Holting My Hands
Date: Thursday, June 01, 2000
Anne Rose <arplab@yahoo.com>

Special thanks to my beta readers Linda and Jax for
their editing, insights and honest opinions.


Laura sat patiently in the worn upholstered chair, studying the fortune-telling paraphernalia hanging on the walls. What was taking that woman so long, anyway? The windowless back door of the wagon was shut tight, giving Laura no clue as to why she was kept waiting. A few minutes more, Laura thought, and then I'm leaving.

About the time Laura was ready to go, the back door opened and an elderly woman in a gaudy red and yellow dress climbed up the steps. She smiled kindly at Laura and sat down.

"Greetings, my dear, I am Madame Ludmilla. You would like me to read your palms, yes?"

Laura tried not to smirk at the cheesy accent. Madame Ludmilla was probably from Nebraska, not the old country, she thought.

"Have you ever had your palms read before?"


"It is best to look at both hands. The left reveals the past, the right the present and future. May I?" Madame Ludmilla reached toward Laura, who put her hands out, palms up. The old woman studied them carefully. "Your fingers, they are pointed at the ends, yes? You are perhaps in a line of work that requires a great deal of thinking and intuition?"


She turned Laura's hands over. "And your nails, they are narrow. This also indicates an intuitive mind." She set Laura's right hand down on the table and held the left in both hands. "This is your life line, here." She traced a line beside Laura's thumb. "It curves out in a nice wide arc. You are a person with a lot of energy, a lot of, how you say, get up and go?"

Laura smiled. "Some might say a little too much."

"Yes, I see. And this is your head line." She ran her index finger up the center of Laura's palm. "It is long and straight. You think things through carefully, deliberately, yes?"

Laura nodded.

"And this is your heart line." She ran her finger across the width of Laura's hand. "It is fairly solid and strong, but I do see two distinct breaks here, one near the beginning of your life, and another a few years later. A loss of love, yes?"

Laura swallowed hard and nodded.

"Someone who has hurt you very much?" Madame Ludmilla
asked gently. She squeezed Laura's hand reassuringly and went on. "We should not dwell on what has gone before. The past is past, yes? Now let us look to the future."

Madame Ludmilla patted Laura's left hand gently as she set it down, then picked up her right and examined it.

"Now, we will look at the right hand and see what your future holds. Your life line here is strong and even, a long and happy life ahead, yes?"

"I hope so."

"On this hand, your heart line ends here," pointing to the base of Laura's index finger. "That tells me that you are very particular about your partners, how you say, choosy?"

"I suppose that's true."

Madame Ludmilla bent closer to Laura's hand and peered at it, her brows knitted in concentration. "Hmmm, this is most unusual. In your heart line I sense the color blue, but I do not understand its significance."

Laura bent to look too. "I don't see anything blue."

Madame Ludmilla looked at her and shrugged. "Perhaps it is something I sense, rather than actually see. Nevertheless, it is there somewhere. But I cannot determine whether it represents an object, or a person."

"It might be both."

The palmreader's eyebrows went up in a question, and then her attention returned to her reading. "I see right here in the middle of your heart line, a widening, of someone coming into your life. I cannot tell how long ago. And here, coming up to meet your heart line is your head line. This tells me your heart and your mind are at odds, yes?"

Laura eyes widened in astonishment. She had come in with a healthy dose of skepticism, planning on just being entertained. She thought that palmreaders were only skilled guessers, but Madame Ludmilla's predictions were alarmingly accurate.

Laura's curiosity got the best of her. "What happens with my heart line in the future?"

The older lady smiled. "It is not so easy to tell if your happiness is bound to just one person, but this widening continues all the way to the edge of your hand - if I am seeing this correctly, there is someone who wants to be part of the rest of your life."

Laura's breath caught in her throat. This woman was remarkable! How could she possibly know what Laura had stored up in her heart all this time?

Madame Ludmilla smiled at her reaction. "Have I perhaps seen things as they are, or as they could be, yes?"

"Remarkably accurate, Madame."

"This someone, if I were to read the palm, would there
also being a widening in his?"

"I think there would be," Laura answered quietly.

"Now, darling, it is one thing to read the palms and tell what is seen. But what you do with it is entirely up to you. This one, if I were to ask, would he know why the widening was there?"

"He might have a pretty good idea."

"Ah. But would he know for sure?"

"No, because I've never told him."

"My dear, you cannot risk letting the opportunity go by. It would grieve me to see your palm again someday in the future and find that your heart line had splintered again, as I saw in your left."

Laura sat quietly, staring at her own hand. It still was beyond her comprehension how so much had been surmised by this little old lady.

"Is there any more I can tell you?"

"No, thank you. I should be going."

"Very well. Have a joyful life, Ninotchka, but remember, that is up to you."

Laura squeezed her hand. "I will, I will remember."

Laura went out into the late afternoon, still a little dazed by her session. She saw Remington sitting on a bench near the Ferris wheel watching the riders go round and round. Laura came up from behind and sat beside him.

"Laura! Well, what sorts of tales did the old charlatan tell you?"

"It was actually quite interesting."

"Oh, come now, Laura, it's just an amusement. No one takes those old maids seriously." Laura did not respond, so Remington changed the subject. "Have we seen everything there is to see? Ready to go?"

"Yes, let's go."

They were walking arm and arm toward the car when Remington stopped short. "Oh, blast, I've left my jacket somewhere," he exclaimed.

Laura, still processing what the fortune teller had said, hadn't even noticed. "Do you have any idea where it is?"

"Yes, now that I think about it, I do. Why don't you wait right here and I'll go get it?" he asked.

Laura nodded and Remington gave her a quick smile. "Back in a flash - don't move!"

Laura watched him run off toward the sideshow tents. She wondered how Madame Ludmilla had done such an accurate assessment of her past. She chided herself for believing what the palmreader had seen. Don't be a sap, Laura, she thought. Perhaps, as with horoscopes, the palmreader had made a lot of sweeping generalizations that Laura had interpreted they way she preferred her life to be. But her implications about Wilson and her father had certainly been rather startling. Not only that, her predictions for the
future really made Laura pause.

Laura snapped out of her reverie when two trainers came up behind her with the elephants. She moved out of their way onto the grass and watched them go by. When they had passed she had a new view of the sideshow and could see one side of the palmreader's wagon. Some movement there caught her eye, and even though the light was fading she was sure that she saw Remington talking to Madame Ludmilla, his jacket on his arm. When Laura saw him shake hands with her and give her a quick buss on the cheek, she sensed conspiracy.

Her reaction flitted quickly between anger and curiosity. No wonder Madame Ludmilla had hit the target so accurately! How could she not if she knew what Laura wanted to hear, in advance? Laura did not have much time for her mood to build, however, as she Remington hurrying her way. Laura pushed her anger aside, at least until she could see how this scene
played out. Her innate curiosity took its place, and if Remington had some pleasant conspiracy cooking, she was willing to let it play out a little longer. She turned her back on the sideshow and returned to where she had been standing when Remington left her.

Remington reached for her hand and steered her toward the car. "I've got a nice pot of soup ready at home, just the thing for this chilly day. Will you join me?"

"Sounds great," Laura said cheerfully, trying to cover for her preoccupied mind.

During dinner Laura stayed quiet, turning over the events of the day in an endless videotape loop. Laura was convinced that Madame Ludmilla wasn't as skilled at palmistry as Laura had initially thought.

"For having spent the day at one of your favorite places, you're awfully quiet."

Laura came back to the moment. "I'm sorry, I haven't been much for conversation tonight, have I?"

"That's all right. Those were some rather good fliers today, eh?"

"Yes, they were wonderful." Laura got up to start clearing the table.

"Here, I'll take care of that," Steele said. "Why don't you go sit and relax, and I'll make some coffee. With a splash of Amaretto, perhaps?"


Laura sat on the couch and tucked her feet under her. Now that she had decided she had been duped by the conspiring Mr. Steele and the dubious Madame Ludmilla, her anger began to work its way to the surface again. He knew full well how much Laura hated to be manipulated, whether by a client, or him. She debated whether to reward him, or to make sure that he never tried it again. But her anger began to subside when
she realized that he was only steering Laura in a direction she fully intended to go, someday.

She recalled the delightful day they had spent together. She hadn't even been aware that the small circus was in town, but when Remington had showed her the advertisement in the paper and announced his plans for their day there, she couldn't have been happier.

Of course she was touched by all the effort he put into pleasing her on a daily basis, and today's plan was certainly going above and beyond. She, after all, was the one who had hinted that the relationship needed something to shake things up - perhaps this was his way of moving them forward.

"Here we are." Steele's voice jolted Laura out of her meditation. She took her cup and saucer from him and sipped the almond-laced coffee.

Remington sat down next to her with a sigh. "I had a good time today," he said with a smile.

"Me too. Thanks again."

"My pleasure, Laura. Whatever makes you happy makes me happy."

Laura decided not to wait for an opening this time - she would make her own. "Madame Ludmilla made some interesting predictions."


Liar, Laura thought. "The palm reader."

"Oh, Laura, please. Next thing you know we'll be looking in the phone book for tarot card readers."

"No, really. It was interesting." She took their dishes and set them on the coffee table. "Let me read your palms."

"Laura, that's all a lot of clever speculation. Believe me, I should know."

"C'mon, let me look." She held his hands palms up and
pretended to study them. "Hmmm, this is very interesting. Your life line has a lot of little splinters in it. Been in a risky line of business?"

Remington looked at her skeptically. "You're going to make this up as you go along, aren't you?"

Laura didn't answer. "Your life line runs fairly close to your thumb. You're a kind of low energy sort, perhaps? You prefer to sit and watch a movie as opposed to, say, checking out leads?"

"Very funny."

Laura smiled to herself. She was enjoying this. "Now let's examine your heart line, shall we?" She gently stroked his palms with her thumbs. "Well, what a coincidence. You have a widening in your line the same as I do, see?" She let go for a moment and put her hand on top of his.


"Madame Ludmilla says that means that someone has come into your heart." She looked up at Remington and studied him intently. Perhaps under the circumstances she could tolerate being manipulated, just this once, now that she had some reassurance as to how Remington would react.

She summoned all her courage to bring herself to make that enormous leap and confess what she had been hiding inside her. "I hope it's me, because I love you, Remington Steele."

Remington wrapped both his hands around Laura's, a laugh strangled in his throat. All he could do was smile broadly. It worked, he thought happily, it worked! He leaned into her and kissed her deeply.

"Laura, I love you, too," he finally managed. "I've been wanting to tell you that for a long time."

"Let me see your hand again." She studied his fingertips. "I see some black smudges here. It seems that someone has been reading a new copy of 'The Schemer's Guide to San Francisco'," she said quietly.

Remington snatched his hand away but could not look Laura in the eye. His delight at their shared revelation evaporated as he realized his plan had been revealed. He braced himself for the firestorm he was sure would follow.

"I saw you and Madame Ludmilla when you had supposedly misplaced your jacket."

No response.

"You primed her with information about me, didn't you?"

Still no response.

Laura had a sudden realization. "That's why it took you so long to get back from the concession stand while I was waiting for the aerial show, wasn't it?"

Remington did not dare to hope that Laura's response to his plot would be the same as it was in San Francisco. He gathered up the nerve to look at Laura.

"Yes, to all of the above."

"I thought you never repeated yourself."

Remington shifted uncomfortably. "Well, perhaps we could just call it a variation on a theme?"

"And did you really feel it was necessary to go to such elaborate lengths to tell me how you feel?"

He took Laura's hands in his. "Despite the outward appearance I present to the public and our clients, when it comes to where I stand with you I am a bundle of insecurities, Laura."

"So, you chose the angle again, instead of the straight line."

Steele did his best to sound penitent. "It was underhanded and devious. I hope you can forgive me."

Laura could not maintain her serious demeanor any longer. "I suppose I will forgive you, again. But I hope you will never-"

"-do something like that again?"

Laura started over. "I hope that you will never stop being so calculatingly romantic. I had no idea it would take a two-bit circus act to convince me to tell you that I love you." She kissed him gently. "I'll be very disappointed if you don't try something like that again some time."

"You're actually giving me permission?"

"Sure. You're getting more creative all the time." She laughed and turned his right hand over again. "Let's have one more look. I see here that this someone will love you for the rest of her life." She lifted his palm to her lips and kissed it.