in the office by eight-thirty. Mildred didn’t come in until nine, and Laura liked the quiet half hour to organize her thoughts for the day. She had just sat down with her coffee when Remington opened the door to her inner sanctum.

“You’re in early.” She tried to keep her voice calm, despite the sudden racing of her heart.

“I thought we should talk, Laura.”

Uh oh. Time to pay the price for last night. “About?” she tried to play it off.

“About last night.” He sat on the edge of her desk next to her. “Why? Why do I scare you so?” He brushed his fingers along her neck. She shivered. His lightest touch sent bolts of desire blasting through her body. “I know you want me.”

“I do,” she admitted, startling him with her bold declaration. Mortified by her own behavior last night, she had actually put some serious thought into the problem at hand. Surprisingly, she had actually drawn a number of logical, if not rational, conclusions.

“Then why are you holding yourself back like this?”

“How many answers do you want? I’ve got several.”

“Pick one and we’ll work our way down. . . ." He wiggled his brows.

She stood up and leaned against the desk, crossing her arms. “Okay, for starters, I don’t have your experience. In bed. It’s intimidating.”

Of all the things that Remington expected her to say, that wasn’t it. He opened and closed his mouth several times before reeling in his thoughts. “Laura, you’re not an innocent. We both have ‘experience.’ ”

“Yes, but I have a calculus professor, a scattered liaison or two, and Wilson in my little black book, and you -- you’ve got half of Europe and Los Angeles . . . and Anna and Felicia -- all tall, blond and gorgeous -- in yours.”

Remington chuckled at her description. “Laura, you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. You are exquisite in your own right.” He caressed her cheek, thinking he neatly turned that one around.

Laura looked at her shoes. She was rarely intimidated by other women, but she knew she was a far cry from Mr. Steele’s "type." Neither domestic, nor worldly, she often felt she had little to offer him. After all, Wilson didn’t seem . . . satisfied . . . with her. And if she couldn’t please Wilson enough to make him stay, how could she have a chance with . . . him? She looked into his blue eyes and shrugged.

“You’re serious.” He was taken aback by her sudden lack of confidence.

“Yes, I am.”

For a minute Remington just looked at her in astonishment. “You think I might be disappointed by you . . . your . . . performance as a lover?”

“Well, I . . . yes.”

“This didn’t seem to be an issue when we first met.”

“That was before I realized just how varied and sophisticated your tastes can be,” she said lightly.

“I see. While we were in England, Felicia really did a number on your psyche, didn’t she? Laura, while I certainly prefer to think that my bedroom skills are exceptional, I fail to see how that should intimidate you. Rather, I think you should be flattered about the length of time I’ve pursued you. Use your brilliant logic, Laura. Would I be willing to put this much time and effort into something that might disappoint me? When have you ever known me to stick around for merely 'mediocre'?” He waved his hand to punctuate the statement. “Surely, we’ve put to rest the idea that I’m only fascinated by the idea of bedding you. If that were the case, I would have seduced you long ago.”

He stroked her lips. “I didn’t want to seduce you. I wanted you to come to me, willingly. I still do. I find you extraordinarily attractive and have no doubts about heights we will reach as lovers.”

Then a delicious thought fired into his brain. “I have an idea. Come to my place this evening. Seven, I think. Yes, that should give us plenty of time. And don’t worry, Laura, you’ll call all the shots.” He brushed his thumb across her lips before sweetly kissing them. “I think I can help you see what I see. Dress casually.”

He quit the room and disappeared for the rest of the day, leaving Laura vibrating with need and desire. How had she lost control of the conversation so quickly?

* * * * *

That evening, Laura drove the Rabbit to Mr. Steele’s flat. She only changed clothes three times before settling on a pair of jeans and a fluffy black sweater with a wide scoop neckline. She had braided her hair, exposing the elegant line of her neck.

Laura loved Remington’s cooking. Dinner at his place on Friday night was becoming a commonplace occurrence, generally followed by whichever old movie he was determined to introduce to her that evening. No matter how tired she was from the work week, she looked forward to Friday nights with the glee of an eight-year-old on his way to the video game parlour with a pocket full of quarters.

What was he up to now? The curiosity was killing her as she knocked on his door.

He opened the door a tiny crack, and then pulled it wide when he saw her. “Come in, come in. Perfect timing. Dinner is ready. Would you like a glass of wine?”

God, he looked good, she thought. He wore black jeans and a black shirt. His blue eyes were electric with amusement.

“That sounds lovely. What are we having?”

“Mmm, lobster bisque and a salad. I also found a very nice Chablis this afternoon. Here, have a glass.”

She tasted a sip as Remington pulled out her chair and ladled the soup into her bowl. “Oh, that is good. Okay, I can’t stand it anymore. What have you been up to today?”

“All in good time, my dear Laura. Now, tell me about your day.”

She frowned, but knew from his firm tone that she wouldn’t get any more out of him. So she told him about a new client, the skip-trace Mildred was working, and that most of her day had been taken up with following a philandering wife and taking photos. He seemed interested and asked intelligent questions. By the time dinner was done, Laura was relaxed and enjoying herself. She always loved his company.

Refusing to let Laura into the kitchen, Remington refilled her wine glass and sent her to change the music in the living room while he cleaned up the last traces of dinner. She found something soft and jazzy. When he was finished in the kitchen, Remington gathered Laura into a close embrace, swaying with her in the living room.

“Now are you going to tell me what this is about?” Laura’s curiosity was getting the best of her.

“Laura, do you trust me?” Remington was blunt.

“I suppose I do. Yes,” she answered honestly.

He began drawing her towards the bedroom and smiled at her hesitation. “It’s not what you think. We won’t do anything you don’t want to do, but I want you to see yourself as I do.”

Remington led Laura into the bedroom, and she laughed. “What’s all this?” The room had been converted into a photographer’s dream. His camera stood on a tripod, and Remington had mounted lights around the room. He had pulled off his comforter, leaving only inky black satin sheets and pillows on the bed. “It looks like a boudoir in here!”

“Precisely.” He held up the skin magazine she hated. “Tell me it doesn’t bother you that your body wasn’t used in these pictures.”

“Of course, it does,” she shot back, “but I’m not going to give you a private showing to prove it.”

“You don’t have to,” he said gently. “I want you to sit on that bed, just as you are, and let me photograph you.

“Just as I am? Fully dressed?”

“Just as you are. Come now; the camera won’t bite.” Remington moved behind the camera while Laura gingerly sat on the edge of the bed. He snapped a picture -- flash -- just to get the first one out of the way. “Relax. Talk to me. Tell me a story.”

“A story?”

“Something, anything.”

“Shall I tell you about this handsome, blue-eyed man that invaded my office one day?”

“No, no, old news. Tell me about a case you solved before I came along, your favorite one.” He peered through the viewfinder.

“My favorite case. I can do that. An old lady came to me, one of my few clients as Laura Holt, PI.” She was beginning to relax under the bright lights as she told the tale. He wasn’t really listening to the words, just enjoying the sound of her voice rising and falling. Remington let her voice wash over him as he pressed the camera trigger. Flash.

When she finished the tale, Remington handed her the glass of wine she had left on the dining room table. As she sipped, he released the clip holding her braid. She didn’t even notice until her hair fell in waves around her face.

“Damn, I hate it when that happens.”

“Leave it, Laura.” She looked up as Remington stepped behind the camera once again. He loved seeing her hair falling over her shoulders. Flash. “Blow me a kiss.”


“Blow me a kiss. Every great actress of the black-and-white cinema had one perfect picture of her blowing the camera a kiss. Garbo, Hepburn, Bacall. So. . .blow me a kiss, Laura.”

Feeling silly, but doing it anyway, Laura leaned on her elbows and turned up a hand, blowing Remington a kiss. Flash. The heat from the lights seemed to be hotter than before. A bead of sweat trailed between her breasts. Flash.

Suddenly, Remington rounded the camera. Not touching, but placing his hands on either side of her, he captured her lips for a searing kiss that left her breathless. Just as abruptly, he stepped behind the camera. Flash.

“Blow me another kiss, Laura.”

This time, Laura shrugged the scoop neck of her sweater down a notch and lay across the bed on her stomach, facing the camera. She propped up on her elbows again. With gleaming eyes and a sultry smile, she pursed her lips and blew. Flash. Flash.

“My, my, my. That’s perfect, Laura,” Remington murmured. Desire for her was humming through his body, but he reminded himself that this wasn’t about him, but her. He already knew she was lovely.

Laura was having fun. Something about the bright lights closed out the rest of the world, leaving just Laura, Remington’s sexy voice and the camera inside. She tossed her hair and smiled for him. Flash.

He could tell by the gleam in her eyes that she was enjoying herself. Time to change things a bit.

“Laura,” he said, deliberately trying to sound absentminded while adjusting the tripod. “I purchased a few things this afternoon. Some changes of clothes. They’re in the bathroom. Pick something you like.”

Laura threw him a startled look, but he was fiddling with his camera. She hesitantly crossed to his bathroom and peeked inside. A gold evening gown, a cocktail dress and a skimpy pair of white shorts paired with a t-shirt hung on the door. Laura pulled out the ankle-length gown for a better look. The sheer column of gold lamé was shot through with black silk. She couldn’t resist pulling it over her body. The halter top left her arms bare, and the slit on the side danced halfway up her thigh. As she twisted in front of the mirror to get a better look, she could see the black and gold rippling with each other. The whole dress was all about hiding and revealing at the same time

Remington had even found a perfect pair of black shoes with gold lamé accents on the heel. Laura slipped them on and strolled out of the bathroom.

“The next time I take you to dinner, promise me you’ll wear that dress.” His voice floated from behind the bright lights and camera. He congratulated himself on his selection.

“I will. It’s gorgeous.” She spun in a little circle for him. Flash. “Oh,” she cried, startled, “I didn’t know you were ready.”

“A good photographer is always ready. One never knows when the perfect picture will present itself. Lie on the bed, Laura.”

“Lie down?”

“Anyway you like.”

She looked down at the bed, contemplating the possibilities. She sat on the edge of the bed, and started to scoot back, but the buckle on her shoe caught the sheets. She leaned forward to unhook it, accidently letting the slit of the dress reveal her leg almost to her hip. Flash. Scooting back, she reclined on her elbow and tilted her head to the side, leaving the other arm draped across her other hip. Flash.

“Run your fingers through your hair,” Remington ordered. She did. Flash.

“Now go put on that black cocktail dress. I’ve a photo in mind for it.”

Laura grinned and rolled off the bed. “You like giving me orders, don’t you.”

“It’s a privilege I have so rarely that I enjoy every nuance when I do.” While she was in the bathroom, Remington sipped his own wine, reminding himself again that he wasn’t getting any tonight. Come on, old chap, he told himself, just another step on a long journey. She’s worth it. But she damned well better appreciate what I’m going through after we get there.

Laura reached for the cocktail dress, but discovered instead, a sexy little black slip that was apparently intended for wearing underneath the sheer outfit. Laura fingered the silk slip, admiring the feel. She dropped it over her head, noting that the bodice was edged in delicate black lace and cupped her precisely before hugging her body and flirting with her legs. She glanced down at her bust, noting the fit. How did he know these things? She found the pair of black silk stockings and drew each of them up a thigh.

She started to pull the cocktail dress over her head, then smiled wickedly into the mirror. Carefully, she smoothed out the dress and rehung it on the door before strolling into the bedroom clad in nothing more than the little black scrap of silk and the stockings.

Remington's throat immediately went dry as desire clawed up and strangled him. He fumbled the camera. Flash. Laura. Black. Bed. Satin. Silk. His mind simply couldn’t string the words into a coherent sentence. He’d hoped. He’d fantasized. Now his fantasy stood before him, dear Lord, crawled toward him on the bed, sucking on her first finger. Flash. Flash. Holy God.

Without prompting, Laura played for the camera. She shot dirty looks over her shoulder. Flash. She tossed her mane of hair. Flash. She scooted to the center of his bed and sat on her heels in profile to him, entranced by her own image in his closet door mirrors. She looked over her shoulder to the camera as one thin strap fell. Flash. A slow flush of heat lit up her freckles. She wondered what he was thinking. With all the dots of light dancing in her eyes, she couldn’t see his expression.

It was a good thing. She would have fled from the heat in his eyes alone.



“Lie down, please?” Damn. I sound like I’m begging. Oh, bloody hell, who am I fooling? Of course, I’m begging.

“Where do you want me?”

Everywhere. On the bed. On the floor. On top, on the bottom, and everywhere else I can manage. “Wherever you want is perfect,” he forced out of his strangled throat.

His loins ached as he watched her stretch out on his bed, bending a knee just so, causing the slip to barely cover her hips. Flash. No dream, no drawing, no amount of daily undressing her in his head could match the stunning vision of Laura lying on an ocean of black satin, wearing nothing but black silk. She tilted her head back, exposing her long, lovely throat and letting her hair fall out and puddle on the sheets. Flash.

His voice hoarse with need clawing through his belly, he tried not to beg again. “Laura? Would you look in the bottom drawer of the nightstand?”


“Please?” Laura scooted over to sit on the edge of the bed. Opening it, she retrieved a pair of beautiful white silk and bamboo fans, both heavily laden with feathers and pearl beading.

“Now what am I supposed to do with these?” she shot at him. He wasn’t surprised to hear the ire in her voice.

“Just hold one in front of you somewhere. I want you to see what I see.” Surprisingly, she complied by lying on her belly. Her ankles were crossed, and her chin was propped in one of her hands as she dangled one of the fans over the edge of the bed. Her back was entirely bare, and Remington could see the swelling of her breasts just over the periphery of the black fabric. He barely remembered to press the button on the camera. Flash.

He forced enough blood back up into his brain to recall his purpose there. He zoomed in on her face and placed a filter over the lens, enhancing the dappling of freckles sprinkled across her throat. Flash.

“That’s it. I’m out of film.” His voice was hoarse again. He cleared it . . . hard. He heard a soft rustle as her weight shifted on the bed. Perhaps I could have the sheets bronzed?

He backed toward the door. “Get dressed, and we’ll develop them in the kitchen.” If he didn’t get out of there, Laura was going to find herself in an extremely compromising position.

But Laura had other ideas as she scrambled off the bed. While she posed for the camera, she began to understand that she was really posing for Remington Steele. And she loved it. She felt desirable and beautiful, especially when she heard his voice grow strained behind the lights.

“Remington?” she came up behind him, stopping him in the doorway.

He froze with one hand hovering over the door frame. “Laura, I do believe that’s the first time you’ve used my name.” He turned around. She started to wind her arms around his neck, but he flinched and stepped back, bumping into the wall as he turned his head to the side to avoid her touch. “Laura, please go get dressed. I thought I could do this for you, but I . . . I’m only human.”

“You want me,” she sounded surprised. “I haven’t done anything.” She noticed his eyes had deepened to nearly indigo while he clenched his jaw.

“Of course I do, Laura. My God, right now if you touch me, you will be in my bed for the rest of the night. Please go get dressed.” Now he was begging outright and vibrating with need. He could smell her and see the sweat from the heat of the lights glistening on her skin. He clenched and unclenched his fist while he waited for her to back up a fraction.

“No. Kiss me.” She pressed her body against his, feeling every inch of him burning through the fabric of his jeans.

“Laura,” he growled. He yanked his shirt out of his pants, hoping to scare some sense into her as he rapidly unbuttoned it and pulled it off. “Touch me, Laura, just once, and I will have my way with you. No changing your mind, no second chances.” He stood with his chest bare, breathing hard.

“Good.” She fastened her lips to his naked chest and tugged the slip so that it fell to the floor, leaving her wearing only the silk stockings.

Remington unleashed a storm over her body, his hands streaking up her torso, across her breasts and diving into her hair. He captured her lips in a raging kiss, his tongue diving in to mesh with hers. Laura responded in kind, stroking and raking her nails lightly over his chest and shoulders, before tugging at the button on his jeans. She drew the zipper down and started to shove the denim over his hips, anxious to touch him. But Remington forced her backwards until she stumbled against the bed and landed on it. In seconds, he had his pants off and had crawled over her, fastening his mouth on her nipple. She arched her back and clutched his head as the rush of sensation scorched through her.

He knew he should slow down and savor the moment, but his need for her was too powerful to reel in. Apparently, Laura felt the same way. Rising up, she pushed him onto his back and straddled him. He clutched her hips as she sank down on him, gasping when she took him inside. He tried desperately not to move to give her time to adjust, but her wet heat -- oh, God, she was tight -- her muscles spasmed around him, and he thrust upward instinctively, holding her hips to help her move with him.

Laura’s whole body quaked with the sensations Remington unleashed in her. She trembled at the feel of his body in hers. Frantic with need, she responded instantly to his movement and matched it, riding him inexorably as she felt herself begin to splinter apart. She fought the pleasure, trying to keep pace with him. But he was with her already. When he felt her begin to spasm, he let go of his own dubious control and shouted her name while she screamed his.

She collapsed on top of him, breathing hard in unison with him. As he gathered his scattered wits, he cradled her closely, feeling as if he had just opened the perfect gift. Laura matched him passion for passion in bed, just as she did in the office or at home. She was simply exquisite, something he had recognized the first day they met.

Any doubts Laura had were stuffed firmly into a box in the back of her brain. Morning would be time enough to deal with them. Right now, she had Remington at her fingertips, and he was trailing his hands up and down her back, sending little jolts of sensation across her spine. She couldn’t help the little moan that escaped her lips.

Remington’s lips curved into a smile. “My thoughts exactly, my dear Laura. But this time, we’ll take it slowly. Very slowly.”

* * * * *

Dawn was only a few hours away when Remington was sure that Laura slept soundly in his bed. Restless, he eased from her side, picking up the camera as he left the bedroom. He had vague thoughts of developing the film in the makeshift darkroom he had set up in his kitchen earlier.

He had to give Laura credit. His first thought was to slip out the door and catch the first plane to whatever destination it might take him. Normally, a sexual encounter was just that, a moment of pleasure guaranteed to leave both parties satisfied with the tryst. But with Laura, he wasn’t satisfied at all. Despite the hours of loving, he wanted her still again. She had matched his passion and raised it, demanding and giving with every fiber of her being. Now, the sheer mountain of need he had for her frightened him.

He had played out all the possible morning-after scenarios in his head, and he was terribly afraid that Laura would push him away again. He was grateful for whatever deal she made with herself to allow the night to happen, but he wasn’t sure he could survive her rejection now that he knew her intimately.

In the moonlight, he started to rewind the film when he realized there was one shot left on the roll. Without a sound, he crept back into the bedroom and attached the camera to the tripod. He opened the shutter, letting in the light for a long exposure. A couple of minutes later, he silently shut it and detached the camera again.

Alone with his thoughts, Remington moved quietly in the kitchen, first developing the film and drying it, then printing most of the photographs in the soft red light of a lamp sitting on top of the refrigerator. One by one, he cropped and enlarged them, deftly managing the exposures and chemicals needed, starting with the last photo of Laura soundly sleeping in his bed. He hung each picture from a wire and clothespin over the sink to dry. By the time he finished the last, the first was dry enough to touch. Carefully, he snipped the negative from the strip and placed it with the print near the lamp.

Dawn was streaking across the sky when he stood over the bed, watching Laura sleep. What would she do when she woke? Run, more than likely. It was certainly his first reaction, though he had masterfully controlled the impulse.

He had a thought. With an impish grin, he tied the silk sash from his robe around her wrist with a knot he was fairly sure she couldn’t release. Then he tied the other end to his own wrist. Smiling, he snuggled in behind her. Breathing in the scent of her hair, he was asleep in moments.

* * * * *

Laura woke around mid-morning. Her bed was incredibly warm and comfortable. She was confused by the darkness, wondering why the sun wasn’t streaming through her loft windows. Lying on her back, she turned her head to peek at the time on her alarm clock. Instead, she opened her eyes to find Remington soundly sleeping on his side next to her. One arm was draped across her waist, and a long leg had snaked over her thigh, anchoring her firmly to the bed.

Memories from last night flooded in, and she blushed. What had she been thinking? She practically attacked him. Their first assignation had been frenetic and impatient, purely a result of waiting too long for completion. But they had made up for it later as they explored each other’s bodies, discovering long held secrets and capitalizing on what was already known.

Her first thought was to bolt for her loft and bang her head against the wall while she berated herself. For what she wasn’t sure, but she thought she might figure it out by the time she got there. But apparently, Remington knew her too well. She raised her wrist and snorted quietly at the sash tied there. He might be asleep, but he wasn’t off his game. Smiling at his audacity, she followed the fabric to the other end and discovered he had tied it to his own wrist as well.

She studied the knot. With great care, she pulled at a particular loop, and the sash came free. Now what? Quietly she eased out from under Remington’s embrace and found his dressing gown hanging in the bathroom. In silence, she wandered into his kitchen, hoping to make a cup of coffee without disturbing him so she could pull her thoughts together. What would today hold for the two of them?

The sunlight from the windows danced on the photographs hanging over the sink. Curious, she turned on the kitchen lights and pulled a picture from its clip. In black and white, Remington captured every nuance of Laura’s face. At first she didn’t like the print. Her hair was mussed, and she didn’t like seeing all the spots so obvious across her skin. But she remembered his words. I want you to see what I see. Her eyes sparkled, her color was high, and her freckles stood out against her sweaty skin.

One by one, Laura took down the photographs and laid them out on the table. She was stunned by the intensity of the images. Did Remington really see her as a sultry siren? And it wasn’t just that the photos screamed "sex." She could see her own amusement and intelligence in her eyes, and the fact that she was challenging both Remington and herself throughout the photo shoot. No wonder she couldn’t keep her hands off him afterwards. She could see her desire for him in the photographs. If this is what he saw in her every day. . . . She jumped when she heard him calling for her from the bedroom.

Remington opened his eyes to his worst nightmare. Laura was gone, and the sheets where she had slept were cool to touch. “Laura?” he called out. “Laura!” He scrambled out of bed, snatching up his black shirt from the night before and shrugging it on as he sprinted into the living room. Not seeing her at first, he rounded the sofa, aiming for the telephone. “Laura. . . .” He halted with his hand on the receiver as he took in the vision of her draped in his robe. The morning sun slanted into the dining room, catching on her bare toes where she stood looking at the photographs he took of her.

Struggling to regain his composure, Remington fastened the bottom three buttons of his shirt and raked his fingers through his hair. Laura giggled and pointed at his wrist where the sash still dangled.

“Ah, that.” He delicately tugged at the correct loop, and it fell free.

“I was a Girl Scout. Knots were considered basic training. But it was a good idea.”

He crossed the room to stand near her. With his fingers, he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear before trailing them down her neck. “And why is that?”

“Because you made me stop and think. My first thought was to run to my loft and hide away from you.” She put down the pictures she had in her hand.

“Why didn’t you?”

“I assumed from the silk around my wrist that you didn’t want me to go. And once I thought about it, I didn’t either. I wanted to see you this morning.”

Remington enfolded her in his embrace. “Laura, promise me something. Promise me that you’ll believe, just for today, that things will work between us.”

She hesitated, thinking it through. “You mean pretending that we don’t have work or personal issues standing between us?”

“I mean truly believing, for just one day, that all those things can be sorted out.”

Laura slowly smiled, “I can do that.” She rested her face on his chest, nuzzling in the soft hair. Absent-mindedly, she waved toward the table. “When did you do these?”

“I couldn’t sleep last night,” he admitted.

She tilted her head back to look at him. “Why not?”

“Perhaps I couldn’t believe my good fortune?” He stroked her cheek. “I’ve done nothing in my life to deserve you.”

“You’ve done everything for me. More than you know.” She pulled his head down for a tender kiss. They both felt the fires of desire flare from quiescent to smoldering. Remington changed the angle of the kiss, deepening it as he felt her body’s awakening response. He slipped the robe open, revealing her nude body underneath. Uninhibited, Laura let the robe fall to the floor and then returned the favor, releasing the three buttons on his shirt so he could shrug out of it.

He tossed it on a nearby chair and scooped Laura into his arms. “There will be time enough to make love anywhere we want. Right now, I want you in my bed.” His eyes darkened again with need as he carried her to his bedroom.

* * * * *

Somewhere around noon, the pair roused from a light doze. This time they woke together. Laura stretched while Remington caressed her slim torso. “Now this,” he said between kisses, “is a perfect way to wake up in the morning.”

“It’s after noon. What are the chances of getting a shower today?” she asked, trailing a finger along the black stubble on his jaw.

“With or without someone to wash your back?”

“That depends. What’s for lunch?”

“Ah. In other words, am I making lunch, are we ordering Chinese or are we going out?”

“Exactly. I’m starving. I’ve indulged in a lot of . . . strenuous exercise in the past eighteen hours.” She pushed herself up to sit cross-legged on his bed. She tugged the sheet up to cover her breasts. He pulled it back down and nibbled on her shoulder. “Besides, I need to go to my loft. I need a change of clothes if I’m going to stay the weekend with you.” She slanted a look at him. A small smile played around on her lips as she waited for his response.

His blue eyes lit up. “The whole weekend? Laura, that’s one of the things I adore about you. When you make a decision, you pursue it single-mindedly. I admire that kind of dedication.” He wiggled his eyebrows lasciviously. “However, if we must be prosaic about the whole thing, let’s order Chinese, and we’ll go out to dinner tonight. You don’t need clothes today. You can wear the shorts and t-shirt in the bathroom.”

“But you forget about all the other things I need. Shampoo, razor, mascara -- you know, mundane little items. And don’t you dare tell me to use yours.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it. But, I have something for you. He leaned over the edge of the bed and tugged a little box out from underneath it. He handed it to her and escaped into the bathroom.

She pulled the ribbon from the pretty silver box and laughed when she looked inside. Remington had filled it with small bottles and tubes of all her favorite brands, including a new razor. “Damn, I hate being a foregone conclusion,” she said with a smile.*

He opened the door again. “Try rephrasing that to ‘dodging all possible obstacles that Ms. Holt can dream up.’ ” She laughed again.

“Do you have any other boxes under your bed?”

“Are you serious? It took me six months to put together yours.” He crossed to his closet and took out a pair of dark blue jeans and a grey sweatshirt. “You can look if you like.”

Laura shook her head, refusing to let him bait her. “When did you do this?”

“When you started putting my shampoo and an extra razor for me in your loft.”

“Do we really spend that much time together?” she wondered aloud,and then recognized it was an extraordinarily silly statement.

“Laura, we’ve lived in each other’s pockets for nearly four years. Sharing a bed was only the last step of a very foregone conclusion, whether it was at your place or mine. Now, I’m going to take a shower. You’re welcome to join me if you like.”

“I think I’d like that.”

“Excellent, Laura. As I said before, I admire your dedication.”

* * * * *

Laura finally enticed Remington out of the apartment to stroll on Malibu Beach. While he was dressed in swim shorts and an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, she wore the skimpy white shorts and t-shirt he bought for her, showing off her toned legs and arms. The top barely covered her midriff, allowing her slim waistline to peek into view every few steps. Steele had a permanent frown etched on his face as he noticed all the admiring looks she was receiving from young blond surfers and paunchy middle-aged men alike.

Remington yanked off his shirt and draped it over Laura’s shoulders. “Laura darling, you must be careful. You’ll get a sunburn.”

She slipped it right back off and carried it in her hand, grinning at his apparent jealousy. “Well, then, perhaps you can rub lotion on me later.”

The couple played on the beach, strolling through the waves and holding hands as the sun dropped in the achingly blue sky. Laura felt light as a feather, for the first time enjoying Remington’s casual sensuality without reserve. As the day progressed, Laura gleaned new insight into her lover’s behavior. While Remington was always prone to casual touches and sly caresses, today he seemed to have a powerful need to keep in physical contact with her. If she let go of his hand, he found a way to place his arm around her. If she moved away, he cupped her neck and brought her back with a kiss.

Even after their shower this afternoon, Remington stayed in the bathroom while she dried her hair and applied a bare minimum of makeup. It didn’t seem to bother him to brush his teeth or shave in her presence. If she had to take a guess, it was a measure of their friendship that they were wholly comfortable in their intimacy. It surprised her to acknowledge how many of his personal habits she had become comfortable with over the years. Waking up with him today seemed natural and easy.

Laura began to understand that Remington expressed his true feelings, not through words, but through touch. Reflecting over the years, she found she had already learned to divine his moods and thoughts via his hands. Since their return from London, Remington had been constantly toying with her hair or finding ways to casually brush his hands across hers. It could have been annoying, except that Laura realized long ago that those touches were wholly unconscious.

With a flash of insight, she discovered that she wasn’t the only one afraid of being abandoned. Later that evening, she unexpectedly confirmed her finding.

They had returned to the flat after mutually deciding that neither had any interest in going out for the evening. Remington, ever the romantic, shooed her out of the room while he made arrangements for dinner. Laura gathered up the pictures he took of her, along with the negatives, and began examining them again in the bedroom. She held the negative strip to the waning light of the sun, curious to see what shots he didn’t print.

She was frowning as Remington walked in. “Where’s the twenty-fourth picture?” she asked, referring to the fact that each roll of film normally contains that many shots. The strip of negatives she was holding only had twenty-three.

“I can’t get anything past you, can I?” Remington sighed. He retrieved the photograph from the top of the refrigerator and brought it to her. It was soft and a little grainer that the others, but Laura could see herself sleeping in Remington’s bed.


Remington nibbled on a thumbnail before he answered. “Because no matter what happens between us, I wanted one small bit of proof that, for a time, you were mine.” Laura smiled in response, but said nothing as she handed the picture back to him.

That evening, Laura wore the gold evening gown while Remington put on his favorite tuxedo. As she put the finishing touches to her hair, he set the table with silver and crystal. An exquisite dinner for two was delivered by Remington’s favorite restaurant. Remington looked up from lighting the candles on the centerpiece. “Ms. Holt, I find you extraordinarily lovely tonight.”

“You’re not too bad yourself, Mr. Steele.”

They dined by candlelight, after which Remington and Laura danced in the living room in front of the fire. Soft, sweet kisses gave way to long passionate ones. But they were both determined to draw this night out, and it was quite late before Laura rested her head on Remington’s shoulder and fell asleep. Remington lay awake for a long while, holding her, still not quite able to believe his good fortune. Content for perhaps the first time in his life, he closed his eyes and slept.

Around seven in the morning, the phone rang, jarring them both. Remington squeezed Laura around the waist with one hand while he fumbled for the phone with the other.

“Steele, here.” His voice was gravelly with sleep.

“Good morning, Mr. Steele, I’m so sorry to bother you this early,” said Mildred, bright and cheerful as usual.

“Quite all right. What can I do for you?”

“I can’t seem to find Ms. Holt. She didn’t return my phone calls yesterday, and she’s not at home today. I don’t remember her saying anything about going out of town this weekend. I’m getting a little worried.” She let her distress seep through the cheery tones.

“Laura is with me, Mildred. Would you like to speak with her?” Remington rumbled.

There was a long moment of silence. “You know, I can’t imagine why I disturbed you on a Sunday morning. It can wait until tomorrow. Good-bye, Mr. Steele.” The phone clicked as she hung up.

Remington snuggled back in with Laura and was just dozing off when the phone rang again. “Good Lord, I knew it was too good to be true,” he mumbled. He cleared his throat as he answered, “Steele.”

“I’m so sorry to wake you, Mr. Steele.” Abigail Holt tried to sound cheerful despite the early morning hour. “Have you seen Laura? I couldn’t find her yesterday or this morning and I’m worrying about the poor dear.”

“Laura’s with me, Abigail. Hold on.” Abigail’s jaw dropped in astonishment. That was not the answer she was expecting.

The next words were slightly muffled, as if he was holding his hand over the phone. “Laura darling, wake up. It’s your mother.”

“My mother? Why is she calling here?” It was obvious her daughter was very near Mr. Steele, and sleep was evident in her voice as she took the phone. “Mom? Is everything okay?”

Abigail paused before answering. “Ah, you know, darling, it can wait. Call me tomorrow from the office, okay, sweetheart?”

“Sure. I’ll do that.” Laura sounded a little confused.

“Have a good day, Laura.”

“Mmm, okay, Mom, I will. Bye.” She handed the phone back to Remington, who dropped it in the cradle.

She blushed as she realized what happened. “Nothing like announcing to the world that we’re in bed together.”

“At least we won’t have any explanations to make tomorrow.” Remington squeezed her shoulder.

“Hmm, I suppose there is that.” She opened her eyes and met Remington’s blue eyes and half-smile. “Although I’m sure we’ll have to deal with Mildred’s knowing looks.”

“But that’s tomorrow. We’ve all of today to enjoy. If nothing else, I imagine Mildred and Abigail will make admirable guardians at the gate, making sure nothing disturbs us for the rest of the day.”

“That’s an interesting image this early in the morning.”

“Promise me something, love.” Remington grew serious.

“What’s that?”

“That you’ll believe, just for today, that we will make this work.”

“Just for today?” she asked again.

“Just for today,” he confirmed.

“I can do that.” Laura’s brown eyes shone with her promise as she leaned in to kiss his lips.

He asked for the same pledge the next day. And the next. And the day after that . . . .

The End

* I can’t take credit for this clever line, but I had to use it. It’s from The Thomas Crown Affair, Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo, MGM, 1999.

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