Appetizer of a Challenge Leftover
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2001
sue hantak <>

The pace that was once unrestrained slowed to a fading shudder. Insistent clutches were replaced by soothing caresses. Mouths that recently vocalized their satisfaction were now engaged in a slow, savoring kiss. Laura broke the kiss and pushed his chest up off of hers, “This just doesn‘t feel right.”

"That didn’t feel right? Well, I’m sure we can make it right.” he readjusted his position and resumed his assault.

"No, <that> was very right. I just don’t like all this hiding out. We haven’t left this room...,” she corrected, “this bed... since yesterday and it’s the middle of the afternoon for God’s sake. I should be DOING something.

“You want to do something? I’ll give you something to do.” Remington rolled to his back pulling Laura on top of his body.

“I knew checking into this hotel with you was a mistake.” Laura straightened up and pointed to the window, “ I mean we should be out there... looking for him too. Since when are you so willing to take Jarvis’ advice anyway? ”

“Well, until the police or the sanitarium find that psycho they misplaced, I have to agree that this is for the best.” Remington smoothed his hands down the contours of her form. “Besides, I rather enjoy guarding your lovely body”.

“You? Guarding me? I thought I was the one guarding you. After all, you were his target the last time. You were the one who ended up with a broken leg when he rigged your elevator.”

“It doesn’t matter who is guarding whom. I simply find you infinitely more exciting to protect than Lester Shane.” He pulled Laura down for another kiss.

“Or Toni and Teri” Laura added kissing him in return.

“Or Frank Dannon” (kiss)

“Or Rocky Sullivan.”(kiss)

“Or Sheldon Quarry.”(kiss)

“Or Mrs. Dix.(kiss)

“Or Mr. Perret.”(kiss)

“Bing” they said in unison, laughing, with lips still pressed together.

“You’re right, Mr. Steele, protecting each other this time does have certain benefits.”

Remington’s demeanor turned a bit more serious. “Laura,” he started cautiously, “I’m the last person in the world to ever question good fortune, but what made you change your stance on this matter? You had always been so, so staunch, so unwavering... then out of the blue, that one night, you, (ahem)... we...”

Laura slowly got up from the bed, wanting to change the subject. “I wonder if this place provides those luxurious robes for guests.” She wandered into the bathroom.

Remington scooted up to recline against the headboard. With arms folded he yelled in her direction, “Laura? I want to know.”

Laura came out wrapped in one of those robes. She leaned seductively against the door jamb. “There is a jacuzzi in here, Mr. Steele.” Then almost as if she were modeling the garment, she sauntered closer. “Care to join me?”

He yanked her impatiently by the ends of the white belt. Laura was now half seated on the bed with one leg bent at the knee in front of her and the other still draped over the side. He looked at her intently, and firmly asked again, “Come on, out with it.”

A few moments of uncomfortable silence passed. Anxiety accelerated her breathing. She raked her hands through her hair in a calming effort. When they fell to her lap they landed on top of his wrists still clutching her. He released his hold on her belt and took her small hands in his.

His touch was distracting and persuasive at the same time. Laura quietly admitted, “Remember when we went to Wilson’s wedding in New York? You were so uncomfortable and contemptuous the whole time. I know how you feel about that sort of serious involvement. Then we came home to that pick six mess and we were on the run, hiding for our lives.”

He nodded, but not really sure where she was going with this.

Wrestling her hands from his grasp, she absently fiddled with the ends of the belt, giving them far more attention than necessary. “I just decided that life isn’t perfect and its far too short to wait around for things to happen. I either had to move on... to someone else who wanted the same things I did.” Laura paused, regretting that she said too much.

“Or?” he prompted.

“Or....” she reluctantly continued, “give in to you, although I know it’s never going to be anything more.”

“So you lowered your standards to sleep with me?” He asked both hurt and astounded.

“I suppose you could say that.”

His mouth gaped open in bewilderment. All this time he thought the progress they made recently meant that she finally trusted him, finally trusted what was between them. She didn’t need to ‘explore’ and ‘analyze’ anything further. This relationship was what she wanted. <He> was what she wanted. But now she was sitting there telling him that this isn’t what she wanted at all.

“Don’t look so surprised Mr. Steele, a casual fling is all you wanted from the start.”

His voice fill the expanse of their room and beyond. “Fling! Casual? You call this...” He motioned between them and the rumpled bed, “casual?”

Never to be outdone, Laura challenged, her voice matching his in volume, “Then TELL me it wasn’t!”

He clenched his jaw then opened his mouth to retaliate. He was about to utter a profanity but slurred it into another word with controlled anger, “Fu..ffffforget it, Laura, I’m not having this argument again.”

He got up from the bed and yanked on his clothes. Zipping up his trousers with a decisive degree of finality. He disturbed the ‘do not disturb’ sign as it swung and flapped against the jamb when he slammed the door on his way out.


The racetrack. Just as she drowned her thoughts in the surging waves of the beach on occasion, she knew Mr. Steele took the same refuge at the racetrack. She found him in the clubhouse. A drink and race form, both lay on the table in front of him, neither seemed to interest him.

Laura approached picked up the program and tried a bit of levity, “So who looks good in the fourth?”

“If you believe in divine signs, there’s one by the name of Casual Fling that might interest you.”

“Oooomph. I give up. There’s no talking to you.” Laura slapped the racing form back on the table and stormed away.

He stewed for another hour or so before returning to the hotel. Surprised to find Laura there, he remarked, “Mildred said you were at the office.”

“I was. Mildred yelled at me. I stopped by the loft, Jarvis yelled at me there so here I am. Do you want to yell at me too?”

He did, but opted for something less confrontational, “What are you working on?”

“Case summaries. Just cause I can’t be in the office, doesn’t mean I can’t work.”

“Have you eaten?” Another seemingly inoffensive topic.

“No, I’m not really hungry.”

“Have you eaten anything all day?”

“No.” Laura countered. Then, in a tone changing from mechanical to sympathetic, she added, “Have you?” Laura’s timbre effectively asked if he was as upset as she over what transpired between them earlier. Laura got up from her seat and walked to the window uncertain whether she wanted to know if he ‘ate’ or not.

He too sensed they were no longer talking about food at all. He approached her warily, “Laura, I admit that I wanted to fling you from the very start, but I also always knew it would be more than casual between us.”

“I’m sorry I shouldn’t have said that. I’ve been trying to convince myself that I could do this ...this... physical part without investing anything more into it, emotionally speaking.”

“So did you really lower your standards to sleep with me?”

“To a certain degree. but mostly because I couldn’t fight it anymore.”

“Fight what?”

“You... me... the attraction... the desire... the temptation.”

He closed in on her. In a low, sincere tone, he pointed out, “It’s more than that and you know it.” He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her back against his chest. “Laura, you are a skilled investigator. Don’t tell me you can’t interpret the clues that you have in front of you and draw the indisputable conclusion. ”

“Is it? Really? Indisputable?"

“What are your trained instincts telling you?”

“That you may be right.” She turned in his embrace and wrapped her arms around him, “I guess it wouldn’t be much of a challenge solving mysteries if everyone came out and confessed all the time. ”

“And it wouldn’t be this much fun, either,” Remington reminded her just before kissing her.


The end