Developing Steele
Date: Saturday, January 12, 2008
"Lori" <>
Thanks to Lea and Brenda for beta reading... your insight and input is
invaluable! And I have to say a big thanks to DCZinger, if it weren't
for her.... there'd be no "Kate Universe." The flashbacks in "Legacy of
Steele" were her idea and I've really enjoyed playing with them for new
stories. This one starts in May of 1988... Feedback is really
appreciated... even if you DON'T like it! :-)
Standard disclaimers apply... and as always a big thanks to the
incredible Michael Gleason and his crew for giving us the characters to
play with.
Permission to archive.
Developing Steele
"Where are we going?" Laura asked.
"It's a surprise, Mrs. Steele," Remington answered, taking her hand in his as they sat in the back of the limo. "Hence the blindfold."
"You know I hate surprises," she pouted. Pulling her hand away from his, she folded her arms across her chest to emphasize her displeasure.
"Keep telling yourself that," Remington said, with a soft chuckle. In the years that he had known her, and especially in the two years of their marriage, he'd learned that Laura most definitely did not hate surprises, in fact... she loved them.
Damn him for knowing her so well. Wordlessly, she turned to the window. She didn't want him to see the smile that was spreading across her face. She was actually thrilled that he was surprising her; he always managed the best surprises. It was a bit disconcerting to be blindfolded, especially for someone who needed to be in control the way that Laura always seemed to, but she was willing to let go a little and see where the afternoon would take them.
Truth be told, she'd been a bit nervous lately. It had been about three weeks since they'd celebrated their second wedding anniversary and she was waiting for the other shoe to drop. They'd completed their obligation as far as the INS was concerned, and a long ago crack about divorce loomed in the back of her mind. Even though she loved him, and she knew that he loved her, a part of her had been afraid that it would all be over now that their two years were up. So afraid had she been in fact, that she was putting off telling him their news. She knew she had to tell him soon, otherwise her body would betray her and he would see for himself. Soon, she told herself. She'd tell him very soon.
Remington beamed as he held a blindfolded Laura's hand and led her into the empty room. He casually glanced over to be sure she wasn't peeking.
"Okay, open your eyes," he said. He kissed her as he removed the blindfold. Then biting his lower lip, he watched her take in their surroundings.
Laura opened her eyes to the most breathtaking view. They were in a house, specifically a great room with beautiful wood floors and a gorgeous stone fireplace. The room was lovely, but she couldn't take her eyes off the wall of windows. The entire back of the house was open to the Pacific Ocean through floor to ceiling picture windows. She wandered over to the gourmet kitchen, and ran her hand along the marble countertop. She looked up at her husband, who was still smiling from ear to ear.
"What is this place?" she asked.
"Our new home," he answered. "If you say "yes," that is."
"Oh," she said with a gleam in her eye. "You mean I actually get a say in the matter this time?"
Laura had long since forgiven his deception of letting her believe their marriage was fake, when all along it had been completely legal. However, there were times when she still liked to tease him about it.
She looked into the face of the man she loved. She thought about the life that they had created, the tiny baby that was growing inside her. She thought about her fear that he would leave now that they'd satisfied all that was required of them by the INS. The fact that he wanted to buy
a house pushed her fears to the back of her mind. The house seemed to be perfect, and a lovely place to raise their child.
"It has definite possibilities, Mr. Steele," she said, walking back towhere he stood. "I think we should see the rest of the place."
He took her hand and led her through the house. It was two stories; or rather three, as there were two large rooms on the beach level. It had four bedrooms, four bathrooms, huge closets, and the price was right. She had to admit, it was perfect…as was the timing. They wandered back to the kitchen and stood together at the window, looking out over the ocean.
"I think we should take it, Rem," she said, wrapping her arms around his waist. She kissed him with all the love she felt for him, and practically held her breath before saying her next words. "I think it's the perfect place to raise our family." She stepped back, taking his hand in hers and placing it flat against her abdomen.
Remington's blue eyes grew wide as he looked into Laura's shimmering cinnamon ones. He felt tears well up, and swallowed the lump in his throat. His voice barely more than a whisper, he asked, "Are you…are we…"
Tears fell from Laura's eyes as she looked into the face of the man she loved so much. "Yes, Love," she said. "We're having a baby."
"When?" he asked."How?"
When she laughed, he responded, "Okay, I know HOW. When? How far along?"
"A couple of months," she answered. "You're going to be a Daddy in January."
He wanted to pinch himself. He was standing in a beautiful home, holding the woman he loved more than life itself, and she was having his baby.
The next few weeks went by in a flurry of activity. Laura finally gave up the lease on her loft. They'd been using it for storage during the whole of their marriage, much to the chagrin of Gladys Lynch. There was plenty of room in the new house for all of their things, so it wasn't really necessary to hold on to the loft. In fact, it hadn't been necessary for quite some time. Laura knew she'd been hanging on to it like a security (or was that insecurity?) blanket. As she taped up the last of the boxes to leave the condo, she sat down on the box next to it.
Looking around the room, she realized that she was sad to leave this place. She loved the house in Malibu, it really was perfect. But this apartment held so many memories for her. This place was Remington Steele before there was a Remington Steele. This was where she and her Mr.
Steele would go to celebrate a case or to simply find some quiet time to be alone. It was here that she found out he was a gourmet cook. It was here that she'd received the bulk of her education in the history of cinema. It was the home they'd returned to after finally making love in Ireland. It was the home they'd built together over the past two years, and the place where they'd made their baby. It held so much significance in the lives of Remington and Laura Steele.
Remington stood in the doorway watching Laura. He knew what she was feeling, part of him hated to leave this place, too. It was the first real home he ever had... the first place he'd ever been able to call his own, although it did actually belong to Laura. It was the place where he
realized that he'd found the life that was meant for him. It was the place where he'd held Laura in his arms so many times. It was the home that they'd created together and the place where they'd created the tiny little life that his wife was carrying in her womb. His wife. The thought that this incredible woman was his wife still amazed him, and it was almost impossible to fathom that she was carrying his child. If only Daniel could see him now.
"Let's keep it," he said softly.
"Hmm?" she asked, looking up.
"The condo," he said. "Let's keep it. We can certainly afford both mortgages and it seems that we always need someplace to stash a client or two..."
She didn't need convincing. She stood up and stopped him with a kiss.
"I think that's a wonderful idea, Mr. Steele," she said as they parted.
Laura snuggled against her husband as the room began to fill with sunlight. She'd never been one who could sleep with a lot of light in the room, and now as she looked out over the ocean she realized that would have to change. With one entire wall of their bedroom being windows, she'd either have to become a very early riser or learn to sleep in the morning sunlight.
"Good morning, Mrs. Steele," Remington said, stirring beside her.
"Good morning yourself," she answered, reaching up to kiss him.
"You're up early," he said.
"Ah," he said. "Maybe we should look into getting some drapes."
"Not on your life," she said, shaking her head against his chest. "And spoil that view? No, I'll get used to it."
"What do you want to do today?" he asked.
"You mean besides unpacking?"
"Yes," he answered, wrapping his arms around her. "We've almost finished. But I was thinking more along the lines of calling your mother."
"Laura, we talked about this."
"I'm not ready."
"Darling," he soothed, "you're already into your second trimester. Don't you think it's time we told the family we're having a baby?" He held her close and gently ran his hand over the small swell of her belly.
"I want to enjoy this pregnancy," she told him. "This is a new experience for both of us, and I want us to be able to share it --- happily. As happily as we can with my mood swings," she amended with a smile. "As soon as we tell my mother, you know she'll be on the first plane out here and spend the next five and a half months... scratch that, the next eighteen years, telling me everything I'm doing wrong."
"Do you really think it will be that bad?" he asked.
"I know it will," she answered. "Let's at least wait until after my checkup with Dr. Elliott next week."
"Whatever you think is best, my Love."
He began to get out of the bed.
"Where are you going?" she asked, pulling him back.
"Breakfast," he answered. "Aren't you hungry?" He smiled at the question. After last night, she should be. He was ravenous.
"Yes," she admitted. "I'll join you."
"No," he said. "Stay here. I'll bring it to you. This is our first morning in our new home. I think that calls for breakfast in bed." He pulled on his robe and then leaned down to kiss her soundly. As he opened the door he looked back. "Try to get some more rest," he said. "I'll be back in a bit." He winked at her and left the room.
She stretched and felt like purring like a cat. Her life was good, she thought as she rested her hand against her expanding belly. Very good.
Dr. Elliot looked at the couple seated across from him. He'd played out this scene so many times in his long career: a young couple still starting out, nervous about starting their family. The scene was always the same, though it had begun to change in recent years. The Steeles were an example of that. Working mothers were becoming the norm, rather than the exception to the rule.
He'd known Laura Holt for many years and he knew how much her work meant to her. He'd also seen how much she'd grown and begun to change since she became Laura Steele. But there were some things that were inherently "Laura." He watched as she took in his every word, feverishly making
mental notes that he was sure would be put to paper as soon as she got to the car. Laura was a planner.
"So everything is really okay?" Laura asked.
"Right on schedule," the doctor answered.
"And I can continue working?"
"Right up until your water breaks if you feel you must," Dr. Elliott said, noticing the look that crossed Remington's face. "But I do think you should take it a bit easier. I'm not saying you should sit behind a desk for the next five months, but no chasing bad guys. Let's leave the
running and jumping to Dad for a while, okay?"
"Okay," Laura agreed with a sigh. She knew the doctor was right, and he hadn't really set much limitation. He'd at least made it clear that she wasn't an invalid. She didn't need to be chained to her desk, and Remington was there to hear it. No excuses.
"Now then," Dr. Elliot said. "I want you to keep on doing what you're doing. Your diet is good. Keep up with your exercise. Your regular routine is fine for now. We'll need to adjust it a little as the pregnancy progresses, but for now you're fine."
As Laura nodded, the doctor turned his attention to Remington.
"Remington," he said. "I know the inclination now is for you to take care of Laura and the baby. You're going to want to protect and to nurture them. And that's fine, but just remember your wife," the doctor went on, with a wink in Laura's direction. "I've known Laura for a very
long time, and I suspect she'll take to being overprotected about as well as oil takes to water. It's important to keep her stress level as low as possible, and how we do that is different for every mother. For Laura, I suspect that means allowing her to maintain her independence."
"Thank you," Laura mouthed so only the doctor could see.
"Now, Laura," Dr. Elliott said, "I want to see you again in three weeks. Set up an appointment with Julie and call in the meantime if you have any questions or concerns."
After saying their goodbyes to the doctor and setting up their next appointment, Laura and Remington made their way back to the Auburn. Remington opened the door and made sure Laura was settled in before going around to the driver's side and getting in, himself.
"What say we play a little hooky?" he asked. "Go home, have a little lunch... practice sleeping in a room filled with sunlight..."
"Something tells me sleep is the last thing you have in mind, Mr. Steele."
"Ah, Mrs. Steele. You know me too well," he said with a smile. "You know me too well."
"And you know me," she answered. "So I'm sure you know my answer to that question."
"To the office," he said with a sigh.
"To the office," she repeated, smiling.
"How was your appointment with Dr. Elliott?" Mildred asked as her employers came into the office.
"It went very well, Mildred," Laura answered. "He said I can work as long as I want."
"But no chasing bad guys," her husband added.
"That sounds reasonable," Mildred said.
"I thought so, too," Laura said. "Now that we've established that we're actually working here today, what's on the schedule?"
"Not much. I didn't know how long you kids would be at the doctor, so I didn't schedule much. We do have a client coming in at three."
"Anything interesting?" Laura asked.
"Pretty routine," Mildred answered. "Just a simple background check. One of our former clients has been asked to fund a charity and he wants you two to make sure they're on the up and
"Who is it?" Remington asked.
"He offered more than our usual fee, and it's a pretty straightforward case," Mildred said nervously.
"Who is the client, Mildred?" Laura asked.
"It shouldn't take much time at all," Mildred went on.
"Mildred," Remington said firmly, "WHO is the client?"
Mildred winced and closed her eyes as she said quietly, "Bingham Perrett."
"Oh no," the Steeles said in unison.
"Absolutely not," Remington said.
"Our insurance rates can't take it," Laura agreed.
"And the doctor just told us that we have to keep Mrs. Steele's stress level as low as possible."
"Right, my blood pressure…"
Remington did a double take. It was saying a lot for his wife to use her pregnancy to get out of a case. She noticed his reaction and the glare she sent his way dared him to say something. He did not take up the gauntlet.
"I know Bing was a pain, Kids, "Mildred said. "But this is a simple background check and it's gonna bring in a lot of money. I didn't think you'd want to turn down the fee."
Laura sighed as she looked at her husband.
"We do have two mortgages," she said.
"And a baby on the way," he agreed.
They both turned as Mildred silently congratulated herself.
"We'll meet with him," Laura said. "THEN we'll decide whether or not to take the case."
"Fair enough," Mildred said.
Laura was sitting at Remington's desk going over her notes from their last encounter with the Prince of Caviar. Remington sat on the sofa going over his notes for renovations on the new house.
"What time is it?" she asked without looking up.
"Two fifty-five," Remington answered.
Laura looked up at him and then dropped her head and sighed.
"It's almost time," she said.
"Deep breath, Darling," Remington said as he stood. He walked over to the desk, stood behind her, and placed his hands on her shoulders. She sighed as he began to rub gently.
"Is everything nailed down?" she asked, closing her eyes.
He smiled.
"The office has been Bing-proofed," he answered.
They both looked up as they heard a soft knock at the door. Mildred opened the door and stuck her head in.
"Mr. Perrett is here," she said.
"Show him in," Laura said, as she stood up next to her partner. Together, they walked toward the door to greet their visitor.
Remington stepped in front of Laura as Bing barreled through the door.
"Mr. Steele!" the large man practically squealed as he pulled Remington into an embrace. "I'm so happy to see you."
"Good to see you too, Bing," Remington replied as Bing set him down and began to regain his composure by straightening his tie.
"Miss Holt!" Bing exclaimed and moved toward her.
"That's Mrs. Steele," Remington corrected and put his arm around Laura to keep Bing from accosting her.
"Congratulations," Bing said, stepping back.
"Thank you, Bing," Laura answered. "Now, how can we help you?"
"Well," he answered, sitting down on the sofa and knocking several pictures off the wall in the process. "Daddy put me in charge of the Perrett Foundation. And usually, he's around to tell me what to do."
"But?" Remington asked.
"But now he's in Maracaibo and he's not reachable."
"And where do we fit in, Bing?" Laura asked.
"A Hand Up-LA has asked us to underwrite their Fall/Winter 1988 budget," Bing answered.
"A Hand Up-LA?" Laura asked, looking at Remington.
"I've never heard of them," Remington said with a shrug.
"Me neither, Mr. Steele," Bing said. "That's why I'm here. Last time Daddy was gone, I invested a lot of the foundation's money in a racehorse," as he paused to take a breath, Laura winced.
"I thought that if we were making money on the horse then I would actually be helping the foundation and Daddy would be so proud…"
"But you didn't make any money on the horse," Laura said.
Bing shook his head.
"Darn thing came in dead last in every race he entered. We ended up losing more money than we might have made in the first place."
"And let me guess," Remington said. "Daddy wasn't happy."
"You got it, Mr. Steele."
"I suppose we could look into them for you, Bing," Laura said.
"Oh thank you, Miss Holt!" Bing said, jumping up. He nearly fell over the coffee table as he grabbed Laura into a bear hug. He caught Remington's stern look and stepped back to release her. "Uh, I mean Mrs. Steele. Thank you so much! You won't regret this."
"I doubt that," Remington mumbled.
"You're welcome, Bing," Laura said, glaring at her husband.
Remington placed his hand at their client's elbow and guided him to the door. Opening it, he ushered Bing into the outer office.
"We'll be in touch," he said. "Miss Krebs will show you out."
Remington closed the door and turned back to his wife. They both cringed
as they heard a loud crash of breaking glass.
"The vase," Laura said.
"At least it wasn't your Correia," Remington said. "Are you all right?" he asked sincerely as he gently took her in his arms.
"I'm fine," she answered. "I'm pregnant. I'm not a china doll."
"Nor are you a rag doll," he said. "But you wouldn't have known it by the way Bing was flailing you around."
"It's sweet of you to worry," she said. "But really…I'm fine."
Remington knew when to let go. Laura's fierce independence was one of the things he loved about her. Since their marriage, he'd found that there were times when she'd let him pamper her--- and when she did, he made the most of those opportunities. But Remington knew his wife; over these next few months of her pregnancy Laura would need more pampering than usual, but she would probably be more resistant to it, also. He was learning to pick his battles. Life with Laura would always keep him on his toes. He smiled as he thought of his old friends and their thoughts that a life on the straight and narrow was a sentence of continuing boredom. How wrong they were! Love was definitely a slippery slope and his Laura kept him dangling dangerously close to the edge.
Remington looked up from the stove as Laura padded in to the kitchen wrapped in her favorite fluffy bathrobe.
"How was your bath?" he asked.
"Heavenly," she answered. "I feel so relaxed."
She walked over to the wall of windows and looked out over the Pacific. Remington walked up behind her, and pushed her hair aside as he wrapped his arms around her waist. He leaned in and placed gentle kisses along her neck and jaw line.
"Relaxed enough to call your mother?" he asked quietly.
"That's a dirty trick," she said, turning in his arms. "But yes, I think so."
"Good," he said, kissing the top of her head before returning to the stove.
"How long until dinner?" she asked.
"About twenty minutes," he answered. "Long enough?"
"Probably not." Laura shook her head with a smile. "I'll wait until after dinner."
"Laura," Remington began to scold. "We've put it off long enough."
"I'm not putting it off, Mr. Steele," she told him. "I'd just rather wait until after dinner, when you're not busy and can sit by my side."
"Lovely sentiment Mrs. Steele, but it's getting late in Connecticut."
"Good. Maybe she'll be sleeping when I call and think she's dreaming."
"Okay, okay," she relented. "But don't go too far. You're the only one who can reason with her."
"I'm right beside you Mrs. Steele," he said. "Always."
Laura picked up the cordless phone and began to dial her mother's number. She leaned against the counter next to where her husband was working.
"Good evening, Mother," she said into the phone.
Remington listened intently to Laura's side of the conversation.
"The new house is lovely. Yes, you'll have to come out and see it…"
He turned off the stove and removed the skillet from the heat. Picking up his wine glass in one hand, he took Laura's hand in the other. He walked over to the table in front of the window and sat down. He pulled Laura down into his lap and gently rubbed her back as she continued to listen to the latest goings on with Abigail's bridge club.
"That's wonderful, Mother," Laura said as she rested her head against Remington's shoulder. "I'm so happy for you… Actually, yes Mother. I did have a reason for my call," she said before taking a deep breath. Her husband kissed her cheek and she refocused her attention on her mother. "Remington and I have some wonderful news of our own," she said and Remington could hear
his mother-in-law shriek on the other end of the line. "Yes, Mother," Laura said. "That's right… Mmm-hmm… Just about four months… "
Remington closed his eyes and continued to try to soothe his wife. Talking to her mother was always difficult and he knew she'd been putting off this conversation because she feared her mother's disapproval. He wasn't worried. He knew that Laura would be a wonderful mother, whether she believed it or not.
"… Well Mother, things have been rather hectic. Moving into the new house…"
"… No Mother, of course I was going to tell you…"
"… No, I haven't told Frances yet…"
"… I just wanted to get used to the idea myself, first…"
Remington could feel Laura tense as the conversation continued. He reached up and took the phone from her.
"Abigail," he said. "Remington here…"
"I haven't come up with much on A Hand Up-LA, Chief," Mildred said, walking into Remington's office. She handed Laura the file. "All of Bing's contacts seem to check out."
"Do you have an address, Mildred?" Remington asked.
"Sure," she answered. "It's in the file."
"What are you thinking?" Laura asked.
"I don't know," he answered. "But something doesn't feel right. I want to go down there and check it out."
"We could go this afternoon," Laura said, checking her watch. "Oh no, I can't. I forgot I'm having lunch with Frances; I want to tell her about the baby before Mother gets to her."
"That's all right," Remington said. "You go on and have your lunch. I can go check up on A Hand Up-LA by myself."
"Okay," Laura agreed. "Then we'll meet back here."
"Right. You have Fred drive you to Frances," he said. "I'll take the Rabbit."
"Thanks for meeting me, Frances."
"Of course, Laura. It's not often my little sister invites me to lunch."
"I know," Laura said. "And I'm sorry about that. I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of each other from now on. Have you spoken to Mother lately?"
"I called her on Sunday like I always do. Why, is something wrong?" Frances asked as the waiter approached the table.
"May I get you ladies started with something to drink a glass of wine perhaps?"
"I'll just have iced tea," Frances said.
"That sounds good for me, too," Laura told the waiter. She went on as he walked away. "And no," she said to her sister, "nothing is wrong. In fact, I actually have some good news."
"You're pregnant!" Frances exclaimed, clapping her hands.
Laura smiled and rolled her eyes. Was she going to get to tell ANYONE? At least she got to tell Remington. He was so cute when he told Mildred, and then both her mother and her sister guessed as soon as she said she had news.
"How could you possibly know that?" she asked.
"You're glowing!" Frances gushed.
She'd heard that said of other pregnant women, but she'd never seen it… and she hadn't noticed it in herself, either.
"So you're happy, right?" Frances asked.
"Of course," Laura said with a smile. And she realized she really was; in fact, she couldn't remember being happier about anything. Now that she was sure that her marriage wasn't on its last legs, the idea of bringing a child into the world and giving her Remington Steele a real family meant more to her than anything.
"And Remington?" Frances asked. "I'll bet he's just thrilled."
"He is," Laura said, her smile matching that of her sister.
"So, how far along are you?"
"Seventeen weeks."
"That long and you're just telling me now?"
"I wanted to take some time to get used to the idea."
"I understand," Frances said. "You needed time to work through all the possibilities. To convince yourself it was going to be all right. You had to make lists and strategies," she said, smiling. "In other words, you went all Laura on the situation. You probably didn't even tell Remington for weeks. Am I right?"
"Yes," Laura said, hoping her mouth wasn't gaping open. She had no idea Frances knew her so well.
"How did Mother take the news?"
"She's flying in tomorrow."
Remington ran a comb through his slicked back hair as he walked into the office of A Hand Up-LA. Looking around, he noticed a few people who looked as if they would have been "at home" at Wallace's mission. He saw a young woman sitting at a desk, apparently immersed in paperwork. It looked legitimate enough. The young woman noticed him and looked up.
"How can we help you?" she asked.
"Just thought I'd `ave a look around," he answered. "You're new `round here, aren't you?"
"We just moved to this location last month," the girl answered.
"What do you do?"
"Well," she said. "I'm sorry… I didn't catch your name."
"I didn't toss it," he answered, extending his hand. "Todd," he said. "Johnny Todd."
"Well Johnny," she said. "We do whatever the community needs. If someone is down on their luck and needs a hand, we provide it." She pointed to a man sitting at a table using the telephone.
"Earl over there has been out of work for six months. We're helping him to find a job. His neighbor, Mrs. Vasquez didn't have anyone to watch her kids so she could work. We found her a
Johnny nodded as the young woman went on. She nodded toward a young man cleaning the front window.
"Emilio needed some place to go during the day to get away from the gangs that roam his neighborhood, so he helps out here around the center. What about you, Johnny? Is there something we can do for you?"
"My bird," he said. "She's gonna have a baby."
"So what did you think of our charity?" Laura asked as her partner leaned against her desk.
"They seemed on the up and up," Remington answered.
"But you're not convinced," she said.
"No. They just seemed a little too squeaky clean, if you know what I mean. Too quick with all the right answers."
"I'll follow your gut on this one," she said. "After all, you ARE our resident expert."
"Laura," he said with an exaggerated sigh. "You know I never had anything to do with something as vile as a bogus charity."
"Of course not," she said. "But you are the Master Con around here."
"Ah, but I must beg to differ Mrs. Steele. You perpetrated the biggest con of all when you fabricated your Remington Steele."
"Prove it," she said with a grin. "MY Remington Steele is most definitely NOT a fabrication. He's flesh and blood. And incredible flesh at that."
"Flattery will get you everywhere, Mrs. Steele," he said.
"That, my dear Mr. Steele, I already know," she said with a gleam in her eye. "But unfortunately, it's still the middle of the business day and we have work to do."
"Ah, but I have an in with the Boss," he said, leaning in close to her.
"Yes, you do," she said, raising her eyebrows the way that he always did. "And the Boss can't wait for you to use it," she paused as she closed the gap between them and kissed him. "Later. Now, what about A Hand Up-LA?"
"You can come up with your own conclusions on the morrow," he said.
"Oh?" she asked.
"We have an appointment with the director in the morning."
"We do," she said, waiting for the explanation.
"Yeah," he answered, tugging on his ear. "I went down there as Johnny Todd. To get any information, I had to present myself as a client," he said.
"And I told them that my girl was in trouble and I couldn't afford the bun in the oven."
"Ah, so the littlest Steele gets his first undercover assignment," she said.
"Her," he corrected. "The littlest Steele gets HER first undercover assignment."
"You don't want a boy?" she asked, surprised.
"Honestly, I hadn't really thought of it," he said. "At least, not consciously. But when you suggested the baby might be a boy, all I could see was a little girl… perfect, like her mother."
"I'm not perfect," Laura said.
"More than I," he said.
"You're perfect for me," she said, wondering if it was hormones that were making her feel this way. It was so unlike her to gush and be so flowery. It had to be the baby, she thought with a smile.
"No, I think you're right," Laura was saying to her husband as they walked into their offices. "There's just something not right about the place. And that Brian was just a little too…"
"…smarmy?" Remington suggested.
"What in the world are you wearing?"
Two heads spun around to the source of the question.
Laura realized what her mother had said and looked down at her torn jeans and faded t-shirt. She thanked her lucky stars that she'd already taken off the padding that accentuated the littlest Steele. She glanced at her husband. With his hair slicked back, his leather jacket and t-shirt, he looked nothing like the Remington Steele her mother knew.
"We were out on a case," she said.
"A case?" Abigail asked, incredulous. "You're going undercover? In your condition?"
"Condition?" Laura asked through gritted teeth, as Remington placed his hand on her shoulder. "Mother, I'm not incapacitated. I'm having a baby."
"As long as YOU realize that, dear," Abigail said with just a hint of condescension.
Mildred, who had been looking on with amused interest, cleared her throat.
"Can I get you some more coffee, Mrs. Holt?"
"Excellent idea, Mildred," Remington said, ushering his mother–in-law toward his office. "Let's move into the office," he said. "It's more comfortable in there."
"I'll be with you in a minute," Laura said, turning toward her own office.
Remington closed the door behind them as Abigail moved to the sofa in the conference area.
"Abigail," he said. "We weren't expecting you until this evening."
"I took an earlier flight," she said.
"We wanted to meet you at the airport," he told her.
"I didn't want to be a bother, so I just called a taxi."
"You could never be a bother, Abigail," he assured her. "We planned to make an afternoon of it, go back to the house, let you get settled…"
They both looked up as Laura emerged from her office, looking much more like the professional Laura that her mother had expected. She walked over to her husband and placed her hand on his shoulder. Seeing that she'd regained her composure, he gave her a wink and excused himself. He wasn't out of the room ten seconds before Abigail began.
"Really Laura," she said. "I can't believe you'd go traipsing around, doing whatever it is that you do and putting my grandchild at risk."
"Hello to you too, Mother."
"There's no need to be flip, Laura."
"Okay," Laura said with a sigh. "First of all if you don't even know what it is that we do, then how can you accuse me of putting the baby at risk?"
"I watch television, Laura."
Laura laughed.
"Mother, private investigators are rarely portrayed accurately in television and the movies. I assure you, it requires more brain than brawn," she paused, smiling as she remembered describing her work with those very words another time years earlier.
"Ah ladies," Remington said, emerging from the bathroom looking every bit the part of Remington Steele in an expensive Italian suit. "Why don't we take our leave?"
"Aren't you busy?" Abigail asked.
"We cleared the afternoon to meet you at the airport," Remington answered.
"Oh, you really shouldn't have done that, Remington," Abigail said. "Your work is so important," she paused as Laura smiled. Laura's smile fell as her mother completed her sentence. "Laura can take me to get settled."
Remington watched as his wife was taken over by a thinly veiled cover of rage.
"Ladies," he said, taking his mother-in-law by the arm. "I think we should go." He looked back over his shoulder to Laura apologetically and ushered Abigail out of the room.
"That went well," Laura said, collapsing into bed next to her husband.
Remington smiled.
"Actually, I think it did," he said. "I think your mother really likes the house, and what you've done with it."
"What YOU'VE done with it," she replied, leaning in to his embrace.
"I think it's been a collaborative effort," he said, stroking her hair.
"Why can't my mother understand that a woman's worth does not have to be defined by her domestic abilities?"
"She's from another era, Darling. And believe me," he said with a smile, "there is absolutely nothing wrong with your domestic abilities." He leaned in for a passionate kiss.
Breaking the kiss, Laura pulled back. Her husband couldn't miss the blush that came over her beautiful face; it had been a long time since he'd seen it.
"Remington," she said. "We can't."
It had also been a long time since he'd heard those words.
"Yes Laura," he said, kissing her again. "We can… and very well, I might add."
"My mother is right down the hall," she told him.
"Ah," he said, as realization dawned. "Laura, darling," he went on. "You're a grown woman. We're married and you're pregnant. I think your mother knows we have sex."
"Knowing is one thing," she said. "KNOWING is another all together."
"Laura," he coaxed.
"I'm sorry, Sweetheart," she said. "I just can't."
"I understand," he said. Kissing her forehead, he wrapped his arms around her. "Let's go to sleep."
It was going to be a long visit.
"Good morning, Chief," Mildred said as Remington walked into the office.
"Morning, Mildred," he said quietly, moving directly into his office.
She'd noticed he hadn't been himself for the past week or so. Mrs. Steele hadn't been in any better a mood, either. They had both been in and out of the office, running down leads on the various cases that they were working on. They'd donned their "street clothes" and visited the office of A Hand Up –LA more than once. They'd even taken a few meetings with Bing, letting him know that they'd wrap up his case by the end of the week. But something wasn't right. They were both just going through the motions and there was a tension in the air that hadn't been there in more than two years. Mildred had been working hard to get her PI license, but she didn't need a license to figure out what the problem was with her employers.
She had an idea.
Dialing the number of the beach house, she sat down to wait for an answer.
"Steele residence."
"Good morning, Mrs. Holt," she said. "This is Mildred Krebs. I was wondering if you might meet me for lunch this afternoon…"
Mildred left a message for Mr. Steele to meet Mrs. Steele at home, ASAP. Then, she called Fred and instructed him to make sure Mrs. Steele was at the house at lunch time.
This had to work.
Abigail Holt looked at her watch for the third time. Where was that woman? Honestly, she thought. She couldn't begin to understand why Laura and Remington kept her on the payroll. She wasn't at all sure why Mildred Krebs had invited her to lunch in the first place, but curiosity got the better of her and she'd agreed to meet her at a small café near the office.
"Mrs. Holt," Mildred said as she approached the table. "I'm sorry I'm late. We had a client come in without an appointment and Mrs. Steele asked me to handle it."
"That's fine, Miss Krebs," Abigail answered, with a slight roll of her eyes.
So that's where Laura gets it, Mildred thought.
"Mildred, please," Mildred corrected. "Call me Mildred. I guess you're wondering why I asked you down here."
"The thought had occurred."
This is gonna be harder than I thought, Mildred thought. She began to understand Laura's anxiety when it came to her mother. The woman was practically impossible to be nice to. She wondered how Mr. Steele managed to do it so well.
"Well," she said tentatively, "Mrs. Steele mentioned that you had thought about extending your visit."
"Yes, actually," Abigail answered. "I'm thinking of moving back to Los Angeles permanently. I mean, it only makes sense. Both of my daughters and all my grandchildren are here. And goodness knows that Laura is going to need all the help she can get when the baby is born."
Does she ever give Laura any credit?
"Permanently?" Mildred asked. That was news to her, and to Mrs. Steele too, she expected.
"Yes Mildred," Abigail answered.
"I suppose you'll be looking for a place then," Mildred said as the waiter came and took their orders.
This seemed to take Abigail by surprise.
"I hadn't really thought of it," she answered. "I mean, I suppose I should… Laura and Remington are still newlyweds. But the house is quite large and they're going to need help…"
"Laura?" Remington called as he entered the house. "Laura? Darling, is everything all right?"
"Rem?" Laura responded, walking into the kitchen.
"Thank goodness," he said, taking her in his arms. He kissed her soundly before looking down into her eyes. "When I got the message to meet you here, I was worried that something had happened."
"Meet me?" she asked. "Fred said you had called and asked him to bring me here."
"Mildred," they said in unison.
Remington smiled; Mildred had always done such a good job of looking after them both. She had obviously figured out that things hadn't been going swimmingly for them lately and that they needed some alone time.
"Lord love her," he said. Taking his wife by the hand, he began to lead her to their bedroom. "She went to a lot of trouble to get us here," he said. "Let's not let her machinations go to
waste," he added with a wiggle of his eyebrow.
A devilish grin spread across Laura's face. She'd missed their "alone time" as much as he had, and an afternoon tryst was just what they needed to try to get back to normal.
"Where's Mother?" she asked.
"Having lunch with Mildred," Remington said, remembering the other part of Mildred's message.
Laura giggled and pulled Remington in the direction of their bedroom.
"What are we waiting for?" she asked.
Mildred smiled as her employers walked into the office, hand in hand. They looked much more relaxed than they had in the past week. She glanced down at her watch and her smile grew even wider.
"Nice lunch?" she asked.
"Perfect," Remington answered.
"A gourmet feast," Laura added. She smiled as she watched her husband's jaw drop. She winked at him and disappeared into her office.
"Thank you," he said quietly.
Mildred didn't speak, she just nodded and smiled.
"What would we do without you, Love?"
"I don't even want to think about it," Mildred said with a chuckle. "But I think you may have another problem."
"Oh?" he asked. "What's that?"
"Mother-in-lawus permanentus."
"Mrs. Holt plans to move back to Los Angeles."
"That's great," he said through a forced smile, hoping Laura would agree.
"She's planning on moving in with you and Laura."
This was not good news. He drew one hand to his chin and began pacing the room. This was definitely not good.
"Chief?" Mildred said, interrupting his musing.
"Wha- oh, yes, Mildred," he answered, distracted. "What is it?"
"I have a plan."
He smiled that winning smile she loved so much.
"Of course you do," he said. "What is it?"
"Well," she said. "I did sort of remind her that you kids are really still newlyweds and that the baby won't be here for another four or five months…"
"So maybe it would be best if she found her own place…"
"But in the mean time, maybe she could use the condo on Rossmore."
"Mildred, you're a genius!" he said, kissing her forehead.
"Thanks, Boss," she said, beaming. "Now, who's gonna tell Mrs. Steele?"
"That would be my job, Mildred," he said. "Speaking of jobs, we want to wrap up Bing's case today. Bring me everything you've got on Brian Prescott."
"You got it, Chief," she said to his back as he walked in to Laura's office.
"Hey, you," she said softly.
"Hey," he said in reply.
"I'm sorry I've been so distant lately."
"I know," he said, sitting on the edge of her desk and taking her hand. "It's not been an easy time for either of us." He paused, bringing her hand to his lips. "But we'll get through it. We always do, eh?"
She smiled.
"That's true," she said. "But we've never had to deal with my mother down the hall."
"Yeah," he said. "About that…"
"Did you know she's planning to move back to Los Angeles?"
"WHAT?" she exclaimed. "I knew she was thinking about staying until the baby was born, but…"
"She told Mildred that it only makes sense that she be here. You and Frances are both here," he said, "and all of her grandchildren…"
Laura was nodding, even as she began rubbing her temples. Her wonderful mood was beginning to slip away and she felt one doozy of a headache coming on.
"…and she thinks you're going to need her help once the little bundle arrives."
Laura sighed. She might be right. What did Laura know about being a mother? Having her own mother around might be helpful---if she didn't kill her first.
"It might be okay," she said, leaning back in her chair and closing her eyes.
"There's more," he said.
"What?" she asked without opening her eyes.
"She wants to live at the beach house with us," he finished, bracing himself.
"WHAT?" she said and as her eyes flew open, she sat straight up in her chair.
"Don't worry," he said with a smile. "Mildred's got a plan."
"Of course she does."
They both looked up as the door opened.
"Got it!" Mildred said, waving a file folder. She handed the folder to Laura. She and Remington watched as Laura read through the file.
"There's nothing here," she said, closing the folder and slamming it down on the desk.
Mildred looked crestfallen.
"Nothing?" Remington asked.
"Well," Laura said, opening the file again. "I mean, there's evidence that he's a small time con man…"
"That's SOMETHING, right?" he coaxed.
"I guess so," Laura conceded. "But there's no PROOF and nothing linking A Hand Up – LA to anything illegal." She stood and walked over to the window.
As she turned her back to them, Remington and Mildred exchanged glances. Remington's look was consoling. He hated the hurt that he saw in Mildred's eyes when Laura discounted her contribution. They were becoming used to Laura's mood swings, but her outbursts could still sting.
"I'm sorry Mildred," Laura said, turning around. "You did your usual bang up job getting this information. I'm just frustrated. It's been almost three weeks. This should have been wrapped up in a couple of days, and we're still essentially nowhere," she said with a sigh. "Wait," she said. "I have an idea. Get me his financials."
Remington had an idea, too. He followed Mildred out to the reception area, pausing for a moment at Laura's door. He turned back to his wife who was already engrossed in a file.
"Laura, darling," he said. "I have something I need to take care of. I'll be back to drive you home."
"Okay," she said without looking up. "See ya."
"Yes?" This time she looked up at his smiling face.
"I love you."
She smiled.
"I love you, too," she said. "Go on."
He blew her a kiss and closed the office door.
"Mildred," he said. "What's the name of the travel agency we use?"
"Village Travel, do you want me to call them?"
"No, no," he said. "I'll handle it myself."
"You gonna take the Missus on a romantic getaway?"
He winked.
"I'm going to try, Mildred," he said. "I'm going to try."
Remington snapped the light blue velvet box shut and slipped it into his pocket. As he walked up to the door of the travel agency, he paused recognizing the man currently talking to the agent. The man was Brian Prescott. Another idea began to form. He walked across the street to the limo and climbed in.
"Back to the office, Mr. Steele?" Fred asked.
"Not just yet, Fred," he answered and watched out the window until he saw Prescott leaving. He got out of the car and went back to the travel agency.
"Can I help you?" an older woman asked without looking up from her computer.
"I hope so," Remington answered. "I'd like to plan a romantic getaway for this weekend."
"This weekend?" she asked, looking up. "Isn't that a little short notice?"
"Well, yes," he said, tugging on his ear. "But you see, it seems the only thing to do. My wife," he went on, "my wife is almost five months pregnant, my mother-in-law has moved in…"
"Say no more, honey," the woman said with a sympathetic smile. "Where you wanna go?"
"I'm not sure," Remington mused. "What's popular these days?"
"Well," she said, looking through her files. "Hawaii is always good. The last guy I had in here was all excited about taking his girl to Maui. Said he was working on a special project just to make enough money to take her on the trip," she paused, reaching into drawer. "He even named the company A HULA," she said, showing him the check. "Isn't that cute?"
"Darling," Remington said, looking at the check. A hula? He thought as he glanced at Prescott's signature.
Realizing that she'd just shown this guy another customer's check, she snatched it back.
"That's just the deposit," she said. "He's gonna pay for the rest of the trip next week. Pretty extravagant, he really wants to show his girl a good time. What about you?" she asked. "You
look like someone who goes top of the line."
"Oh yes," he said, distracted by his thoughts of Brian Prescott. "Yes, yes. First class all the way."
As the pieces started to fit, he wanted nothing more than to get his theory and this new information to Laura. Looking down at the name plate on the woman's desk, he went on.
"Rosie," he said. "See what you can put together for me and then call my secretary with the details." He reached into his breast pocket to hand her a business card.
"Oh, Mr. Steele," she said. "I didn't recognize you.I'm so sorry. I have all of your preferences on file. I'll put something together and get it over to Mildred right away. You and Mrs. Steele will have the best time. Oh, and Mr. Steele?"
"Yes, Rosie?"
"Congratulations on the bambino."
"Thank you, Rosie," he said, flashing that famous smile. "And thanks for putting this trip together for me. You're a gem."
Mildred wasn't at her desk when he arrived back at the office. He hoped she was in with Laura. It struck him that he didn't like the thought of Laura being alone in the office in the evenings. Not that Mildred would actually provide protection, but if they got into trouble, two heads were better than one.
"Laura?" he called out as he walked toward her office.
"In here," she called in answer.
He opened the door to the office and smiled. Laura was busy at work and Mildred was leaning over her shoulder as they went over a file together.
"Ready to call it a day, Mrs. Steele?" he asked.
"Just about," Laura answered as Mildred excused herself.
"I got something on Prescott," he told Laura.
"Me too," she answered brightly.
Laura told him what she and Mildred had found in Prescott's financial records and he told her what he'd discovered during his visit with the travel agent.
"What were you doing at the travel agency?" she asked.
"Oh, nothing," he said.
"It's nothing, Laura," he told her. "I think we've got what we need on Prescott and A Hand Up- LA, at least enough to keep Bing from losing his shirt. Let's go home."
"Bing," Laura said to their client. "It is our recommendation that you steer clear of A Hand Up-LA. We have no solid proof, but we feel very strongly that Brian Prescott is running a scam.
He has the history, and it appears that A Hand Up – LA was just a scam to raise enough money to take his girlfriend to Hawaii."
"Hawaii?" Bing asked.
"Right," Remington answered. "And he thought he was being really clever about it. He named the "organization" A Hand Up- LA. It's an acronym for A Hula, a play on the fact that he was going to take your money and run to Hawaii."
"But he had a really nice office and he showed me the books and some other stuff. It showed that they'd been around for a while…"
"Right," Laura said. "He had to make the charity look legitimate if he hoped to get any money from you."
"You see, Bing," Remington explained. "It's the classic long con. When a grifter decides to target a mark, they try to get him to donate a large sum of money to a very worthy cause…"
"… Like a community center," Laura interjected.
"But then the contributor might become skeptical, like you did Bing. And decide to do some digging…"
"…or send someone, like us, to do it for him," Laura said. "And lo and behold, it happens to check out."
"That's what takes so long in an investigation," Remington went on. "Sometimes it's hard to catch this kind of con because it's so effective."
"Until he gets greedy," Laura said with a smile.
"So it was all a scam?" Bing asked, standing up and knocking a pitcher off the table in front of the sofa.
"I'm afraid so, Bing," Remington said, shaking his hand.
"But it was good that you came to us," Laura said. "And you were really trying to do a good thing. We did some more checking for you," she paused as they led Bing to the outer office. "Mildred
has a list of great local charities, including a few community centers. Any one of them would be deserving of your support."
"Delightful as always, Remington," Abigail said as she finished her white chocolate mousse.
"Thank you, Abigail," he said. "New twist on an old favorite."
"I prefer the chocolate chocolate," Laura said testily.
"Duly noted, Darling," Remington said, standing to begin to clear the table.
"I'm sorry," Laura said. "It really was good. I don't know what's gotten into me lately."
"I do," he answered. "And it's all right."
He leaned over her shoulder and kissed her cheek before taking the dishes to the kitchen.
"Mother," Laura said. "Are you sure you want to do this now? I mean, if you just wait a few days until after our trip, Remington and I will go with you."
"No dear," Abigail replied. "I'll be fine. The girls from my bridge club are going to help and I'm going to hire movers for most of it anyway. I'd like to do it while you and Remington are
"Mother, there's no rush. Really."
"I know," she said and Laura thought she noticed a warmth from her mother that she hadn't seen since she was a little girl. "And I appreciate that, but I've been underfoot long enough. You
and Remington are still practically newlyweds and you'll never get any alone time once the baby comes. No, I think it's time I find a place of my own."
"You're welcome to stay here until you find one," Laura said.
"Thank you, dear," Abigail said, "but I'll be fine at the condo. Thank you for letting me use it."
"You're quite welcome, Abigail," Remington said, coming back to the table. "But Laura's right. You're more than welcome to stay here with us."
"I'm actually looking forward to living in the condo," she said. "Hancock Park is such a lovely area. And when I was over there measuring the other day, I met the nicest man. He's a widower who
lives in the building…"
"This is incredible," Laura said, leaning back in the chaise lounge as she sipped a tropical drink. "I used to make fun of my mother for drinking virgin daiquiris. I mean, really, what's the
point? But this is amazing. Thank you."
"You're welcome, Mrs. Steele," her husband said. "Would you like me to get you another?"
"No," she said, smiling. She set her drink down and reached across to take his hand. "I'm fine. I meant thank you for bringing me here. This is nice."
"Anything for you, my love."
"We have to take advantage where we can."
"Well," he said, looking around. "The beach isn't exactly secluded, but whatever my bride wants…"
He stood up and acted as if he was going to climb on top of her. Giggling, Laura pushed him away.
"You incorrigible!" she said amid her laughter. "I just meant that once the baby comes, it will be even harder for us to get away." She smoothed her hand over her belly and adjusted the sarong
tied around her waist. "And even at home, it will be months before the littlest Steele sleeps through the night. There will be midnight feedings… diaper changes…"
Remington, who was now back in his own chair, held his wife's hand as she spoke. He looked at her adoringly. Every once in a while, he got lost in his thoughts – amazed that he was happily married and about to become a father. This was someone else's life.
"We'll just have to get creative, Laura," he offered. "As I recall, ingenuity has always been one of your strong suits."
"Yours as well," she said. "I think we'll do fine."
"I've no doubt."
He watched as she closed her eyes. She looked tired.
"Sleepy?" he asked.
"A little," she admitted.
"Why don't we go up to the room and take a nap?"
He didn't want her falling asleep on the beach. The sun wouldn't be kind to her fair complexion.
"Sounds good," she answered. "But let's take a walk on the beach, first."
He stood and reached out his hand to her. She reached down to pick up her hat as he helped her up. She carried it in one hand as he held the other and they walked down the beach. They didn't talk much as they walked, each lost in their own thoughts.
Laura smiled at a little boy building a sand castle with his father. Her heart swelled when she thought of the man by her side. She couldn't have found a better partner or a better father for her child. She was so happy that the baby would have Remington, because she sincerely doubted
her own abilities when it came to parenting. She would love the child with all her heart; she already did-almost as much as she loved his father. But she'd never felt very "maternal," at least not in the traditional sense. Remington was the "nester" in the family. Sure, she'd had some input in the decorating-she had great taste. But it was her husband who made their house a home.
A little girl splashing in the surf with her mother caught Remington's eye. He thought of Daniel and all the times he'd "encouraged" him to leave Laura and come back to the life. He suspected that his father had always known what he did --- that from the minute he laid eyes on Laura Holt, he was never going to leave her. It was as if they had been put on this earth for each other. Who else but his ever-grounded Laura could put up with his flights of fancy? She was going to be an incredible mother---giving their child the perfect blend of discipline and freedom. He wasn't sure he could be the kind of father the baby would need him to be. He pictured a little girl, beautiful like her mother. He was sure she'd wrap him around her little finger pretty easily and they'd both have to rely on Laura to make sense of things. His daughter was so lucky to have Laura for a
Still holding hands, Laura leaned against her husband's side and Remington held her close.
"Ready to head back, Mrs. Steele?" he said softly.
She nodded. Suddenly, her eyes flew open and she gasped.
"Laura?" he asked with alarm. "Are you all right?" His panic lessened as he saw the bright, dimpled smile that spread across her face.
She took his hand and held it flat against her abdomen, much the way she had done when she first told him she was having his baby.
There it was again. She looked up at his face as his look of fear faded into confusion and then a huge smile. He burst out with laugher as he realized he'd just felt his child move for the first time.
"Oh this is incredible," he said. "YOU'RE incredible!"
He was still laughing as he picked Laura up off her feet and spun her around. Their laughter stilled as he leaned in to kiss her. They forgot about everyone around them as they got lost in the passion of the kiss.
"Let's go upstairs," Laura said, nodding toward the hotel.
All thoughts of a nap were quickly forgotten.
Laura was feeling positively decadent a she sat across the table from her husband on the balcony of their suite. They'd spent the entire afternoon in bed and were now enjoying a private dinner along with the beautiful Hawaiian sunset. She leaned back in her chair, giving Remington an enticing view as her robe slipped open.
"Darling," he said his voice low and sultry. "If you want to make it through this meal while the foods still hot, you might want to cover up."
He pointed to the opening of her robe.
Laura laughed out loud in that deep, throaty way that was unmistakably "Laura."
"What's the matter, Rem? Getting a little too hot out here for you?"
"You might say that," he answered with all seriousness as their eyes locked.
Without breaking eye contact, he stood and walked around the table. Silently, he picked her up in his arms and carried her through the open door into the bedroom. He gently laid her down on the bed and covered her body with his own.
Soon, dinner was the last thing on either of their minds…
Laura lay against Remington's shoulder and lightly ran her fingers across his chest. She was exhausted---completely sated, but exhausted. She smiled to herself. She couldn't remember the last time they'd had such a marathon of lovemaking.
With her reluctance to make love with her mother in the house and her ever-expanding waistline, she'd begun to wonder if Remington would start to lose interest or find her unattractive. Today he'd proven to her that she was as enticing to him as ever.
She closed her eyes and fell asleep in his arms with a smile spread across her face.
Sitting in the hotel restaurant Laura sipped her coffee, decaf of course, and sighed.
"Do we really have to leave today?" she asked.
Remington looked up from his Eggs Benedict with surprise. His wife never wanted to extend their vacations. She was usually champing at the bit to get back to work.
"I could change the reservations," he offered.
"No," she said. "We do need to get back. Mother should be back from Connecticut in a few days and I'm sure there's plenty of backlog at the office. But this has been lovely."
"Yes, you are," he said.
"Sap," she teased.
He laughed and went back to his breakfast.
"You know," he said between mouthfuls, "It's probably time we start thinking of hiring a nanny."
"A nanny?" she asked.
"You know... someone to take care of the littlest Steele when we're not around?"
"No way," she said, setting her fork down.
"Remington, I may not be the greatest mother who ever lived, but I won't have someone else raise my child." She stopped as her eyes began to fill with tears. "Do you really have so little faith in me?"
"What?" he asked in total confusion. "No, Darling, of course I have faith in you. You're going to be an incredible mother. But we can't be with the child twenty four hours a day. Do you plan on
taking her with us to the office? How about on stakeouts?"
"Of course not, but…"
"Or maybe you plan to stay home with the little tyke, eh?"
She was reminded of a conversation they'd had so long ago when he'd asked her what she planned to do about work if and when she had children….
"Supposing you had children, would you continue working or would you feed the little tykes breakfast in the morning and then run off to some nice juicy murder? Or would you call them up at school and apologize because you couldn't pick them up because you were being held hostage?"
He had at a point then, and she assumed he did now, too… but being a detective was such a big part of who she was. Was she supposed to give that up because she was also now becoming a mother? Did she really have to choose one over the other?
"No," she said, slightly annoyed by his tone. "You know I don't. Of course I thought of hiring someone to help. I guess," she said, her own tone softening. "I guess I just felt a little
guilty. I don't want to be like Frances. I don't want to stay at home and bake cookies and drive carpool and have bridge parties."
"And no one wants you to," he soothed.
"My mother does," she said sadly, the tears starting to return.
"Well," he said. "I don't. And the last time I checked, you and I were that child's parents. WE will make the decisions as to how we raise her."
She smiled and sniffed back her tears.
"Laura, you are a dynamic and beautiful woman, and sexy as hell," he said, forcing her to look into his eyes. "One of the things I love about you is your passionate devotion to our work. I
don't expect you to change who you are just because we're having a baby. Hell, I think I'd be pissed off if you did."
At that, she laughed and his expression softened.
"Tell me how you really feel, Mr. Steele."
"How I really feel?" he asked. "I love you, Laura. Just the way you are. And I thank God every day that you love me, too. Beyond that, nothing else really matters."
"Why, Mr. Steele. You do say the sweetest things."
Remington followed Laura through the front door of the apartment. The place bore little resemblance to the home they'd built in the first two years of their marriage, and even less to the "bachelor pad" where Remington Steele had come to life. It did however, look surprisingly like Abigail's house in Connecticut.
"Well," Abigail said, taking their coats. "What do you think?"
"Wow," Laura said.
"I love what you've done with the place," Remington said, hoping to hide his surprise.
"I hope you don't mind," Abigail said. "I wanted to make it a bit homier."
"Not at all," he said. "It's lovely, isn't it Laura?"
"Wow," Laura said.
Remington gave her a quizzical look that clearly said, "Thanks, Dear."
"And we certainly want you to feel at home," he said to his mother-in-law.
"Thank you, Remington," Abigail said. "And I do. But I don't plan to be here long. I'm going to meet with a realtor next week."
The three had a nice dinner. Laura was relaxed and felt more comfortable with her mother than she had in a very long time. It was a good feeling. After dinner, they sat in the living room.
"Mother, what do you plan to do now?"
"What do you mean, dear?"
"Well," Laura said. "I mean, with your time. What do you want to do now that you're living here full time?"
"Frances invited me to her bridge club," her mother answered. "But I don't think I'm going to go."
"Why not?" Remington asked.
"They are all young mothers," she answered. "I'd feel out of place."
Laura understood that. Although she'd always thought her mother and Frances were cut from the same cloth, the "Lavender Ladies" of Tarzana were not her mother's style.
"I thought about volunteering," Abigail went on. "Maybe at the Huntington or the Getty… maybe the children's hospital…"
"All great choices," Laura said.
"And I'm hoping that you'll want me to help out when the baby comes."
"Of course," Laura said sincerely, surprised at how much she meant it. "We're definitely going to need your guidance and expertise."
"But there is something else," Remington said, taking Laura's hand.
"Mother," Laura said. "We, Remington and I, are thinking about hiring a nanny."
"A nanny?" Abigail repeated.
"Yes," Remington answered.
"I think that's a wonderful idea," Abigail said.
"Really?" Laura asked.
"Yes, of course," Abigail said. "You don't plan to quit working, do you?"
"Well, no…"
"Then a nanny is the best solution. You don't want to use one of those day care centers…"
"We thought you might…" Remington began.
"What?" Abigail said. "Want to babysit?"
"The thought had occurred," Laura said.
"I moved back here to be closer to you and your sister, Laura. And I want to watch my grandchildren grow up. But didn't come here to raise your child for you," her mother told her. "That's your job. I'm just here to make sure you do it right."
Laura just smiled and rolled her eyes.

"I don't want to know," Laura said.
She had been adamant about this for weeks, but Remington was hoping to change her mind. They were going to see Dr. Elliott for another ultrasound the next day and he'd told them he should be able to determine the sex of the baby. For the past five and a half months, she'd been referring to the baby as "he" and Remington had been referring to the baby as "she." He had hoped that the ultrasound would put them on the same page, but Laura was being her usual stubborn self.
"Why would it hurt to know?" he asked.
"I don't know," she said testily. "I just don't want to know."
"It would go a long way toward decorating the nursery," he suggested. "And choosing a name."
"We'll choose a name when he is born," she said. "And I thought we decided to do the nursery in a nice neutral yellow."
"We did," he agreed, with a sigh.
"Look," she said firmly, placing her hands on her hips. "I'm tired, my feet are killing me, I'm irritable and I'm fat. Can't you just leave it alone?"
"Yes, dear."
"Don't do that."
"Placate me. You don't really want to let it go, do you?"
"No, I don't," he said honestly. "But I also don't want to fight with you. I can wait to find out the baby's gender if it's that important to you. Come here," he reached out to her and she sat down next to him on the sofa. He turned so she was leaning her back against his chest and they were both facing the windows. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. "We've only a
couple more months of nights like this."
"Like what? With me being cranky and irritable?"
"No," he said with a gleam in his eye. "I think we have fifty or sixty years of that to look forward to," he paused as she elbowed him in the gut. "I meant nights alone here, where we can
just enjoy each other."
She let out a long sigh.
"I haven't been too enjoyable lately, have I?"
"It's to be expected, darling," he said, leaning in to kiss her temple. "And I always enjoy you. Laura, your body is going through so many changes. I can never understand fully what you're
going through, but I love and respect you for going through it. You're not alone in this, no matter how much it might feel like it."
"I know," she said. "And I love you for that. Now, what's for dinner?" she asked with a smile. "I'm starving."
"Come on, mother," he said, chuckling as he pushed her slightly forward so he could get up. "Up you get."
"Are you laughing at me?"
"Of course not, my love."
"Yes you are," she said, pouting. "Can I help it that I'm eating for two?"
"No dear," he said. "Come on, let's get you fed."
He led her to the kitchen and she watched as he threw together a quick but incredible meal. She'd never understand how he could do that. He seemed to be able to make a gourmet feast out of the sparest ingredients. If it were up to her, she'd eat nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
"Good morning, Chief," Mildred said as Remington came into the office.
"Morning, Mildred."
"Where's Mrs. Steele?"
"She wasn't feeling well this morning," he said. "I wanted her to sleep in. I'll go and pick her up later. Do we have anything pressing today?"
"No," Mildred told him. "Schedule's pretty light. Mrs. Steele has an appointment with Dr. Elliott today. I try to keep her workload lighter on her appointment days."
"Thank you," he said, smiling. "I've said it before Mildred, but what would we do without you?"
"How is she really?" Mildred asked.
"She's fine, Mildred," he answered. "She's just getting more uncomfortable. It won't be long now."
"What about the cravings?" Mildred asked. "Is that getting any better?"
"I had to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at three this morning."
"That's not so bad," Mildred said.
"She insisted on boysenberry jam."
"Let me guess, you didn't have any boysenberry jam?"
"Exactly, Mildred."
"Thank goodness for twenty-four hour supermarkets, huh?"
"What makes you think I went out at three a.m. for boysenberry jam?"
"Did you?"
"Of course I did, Mildred. Laura is having my baby; do you think I would deprive her of anything? I wouldn't, not even boysenberry jam at three in the morning."
"She's a lucky lady," Mildred said with a sigh.
"I'm the lucky one, Mildred," he answered. "What have we got on the schedule for today?"
"Just a couple of security contracts," she answered. "We have a new client coming in after Mrs. Steele's doctor's appointment.
"Missing person," she said. "Sort of. I wasn't sure if you'd want to take the case. It hits a little close to home."
"How so?" he asked. She'd piqued his interest, but she knew she would.
"Mrs. Riley is a wealthy widow. She has no known heirs…"
"Go on."
"But apparently, she gave a baby up for adoption when she was pretty young, and now she wants to find the child she gave up before it's too late."
"That's going to be rather complicated," he said. "We'll meet with her. But no promises."
"I'm not going to make it another month," Laura said, sitting back as Remington positioned the Christmas tree in front of the window.
"You'll make it, darling," he said. "I can imagine how difficult it is for you, but it's almost over," he said with a smile. "And very soon, you'll be holding our little bundle of joy in your arms."
"Not soon enough," she complained.
"Just think of next Christmas," he encouraged. "The littlest Steele will be nearly a year old and you'll be feeling like your old self. You won't be able to contain your Christmas spirit."
"Do we really have to go to Frances'?"
"No," he told her. "But you're telling your mother why we're not there."
"All right, all right… I'll go."
"That's the spirit, Laura."
"Don't push your luck."
He smiled, thinking this was the perfect time to show her the surprise he'd been working on. She'd been feeling rather down lately. He wasn't sure if it was really the weight gain; he'd assured her
that she was still as beautiful to him as the day they met, or if she was really going to miss being pregnant. When her mood was good, she seemed to really enjoy it. Either way, his surprise was guaranteed to make her happy… today and for years to come. He walked over to the
sofa and reached out his hand.
"Come with me," he said.
She stood to join him, as he took her hand in his.
"Where are we going?" she asked.
She rolled her eyes.
"Remington, I've seen your screening room. It's lovely and that's the biggest TV I've ever seen."
"You're right Laura," he said. "It IS lovely, but that's not where we're going."
"I don't feel like walking down to the beach," she said.
"Not to worry," he told her. "Will you just trust me?"
"You know I do," she said softly, wishing she wasn't so grouchy lately.
"Then come on."
He led her through the kitchen to the stairs leading to the lower level. The previous owners had used the two large rooms for storage and had left them unfinished. On one side, Remington had created a screening room, with blackout curtains over the windows that overlooked the beach,
leather sofas, surround sound and the largest big screen TV Monroe could get his hands on. They hadn't decided on what to do with the room across the hall, at least that's what Laura thought.
"Close your eyes," he said as they stopped outside the door across from his screening room.
She looked up at him with a smile, "What have you done?"
"You'll see," he answered. "Close your eyes."
"Yes, sir," she said, and she closed her eyes.
When he was sure she wasn't peeking, he opened the door and led her inside. After he closed the door behind them, he told her she could look. She did, and she couldn't believe her eyes.
"Oh, Rem," she said. They were standing in the middle of a dance studio, and it was absolutely gorgeous. The polished wood floors shined almost as much as the sun reflecting off the ocean outside the window. One wall was mirrored from floor to ceiling and there was a barre on the opposite wall. She could see that there were speakers around the room and assumed it was set up with surround sound like the screening room. It was, and she was thrilled when he showed her the stereo system that was connected to the speaker system.
"Do you like it?" he asked.
"It's perfect! Thank you, so much!"
She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him her appreciation. This incredible man that she'd married knew her so well. This was the perfect surprise and she couldn't wait to use it. Of course
right now, she could barely walk without waddling… but after the baby came, this studio would be the perfect place to get her figure back. He told her constantly how beautiful and desirable she was, and she believed him. That's why she didn't give in to the urge to be angry that he thought she needed her own exercise studio to work off all the weight she'd gained. That wasn't his intention at all.
He knew how much she loved to dance and this would be the perfect place for her to find respite from the crazy world they lived in.
"You're welcome, Mrs. Steele," he said. "Now, we have to go up and get ready for dinner at your sister's."
Christmas at the Pipers was eventful. Danny got a drum set, Mindy got her period and Laurie Beth got her Uncle Remington's undivided attention for the last time.
Remington enjoyed the chaos of a big family gathering, but being three weeks from delivering, Laura couldn't wait to get home.
"You know what the bad thing is about being due to give birth in January?" she called out from the bathroom as he reclined on the bed.
"No darling," he said. "What is the bad thing about being due to give birth in January?"
"It's just too close to Christmas," she said, brushing her hair as she came out into the bedroom. "I'm not feeling much like myself these days, and I didn't want that to ruin Christmas."
"Christmas isn't ruined," he said, patting the bed for her to sit down beside him. "Why would you say that?"
"I feel badly for the kids," she said. "I didn't make over them the way I usually do… we didn't sing Christmas carols…"
"I'm sure they didn't notice," he said. "They're kids. They were too busy with their new toys and video games to worryabout you paying attention to them. Besides, they understand that you've not been feeling well lately. Things will get back to normal once the baby comes."
"As normal as it can be for us, I guess," she said.
"I got a couple of leads on Mrs. Riley's daughter," Mildred said, as she walked into Remington's office. Looking up from the file she was reading, she saw her kids sitting on the sofa. Laura was
lying down with her feet in Remington's lap, he was massaging them. "I'll come back later," she said.
"No, no," Remington said. "Come in, Mildred." He nodded to one of the chairs opposite the sofa. "Sit down," he said. "Tell us what you've got."
Laura would be giving birth any day now, but she insisted on coming to work right up to the very end. She wanted to take as little time off as possible and would still be involved by phone in all their cases while she was at home with the baby.
"I've taken the information we got from the hospital and cross referenced it with the adoption agency's public file. There's not much there, but it was enough to narrow it down to three women who could possibly be Mrs. Riley's daughter."
"That's great, Mildred," Laura said, sitting up.
"Not really," Mildred answered. "One of them died two years ago, and one of them lives in New York City. The other one is here, down in Orange County."
"Maybe we'll get lucky and she'll be the one," Laura said.
"But someone is going to have to go interview the one in New York," Remington said. "We can't possibly. You're about to give birth any minute, Laura. I doubt they'd let you on a plane, and I'm not about to leave you…"
"… You'd better not," she said, incredulous that he'd even entertain the idea.
"We'll work that out," Mildred said, thinking that tracking down a lead like this and traveling all the way to New York to do it would make a nice addition to her internship file. She'd be ready to get her license in about six months. "I'll see what I can find out on them both in the meantime. But you've got some more nanny applicants this afternoon."
"Speaking of applicants, Mildred," Laura said. "Call the temp service and get someone to fill in for you while I'm gone. We'll need someone to work the phones and do the filing while you fill in for me in the legwork arena."
A wide smile spread across Mildred's face. She'd been hoping for some more responsibility, and they hadn't really discussed Mrs. Steele's absence. She knew the Chief wouldn't want to be running
down all the leads by himself. Legwork was never his forte. He was great at it, but he found it tedious. He'd never say it, but she always thought he felt it was beneath him. That probably came from all that time when he functioned "best in an advisory capacity."
"I'm on it, Mrs. Steele," she said. "Your next interview is in twenty minutes."
"Thanks, Mildred," she said. "Send her in when she gets here."
Laura leaned back against her seat and closed her eyes. She and Remington were in the limo on their way back from Costa Mesa where they'd had an uneventful meeting with the Orange County potential daughter.
The woman had been willing to discuss her adoption which had given them hope, as it turned out she'd begun the search for her birth parents years earlier. The information she'd gotten had led to her father and they had begun to forge a relationship once they had proved that they were indeed father and daughter. He had given her the name of her mother though they had yet to find her, but Mrs. Riley was not the woman in question. Remington had left her with his card. Perhaps if it worked out with Mrs. Riley, they might find a new niche for the agency – reuniting families.
"Why don't you try to get a little nap?" he asked his obviously exhausted wife. "It will be quite a while before we get back to the office."
"What are we going to do?" she asked quietly.
"For Mrs. Riley? I suppose we're going to have to talk to the woman in New York."
"You're right," she said. "But I was referring to something a little closer to home. I'm due in three days and we still haven't found a nanny."
He let out a long sigh.
"Who knew the process would be so long and difficult, eh?"
"It's a big decision," she said, "choosing someone to entrust your child to."
"We'll find the right person," he said.
"When? Time is running out and we've already interviewed and rejected twenty candidates. Where is Julie Andrews when you need her? I'm beginning to think Mary Poppins doesn't exist."
"Walt Disney Pictures, 1964," Remington supplied. "We've got one more appointment this afternoon," he said. "Mildred seemed really excited about this one."
"Let's hope she's right."
"You look pooped, Hon," Mildred observed as she entered Laura's office. She knew Dr. Elliott had told Laura she could work right up until her water broke, and it shouldn't have surprised her
that Laura was actually going to do it.
"Thanks," Laura said with a smile.
"Not that I meant…"
"Don't worry, Mildred. You're right, I am. And I'm ready to go home, but we've got that last nanny interview this afternoon. Believe me, as soon as it's over and we've added her to the rejected list, I'm going straight home and into a nice, warm bath."
"Why are you so sure you're going to reject this one?"
"Because we've rejected them all so far," she said with a sigh. "I didn't think it was going to be this hard. But it is. It is so difficult to find someone you would trust with the well-being of your child. Then, we have the added problem of finding someone who is willing to adapt to crazy schedule…"
"Give this one a chance," Mildred said. "I think you might be surprised."
Mildred exited to her desk as Remington opened the connecting door.
"Hi," she said.
"How are you feeling?" he asked.
"Like a beached whale."
His heart lurched. He hated seeing her in such discomfort, knowing there was nothing he could do about it. He only hoped that the doctor's prediction of due date was correct and that she would deliver the baby within the week. He knew also, that she was under a lot of stress over finding a nanny. He hoped that would be resolved with their next appointment. Mildred seemed sure that this was the one. He'd always trusted her judgment in the past, and he hoped she was right this time.
"You're the most beautiful beached whale I've ever seen," he said, leaning in for a kiss.
"You have to say that," she said, her smile matching his. How did he always know the right thing to say?
"You're right," he said with a raise of his eyebrows. "But only because it's true. You know I'd never lie to you. Ready?"
"Meeting our Mary Poppins," he answered. "She should be here any minute."
"You, too?" she asked and sighed. "I just don't want to get my hopes up. Unlike you and Mildred, I'm beginning to think our nanny isn't out there. I've even contemplated begging my mother
to take the job."
"Perish the thought," he said.
He reached out to help her out of the chair and she hated the fact that she actually NEEDED him to help her out of the chair.
"Let's go get settled in the conference area," he said. "I'll have Mildred bring in some tea."
He took her into his office and helped her settle into one of the club chairs across from the sofa since at this point, getting up and down from the sofa was almost impossible for her. He went out to ask Mildred to make the tea and when he came back to the office, Remington sat down in the chair next to Laura and took her hand. He could see that she was on the verge of tears.
"It's going to be all right, Laura."
"Are you sure?" she asked. "Because I'm beginning to wonder if I can do this."
"I'm sure of us," he said. "I'm sure of YOU. You can do anything… and when I'm with you, I think I can too. We're going to do just fine."
"We didn't have the greatest role models as parents."
"Maybe not," he said. "But we turned out all right, didn't we?"
She smiled and nodded.
They both looked up when the door opened and were surprised at who they saw there.
"What is wrong?" Remington asked, standing. "Is everything all right?"
"Maria," Laura said. "We have an appointment right now, but we'll be home right after…"
"Maria IS your appointment, Mrs. Steele," Mildred said from behind the woman.
"She is?" Laura asked.
"Si," Maria said. "Yes, Mrs. Steele."
"Come in," Remington said, guiding Maria over to the sofa in the conference area. His eyes met Mildred's and he saw wisdom in them. The woman was a genius.
Laura looked across at their housekeeper. All her standard interview questions flew out of her head. Her mind went blank just as she opened her mouth. Before she could find her voice, Maria spoke.
"Mrs. Steele," she said. "How long have I worked for you?"
"Since I bought my first house," Laura said, thinking. "Almost eight years?"
"Eight years," Maria confirmed. "And yet you don't trust me."
"Trust you?" Laura was dumfounded.
"Of course we do, Maria," Remington said.
"You must not, Señor," she said. "You see all these niñera, and the Señora, she just gets more upset when you don't find the right person…"
That was true, he thought. Without their even realizing it, Maria had been privy to the entire process.
"… Why don't you ever ask me to take care of the bebé?"
Remington and Laura looked at each other. Why hadn't they thought of that? They already knew and loved Maria. They trusted her. She knew their schedules better than anyone besides Mildred. She'd raised four children of her own. She was perfect. Remington nodded to Laura and then rose up from his chair to stand behind his wife.
"I honestly don't know, Maria," Laura said. "I suppose we never realized you'd be interested."
"You understand that it would mean full time, and many hours," Remington said. "Nights. Weekends. Our schedule is quite unpredictable."
"I do," she said. "Since you move to the beach, I'm with you almost full time already. I only have two other clients, and my cousin Inez can take them."
"Are you sure about this, Maria?" Laura asked as Remington squeezed her shoulder in support.
"Si," she said. "Yes, Mrs. Steele."
"Thank you," Laura said sincerely. "You're hired."
They'd found their "Maria" Poppins.
"What did you get?" Laura asked reaching for the video box as Remington set down a huge bowl of popcorn on the bed. "Ooh, this is one of my favorites!" she said.
"I know," he answered with a smile. "That's why I got it. Bringing Up Baby, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, RKO 1938."He popped the tape into the machine and climbed into bed next to Laura.
It was five days past her due date and Dr. Elliott had put her on bed rest. She'd taken it pretty well - for the most part because she didn't have a choice. She was miserable and had a hard time getting around. Remington stayed with her most of the time. Early in the week, Mildred had gone to Manhattan to interview the last possible daughter for Mrs. Riley and they closed the office so Remington could stay home with Laura. Remington was afraid Laura would put up a fight about closing up shop, but January was usually a slow time for them anyway. And truthfully, she wanted him with her. The longer she went past her due date and the closer she got to actually giving birth, the more scared she got.
Mildred had returned the day before and had pretty much taken over Mrs. Riley's case. She was running the office along with the temp secretary they'd hired. Everyone agreed it was best that Remington stay home until after the baby came.
Laura snuggled up close to Remington… that is, as close as she could get with her belly and the popcorn between them… and settled in to watch the movie.
About halfway through the movie, Laura awakened her husband who had been quietly snoring for a while.
"Wha--?" He shook his head to gain his bearings. "What is it?" he asked. "Are you all right?"
She nodded.
"I'm fine, but I think I have to go to the bathroom," she said. "Can you help me up?"
No sooner was she standing then she was doubled over in pain and felt a warm sensation on her leg.
"Laura?" Remington asked with alarm as he held her up.
Catching her breath, she looked him in the eye. "My water just broke," she said calmly.
"It's time?" he asked.
"It's time, Mr. Steele."
The scene that ensued was like something out of a fifties TV show. Laura sat calmly on the bed making phone calls while Remington scrambled around the house, frantically preparing to leave for the hospital. Finally, he ran back into the bedroom.
"We have to call the hospital," he said.
"I already did."
"Dr. Elliott…" he said.
"Mildred," he said. "I have to call Mildred. And your mother…. where's your bag?"
"Rem," she said, taking his hand. "My bag is in the car. I already called the hospital and they'll call Dr. Elliott. I called Mildred and you can call Mother and Frances when we get to the hospital. Right now, we just need to get there," she paused with a smile. "Do you think you can drive?"
"Yes," he said.
"Good," she said. "Let's go have a baby."
Remington didn't try to hold back his tears as he walked into the room and saw Laura holding their daughter in her arms.
He never thought he could love someone as much as he loved the two of them in that moment. He had long felt that Laura was the only family he needed, but now … now everything was different. They had a child. The three of them were a family. A real family.
The baby was gorgeous; she looked so much like Laura. She had a soft halo of brown hair, brown eyes and he was sure that he could see freckles on that beautiful pink skin.
"Hey," Laura said quietly, as she noticed him come in.
"Hey," he repeated, walking over to the side of the bed. He leaned over and softly kissed her forehead.
"Uh-uh," she said. "Come back here."
This time when he leaned in, she captured his lips with hers. They'd have to get used to kissing with the baby between them, she thought. She'd have to get used to doing a lot of things with the baby in her arms.
"She's beautiful, isn't she?" Laura said proudly.
"Just like you," he said, sliding into the bed next to her. He wrapped one arm around Laura and touched the baby's cheek with the other. "The family is out there," he said. "They're waiting to see her."
"They can wait a little longer," she said.
"Okay," he said.
He couldn't help staring at his daughter. He smiled. His daughter. He was really a father.
"Thank you," he said before leaning over to kiss his wife again.
"You're welcome," she said with a smile.
"How are you feeling?"
"Like I got run over by a truck," she told him. "But I've never felt better."
"God, I love you."
"I know," she said with a smile. "I love you, too."
She looked over at him; he was staring at the baby again. She was so happy that she had been the one to give him this incredible gift. Family. The three of them, they truly were a family.
"She needs a name," Laura said softly.
"Yes," he agreed. "That would be good. Any suggestions?"
"I thought about naming her after your father."
He liked that idea.
"Yes, Danielle," he said, trying it out. "That's nice."
"Can't do it," she said.
"Why not?"
"Sweetheart," she said. "Have you been to a bookstore lately? Danielle Steel sells more romance novels than Charlotte Knight."
"Oh," he said. "No, that won't work."
"What about Kate?" Laura said. "After all, we were watching Hepburn when I went into labor…"
"Katharine?" he said. "I like that."
"Katharine it is," she said, smiling down at her daughter. "But what goes with it?"
"Well," he said. "We still want Mildred to be the godmother, right?"
"And I don't suppose that's going to go over too well with your mother."
"Probably not."
"Why don't we honor Abigail by naming her after her?"
"Katharine Abigail?" Laura asked, crinkling her nose. "I don't like that."
"What about Abigail Katharine?" he suggested. "We could still call her Kate."
Laura looked down at the baby and gently stroked her cheek.
"What do you think Kate?" she said. "Are you an Abigail?"
Kate opened her eyes and Laura would have sworn she smiled.
"That's it," she said. "Remington Steele, may I present your daughter?"
She held the baby up a little so that Remington could take her.
"Abigail Katharine Steele," he said. "Welcome to the world."
The End

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