- Steele With A Twist
- Part 1
- Bernice Fox was sorting the morning mail when the door to
Suite 1157 opened. Looking up to greet the arrival, her smile
widened upon seeing her employer. "Mr. Steele."
Remington Steele, well-known private detective, barely glanced
at the receptionist as his blue eyes scanned the mail she handed
him. "Is Murphy in his office?" he asked with an accent
with just a hint of Irish lilt.
Sighing, Bernice told him, "He's in your office with a new
client. He asked me to send you in when you arrived."
Steele nodded. "Bring some tea, would you, Bernice?"
he asked as he turned toward the door.
Bernice moved toward the coffee alcove, sighing again. In the
three years that she had worked for Remington Steele Investigations,
Bernice had tried everything to gain the handsome man's attention.
Everything short of outright seduction, at any rate. Smiling,
she considered that it might be time to seriously consider that
approach. "All he can do is fire me, right?" she asked
herself as the telephone rang. Picking it up, she said, "Remington
- "Coming here is my last hope, Mr. Michaels," said
the man sitting on the sofa in the conference area. "If
Mr. Steele can't find her, then-" He was dark, conservatively
dressed, Steele noticed as his associate, Murphy Michaels rose
to his feet.
"Mr. Steele," he said, as the other man stood as well.
"This is Wilson Jeffries."
"Mr. Steele," Jeffries said, holding out his hand.
"I'd have recognized you instantly."
Steele took the hand, collecting bits of information as he did
so. The hand was smooth - few callouses. He wasn't used to working
with them, so he was probably an executive of some kind. The
conservative cut of the suit screamed "banker". Indicating
that Jeffries should return to his seat, Steele crossed to put
the mail on his desk before joining the two men. "What seems
to be your problem, Mr. Jeffries?"
"It's my- fiancee. Laura Holt. She's disappeared. Not that
it's unusual for her to take off," he continued nervously.
Seeing Steele's curious look, he continued, smiling. "Laura's
a- free spirit. Passionate, warm - but she tends to do crazy
things. I'm just worried that she might have gotten into some
kind of trouble -"
Sitting in the chair, Steele watched the man without appearing
to do so. "When did you last see her?"
Bernice came into the office, carrying a tray with Steele's tea
and two cups of coffee, then left without saying a word.
"Two weeks ago," Jeffries admitted. "I've already
been to the police, but they haven't found anything. You see,
Mr. Steele, I'm up for a major promotion at the bank. I'm a
vice president in charge of loans at First Federal Bank,"
he explained. "I asked Laura to marry me two weeks ago,
- there have been some- comments at the bank about our living
together. She became upset, said she had to think about it -
when I got home that night, she was gone."
"Had she taken anything with her?"
Murphy watched his boss question the man, content to let him
take the lead. He'd signed on with Steele after getting his license
at Havenhurst. He admired the man's feel for the work, and while
they certainly weren't best friends, there was no one that Murphy
would rather have backing him up on a case. As for Steele's background
before he'd become a P.I., Murphy was uncertain. There were many
rumors- including one that Steele had spent time working for
the CIA. But Steele himself had been unwilling to come across,
and Murphy had decided against trying to find out. The pay was
too good to jeopardize the job.
"Just a small suitcase. Everything else was still there.
Still IS." Jeffries ran a hand over his face. He gave the
appearance of a man at the end of his rope. "Maybe it's
my fault. Trying to turn her into something she's not. If I could
just find her, know that she's all right -"
Steele nodded. "I understand, Mr. Jeffries. Do you have
a photograph of the young woman?"
Jeffries handed him a photo. "It's the only one that show
her face really well," he explained.
"And a few other things as well," Steele commented
as Murphy came to peer over his shoulder at the picture of a
young woman, smiling into the camera, holding two strategically
placed fans to cover herself.
"Well, it was taken a few years ago while we were in Acapulco
at Pepe's. A bankers' convention. Laura went a little - over
"Apparently," Steele agreed, studying the face of the
woman in the photo. She was attractive, her smile revealing deep
dimples in her cheeks, her brown eyes alight with invitation.
"Is she fond of Acapulco? Might she have gone there?"
"It's possible," Jeffries said. "She didn't tell
her mother anything about going anywhere -"
Murphy sat down again. "Where does her mother live?"
"Here in LA. But she and Laura don't get along very well.
They never have, I think. At least,not since Laura's father left
when she was sixteen."
"And how old is she now?" Steele asked.
"Almost twenty six."
"Did she have a passport?"
"It's still at the apartment." He looked at Steele.
"Do you think you can help me, Mr. Steele?"
"We'll do what we can," Steele assured the man, exuding
confidence as they shook hands. "We'll be in touch."
"Thank you. And thank you, Mr. Michaels." Wilson left
the office, and Steele returned to studying the photo.
"Attractive, isn't she?" Murphy asked, sipping his
coffee. "Thing is, she's just like that in real life."
Steele turned to look at him. "You know Laura Holt? Why
didn't you mention it to Mr. Jeffries, Murphy?"
"Because I don't think he approved of the way she and I
met. We were at Havenhurst together."
"Havenhurst? She's a - "
Murphy lifted his hand, shaking his head. "I didn't say
that. She never finished. I had the idea that her boyfriend didn't
approve of her choice of career, and gave her an ultimatum."
Steele looked again at the photo. "The more I hear about
our client, Murphy, the more I wonder if we would be doing this
young woman any favors by finding her."
"I know. I had the same thought. But I'll start a skip trace,
see if I can find some kind of lead anyway."
"Good man." Steele went to his desk, putting the photo
down where he could look at it. "Have you finished the final
report on the Davis case?"
"It's just about ready ready for your signature," Murphy
assured him. "How was the Mayor's anti-crime breakfast?"
he asked, grinning as Steele shook his head.
"Boring. As they usually are. I might even send you to the
"No, thank you. I prefer to stay in the trenches."
Bernice entered the office, gathering the empty cups. "Some
more tea, Mr. Steele?" she asked in a soft voice that instantly
drew Murphy's attention.
Steele was busy concentrating on the mail on his desk. "Yes,
thank you, Bernice. And then would you please get Mr. Craig on
the telephone? I promised him an update on his case this afternoon."
"Yes, sir." She wrinkled her nose at Murphy's knowing
Once the door closed behind her, Murphy said, "You've got
a problem brewing there," he told Steele.
"Bernice? No, I don't think so. She'll get over it. You
know that she goes into this once a year - and then gives up."
"She looks pretty determined to me," Murphy told him.
When Steele sent him a look, Murphy turned toward the door that
led to his office. "Later. Gotta finish that report."
Alone, Steele put down the mail and turned to look out of the
window behind him. Routine. Everything was so damned routine
these days. He needed some REAL excitement. Something other than
the paper dolls that he went out with. Returning to the desk,
he picked up the mail, as his eyes fell on the photograph of
He found himself smiling, wondering about the young woman who
had probably scandalized her fiancee and his banker friends with
her fan dance. "This one is mine," he said to himself.
If Murphy got a lead on where she might be, Remington Steele
was going to be the one to find her.
Bernice returned with the tea, bringing it around the desk to
put it down, brushing arm against his shoulder. Steele revealed
nothing, said nothing, simply reached for the cup. "Thank
you, Bernice. Have you contacted Mr. Craig yet?"
"He's in conference. His secretary said he would call you
back a soon as he could." She started straightening the
mail, stopping to pick up the photo that he had been looking
at when she had entered. "Who's this?"
"Our new client's fiancee. She's apparently run off and
he wants us to find her."
"Have you checked out the clubs in Vegas?" She studied
the photo again. "Although, she doesn't look the type."
Steele took the photograph from her, and the mail. "Put
Mr. Craig's call through as soon as it comes in, please."
Bernice leaned against his arm for a split second, then moved
away, slowly toward the door, making certain that he had a chance
to appreciate the view. But when she reached the door, and glanced
back, it was to discover that he was engrossed in the mail again.
She closed the door with more force than usual. Time for plan
- She waited until Murphy left that evening before going into
Steele's office. "Excuse me, Mr. Steele-?"
"Yes, Bernice?" He was standing at the window again,
and she frowned. He'd been doing a lot of that lately.
"I really hate to trouble you, but- could I ask you to drop
me by my place? My car's in the shop, and trying to get a cab
this time of day -"
Aware of what she was doing, Steele considered sending her on
with the limo, then having it return for him. But it had been
a long day, and he had a date this evening with - He couldn't
recall the woman's name. They were all so similar, he supposed.
Nothing like that gamine face that peaked out from above a feathered
fan in the photograph in his pocket. "No trouble, Bernice.
Let me call for Fred, and I'll lock the doors."
Bernice went to get her jacket and purse as he did exactly that,
certain everything was going to go exactly the way she wanted
- Inside the long, black limousine, Bernice moved as close
to him as possible, and Steele refused to move away. "I
was thinking, since we're both together, why don't we stop off
for something to eat?" She told him. "I could whip
us up something at my place," she suggested.
"Sounds - lovely, but I have a previous engagement."
"Oh." <Of course he does, you silly fool,> Bernice
said to herself. <Why didn't you think of that?> "Some
other time, perhaps?" she said, practically pressing herself
against him, her hand on his thigh.
Steele looked down at that hand, wondering again how she managed
to type with those fingernails. He reached out and took her hand
in his. "Bernice, I -"
She pulled her hand away, sitting back from him at last. "No,
don't say it. You're not interested. I know you like girls- Heaven
knows I've seen a constant stream of them in and out of the office
during the last three years - so I guess it HAS to be me that
you're just not attracted to."
He took her hand again. "You're wrong, Bernice," he
told her, forcing her to meet his eyes. "You're a most attractive,
beautiful woman. But you ARE in my employ. And I won't take advantage
of that fact. If circumstances were different -" He brought
her hand to his lips as the limo stopped before her apartment
Bernice felt herself smiling, thinking that she might never was
her hand again as he helped her from the car and escorted her
to the building. He made certain she was safely inside before
returning to the limo and telling Fred to take him home.
- Bernice was sitting at her desk the next morning when he
entered the office, as usual. Her smile was tinged with a hint
of embarrassment as she told him, "Your private line's been
ringing all morning."
"Thank you. I'm expecting Mr. Craig to call again-"
"I'll put him through." She watched him go into his
office. Class with a capital C. That was Mr. Steele. He'd given
her a brush off last night, and left her wanting him even more.
It would almost be worth it to quit her job and find another,
just to see if he'd meant what he'd told her. But she didn't
think her bill collectors would agree with that assessment. She
saw the private line begin to ring again, and wondered who was
in such a hurry to talk to Mr. Steele.
- "Steele here -"
"Harry, my boy-"
Steele felt his features turn into granite upon hearing that
voice. "What do you want now, Daniel?" he asked without
"I was wondering if you had transferred those funds we discussed
"I'll take care of it this morning, Daniel," Steele
said. "Now, if that's all -"
"My name's Remington Steele," he said quietly as the
door between his office and Murphy's opened. "I'm really
very busy at the moment, Daniel. I'll take care of the funds
- Good bye." He wanted to slam the telephone down, but he
forced himself to return it gently.
"Your father again?" Murphy asked.
"Yes. My FATHER. Man's got all the paternal instincts of
an alley cat," Steele muttered. Taking a deep breath, he
looked at Murphy. "You wanted to see me?"
"I think I've got a lead on Laura Holt."
"Really? What is it?"
"The last person to have seen her might have been the housekeeper.
I called the woman, but she's Mexican -"
"And you're no farther along in learning Spanish,"
"Hey, I've been pretty busy."
"What's her address?"
"I thought we could go over there together -" Murphy
began, but Steele shook his head. "I need you to wait for
Mr. Craig to call with some information on his case. I'll go
and speak to the woman and see if she knows anything about Miss
Murphy looked at him for a long moment. "Okay." He
handed Steele the address. "She sounded a little nervous
when I talked to her -"
Steele picked up the telephone to call Fred to meet him downstairs.
"I'll be back in an hour or so."
Returning to his office, Murphy recalled the look of anger he'd
seen on Steele's face during the conversation with Daniel Chalmers.
That was another mystery about Remington Steele. He had a different
name from his father - and he hated the man. But for some reason,
he was sending Chalmers money at least once a month. He'd asked
Steele about it once, asked if Chalmers was somehow blackmailing
him. Steele had laughed at the idea, said that he thought it
was a little price to pay to keep the man away from Los Angeles
- Hortensia López lived in a run down apartment building,
with gang graffiti sprawled across most of the halls, and drug
deals going down around every corner. When he knocked on the
door of her apartment, the panel opened just wide enough for
him to see one dark eye in a dark face, topped by dark hair with
only a few white mixed in. "Señora López?"
Steele asked in Spanish. "I am Remington Steele. My associate
Murphy Michaels telephoned you earlier-"
"Si, si." She closed the door again, and he heard the
chain being removed before it was opened wider to allow him entry.
"Come in, Señor Steele."
Steele remained near the door as his eyes adjusted to the dimly
lit room. "Did you do any work for a Señorita Laura
"Si. She hired me to clean the apartment of her boyfriend."
She indicated a chair, the best one in the small room. "Please
sit. I can make coffee-"
"No, I just need to know when you saw Señorita Holt."
She looked away, nervous. Murphy had been right. Nervousness
was something that transcended the language barrier. Steele sat
forward. "Señora López, Señorita Holt
has been missing for two weeks. Her boyfriend has asked me to
"That one doesn't care if she comes back or not," Señora
López said. "All he cares about is what other people
see. Not what is inside," she declared, putting a hand to
her chest. "He wants Señorita Laura to become like
those women who don't worry about anyone except themselves. He
does not see the warm heart inside of her. How giving she is."
"Muy simpático, eh?"
"Si. Very nice. That's why I asked her to help me find Juan.
My son." She picked up a photograph of a young man, mugging
for the camera.
She nodded, tears filling her eyes. "Si. For almost a month
now. He makes deliveries to Acapulco every week - but a month
ago, he didn't come back. I got a telephone call from him two
weeks ago, saying he was in trouble and scared, but he hung up
before I could find out anything more. I was late getting to
Señorita Laura's to clean, and she noticed I was upset.
When I told her the reason, she offered to go and see if she
could find my son for me." She crossed herself. "I
hope nothing has happened to her."
Steele placed a hand on the woman's arm. "So do I, Señora.
Do you know who your son has been working for?" he asked.
She shook her head. "No. He did not tell me. But it is nothing
illegal. Juan would never do anything wrong. He is a good boy,
all I have."
Steele gave her hand a squeeze. "Has anyone contacted you
about Juan? About not talking to the police?"
Looking at her hands, she said, "Si. About a week ago. Two
men came, told me not to ask questions if I wanted to see my
son alive again."
"Señora López, I'm going to do everything
I can to find your son - and Miss Holt, and bring them back."
The woman smiled widely, her eyes overflowing. "Gracias,
Señor Steele. Mil gracias."
- Murphy was putting some papers on Bernice's desk when Steele
returned to the office. "That was a long hour," he
said, following Steele into his office. "What did you find
"That Laura went to Acapulco at Mrs. Lopez' request to try
and find the woman's missing son."
"Playing detective. What on earth was she thinking? She's
"She was trying to help a frightened woman locate her only
child, Murphy. Apparently this isn't totally out of character
for Miss Holt."
"No, it's not. Well, I guess I'll leave in the morning-"
"Leave? For where?"
"Acapulco," Murphy said. "I'll go down there and
find Laura Holt-"
Steele shook his head. "You're not going. I am."
"You're forgetting that I KNOW Laura, Steele."
"Which is exactly why you SHOULDN'T go down there. One look
at you and she's liable to turn 'round and run the opposite direction.
She's never met me, so she won't have the same reaction. Besides,
I promised Mrs. López that I would find them both. And
there's the added fact that YOU don't speak the language."
Murphy lifted his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay. I give
up. I'll stay here and man the fort. Oh, Mr. Craig called with
that information you wanted -"
"Where is it?" Steele asked as he went to the door.
"Bernice, set up a reservation for me to Acapulco first
thing tomorrow, please. Open return."
"Yes, sir," she said, already dialing the telephone.
Murphy held out some papers as he went toward the conference
area. "I think you're going to be surprised by this,"
he said. "Changes the whole case."
Steele read the information and nodded in agreement. "You're
going to have that one solved in twenty four hours, I should
"Yeah. And you'd have it done in twelve." Steele smiled
but didn't respond.
"I need to know everything you do about Laura Holt, Murphy."
"There's not much beyond what I've already told you."
"Did she show any promise at Havenhurst?"
"If she had applied herself, I think Laura could have been
better than anyone- even you. But she had a tendency to take
shortcuts, refuse to follow established procedure - Alan called
her a rebel, a loose cannon that he was afraid would get someone
seriously hurt or killed if she didn't calm down." He shook
his head. "But that girl had the best raw instincts for
this work, Steele, of anyone I've ever seen."
Steele put his head back against the back of the sofa. "Then
it's possible she might be onto something down there and staying
to follow it through."
"It's just as likely that she's in real trouble."
"You checked with the local airlines- she didn't fly out
"Jeffries said that her car is gone too. A white VW Rabbit
that he bought her last year - the license number is in the file,
I think." He went to his office and retrieved the manila
folder. "Yes. Here it is. She probably drove it down to
Steele shook his head in amazement. "She's got guts. A woman
alone, driving anywhere in Mexico -"
"I'd call it stupid," Murphy said.
Steele sat up and turned his attention to the file before him.
He wanted to know everything about Laura Holt. Because he was
going to find her, if it was the last thing he did.