Lost Art of Steele - Part IV-Slightly
Date: Saturday, August 25, 2000
Lauryn Poynor <email@example.com>
- LOST ART OF STEELE PART IV (Final)
by Lauryn Poynor
Rated Slightly R
Many thanks once again to Anne Rose for her invaluable help.
Thanks for sticking with me on this one.
Steele awoke in momentary confusion. His mind felt pleasantly
fogged in and yet restless. Although he was dimly aware that
his muscles ached he felt strangely disconnected from his body,
as though he'd been sleepwalking. Some indefinable thought or
feeling nagged at the back of his mind. He opened his eyes, trying
to focus on the surroundings of his bedroom. Then he remembered.
He reached out behind him and touched her sleeping form. Her
arm was draped around his waist, her warmth pressed tightly against
his spine. Gently disengaging from her grasp, he rolled onto
his back and then turned to look at her. She was curled up under
the sheets, her thick brown hair in waves across the pillow.
A beam of afternoon sunlight fell across her shoulders and the
pale skin of her breasts, just visible above the top of the bed
Images of the past few hours tumbled in his mind. They had both
wanted this but neither of them had been prepared for what had
happened between them. A slow ache spread through him as he remembered
the feel of her skin against his, her heat surrounding him, the
arch of her back, her lovely face as she came. He couldn't clearly
recall how they had ended up here, just that their lovemaking
had continued after brief snatches of sleep.
He thought of all the time they had lost waiting for the right
moment, the perfect setting. Somehow that no longer mattered.
He looked down at her face. This moment. The past few hours.
The next. Perfect because they were together. Smiling, he placed
a light kiss on her forehead.
When Laura awoke, Steele was sitting cross legged at the end
of the bed, drawing pad balanced in his lap, pencil moving across
the page. Her eyes narrowed, trying to focus on the pattern of
the bedspread. Other details began to register in her mind. She
felt the coolness of the sheets against her bare skin.
"Good morning Laura, or should I say afternoon?" he
said. "No matter. You look lovely anytime."
How long had she been here, she wondered. Pulling herself up
and resting against the headboard, she stared at him. He was
poised, pencil in hand, watching, with nothing covering him but
the drawing pad. Her memory began to recover. Him sketching.
Her posing. And everything after. Especially after. Remembering,
she felt light, as though a weight had been lifted from her.
She smiled at him. "I'm not really at my best first thing
in the afternoon, or the morning for that matter." She smoothed
back her hair.
"You're so wrong, love. I have indisputable evidence,"
he rejoined, handing her the pad. There was her image seeming
incredibly real. Her face in repose, something indefinable in
her expression. Her heart knew what it was. Happiness, she decided.
And maybe something more... if she would admit it.
She handed him the pad. Picking up the pencil, he turned the
page. She pulled back the covers, and inched her way towards
him until she was close enough to feel his breath. "Miss
Holt, you're in my light, " he teased. She took the pad
and pencil out of his hand.
"We'll try again later, Mr. Steele."
"Yes, love. Much later." He leaned in to kiss her.
A flicker of disappointment crossed his face as she pulled away.
"Unless of course you like to sketch in the shower,"
she said, getting up with a grin and heading for the bathroom.
Steele followed. "Never tried it. Might be a bit damp."
He came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
"Anything I can do to help, Laura?" She picked up the
"Excellent idea. A nice, brisk scrubbing," Steele murmured
in her ear.
"Sounds stimulating," she agreed.
He grinned. "I've always had a soft spot for stimulation."
She trailed a finger slowly down his belly. "It's not your
soft spots I'm interested in."
Some time later both emerged from the shower a bit waterlogged
and slightly breathless. Laura toweled off and went into the
living room to retrieve her clothes. She went into the bedroom
to brush her hair out and get dressed while Steele hunted for
a spare toothbrush. She had her clothes back on when he stuck
his head out of the bathroom, toothpaste running down his chin.
"Found one. But where's my bloody comb?" She went back
to the bathroom and brushed her teeth, straining her eyes at
the fogged up mirror.
She was sitting on the bed when he emerged, hair combed, towel
around his shoulders. He walked over to the dresser, opened a
drawer and retrieved a pair of silk boxers. She stared at him
dreamily as he pulled them on over his hips. Hmm. Definite tan
line, she thought. Maybe we could work on that. Mine and his.
On some secluded beach somewhere...
"Laura?" His voice broke in on her thoughts. "Are
"I was asking if you're still up for tennis."
"Oh, no. I don't think so. We've both had a pretty good
workout for today." He leaned down, lifted up her chin and
kissed her nose.
"Tennis does rather pale by comparison," he mused,
smiling. He rummaged in his closet for something to wear.
Laura picked up the drawing pad that lay open on the bed. Her
skin flushed slightly as she remembered the events of the morning.
As she turned the pages everything stood out in her mind very
clearly. She stared at the earliest drawing of her on the sofa.
All of her conflicting emotions were captured on the page. Her
face was pensive, her body slightly awkward.
She turned to the next drawing. She was naked from the waist
up. She was still in the same basic posture but her chin was
up, her gaze more straightforward, almost defiant. In the final
pose she was reclining, her head and neck arched back, her hair
falling over her shoulders. She hadn't been completely naked
but he had drawn her so. The attitude of her face and body was
sensual and confident. She seemed indelibly real. The process
had asked a lot from both of them but it had also given something.
It was as if they had been forced to see each other clearly for
the first time.
She sensed his presence and looked up. He stood by the edge of
the bed dressed in jeans and a soft grey polo shirt. "Well
Laura, what do you think of them?" he gestured at the sketches.
"It's hard for me to be objective. I was a bit um, distracted
at the time."
"They're marvelous, incredibly good and you know it,"
"Thank you. You are an inspiring and unbelievably sexy subject."
She thought for a moment. "You know, what I did..wasn't
just foreplay," she began.
"You had been honest with me about your feelings and I wanted
to do the same. To stop hiding..." she stopped, unsure of
what to say.
He sighed. "I guess it was about damned time for both of
us. No more hiding, Laura. We'll start over, eh?" He kissed
her forehead and smoothed back a lock of her hair.
"So, Mr. Steele. Tell me about this art training of yours."
Training?" he said innocently.
"Remember that case with Artie, the cartoonist for the Blaster?
You let it slip then that you'd had a bit of art training in
your mysterious past. Don't you think you should tell me about
it? No more hiding, remember."
He winced. "Are you sure you'd like to know?"
"I was afraid you'd say that."
"Where are you going?" she asked as he strode out of
"Be right back, Laura, I promise."
A few minutes later he returned and dropped something into her
lap. It was a photograph. She picked it up. It was a shot of
a young man sitting on the steps of a columned building with
a massive Roman façade. His thick black hair fell down
over his collar and the expression in his blue eyes was intense,
with a hint of anger. He was wearing jeans, a charcoal grey pullover
and a red woolen scarf.
"How old were you?" she asked.
"Eighteen, I think."
"Where was this taken? I've seen that building before."
"It's the Fitzwilliam Museum."
"Oh," she said surprised. "That's - at Cambridge.
You went to Cambridge?" Her words came out in a rush.
"Ah, yes. Briefly."
"Oh, about nine months. I read History of Art."
"Oh I see." She remembered something. "But when
we were on that case - the ghost at Murphy's reunion - you didn't
know Cambridge was on the Cam river. So you were just pulling
"Well yes, even if I hadn't gone there I'd at least have
known that bit of geography."
That was true, she thought. "OK, Let's start from the beginning.
Your academic career, however brief. I want to know all the details."
Steele sat down next to her on the bed and eyed her nervously.
"Well, there's not much to tell really. It was Daniel's
idea. My schooling, as you would imagine, had been haphazard
to non existent prior to that point. Daniel had just pulled off
a very successful job and had a good deal of spare cash. He reckoned
he could afford it and tried to convince me first, that he could
get me in and second, that I wanted to go. Frankly, I was pretty
doubtful about both. Daniel hadn't exactly been neglectful. I'd
had tutors who had tried to fill in some of the gaps in my education."
Steele paused and glanced hesitantly at Laura before continuing.
"Daniel had taught me a lot about how to dress and how to
speak properly but I wasn't at all sure I could even survive
socially, let alone academically. He was determined, though.
He had records drawn up which were quite convincing but false
of course. My father was supposedly in the foreign service and
we traveled extensively so I'd been tutored privately and gone
to boarding school in Switzerland. Well, Daniel could hardly
claim that I'd been to Eton or Harrow. I'd have been rumbled
the first day.
"When the day came for my interview I was more petrified
than I'd ever been in my life. Daniel had put up all of my fees
and expenses and refused to take no for an answer. I was ushered
into the interview room before an old duffer in moldy tweeds
with a smoker's cough." Steele leaned back on the bed, glancing
up at the ceiling as he recalled the details.
"I had brought a portfolio of my work in different media
and he barely glanced at them. I fielded a few easy questions
about various art movements until out of the blue he asked me
what horse I was backing in the Grand National. I hadn't even
been following it but I managed to remember the names of some
of the contenders. I told him the first name that popped into
my head. I found out later that he won quite a packet on that
Laura laughed. "Figures. So then what happened?"
"Well, after I was accepted I came up in October and it
all started. I went to a few lectures a week. We had what were
called 'supervisions' weekly where our progress was checked and
we were given a bit of a going over. I was nervous about it at
first but the coursework wasn't too demanding. It was mostly
visual memorization which I was good at so I had a lot of time
on my hands and more freedom than I'd ever had. I was out from
under Daniel's thumb and able to breathe a bit." Laura,
recalling her own college years, smiled in understanding.
To have access to the incredible collections of the Fitzwilliam
was like a slice of heaven to me." Steele continued, warming
to his subject. "I mean, Daniel had taken me to museums
but always with another object in mind. I took advantage of private
tutors in painting, drawing and a bit of commercial art. Cambridge
also had a number of film societies which was quite wonderful
"It wasn't always easy. I made some good friends but was
a bit wary of getting too close.
I had to put up a good front even though I hadn't exactly had
the typical Oxbridge background. It was the early 70's and elitism
was out of fashion but that didn't mean it still wasn't pervasive.
Sometimes I'd be listening to some pompous git at a party nattering
on about the underclass and I'd want to bang his head against
a wall. After all, I was member of that underclass and more 'under'
than most. Most of time I'd hold my temper and console myself
by imagining just how long the bastard would survive on the street."
He stopped for a moment lost in thought. Laura knew his difficult
childhood had left its mark on him but he rarely let it show.
Sometimes, though, she could see it on the surface - in the occasional
flash of anger at a privileged client or in his quick sympathy
for those in trouble. She put a comforting hand on his arm.
"So, you say it ended after nine months? What happened?
Some dangerous liaison with the Chancellor's daughter?"
He chuckled. "Sadly no. Although I did my share of what
was known as 'climbing in.' Now most of the colleges are co-educational
but when I attended nearly all were single sex and mostly male.
Competition for the available women was fierce and it was every
man for himself. Faint heart never won fair lady and all that.
One of my tutors got so tired of me climbing over his balcony
railing that he gave me a map with a different route.
"If climbing in failed there was always what we called 'the
backs' along the lower part of the river Cam.. a good place to...um,
well I digress." He paused, gathering his thoughts as Laura
raised a curious eyebrow at him. "Actually I did do a bit
of punting there. That area of the river is pretty easy going.
It's shallow and mostly gravel on the bottom. There are parts
where the river is more secluded, away from the colleges, but
they're deeper and muddier. It's a tricky business. It can take
the edge off the evening when you've lost the pole and you have
water running down your sleeves."
"Sounds like fun," Laura said a bit wistfully.
"It was. At least for a while. I got in a bit of hot water
with a bookmaking operation and then Daniel called with news
that he needed me for a job. He'd also had a sudden cash flow
problem, so my brilliant career pretty much came to an end."
"Sounds like you learned a lot of skills for use later in
life, Laura said smiling up at him. "Fine art, climbing
in, breaking and entering.."
"That always nagged at the back of my mind, really. Whether
Daniel sent me out of guilt, or for my best interests, or just
to get me primed. It was only after that I realized he'd done
me a favor. He'd taught me to survive among people whose backgrounds
and mine were worlds apart. Besides it was all just posing, really,
on everyone's part. Bluffing was sort of the essence of the whole
experience. It's funny, actually. I'm still doing it now as Remington
"Yes, you are," Laura replied. "But I can't imagine
him as anyone else." She kissed him lightly on the lips.
"Just one question. Why didn't you ever tell me about this
"Not sure, really. I suppose I wish things had turned out
differently. A few regrets."
"Do you ever think about going back one day? Becoming Remington
Steele (BA Cantab.)? Something to add to your resumé?"
He glanced reflectively at the photograph then tucked it away
inside the drawing pad. "Maybe someday. But let's not tempt
fate, eh? My resumé's given us both enough problems, remember?
All that gop about the CIA."
"How could I forget."
"Well, Laura. I think we've had enough revelations for one
day. That is unless you have something of your own that you're
dying to share. Have any compromising photos from your days at
Stanford hidden away?"
"Nope. Burned them," she said a bit too quickly.
"Hmm. Too bad. I'm sure your mother might - "
"Don't even think it," Laura said shuddering. A change
of subject was in order. "Now Mr. Steele, tell me about
those girls from Cambridge."
He pulled her into his arms. "Barely remember them,"
he said gallantly. "Pale, puny things compared to California