Laura drove like a maniac to the agency after leaving Remington's apartment. Seeing Kate Kelly there and realising what had happened between the two of them had really thrown her and her 'green-eyed monster of jealousy' was in over-drive. So that's how he decides to work out where our relationship is headed - by sleeping with another woman! she thought angrily. Although a little voice in her head told her she had no right to be upset, after all she had been the one who'd decided to put their personal relationship on hold, but it still hurt. Did she really expect a handsome, virile man such as he to sit at home at night alone, pining for her? Well that's what I'm doing for him, her irrational side silenced the little voice of reason, the conflict raging inside her head and her heart.
On the way to the agency she turned on the radio in the car to try and take her mind off things. "Now on 14 KROT Solid Gold we've got a golden oldie for you by Crystal Gayle - 'Don't it Make my Brown Eyes Blue'" the disc jockey announced as Laura grimaced at the lyrics which seemed all too applicable to her that morning:
She turned off the radio hurriedly as she tried to fight back her tears and floored it all the way to the office
"Good morning Miss Holt," Mildred greeted Laura cheerfully as she walked into the agency but she could tell by one look at the younger woman's face that she was in no mood for cheerful greetings.
"Morning Mildred," Laura forced a smile onto her face. "I'll be in my office and I'd prefer not to be disturbed by anyone for the time being," she added as the pretence of a smile faded away.
"Even by Mr Steele?" Mildred inquired politely.
"Especially by him," Laura stated emphatically as she went to go into her office.
"Do you have any idea when he'll be in?" Mildred asked innocently.
"No idea Mildred - he's currently enjoying a musical interlude," Laura replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
"A what..?" Mildred replied with some confusion, not getting what Laura was referring to. Laura stopped and sighed.
"Let's just say he's taking a very personal interest in our latest case," the hurt & anger she was feeling showing on her face.
With that she disappeared into her office, leaving Mildred more perplexed than ever, although she knew one thing - it was going to be an interesting day at the office! Having worked with Mr Steele and Miss Holt for some time now she was used to their frequent squabbles but this seemed to be something more.
Sometime later Remington walked in, the look on his face almost mirroring the one Laura had had earlier that morning, so unlike his usual charming smile.
"Morning boss," Mildred greeted him, wondering what on earth had got them both in such foul moods.
"Morning Mildred," he replied although his eyes were on the door to Laura's office.
"Oh a Kate Kelly called for your address last night as I was locking up - said she wanted to discuss a case with you. Did she manage to get a hold of you?" Mildred asked.
"Ah yes she did thanks Mildred," he replied a little awkwardly, as he thought wryly to himself in more ways than one, a rather vivid memory of the night before springing into his mind. Mildred looked a little puzzled at the expression that momentarily crossed his face. "Is Miss Holt in yet?" he then asked.
"Yes but.." Mildred went to reply.
"Does she have a client with her?" he added in response to her hesitation.
"No boss but she said she didn't want to be disturbed, uh..especially by you," she added a little sheepishly.
"Oh did she now?' Remington remarked, his jaw clenched. "Thank you for the warning Mildred."
Ignoring it completely he strode purposefully into Laura's office without knocking, closing the door behind him.
Somehow she knew it was him without even looking up from the file on her desk. She'd tried to busy herself with work to try and forget the events of the morning with little success. "Don't you ever knock?" she snapped at him, her tone telling him she was in no mood to talk. But talk they were going to do he decided, and he wasn't leaving her office and neither was she until they had.
"Laura we need to talk" he stated simply, his steeley gaze matching hers.
"There's nothing to talk about," she retorted as she got up and headed towards the door, figuring if he wouldn't leave she would. "If you want to be one of Kate Kelly's groupies that's up to you, and here I didn't think you were a music fan. Or were you just investigating the case - pumping her for information as it were?" she shot at him sarcastically as she went to walk past him.
From the cold fire she suddenly saw blazing in his blue eyes she knew her words had stung him. A thought sprang unbidden to her mind, momentarily weakening her resolve to be angry at him - had she gone too far? She had seen that look in his eyes a few times before, usually when he was about to punch some thug to protect her or when he was loyally defending a friend. But never before had she seen him look like that at her and it took her quite by surprise.
"God dammit Laura that's enough!" he muttered angrily as he caught her arm to prevent her walking out.
"Let go of me!" she protested indignantly as she pulled futilely against his strong grip.
"No - not until you sit down and listen to me and let me explain," he stated adamantly. Laura glared at him but did as he asked. He ran a frustrated hand through his hair to calm himself down a bit. Laura had frustrated him many times before (in more ways than one!), irked him, got under his skin, but she had never before made him as angry as he was now.
"Kate Kelly is not just some one night stand to me and I am certainly not her groupie!" Remington stated angrily, the hurt caused by her words showing on his face.
She immediately regretted saying them. "I'm sorry - I shouldn't have said that, that was out of line," she conceded, her tone softening somewhat, as she wondered just who Kate Kelly was to him, as it was obvious they knew each other. She went to say something else but he put a hand up to stop her.
"Please, let me finish," he implored her. "There's things I need to tell you - things you need to know. You want to know about my past - well Kate was a big part of it, well for a while anyway. Kate O'Casey, that's her real name - Kelly's just her stage name, was my first love back when I was just a teenager on the streets of London. We were each other's first if you know what I mean," he stated simply as a shocked look crossed Laura's face.
The name O'Casey stirred a memory in Laura - during a case they had worked on not long after he had assumed Remington Steele's identity, the one involving the painting "The Five Nudes of Cairo", she had asked him in reference to the name Michael O'Leary on one of his five passports, if he had any favourite Irish names. He had replied that he had once been rather fond of an O'Casey. A bit more than fond of obviously, she thought to herself.
"You and Kate Kelly?" she said in disbelief. Remington nodded and went on.
"We haven't seen each other in oh about 14 years I'd say." Laura digested this information, fighting to control the jealousy that was welling up inside of her. Kate was an important part of his past that was such a mystery to her. The first woman to ever enjoy that gorgeous body of his and who had obviously done so again last night, she thought enviously.
"So you were catching up on old times last night?" she asked, unable to hide the trace of bitterness in her voice.
Remington hesitated, looking a tad uncomfortable - well if she wanted the truth, he'd give it to her. "In a manner of speaking, yes. She turned up at my apartment last night with a bottle of wine and a Humphrey Bogart movie."
"Spare me the details, I get the picture. I gather neither of you slept on the couch," Laura interjected more than a little angrily as she looked down at the ground, trying to hide the hurt, angry tears that sprung to her eyes when he didn't deny it.
Remington let out an exasperated sigh. "Laura, I don't know what you want from me. May I remind you that it was your idea to put our personal relationship on hold," he stated, trying to keep his rising anger under control.
"Which you agreed to," she reminded him.
"Only because that's what I thought you wanted. These past few months since we were in Cannes have been murder for me - working in such close proximity with you, seeing you every day and not being able touch you or kiss you," he blurted out, running a hand through his hair in frustration.
His brutal honesty disarmed her. She had to admit she had felt the same way and had regretted that agreement they had made in Cannes ever since she suggested it. When she thought about it she had secretly wished at the time that he wouldn't agree to it and she had been both surprised and disappointed that he had. Another of your little tests for him Laura? the little voice in her head taunted her. "It's been murder for me too," she confessed, her voice suddenly soft, the wind blown out of her sails. As she looked at him he caught the glimmer of tears in her eyes and he felt his heart tear in two - he had never wanted to hurt her.
In an attempt to hide her tears she turned away from him and looked out the window, running her hands up & down her arms as she was prone to do whenever she felt uneasy. "Do you still- love her?" she asked, her voice catching on the word love. He had been involved with other women before in the time she'd known him, although she had to admit, there hadn't been many lately, (well that she knew of anyway, she thought to herself) but they had only been superficial relationships. The way he talked about Kate she could tell it was much more serious, and that's why she felt so threatened. He paused for a moment before answering - did he? He just didn't know - he guessed a part of him would always love Kate in a way, but up until yesterday she had been a part of his past, just a treasured memory. But the woman standing in front of him was his life now and he couldn't imagine his life without her, as much as she infuriated him sometimes - perhaps that was part of the attraction he presumed. He also couldn't deny the guilt he felt in betraying her.
"I care about her," he stated honestly, not knowing what else to say. Laura blinked back her tears - she knew deep down that she loved him and she desperately wanted his love in return. She yearned for him to say those three little words to her and to be able to say them to him, but her fears stopped her. In a moment of clarity she realised that her anger was really rooted in fear - fear of losing him. She felt him come up behind her. "Laura," his voice was suddenly tender as he turned her to face him. "I'm sorry - I never meant to hurt you. I could blame last night on the wine or the nostalgia but seeing as we're being honest with each other I have no excuses to give you, other than these past few months I've been feeling lost and confused. And when I saw Kate again all these memories came flooding back and I guess I gave into a vulnerable moment when I just wanted to be like that young kid on the streets of London again, with no responsibilities - to go back to a time when my life was less.. complicated I guess," he tried to explain himself as best he could. Laura looked at him, suddenly realising how much that stupid agreement she'd insisted on had hurt him.
A bitter sweet half smile crossed Laura's face. "Complicated..," she pondered the word he'd used. "I guess that describes our relationship doesn't it?" she admitted ruefully.
His left eyebrow arched in the way that she loved as he lifted her chin up gently and wiped an errant tear away."Hmm.. I'd have to agree with you on that point. But I never said I didn't like complicated. As I told you when we first met Laura, I'm a man who enjoys impossible challenges," his blue eyes twinkling at her.
"Is that what I am - an impossible challenge?" she asked with a hint of resignation in her voice. Now it was her turn to open up to him, to share her feelings as he had done. "I guess I've always been afraid that if we take that step and cross that line, if there were no more challenge for you that..," she hesitated before voicing her fear, as a lump caught in her throat, "that you would leave me."
Her admission both floored him and frustrated him a bit - had he not shown her time & time again how he felt about her, that he wasn't about to cut and run? Did she think he'd hung around for almost 3 years just to get her into bed and that once he had he'd be gone? After all they had been through together, did she still not trust him enough to know he wouldn't do that to her? "Laura, I .." he started to respond but she put a finger to his lips. As if reading his mind she asked, "What happened with you & Kate all those years ago - why did you break up?" in an attempt to justify her fears. Had he done the same thing to Kate she wondered, that she feared he would do to her?
With a regretful look he sighed "I got scared and I ran."
"Scared of what - commitment?" she asked , thinking that would fit with her expectations of him, but then she thought he had only been a young man, not ready to make commitments yet - who would be at that age?, so she was prepared to cut him some slack. "But you were only young.." she pointed out, trying to understand his actions of long ago.
"Young and foolish, yes" he stated ruefully. His thoughts momentarily travelled back to London all those years ago and the morning he had left Kate with nothing more than a note trying to explain his actions. "Scared of commitment I guess was a part of it, but more scared she was going to leave me. You see Laura, we're not so different in that regard you and I," he said with a wry smile as she looked at him in surprise. She was suddenly seeing a whole new side to him - sure she had caught glimpses of his vulnerable side on occasion, but never like this.
"But the two of you were in love weren't you? Why would she leave you?" Laura asked, trying to understand how he had felt.
"Yes we were in love, but then one day our lives changed, quite dramatically as it turned out," he went on as he nibbled a fingernail. "Kate was busking at a tube station one day, as she usually did to make a quid, when as fate would have it a record producer, Miles Walker in fact, walked past and liked what he heard. Before we knew it he'd offered her a record deal and he was talking promotional tours and concerts - the whole box and dice."
Laura stayed silent, listening intently as he went on. This is the second time I've had to explain this in 24 hours he thought to himself - you'd think it would get easier with the re-telling but it didn't. It wasn't any easier explaining it to Laura than it had been to Kate, the woman his actions had affected. He had carried the guilt with him all these years and the regret of how he had ended things and left her by letting his fears get the better of him. He could only imagine what Laura would think of him.
"Her star was on the rise and don't get me wrong, I was over the moon for her and so proud of her - she'd worked bloody hard for it and deserved the break Miles gave her. She had it all planned out - I'd accompany her on tour and we'd live the dream," he laughed wryly as a bitter sweet smile crossed his face. "But then I let my fears get in the way. You see Laura all my life up until then I'd been shuffled from pillar to post, from one distant relative to another. Every time I got close to someone they'd leave me or let me down in some way. So I built up walls to protect myself and my heart. Kate understood that because she'd been through the same thing herself. She did what she could to break down those walls of mine but I guess some were still there. I started to think that once she found fame and fortune she wouldn't need me anymore. How would a two bit mick from the streets fit into a chart topping rock star's life? I thought she'd be better off without me." He shook his head at how foolish he'd been before continuing. "At the same time, Daniel who I'd met some time before, had offered to take me to Europe to 'enhance my skills' shall we say - he gave me an out and I took it. I left her before she had a chance to leave me."
"Do you really think she would have left you?" Laura finally spoke.
"Looking back now - no. I know she would never have done that to me. But as I said, being young and foolish I took the easy way out and left her first - I disappeared with Daniel. I'm not proud of the way I did it - I didn't even have the courage to say it to her face. One morning I left her a note, kissed her goodbye as she slept and when she woke up I was gone," he stated, his gaze focused on the ground in shame. "I felt I owed it to her to explain to her in person why I left. After all this time I thought it was the least I could do." They were both silent for a moment then Remington said, "Now I guess you can understand my reluctance to take this case - If you want to drop it I understand, if it's too close to home I mean."
Laura looked at him with some shock. "This agency has never dropped a case and I don't intend to start now - regardless of your personal involvement", she stated, suddenly all business again.
Remington looked at her incredulously and shook his head - just when he thought they were finally getting somewhere, he had opened up to her about his past (well a part of it anyway) and she was finally starting to let her defences down - there go the walls between them again, with Laura putting the agency above everything else.
"You can't do it can you?" he threw at her, more than a little angrily.
"Do what?" she asked, confused as to what he was getting at and his sudden change in mood.
"You can't let me in Laura, let down those damn defences of yours, can you? Whenever I get too close you always use the excuse of it 'not being in the best interests of the agency.' You've just got to be in control of everything don't you? It's bloody Cannes all over again," he spat at her, running a frustrated hand through his hair. She was quite taken aback by his sudden outburst. "Well to hell with it Laura - what about what's in your best interests, in our best interests?" he demanded heatedly, his voice rising.
Laura looked at him, her temper rising to meet his. Deep down she knew he was right but she wasn't about to admit it to him. "I do not use it an excuse," she spat back at him. "I can't risk everything I've worked so hard for by dropping every case that involves someone from your damn past," she yelled at him. "Or is that why you want to drop the case? You're too personally involved! If you think you're going to be too distracted then I'll gladly handle it on my own," she snapped.
He blew out an exasperated sigh. "You're never going to let me forget this are you - not even after I've tried to explain to you about my past and Kate's part in it?"
"Not any time soon no," she threw at him, hurt fuelling her anger.
"Dammit Laura I said I was sorry," he stated, almost pleading with her. "So let me get this straight - you don't want me, but you don't want anyone else to have me either - is that it?" he demanded.
"I never said I didn't want.." she went to reply but he cut her off angrily.
"Well you can't have it both ways sweetheart. You know I am sorry Laura - sorry I'm human and that I make mistakes sometimes. Sorry I can never live up to the image you created of your perfect man - the great Remington Steele," he said bitterly, the hurt showing in his voice. Laura looked at him in shock - what was he really saying? "Maybe I never should have assumed his identity," he said coldly, the words she never thought she'd hear him say, as his steeley blue eyed glare seemed to pierce her very soul. "I'm a man Laura - flesh and blood, not a figment of your imagination." With that he stormed out of her office, slamming the door behind him, leaving Laura wondering what on earth had just happened.
"Boss.. where are you going?" Mildred asked with concern as he stormed past her desk, a look of both anger & hurt on his face - she had never seen him like that before. Sure he and Miss Holt had had their spats before but this seemed much more serious.
"Anywhere but here Mildred, anywhere but here," he replied bitterly as he kept on walking out the agency door.
Laura sat in her office for a few moments after Remington stormed out trying to compose herself and trying to work out what she was going to do. She was afraid she had finally pushed him away too far. As she thought back over the words they had exchanged, both heated and otherwise, she knew one thing - she wasn't going to give him up without a fight. She strode purposefully out to Mildred. "Did Mr Steele say where he was going Mildred?' she asked, trying to remain 'icy calm' but Mildred saw right through her.
"No he didn't Miss Holt. He didn't look very happy though," Mildred replied with a meaningful look.
"Hmm I know," Laura stated ruefully as she wondered where he had gone - she hoped not the same place she was intending to.
"I don't mean to pry Miss Holt but I couldn't help overhearing some of your...discussion. Is everything okay with you & Mr Steele?" Mildred asked with concern.
Laura sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "Sorry Mildred - I guess we did get a bit loud. And to answer your question - I don't really know."
Mildred saw the glimmer of tears in the younger woman's eyes and immediately stood up and put an arm around her. "Oh honey what's he done?" she asked sympathetically as Laura tried to fight back the tears.
"Oh it's not all his fault Mildred," Laura confessed, her voice choking on a sob. "I pushed him away with that stupid agreement we made in Cannes to just have a professional relationship. What did I expect him to do?"
It suddenly dawned on Mildred what Laura's cryptic comments earlier that morning had meant. "Has this got anything to do with that singer involved in that case you're investigating what was her name again?"
"Kate Kelly - yes it does. I dropped by Mr Steele's apartment this morning and she was there, coming out of the shower. It was pretty obvious what had gone on between them," Laura said between gritted teeth, her anger & jealousy starting to rise again.
"That's the one. Oh Miss Holt I'm sorry, I never should have given her Mr Steele's address. She called here last night just as I was closing up the office - said she needed to discuss something about the case with him. I guess that's not all she had in mind...the hussy," Mildred said, fiercely loyal to Laura.
"No it's okay Mildred, you didn't know'" Laura replied. Part of her wanted to think the same of Kate but she knew there was more to it than that. "Mildred it's complicated. I can't say I really blame her. It must have been a shock for her seeing him again after all those years." Mildred looked at her quizzically. "Apparently Kate Kelly was Mr Steele's first love," Laura explained, though it pained her to do so.
Mildred looked somewhat surprised. "So what are you going to do? I know he cares about you a great deal honey, despite what he may have done with her - that's why he was so upset I'd say," Mildred stated perceptively.
"I know he does Mildred. I .. care about him a great deal too." Laura rubbed her forehead. "This might sound crazy but I'm going to pay Kate Kelly a visit. Can you ring Miles Walker, her manager, and find out what hotel she's staying at?"
Mildred smiled conspiratorially. "What are you going to do - scratch her eyes out?"
"Something like that. I know one thing - I'm not going to give him up without a fight," Laura stated determinedly as Mildred replied, "You go girl !" as she gave her a quick hug then started dialling.
To Chapter 5