Steele Livin' Large 4/4
Date: Wednesday, June 14, 2000
Linda <>
Anne Rose <>


After setting her internal alarm clock the night before, Laura rose early Wednesday morning. She gingerly climbed out of bed, jostling Harry as little as possible. She needn't have worried, though, as he merely murmured softly, clutched her pillow to his chest, and easily drifted back to sleep. Packing was a breeze; she chose clothing just right for the Mediterranean weather they would soon be enjoying. Finding their passports was another matter: although usually stowed in the center desk drawer in their home office, this time Laura found them jammed into the kitchen junk drawer.

Satisfied that they were as ready as they could be, but content to let her husband sleep as much as he could before their long flight, Laura poured a cup of coffee and carried it out to the patio. Still clutching their passports, she sat down at the wrought iron table and began to sip the
comforting brew. She absently opened her husband's passport, but something stopped her short. Maybe it was the memory of their struggle for that document, or the memory of her abject horror at the thought of his possible deportation so many years ago, that made her sit up and take notice of her
own feelings for a change.

Was it really only a couple of months ago that she had found Steele sprawled on the steps, clutching his chest, in the dimly lit stairwell at Pulsatech? How much had happened since then! All those emotions were called up anew, as
Laura revisited the terror that had welled up in her. All the times in those early days when she'd mistrusted him, when she doubted he was there for the long haul, when she was afraid to love him for fear of losing him, came
tumbling back to her, but in a different guise. Her fears were made real again, and Laura choked back tears contemplating that loss. She knew what Harry would say, if she confessed her panic over such a possibility. He'd tell her that there were no guarantees, but he'd promise her anew to live each day with her as if it were his last.

"Laura? Laura, what's wrong?" Harry appeared at the door, and seeing her distress, crossed the distance between them in a flash. He knelt alongside her, gathering her in his strong arms.

For a long while, she sobbed. The words couldn't come, but the emotions racked her. Finally, when she could draw a breath and look in his eyes without dissolving in tears, she told him. She confessed to the sleepless nights, to the panic she'd felt, to her own twisted logic about loss and
abandonment. He uttered the words she knew he would, he made the promise she knew he'd make. . . but Laura was astonished to find that this time, the promise was enough.

"What do you mean, you can't tell me where we're going?"

"It's a surprise."

"How about a hint?" he teased, a broad smile on his lips. He knew she couldn't have any idea how happy he was with her efforts to please him, to show him that he could be her top priority every now and then.

"Nope. You'll just have to wait." Laura squirreled the tickets in her purse, away from Harry's inquisitive eyes. Even at the airport, she sent him to a Starbucks stand while she checked them in. But of course the jig was up when their flight was announced and Laura led him to their gate to board the plane.

"Ah, Paris. Just as I suspected. Excellent choice, Laura," Steele smugly declared as they waited in line. Laura said nothing, just smiled to herself.

The flight was long, and even champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries couldn't make up for it. The couple watched a succession of airline-edited films ("Butchering!" pronounced Steele) until somewhere over Canada they managed to fall asleep. When they blearily stumbled off the plane many hours later, it was the next morning in Paris. But instead of marching them off to
the taxi stand after they endured customs, Laura prodded Harry to hurry so they could catch their connecting flight. They nearly missed it, and in all likelihood their luggage did, but Laura and Harry sank into their seats for the short leg to Cannes.

The lights dimmed, and Harry recognized that excitement he always felt when the first reel was about to start. Loaded with concession purchases, he hurried down the aisle and found Laura without difficulty.

After sliding into the seat next to his wife, Steele leaned over, planting several kisses in Laura's hair, nuzzling with his nose until he found her ear. "Now *this* is what I call a surprise! And a delightful one at that."

Laura turned toward him, her eyes shining. In an idle moment, it had occurred to Laura where the perfect destination for her husband was. "Where else would I take my favorite film fanatic but the Cannes Film Festival?"

"'Fanatic' is a bit of a --- pedestrian --- term, isn't it, Laura? 'Connoisseur' is more the ticket." Steele's eyes flicked to the screen, where 'A Conversation with Gregory Peck' was about to begin, and back to his wife.

"Connoisseur works for me. As long as you're around to go the movies with me for a long time to come."

"Indeed, Mrs. Steele."

"Pass the popcorn, Mr. Steele. You *did* tell them to hold the butter, didn't you?"


Author's notes:Read about the film that the Steeles saw in Cannes:

Anne and I thank you for reading. Please let us know what you thought about our story.