Gifts of Holt Steele
Date: Monday, May 22, 2000
Janice Skyers <>

[This short story is a Prequel to "Dancer, Prancer, Donner and Steele". Enjoy!]

Gifts of Holt Steele
By Janice Skyers

August 1985

"Laura!" Frances Piper exclaimed, eyeing her sister curiously, whose brown eyes were distracted by the gold item, housed in the glass showcase, "Let's go," she added in an authoritative voice, tugging at her sister's sleeve.

"In a sec Frances," she told her sister, waving her off, not looking up.

"Don't tell me that you're still contemplating about what to get Mr. Steele for Christmas?"

"That's the major drawback to doing Christmas shopping in August," Laura offered vaguely, her eyes glued to the gold bracelet.

"What do you mean?" Frances asked, a curious gleam in her eyes.

"Well Christmas is roughly four months away and so you tell yourself that there's still time to decide on that perfect gift for- well never mind. On the other hand_it's nice to beat the crowd," she finished up with a bright smile on her freckled face, shifting shiny brown eyes to her sister.

"Oh I see," Frances said, returning that smile. "In other
words_you're still debating whether or not you should get that Figaro-linked gold bracelet for your Mr. Steele," Frances concluded, pointing to that particular item in the glass showcase.

Laura gave her sister a noncommittal response, shrugging her shoulders, then inquired about the cost of the bracelet from the sales clerk.

"That's more than I planned on spending," she whispered to Frances, after the clerk informed her of the cost of the item she was considering purchasing for that special blue-eyed Irish gentleman in her life.

"That may be Laura, but don't you think he might be worth it?"

Laura's response was slow. She was almost certain that the man who first walked into her life and introduced himself as Ben Pearson did deserve such an expensive and special gift, but after so many years of practicing frugality, it would be a long agonizing internal struggle to break with tradition. "Well yes," she finally said, eyeing the bracelet in the glass showcase. "Let's do a little more browsing," Laura suggested. It was a stalling tactic, she realized, but impulsive she's never been and so she'd need a little more time to make up her mind.

Frances smiled tightly. "Okay Laura," Frances gave in, shrugging. "But just remember, you still have a ways to go before Christmas," her sister cautioned her.

"I'm determined to get Mr. Steele's Christmas gift today Frances. I'm not leaving this shopping mall until I've accomplished that feat," she told her sister firmly, a look of determination on her face, as if her life depended on it.

"Oh I get it," Frances said smiling coyly. "It's kind of tough to choose a gift for the man you not only work with but play with as well."

Suddenly they both burst out laughing, just before walking out of the jewelry store.

"Another dissatisfied customer," the sales clerk uttered quietly, shaking her head in disappointment.


"I don't think that this was such a good idea after all Mildred," Remington complained, licking ketchup off the tips of his long lean fingers with his tongue.

"What isn't Chief?" Mildred asked, mimicking his actions, setting curious eyes on him.

"Me," he said, his face grimacing in distaste. "Shopping in a mall, eating cheeseburgers and french fries for lunch," just before taking another bite of his greasy delight.

"Oh come now Chief, it isn't so bad, now is it?" Mildred said, reaching out a hand to tap his arm lightly, a warm smile on her face.

Remington looked down at the area she'd just touched on his jacket to see if there was any incriminating evidence, ketchup stains as it were, that could possibly trace him back to the fast food eatery. He breathed a quiet sigh of relief seeing the lack of evidence there, then took a quick sip of his coke.

"If the press ever got a hold of this, I could be laughed right out of the detective business," he said, causing Mildred to chuckle softly, sounding a bit over the top.

"You're something else, you know that Chief," Mildred commented lightly, after taking a sip of her diet soda.

"Flattery will get you no where Mildred. So what's next on the agenda?"

"That depends_" she began, looking half-serious.

"On what?" He said, setting a curious blue gaze on her.

"What type of gift you have in mind for Miss Holt?"

He sighed wearily. "Look Mildred_why don't we just give up on this shopping expedition business and,"

"No Chief," Mildred broke in quickly, waving a scolding finger at him, "We're not leaving this mall until you find THE ideal Christmas gift for Miss Holt."

Remington frowned in disgust. "I should be outdoors playing tennis instead of shopping for Christmas gifts in August, don't you think Mildred," he pleaded lightly,"

"Maybe," Mildred agreed reasonably. "But if you wait until the last minute, you're most likely to give Miss Holt something she doesn't need or-"

"Oh I see, strike while the iron's hot_or something to that effect," he interrupted quickly.

"Precisely Chief. Have you any idea what you'd like to get her?"

"Hmmm- back to that again are we," he said quickly, appearing thoughtful. "I've got a few ideas," he offered after a time, a hint of mischief in his blue eyes, a devilish grin on his face.

"Good," Mildred said with a smiling face. "Now that I've completed my Christmas shopping, we can concentrate on yours."

He grinned nervously. "How does negligee sound to you?"

"Is that what you got me?" Mildred said, in a teasing voice.

"Not for you Mildred_Miss Holt. Well what do you think?" He asked impatiently.

Mildred already dismissed that idea, shaking her head. "It's too obvious."

"Perhaps you're right," he had to agree with a look of disappointment on his face.

"What else?"

"Skiing equipment perhaps," he said, looking very uncertain.

"Too impersonal. The gift you give her should be something more of a personal nature-,"

"So that leads us back to negligee_maybe a pink teddy," he said, grinning delightfully.

Mildred smiled broadly. "It's not hard to imagine where your mind has been of late."

"I sound like a very desperate soul don't I," he said, a hand to his jaw, looking fretful.

"Ah," Mildred said, playfully tapping his arm lightly. "It's all going to work out_you'll see."

"But when Mildred_when we're both too old to enjoy it," he said, a "Never mind. So what's our next move Miss Krebs?"

"How about you and I venture over to Jaxson Jewelry Store,"

"Oh planning on buying yourself a great big diamond or something Mildred," he teased.

"Only if you give me a raise," Mildred returned, teasing him as well.

He smiled crookedly. "That would have to be a mighty big raise Mildred,"

"I know," she said lightly, smiling broadly. "Let's go Chief," Mildred told him, rising from her chair.


"I'm ready to call it a day Laura," Frances said, slipping her flat shoes off her feet, she began massaging the soles of her feet.

Laura on the other hand was rearing to go, observing her sister administer some TLC to her sore feet.

"You're not going to give up now, are you Frances. We still haven't_"

"Laura you've found three gifts for Mr. Steele. I'd say that's a major accomplishment-"

"But I still haven't found THE perfect gift that shouts Remington Steele," Laura complained.

"Maybe there isn't such a gift Laura," Frances said, sounding slightly irritated. "Maybe IT doesn't exist," her sister fussed. Laura couldn't help but laugh out loud, drawing a befuddled expression from her sister.

"What's so funny?"

"Oh nothing," Laura said casually. "Guess you had to be there to_never mind," Laura said quickly,

"I think that Figaro-linked gold bracelet would have been the perfect choice as the ideal gift for Remington,"

"You really think so?"

"I know so," Frances emphasized strongly. At least that's what she was hoping.

"But it's not really what I had in mind for him_" Laura explained to her sister who frowned.

"Frankly missy I don't think you have a clue as to what that special Christmas gift should be for your Mr. Steele," Frances said truthfully, while slipping her shoes back on.

"How about a tennis racquet?"

"How romantic," Frances commented lightly, getting up from her seat, sighing wearily. "I can just imagine the look on his face when he unwraps that gift on Christmas Eve," she added, an ounce of sarcasm in her voice.

"He's going to LOVE it Frances," Laura said in a cheerful voice, a delicious gleam lighting up her brown eyes. "After all he does enjoy the sport,"

"Hmm_Mmm," Frances said skeptically. "But you don't play tennis Laura," Frances pointed out to her sister, a worried look on her face.


"So there's a good chance that he'll end up playing tennis with some perky, curvaceous blonde as his partner,"

"Right," Laura agreed. "And she just might turn out to be big trouble like that blonde barracuda, Millicent Fairbush, and believe me that kind of trouble with a capital T is what I can do without," Laura had to admit, her eyes conveying rage.

"So where do we go from here?"

"Square one,"

"Which is?"

"Jaxson Jewelry store. That Italian gold bracelet is beginning to look better and better."

Frances rolled her eyes in disbelief. Isn't that what she's been trying to tell her sister all along.


"Oh Mildred," Remington fussed, carrying Mildred's burden, "I think we should call it a day." She looked up into his blue eyes and could see how weary they looked, but the woman just plain refused to assist him with the brown shopping bags.

"Not yet Chief," she informed him lightly. "We still haven't gone to Jaxson's Jewelry Store as yet?"

"I'm not interested in purchasing any jewelry for Laura Mildred_I've showered her with enough jewelry over the years that she can now open her own business. Let's put this aside until another day," he suggested, with shoulders slumping. "The soles of my feet are beginning to hurt-"

"Chief," Mildred said in a demanding tone of voice, pulling him by the arm. "We're going to find that gift for Miss Holt even if it kills you. Not next week or next month, or two months from now or Christmas Eve but TODAY," Mildred emphasized strongly, looking very serious.

"Yes ma'am," he said half-heartedly, knowing better than to argue with iron-lead Krebs.


"Oh no," Laura said, tapping Frances lightly on the arm, forcing her sister to look at her.

"What is it?"

"Over there," she said, pointing. "It's Mr. Steele and Mildred,"

"Oh I get it_jealousy rears it's ugly head."

Laura gave her sister a look of disbelief. "He can't see me
Frances_not here."

"And why not here?"

"Because he'll discover what I'm_too late_here they come,"

"Hi Honey," Mildred said, looking half-surprised. "Doing a little shopping I see," she went on, curiously eyeing the shopping bags Laura was holding.

Laura tried her best not to let the embarrassment she felt spill out onto her face and her eyes found the burden Remington has been toting around.

"No_just browsing," she lied.

"Well you're not doing bad for someone who's just browsing," Remington commented lightly, his eyes glued to the shopping bags she was currently holding.

Laura suddenly looked sheepish. "I thought you were going to play poker with the guys today_an all day marathon of poker playing was the way you'd put it exactly."

"Well," he said slowly, searching for the right words. "Seems they had other ideas so I was forced to_well anyway_I thought you were going to spend the day rearranging your closets_"

"Boring," she said, almost singing.

For a time, Mildred and Frances were almost invisible to the striking couple as warm and loving glances passed back and forth between them.

"Mildred," Frances said quickly. "How about you and I go check out that fashion show on the ground floor," she added, sensing that they wanted to be alone.

"Sounds good to me," Mildred said, catching on quickly.

"So what are you really doing here?" Laura asked him after Mildred and her sister vanished away from the scene.

"Oh the same thing you are_browsing_" He began saying a coy smile on his handsome face.

"I see," Laura said, smiling warmly.

"I have a confession to make Laura_"

"A confession?"

"Yes," he said, relieving her of the burden, and gesturing to her to take a seat on the wooden bench.

"Do you really want to know what I'm doing here in this shopping mall today," he said, after they both sat down, resting the shopping bags on the floor next to them. "I'm here because I was at a loss of how to fill up my day since you couldn't be a part of it," he had to confess, not really requiring a response from her.

"But I thought you were suppose to play poker with the guys?"

"I just made that up,"


"Well as much as we love each other Laura, I can't expect for us to spend every waking moment together, as much as I'd like that. You need space to do your own thing and I suppose I do too,"

"But you had nothing planned, if you'd-"

"That's just it. If I'd told you that last night, you would have changed your plans with Frances just for my sake and that wouldn't be the right thing to do. It would be very unfair of me to insist that you spend the day with me instead of re-arranging your closets," he said, a coy smile on his face, drawing a sheepish expression from Laura. "When Mildred called and invited me to go shopping with her, I gladly accepted since I thought it would be the perfect way to pass the time. But I missed you not having you there with me," He went on, placing a soft, tender kiss on the back of her free hand.

"So here we both are, trying to achieve the same thing and in the same place- imagine that," Laura said, a bright smile on her freckled face.

"Oh," he said nonchalantly, "Did a bit of Christmas shopping, did we now," he remarked softly, looking into her shiny brown eyes.

When Laura didn't respond, he added, "So did you get anything for me?" He wondered, looking at the brown bags and wishing he had x-ray vision so he wouldn't have to wait until Christmas to see his gift.

"I'll never tell," Laura said lightly. "How about you? How did you make out?"

"Oh I think I've done alright if I do say so myself," he lied, not meeting her curious brown gaze. After all Laura had no way of knowing that the shopping bags he had been toting around was Mildred's burden. "How about dinner and a movie?" He suggested quickly, desperately wanting to change the subject.

Laura frowned in disappointment, but he couldn't see her face, since he was looking down at his athletic shoes, awaiting a response from her. That's so predictable and boring she thought mentally. "Sounds okay but I have a much better idea,"

Suddenly he lifted his blue gaze from his sneakers to her face. "Really- what?"

"How about we check into a motel and do the wild thing," Laura suggested quickly, not batting an eye.

Suddenly his eyes widened, looking very surprised and amazed by her statement.

"Is that what you really want?"

"Yes that's what I really want," she said sincerely, looking deeply into his warm blue eyes. "Let's live for the moment. Up, up periscope- that sort of thing," she went on.

"Well then," he said, slipping a long arm around her waist, pulling her close to him. "Merry Christmas Miss Holt," he whispered.

"Merry Christmas Mr. Steele," she whispered back. Locked in a warm embrace, they shared a very deep passionate kiss.