by SJ

"I wish you would see a doctor," he said as he entered the small bathroom adjoining the office.

`A doctor in the psychiatric field possibly,' Laura thought to herself `or a therapist that could get me out this sleepless funk I've been in.'

"It stopped bleeding already," she answered defiantly as she pulled the gauze away from a small gash at the corner of her left eye.

Mildred peered into the bathroom holding an icebag and offered, "If you like, hon, I can call your insurance or get you a rent a car?"

"That's okay Mildred, I'll do it later." she replied.

Remington moved closer, putting his hand up to almost touch the wound on her brow. She instinctively ducked and turned away insisting, "I'M FINE." He was trying to be caring and concerned, but all she felt was annoyed. `A good night's sleep is all I need...that and a new car...I can't believe I fell asleep while driving'

"Will you two please just let me get back to work?" She shooed them out of bathroom and went back to her office, closing both doors in hopes they would get the hint. Plopping herself down in her chair, she let out a deep sigh. She wasn't sure how long she could go on like this.


"Did you buy that story about her swerving to avoid a dog boss?" Mildred asked while waiting for him to finish signing a contract.

"No, not really. But one thing I know about Miss Holt is that if she doesn't want to tell us what really happened, she won't. I'll just have to get the truth out of her using other methods."

Mildred winked acknowledging his none-too-subtle inference.


He waited a few hours hoping she cooled to a simmer and gently knocked on the door, "Laura," he whispered as he opened the door to peek in. Before he could continue, he noticed her reclining in her chair, eyes closed, clutching a manila file against her body. He laughed quietly to himself thinking the file was her version of a security blanket. As he pulled the door shut, it made a slight creak startling Laura out of her sleep.

She straightened up, gingerly touched the bump by her eye and muttered something about being sorry.

`Why is she sorry?' he thought to himself. He knew something was wrong. She wasn't sleeping much or eating right for that matter. Work had been hectic since returning from Ireland, but she usually thrived working at whirlwind speeds. It just wasn't like her to act this way, and now she had totaled her car.

"It's almost six. I thought we could grab something to eat and go home," he offered.

"No..." she paused, "I really should stay and finish this." Pressing the button on the phone she asked, "Mildred has my insurance company called back yet?"

Before Mildred could answer, his hand reached down and pressed the button to disconnect. "Laura stop changing the subject, you're not going to get rid of me that easily."

"What subject? I have a lot to do." She got up, turned to her filing cabinet and opened a drawer. She was determined not to face what she'd been avoiding ever since they became intimate.

He reached into his pocket and placed the keys on her desk. "Fine...I'll have Fred drop me and you can take the Auburn." he said coolly as he walked out of her office and into the reception area. He was angry, but starting something with her right now would do no good. Turning around he went back to her office. With a warm smile and sincerity he asked, "You will come home sometime this century won't you?"

She could only resist him for so long and he knew it. Walking to the door, she reached up and gave him a brief kiss. He rested one hand on her waist and slipped the other behind her neck. He pulled her close to him and passionately kissed her . While they were still close, he whispered "You will come home... not your loft right?" He then sweetly kissed her injury and looked her in the eyes for her response.

She felt uncomfortable calling his apartment home. True, they spent most of their time together there . She kept a few necessities at the apartment, but had moved all her clothing back to the loft once Tony kept his promise to solve their problem with the INS. After living with Wilson, she couldn't face going through that again. So much more was at stake in this relationship.

A noncommittal "I'll think about it." was all she could muster.

She didn't come home to his apartment. He really didn't think she would. He had Fred stop at her loft on the way home. He left her some flowers with a note that simply read,
"I knew you'd be here,
Get some rest


3:45 am.
`Not bad,' she thought. `Two and a half hours of sleep was more than I had in long time." She gazed at the flowers on her night stand and reached up to read the note again. She paused and pondered the LOVE part...'Does he? Why can't he just tell me?' The only logical answer she could come up with was the one that scared her. The one she'd been avoiding. The one that was keeping her up at night. Her heart ached knowing that her instincts had been right so many other times. The reason he couldn't say it was because he didn't.

He was hoping she would be asleep. Then he could slip into her loft, quietly climb into bed with her, hold her close, and share breakfast with her before going into the office. Maybe she would finally be willing to open up. When he got to her door, however, he heard muffled music coming from inside. He slid the door open to find her at her computer dressed in an oversized tee shirt and gray sweatpants.

"Mr. Steele, what are you doing here. Its 4:30 in the morning?"

"I came to surprise you," he replied. "What are you doing up? Did you sleep at all?"

"I slept...some...a .. a.. a little," she stammered. "Thank you for the flowers. " She turned toward the monitor trying again to change the subject.

"Will you ever tell me what's wrong?" he begged.

"I don't know what you mean," she replied in a cavalier attitude.

Having had enough of this game, he strode towards her chair swiveling around so that she was facing him. "You haven't slept, you eat next to nothing, one minute we're in bed making love .. and the next you're up; reading a book, doing paperwork, or just GONE." Slowing down he took a deep breath and continued in a calm voice, "Laura what is bothering you? Why are you avoiding me? Talk to me, please."

She nudged her way past him towards the refrigerator pretending to get something to drink. "I've just... I've just have a little insomnia that's all... I'm not sure why." The last part was a lie.. she knew why.

"Okay, that explains the sleep part," he started, "but what about the avoiding me part?"

"I thought we were closer than ever," she replied with a knowing look.

"I`m not talking about us physically Laura," Remington said as he walked towards her. He took the juice from her hand and placed it on the counter. He had his right hand on the open door and his left on the counter with Laura wedged in between.

"How am I going to get out of this,' she thought, `maybe a diversion.' Placing both hands around his waist, she took a step closer to him. Then leaning towards him, she started kissing him on the neck and another below the ear. Whispering, she said, "I wouldn't call this avoiding you." Her hands moved around to his chest, "Or this." She kissed him just above the top button of his shirt as she unbuttoned it.

"I know what you're trying to do Laura, I can read you like a book," Remington replied, trying to ignore what she was doing to him.

"Do you want me to stop?" she asked seductively as she undid the second button and touched her lips to his chest.

"This tactic isn't going to work Miss Holt," he continued, trying to be disinterested.

Laura reached down to lightly run her hand along the zipper of his pants. Her left hand closed the refrigerator door. She pushed her lower body suggestively against his causing her hand to apply more pressure. She could feel him becoming aroused.

"Seems to me that it's working," she whispered. As much as he wanted her, he was still determined to get her to tell him what had been bothering her.

He grabbed both of her wrists pulling them around to the front of their bodies. He took a step back to further distance himself from her.

"Laura, you are NOT playing fair," he said in a stern voice.

"All's fair... Mr Steele...," she replied with a wink.

"Yes, but you're... you're hitting below the belt to speak," Remington quipped.

He loosened his grip as she softly giggled and walked towards the sofa. She plopped herself down in the middle, covering her face with her hands. She rubbed her eyes with an exasperated sigh. Remington walked over to join her. Sitting to her right, he put his arm around her and pulled her towards him. Taking the hint, she rested her head on his thigh as his arm dropped to the side of her body. He lightly caressed her ribs and began to speak, "Laura, I don't know how to ask you this," he paused, uncertain if he should even breach this subject, "but, I've been thinking about the way you've been acting and ..."

"And what? Where are you going with this?" Laura asked as she pulled his hand around her body to rest it on her heart.

"Are you pregnant Laura?" Remington asked apprehensively.

"What!... NO. What made you think THAT?" she replied in a shocked tone.

"Well I thought that might be the reason for your behavior," he offered.

Laura let go of his hand. "You're making waaaaay too much out of this," she said with some annoyance. `God pregnancy now there's a new topic for my insomnia sessions.' She lifted her head from his lap and turned to face him. "You really thought I was pregnant?"

He was relieved that she wasn't pregnant, but that still left him with no answers. "I'm just worried about you," he uttered as he leaned over to kiss her. In that moment, his chest began to pound. He felt something ache deep inside. He wanted to tell her. His heart was in his throat and he could say nothing else. Remington held her face in his hands and tenderly kissed her lips. He deepened his kiss, slightly parting his lips and brushing his tongue against her teeth searching for her tongue. Soon their hands were searching too. She reclined to a point where he was now laying on top of her with her legs slightly apart, allowing him to place most of his weight there. She didn't mind that at all. His growing erection pressed and teased her even through the thick material of her sweat pants. With each kiss more passionate than the last and hands disappearing below each other's clothing, they both knew they were past the point of no return.

"Come to bed with me," she whispered gasping for air. This time, she wasn't toying with him, her suggestion was not a diversion tactic.

He got up from the sofa and offered to lead her with his right hand. Hand in hand they walk up the few steps to her "bedroom".


7:30 AM
The radio startled him. He reached over to turn the clock radio off before it could wake her. After he hit the button, he looked over his shoulder, but didn't see her. `Figures,' he thought to himself, `Why would this morning be any different.' They had been together for almost two months and she had never awoken next to him. He always wanted to have her in his arms stirring her from sleep with soft kisses. He even whispered an occasional "I love you" in his fantasy. Sure, most of his fantasies including Laura were X-rated, but sex wasn't the only thing he wanted with her.

At that moment the large metal door slid open, Laura was already fully dressed in business attire; suit, panty hose, makeup, heels. `She must not have slept at all,' he thought as he reached over the side of the bed to slip his pants on.

"Would you like some breakfast?" she offered holding up a small bag. "Sorry, I didn't have anything in the house. I wasn't expecting company this morning."

He walked over to the counter and poured himself a cup of coffee. Looking through the bag he casually asked, "Do you EVER sleep?"

"Oh really, we're not going to start that again are we?" she replied as she pinched off a piece of a bagel.

"I'll drop you at your apartment to change and send Fred over to pick you up. I need to get in early today."

His thoughts drifted while she was still speaking, `Maybe, you won't tell me what is going on with you, Miss Holt, but I can do something to help you get some rest."


"Morning Mildred," he said stopping by her desk to check for messages. "Miss Holt in?"

"She went to claim her car and meet with the insurance adjuster. She said she'd be back around lunch."

"Ah lunch. Sounds like the perfect time," Remington thought out loud.

"Perfect time for what?" Mildred asked raising one brow with a flirty smile.

"Not that Miss Krebs. I have something much more mundane planned for Laura."

"Like what Boss?"

"The less you know the better, but I do need your help. And if this works she probably kill both of us," he warned.

"I'll do anything to help."

"Call Breezes Cafe and ask for an outside table for 1:00. I need you to call there again at 1:15, ask for Miss Holt and hang up when she gets to the phone. That should give me enough time to put a few of these in her ice tea," he said as he took a small prescription vile from his pocket and slightly shook it and then returned it to his pocket.

"What are those, boss?" Mildred inquired.

"I never finished taking these when I broke my leg," he started, "They were to help me rest. But I hate taking pills that knock you out, and believe me these will put her out cold."

"You mean you are going to drug Miss Holt?"

"I prefer to think of it as just inducing a little bit of sleep."

"I don't think Laura will call it that, but you can count on me."

"Thank you, you are a dear," Remington replied as he walked into his office. Soon the phone rang and Laura was on the other end.

"Hello, Mr. Steele. Just checking in. Anything going on?" Laura started.

"Nothing much... Where are you?"

"I'm just on my way to pick up a rental car. I should be back in the office in an hour or so."

"Mildred is making a lunch reservation for Breezes at one. I'll just meet you there. Bye." He hung up the phone quickly before she could turn down the lunch invitation.


He saw her from behind as he walked onto the cafe patio. Laura was filling out some insurance forms and didn't see Remington approach her. The wind gently blew her chestnut hair about her collar. Very delicately he pushed her hair to the side and kissed the back of her neck. She shuddered from his touch and said, "If you're the waiter, you're going to get a big tip for that."

He moved around her a little closer and kissed her again on her lips, "Mmm and what would I get for that?" he teased.

Before she could answer a waitress approached, "Can I start you off with something to drink?"

"I'll have ice tea," Laura ordered.

"Make that two," Remington added as he walked to the other side of the table to his chair.

"Today's special is the club sandwich. I'll be right back with your tea."

The waitress smiled at Remington and walked away. He again turned his attention to Laura, "What did the adjuster say?"

"The car is a total loss. I need to fill out the paperwork, fax it to them and they'll send me a check."

"I guess you'll have to buy a new car then, eh?"

"Another car," she corrected. "I don't think I can afford a new car."

"Really Laura, the agency is doing well, you work hard, you should splurge on yourself."

"I'm not using agency funds for a new car," she said adamantly.

"Why not? It's your agency, you deserve it. Besides, you use your car mostly for work. I'm sure it's a write off or something. Mildred could fix it somehow."

"I'm not going to commit fraud just to drive a nice car." Remington noticed she was getting rather annoyed for such a harmless conversation. Her crinkle in her brow was beginning to show which was a telltale sign for him to back off.

"Oh well, tomorrow's Saturday , we can start looking for a different car for you."

Just then the waitress brought their drinks, and took their lunch order. Again, the waitress was giving Remington an overt amount of attention, leaning closely over his shoulder to point something out on the menu. Laura noticed he wasn't exactly shying away from the extra attention either. Just then a page came over the speaker for her. Laura was grateful for the excuse to get up and away from the table. It was difficult to watch other woman fawning over him.

"If you'll excuse me." Standing up she went across the table and gave him a kiss. Not a peck on the cheek, but full force, on the lips kiss with tongue added for emphasis. Now that would certainly send the waitress a message. Laura didn't think she was the jealous type, but deep down there were a lot of insecurities. `Does he really want me?' `How long before he looks for someone else?' `Stop that Laura,' she scolded herself. `We are together now, just enjoy it while it lasts.' As she picked up the phone, all she heard was a dial tone. `I wonder who that was. Mildred must have called. Who else would know I'm here?'

She dialed the office. "Hello Mildred. Did you just page me at the restaurant?"

Mildred wasn't very good at lying, but had to think up something quick. "Sorry Miss Holt, I was looking for the O'brien file but I found it. Enjoy your lunch. Bye."

They both thought that was a rather lame excuse, but Laura went back to the table. Too many things were going through her sleep deprived mind to take on another mystery.

"Who was that?" Remington innocently asked.

"Just Mildred."

"Miss Krebs?" `She was just suppose to hang up.' "Everything all right at the office?"

"Yeah, she just lost a file."

While she had been gone he managed to dissolve two pills into her tea. Even though she was just picking at and rearranging the salad on her plate, he was pleased that she was actually drinking her tea. `They should take affect within an hour. I need to get her back to the apartment.'

As they paid the bill, Laura was pleased to see the waitress was more businesslike. Remington held Laura's hand as they walked out of the restaurant knowing she was probably a little upset about the waitress' come on.

He wasn't counting on her having a car with her and he didn't want her to drive. As she was taking the keys from her purse, he offered, "May I?" Hopefully he could tactfully take the keys from her and she wouldn't question his motive.

"Afraid I'm going to crash this one too?" she teased. But she graciously got in the passenger side as he held the door open for her. He was silently grateful that for once she didn't take offense to his chivalry.

"Mind if I stop at the apartment? I forgot something at home," Remington asked innocently.

"Just drop me at the office. I really haven't done any work today."

" Sure," Remington responded. He didn't want to raise any suspicions.

When they got back to the office, he got out of the car too, not wanting to leave her alone. He wasn't sure how and when the pills might take effect.

"I thought you were going home for something?"

"Oh that, it can wait. I've gone most of the day without it, what's a few more hours, eh?" They rode up the elevator alone. He was behind her and as she let out a deep sigh, she leaned back against him. He put his arms around her and pressed his cheek next to her neck. He whispered, "If you're tired, why don't we just call it a day. I'll take you home and we can spend all weekend in bed."

"If I'm tired, the LAST place I should be is in bed with YOU," she quipped.
Remington smiled to himself thinking how remarkable she was to be so clever, given the exhausted state she was in.


Remington quietly closed the door behind him as he went into the reception area of the office.

"Is she asleep?" Mildred inquired.

"Like a baby Miss Krebs, like a baby," he added.

"Now what?"

"With your help, I'll take her back to my apartment and let her sleep..all weekend if necessary," he said. Remington decided to get some other information out of Mildred. "Tell me Mildred, how much do you know about all of our finances? I mean would you happen to know what kind of assets Miss Holt has?"

"What's this about Chief?"

"Well, I mentioned to Laura about buying a new car and she said she couldn't afford it. What exactly happens to the money the agency takes in anyway?"

"Oh Mr Steele, I don't think I should..... I mean ...Miss Holt ... she must have her reasons ....."

"Mildred," he said in a stern warning voice, "If you don't tell me, I'm going to go over to that computer and try to find it myself and I just might delete all your precious files."

"All right. She's already going to kill me as an accomplice to this drug and kidnapping escapade." She walked over to the computer and pulled up a file. "Here see for yourself."

"Mildred are you kidding me?" he started, "according to this Laura only has a $3200 checking account." `God I spend more than that in a month.'

"That's the way she wanted it. She only draws a small salary," Mildred replied shaking her head and putting her hands in the air to signify that she really didn't know Laura's motives.

"What about the agencies assets?"

With a few keystrokes, she retrieved another file. He gazed at the screen with a shocked look back at Mildred, asking incredulously, "Are you telling me the agency has over $400,000 in various accounts and Laura is living like a pauper?"

Again Mildred just shook her head not having an answer.

"So," he wasn't sure how to approach the subject, "hypothetically, if something were happen to all of the agency's holdings..?"

"She would be bankrupt," Mildred finished his thought, then continued on with one of her own, "In fact when it looked like you lost the agency to that Cranston character, she really thought she had lost it all."

"But why would she put herself in that position?' A sly grin lit up his face. `She must really trust me.'


Mildred unlocked the door and entered the apartment first placing Laura's purse and coat on the table near the door. Remington was close behind holding a sleeping Laura in his arms. He walked into the other room and gently placed her on the bed. Turning his attention back to Mildred, "Would you like to stay for dinner?"

"No thanks Chief, I'd better be going. Call if you need me for anything else."

He walked towards the bathroom shedding his suit coat and tie on the way. When he emerged from the bathroom he was wearing only jeans and he turned his attention to a still sleeping Laura. Walking over to her he began taking off her shoes. `This should make her more comfortable.' He was talking himself into doing something that made him uneasy. `What's the big deal mate, you've seen her naked many times.' Somehow this was different though. He removed her skirt, panty hose and blouse. When he saw her in only a silky camisole, he stopped, covered her up and left the room.

Several hours later, he returned to the bedroom, took off his jeans and climbed into bed next to her. She was now laying on her side facing the night stand. He took the opportunity to slide close behind her and put his arm around her. `So, this is spooning,' he thought to himself, recalling that he had never really done this with any other woman. `This is nice... much more than nice.' Soon he too drifted off to sleep.
10:37 am.
Remington was lying on his back and Laura, surprisingly was not only still in bed, she was actually close to him, her head on his chest, arm tightly around his waist. `If she would let her guard down and didn't analyze everything, she might actually enjoy being in this relationship.' His arm that was beneath her was tingling. He flexed it a bit and tried to remove it without disturbing her. He slowly lifted himself from the bed. Laura began to stir, so he moved his pillow to replace his body and she clung to it.

Less than an hour later she shuffledinto the kitchen wearing his silk robe draped loosely over her shoulders. Her eyes were not much more that puffy slits. "Do you have anything for a headache?"

He wasn't sure if she was even fully awake. "Why don't you go lay back down for a while?"

"What time is it?' she asked, still in a groggy state.

"A little after 11:00," he replied. He looked her fully up and down trying to assess her demeanor, still waiting for the bomb to drop.

"What day is it?" She was starting to wake up and it began to dawn on her.

"It's Saturday." He looked at her a bit more closely. She was so calm, too calm. This wasn't the reaction he was expecting. "Laura?"

"Where are my clothes?" She pulled the robe closed suddenly feeling self -conscious. "Do you mind if I take a shower....I, I need to go...home...," she muttered as she turned away from him. This wasn't the Laura he knew. The Laura he knew would be fuming that she was drugged, kidnapped and stripped. She would be furious with him. Where was the fight? Where was the passion?. He crossed in front of her to block the doorway, just as she wiped a tear away from her cheek.

"I would just like to go home," she said very deliberately.

"Laura, DAMMIT, yell at me or something."

"I'm not.........I can't."

"What do you mean you can't? You never had any problems before?." Just then he realized that they never really had even a slight disagreement since their first night in Ireland. She ducked under his arm and resumed walking away. He continued after her, "You're so afraid that we're going to have a big fight and I'm going to leave, aren't you?"

She stopped in the doorway to the bedroom, her shoulders slumped as she leaned against the door frame. Finally she admitted, "That's part of it."

He walked closer to her, stopping to sit on the armrest of the chair. "Part of what?...just tell me," Remington implored.

"I promised myself I wasn't going to do this."

"Do what?"

She turned around to face him but looked off in the distance out the window. She let out a heavy sigh and began, "That first night at Ashford Castle, after know....anyway... I couldn't sleep. I sat at the window for a long time. I thought about our relationship and how unfair I had been to you; demanding a commitment, wanting you to tell me. So, I decided I wasn't going to pressure you into discussing us anymore. We decided to "let the chips fall.. remember? "

At that point she turned away and headed into the bedroom. She began to weep and didn't want him to see her. She could sense he was right behind her. Laura wiped another tear from her cheek and tried to compose herself before facing him.

"What do you want from me, Laura?"

"You see, that's the thing. I want you to know without me telling you." "That didn't make any sense,' she thought to herself. "It's gotta come from you," she then said exasperated. "This is just too hard to explain." She put on a pair of his jeans and one of his shirts as well. Both were ridiculously large. She just had to get out of there and running from her problems was her way of coping with them. Even without shoes, she left the apartment.

There was a small courtyard on the side of the building. She sat on the edge of a concrete planter. She really didn't know what her next move was going to be. She sat there alone, wringing her hands. Part of her wishing he would come find her, the other part relieved she didn't have to face him.

He approached her tentatively, "Do you want to be left alone?"

She didn't even look up.

"You're scaring the hell out of me," he confessed. He came over and sat next to her on the planter. Trying a little levity he continued, "That's not what you wanted me to tell you, is it?"

She laughed. This man can be so frustrating and so damn charming at the same time. "Not exactly," she smiled at him but quickly became more somber. "It's just that ..." Then she found the courage to throw all caution to the wind. `I haven't handled this very well anyway.' She took a deep breath. "I love you." She bent her head down almost as if she were ashamed of her emotion. He was taken back, too stunned to say anything for the moment. Sensing the awkward silence she looked back up at him. She nodded her head, confirming her suspicions and said, "Yeah... that's what I thought."

She started to walk away when he grabbed her by the wrist. "What do you mean, that's what you thought?"

Well I always imagined that someday you might tell me that you loved me and one night it occurred to me that maybe you never said it... BECAUSE YOU DON'T!"

Now he was angry, "You really think I don't love you? What do you think we've been doing the last seven weeks...HELL the last FOUR YEARS??"

She was shocked by his reaction, "I'm not sure, I thought you just wanted..."

Before she could finish he interrupted, "Wanted?......wanted what?..... a roll in the hay? Isn't that what you called it once? God, Laura, you can be so difficult. Stop thinking, what does your heart say?"

"I'm just scared. When I mess up this relationship, I lose you... the agency, my dreams..," she tailed off then added, "everything."

"Laura, do you honestly think I can just walk away from what I've become... from what we have?" He now let go of her wrist and slipped his hand into hers interlocking fingers. He looked her straight in the eyes, blue connecting with brown. "Laura, I do love you."

He grabbed her other hand and held it the same way. They both stood still looking at one another. Neither was running away. They connected in a way they never had before.

The End

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