Collaborating Steele (finale)
Date: Wednesday, July 12, 2000
sue hantak <>

Part 3

Butch's first inclination was to develop a voluptuous sexpot as his main character. Laura wasn't too far off when she mused that the character would bed every man in sight. After spending a few days with Laura however, Butch began to envision a somewhat differ leading lady. He saw a subtle sexiness in Laura. Someone who could enchant and captivate just by letting down her hair. Eight days of being with Laura, he found her sarcastic humor and the childlike sparkle in her eye, just as appealing as any curvaceous beauty. He even decide on the name of Lorna for the character. There were some differences though between Laura and Lorna. Lorna had no problem with having sex in the office. Need I remind you, this IS a Butch Beemis novel. In fact, Lorna and her boss, Mack Derringer had sex often. And when they weren't having sex, they were arguing about it. Laura wasn't going to be amused by the segment that was suspiciously similar to the conversation Butch overheard, but the Cinderella quote was too good for him to pass up.

Remington was jealous. No two ways about it. Laura spent her day working on the case with Butch and she spent her evenings editing the mystery segments of Butch's novel. Laura hated to admit that she was enjoying her role in the process. For once, someone asked HER for HER opinion. She wasn't just a woman in the shadows, the female accessory of Remington Steele. She did miss her time with Remington though. When they did have a few moments together, either an argument about Butch would erupt or Butch himself would interrupt. They had worked so hard to build their professional image. They struggled so long to have a personal relationship and now it seemed like they had neither. Laura decided she wasn't going to allow this to destroy both. When Remington answered the door at sunset, she just pulled him by the hand with a secretive, "Come with me."

Her destination was a seaside bed and breakfast. Instead of going through the entrance, Laura led him down to the beach. She let go of his hand, kicked off her shoes and walked down to a spot where her feet were gently washed by the surf.

"What is all of this about, Laura?"

She turned. "This is about us; about finding a neutral, Butch-free zone." She walked back to where he stood and put her arms around his neck. "This is about...this." She stretched up on her tiptoes and pulled his head down to meet her lips. His hands wrapped tightly around her body as they engaged in a slow, wet, passionate kiss.

Remington was ready to continue in a more private setting, "Are we really staying here?"

"Room 6...We don't have to check out until two pm tomorrow."

"But isn't tomorrow Thursday?"

"I'm not going anywhere. As a matter of fact they're going to have to drag me out of that bed." Laura kissed him again as if to seal that promise.

"Hmmm I like the sound of that. What do you say we check out the accommodations of room number 6?"

Mildred had her suspicions about why they were so late. They were quite accurate suspicions, however, Mildred had no idea where they were. Butch was rather annoyed that Laura stood him up and he couldn't reach her. He always got his way where women were concerned. The only other time a woman did this to him was Laura herself who told him off during the Mystery Writer's Guild case. He waited impatiently for about ten minutes before he stomped out like a spoiled child determined to go home and write a few chapters guaranteed to infuriate Laura as his revenge.

Laura made it to the office in time to get a stack of messages from Mildred before she left for the day. "Mr. Beemis made a brief appearance looking for you this morning and that chemist from Stanford, what's-his-name......."

"Mitch?" Laura helped.

"Yeah, Mitch. He says he's got your love potions ready?"

"Good then maybe we can finally wrap up the Orlean's Fragrance case."

"Miss Holt, what's all this about love potions?"

"Just a code name for the plan to catch our perfume spy. Orleans is such a small company that there are only a handful of people who even have access to the formula. We've narrowed down the suspects to the four that work in research and development. Each will be given a slightly altered formula for the new fragrance. When the competitor beats Gigi to the market with their version of her fragrance, we'll have it analyzed and ..."

"The chemical makeup will point to which one sold the formula." Mildred excitedly finished for Laura.


"Oh Miss Holt, that's brilliant."

"Thank you, Mildred."

The cloak and dagger subterfuge of substituting formulas was just the kind of clever hook that Butch wanted to incorporate into his mystery as well. However, the ever manly Butch Beemis couldn't use the foo- foo perfume industry as the setting or his novel. He simply changed perfume to beer and added a few gruesome murders.
Several weeks passed. While Laura was still waiting for her villain to surface, in the world of fiction, Lorna and Mack already exposed their beer felon and Butch finished his manuscript. Laura received her final copy, complete with the tawdry portions he had been keeping from her for the past month. Laura sat at one end of the sofa, Remington at the other with their bare feet sensuously converging in the middle. As she would finish a chapter, she would pass it to him to read. Although Lorna wasn't the slutty vixen she feared, the name Lorna was just a bit too close for comfort as well as the excessively frequent and graphic sexual affair between her and the fictitious "boss". She would roll her eyes and sigh heavily on occasion, obviously irritated at the similarities. Remington on the other hand was immensely entertained by the exploits of Lorna. She was the hot blooded, vivacious version of his Laura. Several of his fantasies were coming to life through the pen of Butch Beemis. Perhaps he wasn't so different from him, afterall.

"He's gone too far." Laura declared as she turned another page. "He said he wasn't going to include me, I mean her ...sleeping with the boss."

"You told him about us?"

"Of course not!"

"Why are you so offended by the thought that other people may know we're lovers?"

"You have to ask?"

"No, really, Laura, tell me," he crossed his arms challenging her. "Why do you care what people will think?"

"I have worked so hard to be respected and it would completely undermine all my efforts."

"But you and I know the truth, that should be enough."

"I see you over there smiling, snickering at the adventures of Lorna, would you seriously trust her with your case?"

"I'm just imagining you as Lorna."

"I'm...NOT... Lorna." she enunciated each word gritting her teeth.

"Too bad,...Lorna obviously doesn't have a problem with sex in the office." He gave her a sly smile that seemed to ease her annoyance. Maybe she was taking this too personally. So Butch exaggerated a little, he was just writing for his audience.

"Lorna doesn't seem to have a problem having sex anywhere, at any time. Have you got to the part about the elevator yet?" Laura's foot glided higher on his leg. Remington put his portion of the manuscript on the coffee table, placed Laura's there too and crawled over to her side of the sofa. His upper body covered hers as his lower body rested between her legs. He brushed his lips near hers, "There happens to be an elevator in this building."

"Five floors...doesn't give us much time."

"Do you always have to be so practical? We could go in the closet and pretend."

"You're sicker than Butch."

"Then I guess this couch will just have to do, again." Just as he reached down to the hem of her sweatshirt, the phone rang. Remington let go, reached above Laura's head to the end table. "They couldn't call us in the elevator," Remington mentioned to Laura as it rang once more before he picked up the receiver, "Steele, here."

"Mr. Steele, I hate to interrupt, but is Miss Holt there?"

"Well there is an attractive woman under me as we speak, let me check and see if it's Miss Holt..."

"Oh, give me that..." Laura scolded as she took the phone from him.

"Miss Holt, I'm sorry, but I thought you should know. Gigi Orlean's new fragrance is called "Escalate" isn't it?"
"Yeah, why?"

"I just saw a commercial from Aromaniac for their newest perfume called "Intensify". It's might be what you've been waiting for. They said it can be found most drug stores and discount centers."

"Thanks Mildred, I'll have to run out and get some."

Laura was just about to hang up when Mildred guiltily asked, "Miss Holt? Is Mr. Steele really on top of you right now?"

"Mildred, How many rings until he answered?"

"Three...I think."

"If it's ever more than five or six, then you'll know we're...busy."

Laura handed the phone to Remington to return it to the base. She pushed on his shoulders, "C'mon get up, we need to go to the drug store."

"Laura, I thought you had that covered."

"Not that... God, you have a one- track mind...The perfume is on the market... Hand me my shoes."

They bought ten different bottles from a variety of stores with a variety of lot numbers thinking that was an adequate sampling to analyze. Hopefully Aromaniac didn't tinker too much with the stolen formula and would leave the marker chemical in their product. Remington, too did a bit of shopping. However he kept his purchases well hidden in the bags telling Laura he bought some toiletries, a new robe, batteries and several other seemingly mundane items. Actually he did buy all those things, but what he failed to tell Laura they were intended for her(except the batteries for his remote). She used the excuse of not having "any of the things she needed" one too many times in her early-morning escapes. He bought her a toothbrush, razor, shave gel, a robe, nylons, some panties, plus an assortment of shampoo, deodorant, soaps and lotions. She was on her own as far as the bra was concerned. All he needed to do was convince her to bring over a few outfits and she would have no need to run home to change. When they returned to Rossmore, he took his bags into the bedroom and closed the door while Laura called her chemist-friend. Laura walked toward the bedroom. She knocked. "What are you doing in there?"

"I have a surprise for you...just one minute." He led her by the hand. Their first stop was the closet where he showed her the new robe. Before she could say anything, he pulled open a dresser drawer to show her the panties and nylons mingling with his socks and underwear.

"Mr. Steele..." She started.

He then dragged her into the bathroom where he had all the other sundries on display on the vanity.

"Did I forget anything, Laura?"

"What is all of this?"

"I got you a few gifts... you know, things you might you won't have to go home."

Laura was extremely anxious and as usual she hid behind a sarcastic remark, "Wow, some girls get jewelry..." She picked up the Lady's Speed Stick. "I get 12 hours of uncompromising protection."

He took the deodorant from her and moved in between her and the counter. "Why do you always do that?"

"Do what?" She tried to blow him off and leave, but he held her tightly in place.

"You accused me of making flip remarks to hide my true feelings and you're doing the same thing. What are you really feeling right now?"

"Claustrophobic?" She did it again.

"Damn it, Laura, just tell me."

"I feel very uncomfortable...taking this step."

"What step? A toothbrush is a step?"

"This is just setting up that whole scene when you bring me a box of 'all my things from your apartment" when this is over."

"Why are you so convinced that I'm going to leave you or this is going to end?"

"Every man in my life that I have cared for has left me. I'm a math major; I have to go with the odds. I'm just relying on the predicted outcome."

"I refuse to be a predicted outcome, Laura." He kissed her sweetly. "Look, we'll just put all these back in the bag and leave it down here," he opened the bottom of the vanity. "They'll be there if you're ever too tired to go home."

"I'm sorry, this really was nice of you, thank you... I guess I'm the one who really is afraid of commitment."

Remington jokingly covered his ears, "NO, NO don't say the c-word. I hate the c-word."

Laura packaged the perfumes and expressed them to the lab at Stanford. Mitch called her with good news late the next evening. The marker was still in the chemical composition of the samples she sent him. The finger pointed to Vanessa Reed. Laura and Steele accompanied by the police arrested her lab at Gigi's production facility. As a special thank you, Gigi told Remington that he could collaborate with her on the next fragrance and even name it.

Butch Beemis was waiting in the parking lot just as they were leaving for the evening. "Good news, PI Girl, my publisher loved the book. Since you wouldn't take any money and didn't want a mention in the forward, I got you this." He whistled. A dark green Jaguar with tan leather seats and personalized "LORNA" plates came around the corner. "Get in baby, it's classy, yet sexy. It exudes a certain affluent successfulness."

"Butch, I can't accept this."

"Steele, use your influence, besides how are the two of you going to do chapter five in that Rabbit?"

For once Remington wasn't offended by Butch's crass behavior. "He does have a point, Laura."

"Why not," she declared with a new-found courage. She climbed into the driver's seat. Remington touched the hood with an approving caress on his way to the passenger side. Once they turned into a traffic lane, Laura admitted to him, "There are a few gifts back at your apartment that I think I'm ready to accept too."

The End