The car came to a stop, and she glanced out of the window to see that they were parked before Mr. Steele's apartment building. Made sense, she figured. Since he'd given Fred the night off, he needed a ride home "I'm sorry," she said.
"Sorry?" he repeated. "For what?"
"For dragging you out on a wild goose chase," she told him. "For wrecking your plans for the evening. But it's still early. Maybe you can-"
"No. But you can make it up to me," he suggested, and Laura watched him warily.
"By taking pity on a lonely man and go upstairs for a Valentine's drink with me. I might even throw something together for dinner. I didn't eat- and I'm rather certain you haven't either."
"And dinner," he nodded. "Unless you think your date might still be waiting for you to call."
"No," she told him, glancing down at the papers that were still in her lap. "I doubt it. He's probably found - someone else to spend the evening with by now."
Steele opened his door, then came around to open hers. "Shall we, Miss Holt?"
Laura tossed the papers onto the dash, forcing her mind to forget about the mystery that she hadn't a clue as to where to begin to solve for a moment. She took his offered hand and entered the building at his side.
He unlocked the door and stepped aside for her to enter, then followed, tossing his coat onto the back of the sofa before helping her to remove her coat. It joined his with a deft movement. She noticed his glance toward the dining room, and became aware of the fact that her mouth was watering. Something smelled delicious. Other things began to make their way past her confusion over the case that wasn't. A silver champagne bucket- filled with ice and a magnum of the effervescent beverage, a fire already lit in the fireplace, and, as she watched, Mr. Steele crossed to touch the stereo system, filling the room with soft music. "I thought you said you'd cancelled your plans?" she asked.
"Only the ones that YOU thought I had," he told her, picking up the bottle of champagne and removing the foil. "There's something for you over there," he added, nodding toward the table in front of the sofa.
Laura looked at him with growing suspicion as she sat down and touched the huge, satin topped, heart shaped box which surely contained chocolates. "Mr. Steele-"
POP! She looked up as he poured two glasses of wine and handed one to her. "Happy Valentine's Day, Laura."
They touched their glasses together, and took a drink, before he turned away. "I have to check on something in the kitchen. Won't be a moment." He paused in the dining room to look at her again. "Don't go anywhere, okay?"
Laura found herself nodding, her hand still on the soft, padded top of the box before her. Things were starting to fall into place. She'd been set up. He had never intended to have dinner with anyone else. But instead of simply ASKING her to dinner, he had, as usual, taken his usual shortest distance between two points-an angle. He'd created a mystery to keep her busy until he could get everything ready- and then gotten her off kilter enough that she would feel guilty about messing up HIS evening, so that she would come here with him- and let him spring his little trap.
The question was, what was she going to do about it? And she WANT to do it?
Remington had seen the dawning comprehension on Laura's face as she had taken her glass from him. It wouldn't take her long to figure out what he'd done. He pulled the duck from the oven, then patted his pocket to verify that he still had the keys to the Rabbit. Unless she called a taxi, Laura wouldn't be able to run off. He didn't kid himself that she wasn't going to be angry at his little deception. He just hoped that she didn't kill him first and ask questions later. Carrying the duck to the table, he glanced into the living room, and smiled slightly upon seeing her sitting where he'd left her. So far, so good, he thought, returning to gather the rest of the dinner he'd had brought in by Che Rive.
Lighting the candles, he called, "Laura, dinner's ready."
She entered the dining room, and paused. "Boy, when you throw something together, - should I be impressed, Mr. Steele?" she asked, and Remington had the uncomfortable feeling that she was waiting, giving him enough rope to hang himself with.
"Compliments of Che Rive," he told her, deciding on the truth, and pulling out a chair as she approached. After seating her, he went around the table and sat down across from her. Picking up his napkin, he shook it out. "I do have a confession to make."
"Really? Just one?"
"Uh, yes," he said, "I didn't invite anyone else to dinner this evening."
"No. I'd planned on asking you," he told her, "But you said you already had plans-"
"So you invented another Darlene," Laura said smoothly, referring to the imaginary "date" that he had invented to make her jealous once before.
"In a way." He gave her a bright smile. "But you're here now, aren't you?"
"Hmm. Thanks to the mysterious Mrs. Baxter and her son Norman," she agreed, taking a bite of the duck. "Che Rive's chef could almost rival your cooking, Mr. Steele."
Remington agreed, then took a drink of wine. "A bit heavy on the-" he saw her expression and grinned. "Sorry. It's very good."
"I DID say almost," she pointed out. "So. Why do you think she did it?"
He swallowed quickly. "I beg your pardon?"
"Helen Baxter- or whoever she was. Why did she go to all that trouble just to keep us occupied?"
"As I said, she was lonely-" he began.
"Why target you and me? Why involve two total strangers? Unless," she said, putting her napkin down and rising from the table to pace toward the living room, "one of us WASN'T a stranger to her. That's the only explanation, Mr. Steele, don't you agree?"
Remington met her dark eyes. Time to face the music, he supposed. "I think you've already figured it out, Laura."
"I think you set all of it up- a fake case to keep me occupied until all of this," she indicated the food on the table and the champagne, "could be made ready. Just like San Francisco."
He carefully folded his napkin, and rose to approach her. "You said that then that it was the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for you," he reminded her.
"How many of them were in on it?" Laura asked.
"All of them. Except for the woman who lives in Apartment 1C," he confessed.
"Who are they? Really?"
"Friends from the old days. Except for Mary- who I met when I first came to Los Angeles and became Remington Steele. Friends who were willing to aid in the cause."
"The cause?" Laura repeated, as he came to a stop just inches from her.
"You couldn't have just ASKED me to dinner?"
"I wanted to surprise you," Remington said. "To- catch you with your defenses down, so to speak. I guess I made an error in judgement."
"Maybe," she said, stepping closer. "But you know," she said, placing a hand on his chest, "I was wrong- about what I said in San Francisco."
"Um hmm. THIS is the most romantic thing anyone's ever done for me."
Remington froze. "It is? Then, you're not angry?"
"How could I possibly be angry after you went to so much trouble to do this?" she asked, lifting up on her toes to give him a kiss. "Happy Valentine's Day, Mr. Steele."
"You know, Laura, you're going to HAVE to pick a name that you're comfortable using for me when we're alone," he told her, drawing her down onto the hearth rug at his side.
She studied him for a moment, reaching up to touch his face. "I still say you look like a 'Harry'," she told him. "Harry," she said again, as if trying it on for size.
"Then I'll be Harry," he agreed, pulling her to his side with an arm around her shoulders. Reaching behind them, he picked up the heart shaped box. "You haven't opened your present," he told her, watching her uncertainty. Even now, she hated to give in to her fondness for chocolate.
Taking the box, Laura placed it on her lap and removed the lid, then the white paper that protected the chocolates was set aside. Remington lowered his head, trying to see her expression as she saw the small, white velvet, heart shaped box in the middle of a sea of dark chocolates. She looked up at him, her eyes wide. "H-Harry? What's-this?"
"I wonder how that got there?" he asked, watching as she picked it up with shaking fingers. "It's amazing what they're putting in chocolate these days," he commented.
She slowly opened the lid of the tiny box, and very nearly dropped it as she saw the blue stone surrounded by diamonds. "Is this-?"
"Royal Lavulite? Of course. What else would it be?" He turned to face her. "It brought us together." He touched her cheek. "Laura, you know that the words don't come easy to me- the ones you feel are so important, anyway. The way I was raised, it became easier to trust in people's actions, not their words. I've been here for over three years- longer than I've stayed in one place in my entire life. I'm not going anywhere." He took the ring from the box. "This- this is whatever you want it to be- but I want you to know, that when YOU'RE ready, I'll be here. Because I love you."
"What did you say?" Laura asked, her eyes searching his face.
"That I love you. I'm so much in love with you that when you're not around, I'm lost. Adrift at sea without a rudder or sail. You gave me a chance to turn my life around, gave me a name I can take pride in- a life that I don't want to leave. Without you in my life, I hate to think of where I might have ended up. I-"
She smiled. "For a man who doesn't say the words- when you do, you really say them." Laura touched the ring, then held out her left hand toward him. "I think that belongs here, Harry," she said in a quiet voice. "I'm in love with you too. I think I have been since that first day," she admitted in a soft voice, looking at the ring. Suddenly she lifted her eyes to his, and he saw the fear that was still there. "I'm not saying that I'm ready to- uh- rush out and - well- "
"Get married?" he suggested. He shook his head. "I know." He lifted her hand to his lips. "But someday- maybe?"
"Definitely," she said with a smile. "Someday."
They both laughed, and fell into one another's arms, holding each other tightly. "Oh, Laura," he finally said with a shuddering sigh. "I'm almost afraid that I'm dreaming. And that when I wake up-"
Laura lifted a hand to place it against his lips, silencing him as she finished his sentence. "When you wake up, Harry, I'll be right here, where I belong," she promised, and sealed that promise with her lips on his
Much later, Remington lay watching Laura sleep, reveling in the feel of her laying beside him, sleeping in his bed, exhausted from making love. He should have been sleeping as well, but his mind refused to shut down. She'd been everything he had ever dreamed she would be- and so much more that he couldn't even begin to understand or explain. She completed him, made him whole. The large chunk that had always been missing from his heart was there now- and even if someday never came, he was going to make damn sure that he stayed precisely where he was- at Laura's side.
It had been a perfect Valentine's Day after all, he decided, settling closer to Laura as his eyes closed