- Steele Ocean
- Mildred was on the phone when Harry arrived at the office.
With a thankful sigh of relief, he gave her a small wave and
beat a hasty retreat to his office. His hand was still on the
knob and he was vacillating about locking the door when it swung
open and an angry Mildred pushed her way past him.
- "I've got a message for you from Fred, Boss."
She fixed him with her IRS fraud squad glare and Harry shuffled
a tiny step back. "Apparently, he dropped Mrs. Holt at the
airport this morning and she will call you when she gets to Ashford
- "Thank you , Mildred. If that is all, I..."
- "No that's not all, I have a message for you too,
- She took two steps towards him. Harry took three steps
back, until he felt the edge of the desk against his legs. He
rested his hand on the desk and tried to look, well, boss like
rather than like a child being scolded. He had no confidence
in this performance.
- "I don't know what's been going on with you two for
the last couple of weeks. But I'm not stupid, Boss. Something's
rotten in Denmark." Mildred held both hands up in surrender.
"If you and Mrs. Holt want to keep your personal life private,
fine. I mean, I just work here. But I work here and when it starts
affecting the office and how I do my job here, then I gotta say
something. Just today, I've spent the last two hours covering
for your unreturned phone calls and straightening out your continuously
- She took a breath but made it very clear she wasn't finished
with her message. Harry leaned back further and all but sat on
the edge of the desk, his arms crossed over his chest.
- "If you hadn't just bought that fancy beach house,
I'd be wondering if maybe you two had decided to close up shop
or something. But I'm thinking that you need every penny's worth
of income this place generates to make your house payment. The
Mrs. Holt I thought I knew would be in here 24/7 trying to sign-up
new clients and worrying over the books."
- "It's not a fancy house, Mildred. It's really rather
- Mildred gave him a death stare, "I wouldn't know,
since I haven't seen it--but if it's near the beach it ain't
- Ah, Harry began to understand at least part of the problem.
Mildred was feeling left out and unimportant. His lips made a
small, tight line. He lowered his head a bit and apologized with
- "No one's seen the house except Monroe, who helped,
well really, who moved us in. We're not even unpacked yet. It's
probably vain of me, but I wanted to wait until we had it all
sorted out and fixed up. You know, show it off best foot forward."
- Mildred looked slightly mollified. "Really, no one,
not even Mrs. Holt's mother or Frances?"
- Harry smiled and raised an eyebrow. "Most definitely
not Abigail or Frances."
- He stepped away from the desk and swept his hand towards
the door to his office. "And you made some good points about
our neglect of the agency. I will endeavor to improve while Laura
is away." He walked Mildred back to her desk then stuck
his hands in his pockets and gave Mildred his 'I lost my puppy'
look. "But I know I shall be a poor substitute for her where
the books are concerned. It might be best if you started identifying
some options of accountants or bookkeepers to help me with the
- "I could do that, Boss, you don't need to find someone
else." Mildred entreated.
- "I don't know if I should ask you to, Mildred. You
already have so much..."
- "That's not the real problem, Boss. I just need to
know what I'm responsible for. I can get it done."
- "Only if you're sure it won't be too much. And only
if you promise to tell me if it turns into too much later."
- "Deal." Mildred answered with a huge smile on
her face. "I can handle it for a week or two no problem."
- "Uh, it might be a bit longer than that."
- Mildred's smile slid off her face. "How long?"
- Harry wondered himself.
- "I'm not sure. A month, maybe more?"
- Mildred stared at him with her mouth open. Fortunately
for Harry, the phone rang before Mildred found her voice. He
answered the phone.
- "Remington Steele Investigations...Yes, just a moment
and I will get someone to help you with that."
- He handed the phone to Mildred, mouthed "I'll be
back before we close," then walked out the glass doors.
- He had a lot of thinking to do and he didn't do that well
behind his desk.
- Disgusted, Harry tossed the remote on the coffee table,
got off the couch and headed out to the deck. He stood at the
railing and scanned the beach. Far in the distance, a petite
woman with a brown ponytail and dark pink running shorts caught
his eye. For a split second his heart raced before his brain
reminded his body she wasn't here to take her customary runs.
His heart deflated. But the sand and waves still called to him
and his feet followed. He left the deck and slowly made his way
down the trail. Laura's imprint was there as well; it was much
more well worn from her consistent daily run than it had been
even a few weeks ago. The ground grew softer and vegetation opened
up as he reached the end of the path and the ocean spilled out
in front of him. He slipped off his shoes, tucked his socks into
them and stuck them next to the rock they used as their own beach
locker. He rolled the bottoms of his pants up to just above his
- The sand was warm under his toes but he continued towards
the water until the cold surf washed over the top of his bare
feet. He stuck his hands in his pockets and meandered along the
water's edge in the direction Laura normally ran. He wasn't sure
if being here in her space, her place made him feel closer to
her or made her absence more tangible, more real. He sighed.
But it felt right to be here.
- From the office, he'd headed to the boxing club but didn't
even slow down as he drove past. Turns out he was ambivalent
at best about pummeling something or someone or being beaten
up himself. He guessed that worked better when he was trying
to work out some rage or frustration. He shook his head slightly
and the corner of his mouth turned up just a bit. Maybe the outcome
of his last round there had some impact on his lack of interest.
He sobered. Or maybe the possible risks and consequences simply
didn't feel worth it to a man who was now a father and father
- He raised his eyes and stared across the water. Anger
and frustration were not what he felt. And this wasn't the first
time that boxing hadn't been the answer to his emotional upheaval.
So he'd driven home and headed for his movie collection. Those
classics had never failed him until today. There wasn't a single
one that came to mind to help him solve this case. Whether there
wasn't one or his mind was simply too muddled to think of it,
he hadn't a clue.
- Disappointment settled over him like a stubborn Irish
mist. Disappointment in himself for creating this situation on
so many levels. Disappointment in Laura for not staying and working
it out together. Disappointment that six years later, he still
knew very little and had assisted with even less of the nuts
and bolts, daily grind aspects of the agency. Truth be told,
he'd have no idea what financial institution held the agency
accounts if it wasn't written on his paycheck.
- Perhaps this was the point where he needed to spend less
time pretending and more time becoming. After all, he was no
longer impersonating Remington Steele. He was Remington Steele.
And though Steele might not concern himself with balancing the
books, he certainly would concern himself with the balance on
the books. Pleased with his own insight, Harry grinned. He could
do this--and it wasn't going to be the painful, boring experience
he'd first thought. It would even lighten Laura's load when she
- He turned around and started back. He could see their
home, his and Laura's, up on the hill ahead of him. There wasn't
anything he could do at this point about the situation with Alanis
and Siobhan--no way he could go there and take this burden, his
burden, from Laura. But there was something he could do for her.
He could make sure that the agency was in as good a place when
she returned than when she left--better if Mildred's assessment
from earlier had accurate. And he could carry his share of that
endeavor for himself from now on. Energized, he pulled his hands
from his pockets-- and though he would never admit it to Laura--
ran, sort of, towards their house and their future.
- Still breathing hard from his unusual exertion, Harry
heard the phone ring and groaned. His heart protested and his
quads quavered and burned as he sprinted to answer it--it could
be Laura. The timing was off, though. She shouldn't have made
it to Ashford, yet. Fear amplified the pounding of his heart
in his chest. Gasping for air he snatched up the handset and
pushed the button.
- He sagged against the wall and tried to catch his breath.
Why again did Laura do this? Ah yes, she claimed to find energy
and peace... in this torture?
- "Everything alright, Steele?"
- Murphy. Harry took a couple of slow, deep breaths.
- "Are you okay? Should I call 9-1-1?"
- He wasn't sure if Murphy was serious or laughing at him.
- "..'m fine... just ran for the phone...thought...you
- Murphy laughed.
- "That's sweet, Steele. You're still chasing her.
I thought husbands were supposed to run away when their wives
- Harry gritted his teeth and sneered. Murphy was another
one of those things Laura had an affection for that he'd never
- "Laura's on her way to Ireland. If she needed help,
I didn't want to miss her."
- " Laura Holt calling home for help traveling to Ireland?
Ha. Are you sure you're okay? 'Cause it sounds to me like you've
forgotten who you're married to. Instead of phoning home, she'd
be determined to take care of herself."
- "Or die trying," Steele mumbled, "that's
what worries me."
- "You're seriously concerned." Murphy wasn't
joking now. "You are actually worried about her, not just
lovesick and lonely."
- Now you've done it, Harry. For all his obvious faults
and a few more subtle ones, Harry knew Murphy genuinely cared
for Laura. Murphy wasn't going to let it be if he thought Laura
was in trouble or in danger.
- "If you're so concerned about her, why aren't you
with her? I know the two of you rarely go anywhere further than
the grocery store without the other these days but Laura's smart,
strong and knows how to keep her head. She's saved both our necks
and her own."
- "More times than I'd like to think about. Things
are just different this time, Michaels. Laura's not been herself,
- "Gee, wonder why that is. Wouldn't have anything
to do with another blast from your past, would it? Maybe a few
photographs, some cryptic notes and a long lost daughter found?
Seriously, why'd you send her off by herself...oh wait, you didn't
- Harry tried to come up with the right angle for dealing
with Murphy but the only ones he could come up with involved
the angle of the punch to Murphy's face or the angle of Murphy's
neck when his head snapped back. Perhaps he wasn't over boxing
- "She left, didn't she?! Dammit, why didn't she call
- "Go over that one more time, Michaels."
- "What I will do to you if anything has happened to
Laura? Do you need more detail about how I will tear your heart
out after I..."
- "No, the part about the photographs."
- "The ones that Laura called me about a couple of
weeks ago. She cried, Steele. Laura cried."
- In spite of his rising anger, Harry could hear the pain
in Murphy's voice.
- "I told her to tell you, that she was right in wanting
to stand by you. I don't know what you did to change her mind
but if anything happens to her, you will die a slow painful death..."
- This at least, they could agree on. But he wasn't going
to give Murphy the satisfaction of even that knowledge. Murphy
already knew too much about his and Laura's personal life.
- Steele pushed off the wall and walked towards the windows
overlooking the deck and the ocean.
- "I'll let Laura know you called. Thanks for your
concern, Michaels, but you don't need to worry, I can take care
of my own wife."
- He clicked the off button on the phone. He stood staring
out at the surf, his arms crossed over his chest, the phone twitching
in his hand, the pulse jumping in his clenched jaw.
- She'd gone to him first. Him. First. What the hell was
he supposed to make of that?
- Mildred was lying in wait for him when Harry arrived back
at the office. She made a show of looking at her watch and made
certain he noticed.
- "Don't rush, Boss. You're back with five minutes
to spare before closing time.
- He'd heard her use that sarcastic tone often enough with
recalcitrant witnesses, clients and suspects, but rarely with
him. And it never bode well for peace and tranquility in the
office. He sighed. Wasn't this day over yet?
- Normally this is where he would run the con, turn on the
charm and schmooze his way back into someone's good graces. Well,
he wasn't doing that tonight. He was all business. He straightened
- "I said I'd be here and I am. And since I've only
five minutes, maybe you could give me a three minute recap about
what can't wait until the morning and mine and Laura's messages."
- Mildred rolled her eyes. Harry stared back, his gaze direct
and firm. He crossed one arm over his chest and the other hand
under his jaw. His toe tapped impatiently in his shoe but on
the outside he was Joe Cool.
- "Matchtek called about their audit, again. I've put
them off as long as I can. You have no idea..."
- Well, having Laura out of the country saved him this battle
with her, anyway. He'd have to take this one over.
- "Right." He cut Mildred's grumbling off. "I
appreciate your efforts. I'll call them first."
- He glanced at his watch and made sure Mildred saw it.
- "Anything else that needs my attention tonight?"
- "Murphy called for Mrs. Holt."
- Harry stuck both hands in his pockets where he could make
fists while still appearing nonchalant. He really didn't mind
Laura using Holt professionally, actually he understood her reasoning
and whole-heartedly approved. But where Murphy was concerned,
Harry preferred him be reminded often that Laura was married
to him. Had chosen him. His conscience twinged. Saying that street
corner conversation about marriage, deportation and the survival
of the agency meant she'd chosen him over anyone, including Murphy,
was a stretch, even for an elite conman such as himself.
- Harry shook his head in an effort to chase off that line
of thinking. He rocked back on his heels.
- "I've already spoken with Mr. Michaels."
- Mildred raised an eyebrow at him.
- "Mr. Michaels, huh?"
- "What else, Mildred?"
- He swore Mildred was trying to hide a smirk.
- "Mrs. Holt's mother..."
- Abigail. His teeth were going to be worn down to nubs,
- "Any other agency business, Mildred, that needs to
be dealt with this evening?"
- Mildred glanced at her watch again and pulled her purse
out of the desk drawer.
- "Just the landlord wanting to know if you planned
on paying rent this month," Mildred called back over her
shoulder then marched triumphantly out the door.
- Harry watched her get on the elevator then locked the
door and turned off the lights in the lobby before gathering
the pink message slips from Mildred's desk and heading to Steele's
office. His office.
- He slumped into his chair, put his feet on the desk, his
hands behind his dark hair and leaned back.
- "Smooth, Steele. That went well." About as well
as the rest of his day. Laura hadn't even been gone an entire
work day and his world had already hit the skids. And he still
had Matchtek, the landlord and Abigail left to go. Tomorrow wasn't
looking promising either. He'd wake up alone. When he got to
the office Mildred would still be miffed. And he dreaded Laura's
call from Ashford almost as much as he longed to hear her lilting
voice. Almost. He didn't know what to think, let alone what to
say to her right now.
- He lowered his feet and picked up the messages, flipping
through them until he found the two he was looking for. Might
as well start with the landlord. How hard could that be? Sorry
for the oversight, I'll send Mildred round tomorrow morning with
a check, right.
- He picked up the receiver and punched in the numbers.
- "This is Remington Steele, returning your call...Yes,
Mildred mentioned we had not...I can send her round tomorrow...Not
renewing our lease under its current terms...But it's only one
payment we're late by two days on."
- Harry stood and raked his fingers through his hair before
trying to pace and hold on to the phone at the same time.
- "Most of our clients are neither dangerous or shady...No,
I haven't forgotten about the Santas and the bombs...Or the hole
in between floors for the stolen diamonds...You have warned us
before, just last month..."
- Harry didn't remember anything about being warned they
were in danger of losing their lease once the Santa situation
had been resolved.
- "Some kind of computer software start up looking
for space. Nice, safe and willing to pay twice what we're paying."
Damn. "Let me get this straight. Our lease is up in 60 days
and we can renew it in twenty-four hours at two and a half times
our current rate or you will notify us in writing our lease is
not being renewed?" Sweat beaded on his forehead and Harry
reached for his pocket square, only to realize it wasn't there.
"Laura, Mrs. Holt, is out of the country. I need more than
twenty-four hours..." He didn't want to cave in to this
extortion but he didn't want to make this kind of decision on
his own, without Laura's input. "That's your best offer.
You have to answer the computer company...Just business..I'll
get with you before 9:00 a.m. day after tomorrow...Good night
to you, too."
- Harry dropped into his chair and put his face in his hands.
He took a moment to gather himself. He still had two phone calls
- Laura took a final sip of the ginger ale before handing
it to the flight attendant in preparation for take-off. At least
this last bout of nausea hadn't caused her to almost miss her
flight. She'd even managed to upgrade her seat to business class
for very little cost, on the suggestion of the flight attendant
on the plane from LA.
- She gripped the stuffed rabbit tightly as they taxied
down the runway for take-off. Harry, she sighed, rubbing the
soft ear between her fingers. She'd fallen asleep almost immediately
on the first flight and slept the whole trip, so the flight attendant
hadn't given her Harry's gift until she left the plane. She hadn't
even read the card yet, only knew for certain it was from him
by the distinctive handwriting of her name on the envelope. Pulling
the card from her bag, she wondered how he'd known. Had she been
that obvious? She was a detective, for pete's sake. And just
how angry was he? He couldn't be that mad, could he? He'd sent
her the rabbit. And he'd let her go. Without trying to stop her.
She'd have the whole flight to think it over.
- Her hands trembled slightly as she slipped the card from
- Dearest Laura,
If you love something, let it go, eh? Know I will be impatiently
waiting for you to come back to me.
- I trust you to take care of yourself and our Baby Steele.
That is the most important thing.
- Only Yours, Harry
- PS... If one rabbit's foot is lucky, maybe four will
do the trick. And yes, Laura, I'm still angry...
- She choked out half a laugh as a few tears rolled down
her face and she swiped at them with the back of her hand. He
knew her too well. Her heart leapt at the thought but it also
sent a shiver down her spine. How wonderful to matter enough
for him to study her so thoroughly. But it was a bit unsettling,
to be known in that way by another. She felt a bit exposed and
vulnerable. 'It is the price you pay for being loved, Laura,'
he'd said not long ago. He'd been referring to something else
but she suspected it applied here, too. No one, not Wilson, not
even her father had known her this well, not as well as Harry.
Maybe that was a good thing. Wasn't it?
- She took the pillow and blanket the attendant offered,
closed her eyes and held on to the thought as tightly as her
- It was late afternoon when Mikeline and Laura arrived
at Ashford Castle in the stereotypical cool Irish rain. Mikeline
insisted on taking Laura's bag, so she took her rabbit and hurried
inside, where the staff were either assisting other guests checking
in or waiting to greet her. After a warm round of hugs and welcomes,
Mikeline lead her up the stairs to his Lordship's chambers.
- Laura noticed a number of changes, most of them for the
better, in the brief walk but when Mikeline opened the door to
her room, everything looked exactly as it had when they had left
it two years earlier.
- "We didn't change a thing in here, ma'am, except
for the telephone." He pointed to the cordless on the table
beside the bed.
- A wave of longing washed over Laura as she stepped inside.
This was their room, her's and Harry's. He should be here, with
- "Somewhat because we didn't know what you'd like.
But also because we've been focused on the guest areas of the
castle. Focused on the areas that will make us money, the revenue
stream, ma'am just like you've been telling us." Mikeline
- Laura swallowed hard to move the knot from her throat
and blinked back the now expected tears.
- "And from last quarter's numbers and what little
I've seen so far, doing it quite well, Mikeline."
- "I hope you'll have time for a full tour, ma'am,
while your here."
- "Absolutely. And please, don't you think it's time
you called me Laura?"
- Unbeknownst to Harry, at least once a quarter Laura, Mikeline
and some of the other staff-owners of the castle had a conference
call to talk about how things were going and what else they might
do to make the resort more successful.
- "Aye, but only in private. Twill be good for business
for her ladyship to be in residence, you know." His Irish