Steele Bitter (part 2)
Date: Monday, April 03, 2000
sue hantak <>

(Part 2)

"John Devin.....John Devin....D...E...V...I...N?" Steele repeated and spelled the name to confirm what Mildred just told him.

"I'm running him through the credit bureau and DMV but so far, nothing"

"You said he wanted to impress her .....and they just met?"

Mildred shrugged her shoulders. He kept asking her the same thing over and over. Mildred heard her phone ring and left his office. Steele reclined in his chair and pondered where and when Laura could have met a John Devin. He began cursing himself for not doing legwork with Laura. Any number of times Laura left the office without him. She routinely goes to the hall of records, newspaper archives, and countless other mundane destinations that he tries to avoid. Of course, there is also the gym and the park where she runs...*I guess I should have started training with her. Oh this is ludicrous. So what, someone sent her some flowers. It's not like she's dating anyone else?* As much as he tried to put it out of his mind, it still nagged at him.

Over lunch, he tried to see what he could find out from Laura herself. Fred dropped them at a cafe they frequent. The hostess led them to a secluded table. Steele started with a seemingly harmless question, "So, you've been rather busy lately?"

Laura looked up over the menu wondering where this was going, "No busier than usual, why?"

"Nothing......Nothing.... It just seems like a long time since we've done lunch."

"We were together most of the know I don't like to dawdle over long lunches while I'm working."

"What or should I say who have you been working on?"

She had enough of his cat and mouse game, "Why this sudden interest in my cases"

"Our cases," he corrected her. " Laura, I thought we were a team?"

"I never intentionally exclude you. Anytime you want to do legwork, just say the word."

They were both relieved when the waitress brought their order. Remington felt he may have pushed too hard and Laura felt like she was being cornered. To be honest, she like working alone. He was helpful at times, but when something needed to get done, he was more of a distraction. All it took sometimes was a smile or those mesmerizing blues eyes and Laura would easily lose her focus.

A new client was waiting on the outer office when they returned from lunch. As Laura was showing the client into Mr. Steele's office. Mildred tugged on Remington's sleeve and pulled him aside in a conspiratorial manner.

"HE called while you two were at lunch"
"Who called, Mildred?"
"John Devin,.. he asked if Miss Holt was be exact he asked if LAURA was in."

"He used her first name?"

Mildred nodded, "I told him she was out, but he wouldn't leave a number. He said she had his number."

Laura interrupted "Mr. Steele? ......If you have a moment, we should get started"

Before he joined Laura, he whispered to Mildred, "Get a number, an address, anything...and I mean pronto!"


Devin was an electronics wizard. Specifically telephones. He was a silent partner in a scam foiled by Laura. His name never came up in the original investigation. Like Descoine, he assumed Steele was behind his downfall. He was purposely recruited by Descoine. For this to work, they would need to manipulate the phone system. They would monitor, intercept or alter any necessary calls to create the illusion that Laura was involved with a man by the name of John Devin. The simple illusion of a date consisted of a fabricating or changing an innocuous appointment for Laura. It wasn't enough however to just have Laura "cheating". Descoine needed both Laura and Remington suspicious and accusing each other to drive a damaging and permanent wedge between them. Unwittingly he chose a tactic that touched the most insecure aspect of either of their lives. The fact they rarely discussed their feelings and relationship at all would play right into Descoine's plan. Laura would never admit an underlying insecurity when it came to Remington. She felt she was too "ordinary" at times. She wasn't sure how she measured up to the women of his past and always anticipated he would desert her for the next cup-size that came along. Remington, too, walked on eggshells where Laura was concerned. A true, committed relationship with a woman was unfamiliar ground for him. His body desired her, his heart wanted her, it was his autonomous ego that occasionally told him he didn't need her.

Laura peeked her head into Mr. Steele's office at 5:30 announcing her departure, "I'm leaving for class ...

Will you put the Chandler contracts on my desk after you sign them?"

"Class? I was hoping we could go ....."

Laura interrupted her before he could finish, "It's know I have class".

She backed into her office. Before she turned off the light she glanced at the floral arrangement for the countless time. A warm fluttering sensation churned within Laura. She took a deep breath briefly contemplated blowing off class, but promised herself to go see him afterwards.

A pair of binoculars focused on Laura as she got into her car and left the parking lot. Knowing she was gone, he dialed the number for the office. Remington heard the phone ring for the fourth time before he came out of his office searching for Mildred. Reluctantly, he picked up the phone, "Steele here,"

"Is Laura in?"

"She left for the evening, may I help you?"

"Damn, I was hoping to catch her..." he talked aloud, but in a manner as if he was talking to himself, " I need to meet her at a different place than we planned"

Remington slightly off-balanced remained silent. He managed to squelch his jealous feelings throughout the day, but now on the other end of the phone was a real person who seemingly had a date with Laura.

Devin added a bit more fuel to the fire, "I'll just catch her at home later." He hung up the phone. Remington's heart nervously raced. His hand covered his mouth as he debated with himself. *she wouldn't lie to me....if there is another man, why would she think I sent the flowers? .....she wouldn't hide anything from me....

............except this*

Mildred nudged him out of his trance."Boss?........something wrong?"

"I believe Mr. Devin" Remington spit out his name in disdain, "just called".

"Oh, that reminds me." The older woman dug into the bottom drawer and retrieved a file folder. "I found this when I did my search" A grainy black and white photo revealed an attractive man. The photo was from a press release. Much to Remington's dismay, it chronicled Mr. Devin's philanthropic endeavors and charitable works. John Devin appeared to be everything he thought Laura found attractive in a man. Of course the press release was electronically planted in a database just waiting for Mildred to "find" it.

Remington reluctantly inquired, "Where does Laura have her class?"
To Be continued---
To Part 3