Steele of My Innocence 3/5
Date: Wednesday, March 08, 2000

Linda <>

Part 3

After a quick trip home to pack, and then a detour to Tarzana to pick up Frances and Donald, the Steeles squeezed into the agency's limousine with the Pipers on their way to LAX. During the trip, Laura went over in excruciating detail what little she had learned in the course of her telephone conversation with the mystery woman.

"Who is she, Laura?" Frances asked peevishly.

"No idea."

"How does. . . did she know Daddy?"

"I don't know that either. Look, I already told you everything I DO know," Laura screeched, ready to lose her temper all over again.

"Well, you're the detective, is this the best you can do?"

"Now, now, Ladies, squabbling amongst ourselves is unproductive, to say the least," Steele the peacemaker announced.

"You keep quiet!" In unison, the Holt sisters gave him their opinion of his conciliatory efforts.

Stifled, Harry went back to puzzling the whole story out in his head. No stranger to bizarre stories about parents, he wanted to get to the bottom of this one, for Laura's sake. Donald, on the other hand, had remained silent throughout Frances and Laura's. . . conversation.

As a true marital veteran, he knew that intervening between warring siblings was a suicide mission. Besides, in his opinion, Laura and Frances needed to focus their anger somewhere, and their recently deceased, long-lost father wasn't an option right now.

"One more time, please, Laura," Frances pleaded.

A deep breath helped Laura regain some composure. "Ok. There isn't much to tell. The woman on the phone said that she was a friend of Daddy's, and she was sorry to tell me but that he had. . . died, and she thought we should know."

"But how did she know where to reach you? And why didn't she call me? And just what was he doing in Paris, of all places? And--"

"Frances, I DO NOT KNOW."

After a few moments of silence, Frances asked "Aren't we going to call Mother?"

This time, it was Laura, Donald, and Steele's chance to agree. "No!"


"This was a bad idea. I'm NOT getting on that plane," Laura intoned, more to herself than to anyone else, but she alarmed Harry nonetheless.

"What are you talking about? Of course you are."

The pair was waiting at the gate while Frances and Donald called home one more time to check on the Piper brood before the plane departed.

"No. I'm. Not."

With that, Steele enfolded her in his arms. Grateful for the touch, she sank into his embrace. In soothing words, Steele spoke. "Laura, Laura. You made the right decision, give yourself some credit, eh? You need to know what happened."

Snapping back, Laura said, "No I do NOT need to know. We're talking about me here, not you."

Stung, Steele stared at Laura.

Bringing her hands to her face, Laura blinked back tears. "I'm sorry. That wasn't fair. I just. . . I'm not thinking straight is all. Why do I need to know? I've lasted all these years, not knowing. Besides, he's not my family. You, you're my family now."

Her appeasing words had their desired effect on Harry, but this time he didn't risk as much of himself in the exchange. "Wouldn't it be good to close this chapter of your life?"

"Yeah, I guess so. But what if the answers to the questions are worse than never knowing at all?"

For that, Steele had no ready response. But when the call to board came, Laura got on the airplane just like everyone else.

End Part 3
To Part 4