- Steele Upon a Mattress - Part
Date: Tuesday, February 11, 2003
- Lauryn Poynor <email@example.com>
STEELE UPON A MATTRESS - PART ONE
By Lauryn Poynor
I am indebted to my editors, Anne and MJ, for their tireless
attentiveness, and enthusiasm. What started as a simple add-on
episode soon became an extended engagement, and I'm dead certain
as surprised as I was. Next time I'm sure they'll read the fine
Permission to archive.
"So you do get up. I was beginning to think you worked in
bed like Marcel
Proust," purred a sultry feminine voice.
"You wouldn't know him. A French writer."
"Come into my boudoir."
There was a soft click -- then silence enveloped the dark room
like a heavy
curtain. It was no good, Steele thought. He tossed the TV remote
floor and rubbed his temples. Perhaps watching "The Big
Sleep" in his
current condition was akin to tempting fate.
Raymond Chandler had something more final and deadly in mind
when he penned
his noir classic than a good night's rest, but that hardly mattered
Steele as he tossed and turned, hoping against hope he could
off to sleep. He recalled reading somewhere that Chandler was
known to be
a hopeless insomniac, but now that Steele had joined the club
he was in no
mood to appreciate the irony.
He glanced at the clock and whacked his pillow in frustration.
Not a good sign. "Better lay off the round-the-clock movies,
chided himself, "or before you know it you'll be seeing
a lot of shows that
aren't listed in the 'TV Guide.'" All the hours he'd spent
roll were beginning to worry him.
"Morning, Mr. Steele," Laura greeted him, barely glancing
up from her case
file as he strode through the suite's doors.
"Morning? I suppose it is. Never sure these days."
The attempt at levity
couldn't disguise the weariness under the surface.
Startled at his tone, Laura put down the file and looked at him.
looked at him. She blinked twice and managed to sputter, "Mr.
look... like hell."
"Thank you for the diagnosis, Dr. Holt." Steele ran
his hands absently
through his hair and adjusted his tie. His clothes were as immaculate
ever but Laura noticed he disdained his usual French cuffs, and
there was a
patch of stubble on the side of his jaw the razor had missed.
His skin was
abnormally pale and signs of exhaustion were clear on his face.
"Diagnosis? Are you sure you don't need one? You look like
spent the night in intensive care. Or in jail. Um, you haven't
night in jail have you?" Laura asked, only half-joking.
Curiosity piqued at the word "jail", Murphy poked his
head out of Laura's
office. He walked over to Steele and stared at him in morbid
"Someone named Bruno or Guido after you in a cement truck?
Or maybe it's a
jealous husband this time." He warmed to the theory. "Let
me guess. He
came home early and you spent the weekend hiding in the closet.
I hope you
had a good book to read."
Steele's single-minded pursuit of sleep had no time to spare
niceties, nor the usual games of one-upmanship.
"Tell me, Miss Holt. What's on my schedule for the day?
The usual or the
"What do you mean, Mr. Steele?"
"By this afternoon I want it wall to wall. Chock full of
the usual humdrum
routine. Chamber of Commerce luncheons. Rotarians. Shriners.
Politicians. Blue-haired women. Insurance salesmen."
"What?" Laura gaped at him as if he'd taken leave of
"Tedium, Miss Holt. That's all I ask for. Dullness. Boredom.
"I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, Mr. Steele, but
just a few
months ago you were saying you'd run out of doodles."
"I'll stock up on pencils. Murphy. Do you have any autopsy
reports I can
peruse? Something with loads of medical jargon. Or the same in
Murphy looked Steele up and down as if mentally measuring him
straitjacket. "I'm fresh out."
"Surely you have -" Steele paused as if struck by a
"Where's your baseball almanac, Murphy?"
Bernice's jaw went slack, her filing forgotten. "Laura,
I think he's
finally cracked. Hold up two fingers and see if he can guess
how many, or
better yet, ask him his real name. If he says it's Dr. Quincy,
Laura's brow furrowed. "Mr. Steele, are you alright?"
She put a hand to
his forehead. "You feel a little warm. Maybe you should
"No, I don't think that would help, at least it hasn't for
Perhaps some desk work is called for." Steele blinked hard
around in confusion. "Desk work. Through here isn't it?"
He began to walk
unsteadily toward Laura's office.
"We'll use your office." Laura guided him by the arm.
"Don't want to
overload you with paperwork."
Laura pulled him inside and shut the door. She led him to his
pushed him firmly into it. "Sit. I'm going to get you some
"Laura, I don't think coffee -"
"Don't move. I'll be right back."
Laura returned, closing the door behind her. She handed Steele
mug, then sat down on the edge of his desk. A worried frown creased
brow. "I thought maybe you should drink it black."
Steele shrugged resignedly. "Anything for you, Miss Holt."
"Now give. What's happened to you in the last seventy-two
Steele? And don't tell me you've discovered a sudden affinity
Steele sighed and eased back gratefully into his chair. "Well,
it's all a
bit fuzzy around the edges but I think I can recapitulate the
of interest. Let's see. Roughly eighteen hours of staring at
ceiling, six hours of solitaire, an Erich von Stroheim film festival,
long walks, ten crossword puzzles, a Bogart marathon -"
"Am I going too fast for you, Miss Holt?"
"I thought you didn't like crossword puzzles."
"Bore me to tears. Getting the picture?"
"I think so. But what about the Bogart marathon?"
"A man has to keep his spirits up somehow, Laura."
"And this all adds up to..?"
"No sleep. Not forty winks, not four. I think I may have
hit two and a half
in the shower this morning, or perhaps while I was shaving."
"You haven't slept in nearly three days?"
"Not that I've noticed. Not since we left the hospital after
"Good lord! I know you mentioned insomnia but I thought
it was just
temporary. Brought on by the stress of the case, of pretending
to have a
"I played my role a lick too well, Laura." He sipped
his coffee absently.
"Funny, I never thought of myself as a method actor."
"But you were in such good spirits after we invited Ivan
and Dr. Lindstrom
"Entirely due to your expert ministrations, Dr. Holt."
Laura thought about the kisses they had shared in the kitchen
and felt a
faint shiver go through her. Steele had certainly seemed wide
awake at the
"Speaking of your healing touch, Laura, where were you the
"The day after the case. You told me to spend the whole
day in bed. Where
"Mr. Steele, I never said - you didn't think I would -,"
she broke off,
flustered. "I was busy."
"Too busy to check on the patient? I called the office on
the hour. Believe
me, I've been watching the clock these days. Your Miss Wolf did
a bang up
job guarding the drawbridge."
"You needed your sleep, Mr. Steele."
"You know what I needed, doctor. Physical therapy. Your
"You know full well that if I, um, we, ended up -"
"In your bedroom -- you'd have spent the whole time trying
Steele rose to his feet, meeting Laura's gaze with sudden alertness.
eyes raked over her.
"You know exactly what -" Laura fiddled nervously with
the open collar of
her blouse. "The patient would never have gotten to bed
- um, er, to sleep."
"No matter, Laura. The floor would have been fine. We could've
bedcovers in a pinch."
"You're dreaming, Mr. Steele."
"On the contrary, we were wide awake when you agreed to
my course of
"A neck rub, wasn't it?" Laura sniffed. "Nothing
"We both know it went further than that."
Laura's cheeks flushed at the memory. She knew exactly what he
She just didn't know what to do about it. She hadn't expected
physical therapy to become . . . so physical.
They had worked closely on the case, just the two of them, sharing
evidence, sharing confidences, sleeping together but not "sleeping
together." It was new and unexpectedly seductive terrain.
his apartment, they'd lingered in the kitchen, their defenses
wandering, limbs entwined, tongues exploring, temperatures rising.
When they broke away, they were breathless and clearly aroused.
sound of laughter from the other room as Ivan told a joke had
that they had dinner guests. Laura bolted from the room carrying
dessert tray and Steele managed to compose himself and play the
host. As the guests were leaving, Laura contrived to slip out
despite Steele's protestations, saying she wanted to be sure
he had time to
recover from the demands of the case.
"I don't think what you have in mind is a medically accepted
insomnia," Laura said defensively.
"You can't deny the results were promising in the early
"I thought we were talking about sleep."
"I believe the sleep phase comes later. Once we're nestled
in each other's
arms, spent but outrageously fulfilled from a spirited round
of testing out
"You're a medical marvel, Mr. Steele. Seventy-two hours
without sleep and
all you can think about is -"
"Bed, Laura. Is that so surprising?"
"Look, this isn't getting us anywhere. Maybe you need to
see a doctor. I
can't have a sleep-deprived Remington Steele falling face down
chicken a la king at the mayor's luncheon or the policeman's
"Ah, so your concern is strictly professional." Sulking,
Steele returned to
his chair and sank into it with a slump of his shoulders.
"Well," Laura hedged. "Not . . . strictly. Part
of me feels responsible
for your condition."
Steele leaned forward, voice lowering to a seductive whisper.
If you'd care to make amends, perhaps tonight you could . . .
tuck me in.
After we've given the mattress a stress test we could check the
of the pillows, the couch, the coffee table -"
Laura tried to ignore the torrid images his less than innocent
were conjuring in her mind. Slapping her hand to her forehead,
"Why can't you behave?"
"Kiss me Kate."
"Kate? Mr. Steele! You said you had insomnia, not amnesia!"
"'Why Can't You Behave'? From 'Kiss Me Kate'?" At her
puzzled frown, he
continued. "It's a movie, Miss Holt. A musical. Howard Keel
Grayson? MGM, 1953? Surely you remember that one! Cole Porter
Shakespeare and glorious Technicolor? A beautiful woman, a charming
battle of wills but all's well that ends well."
The odd thing was, now she did remember it. She just didn't have
lightning quick cinematic reflexes. She hastened to correct him.
remember it, Mr. Steele. I don't need to brush up my Shakespeare."
"Wunderbar, Miss Holt. Glad to hear it."
The man masquerading as Remington Steele was a mystery she despaired
ever solving. "You associate everything with the movies,
Despite herself, Laura was impressed. "How do you do it?"
"Come round tonight and I'll reveal all," he invited
with a waggle of his
"You sound better already." Laura crossed her arms.
"I thought you weren't
trying to sleep with me."
Steele smiled at the memory. "Back then, I wasn't trying
to sleep with you.
But now I'm trying to sleep with you."
"I must have been crazy to involve you in the case,"
Laura moaned in
"No offense, Laura, but I knew it would turn out badly when
my 'canard au vin rouge.'"
"I didn't think the sleep clinic would have such a lasting
effect on you."
"Not to worry, Miss Holt. My skills as a cruciverbalist
"A creator or solver of crossword puzzles. Can't recall
now if that word
was down or across."
"This isn't a joking matter. I'm calling Dr. Lindstrom and
booked into the sleep clinic."
"But Laura, I'd get far more benefit out of your personal
touch. I won't
take up much of your time. A man in my condition exhausts easily.
when we're rested -"
"No 'buts' Mr. Steele. I'm sure Dr. Lindstrom would be glad
to help. You're
the savior of his clinic - and his most famous patient."
"Perhaps we should get a second opinion. Make sure I'm in
'First do no harm' is the physician's creed, their Hippocratic
oath if I'm
not mistaken. Surely being poked and prodded by Nurse Blackell
that noble sentiment. Even prisoners of war under the Geneva
have certain inalienable rights -"
"The patient will survive, I'm sure."
"That may be, but it's hardly my idea of a relaxing evening.
costly and intensive therapy I'd warrant afterwards could bankrupt
agency, not to mention put me out of action for months."
"For months? You think so?" Laura smiled sweetly. "Maybe
Murphy and I can
finally get some work done."
"Drudgery loves company, I suppose. That wasn't the action
I had in mind."
"Spare me the details, Mr. Steele. Whom you invite to test
mattress is no concern of mine. I'm sure they do their best work
their backs. Just make sure they don't get lipstick on the designer
"Actually, I was thinking of the kitchen, not the bedroom.
We could pick up
where we left off. Just before dessert, wasn't it?"
"I don't think that's such a good..." Laura moved back
slightly out of
arms' reach. Steele rose from his chair and inched nearer.
"...idea. Mr. Steele."
As he closed the space between them she felt oddly detached,
as though she were watching them both from a distance. Steele
chin, his eyes locked with hers. She felt his fingers skim her
jaw line and
trail warmly down her neck to the top of her blouse, raising
goose bumps on
her exposed skin.
His touch roused her, whetted her appetite for more. Every rational
she possessed was warning her to stop, but now she knew how good
feel, how good he would feel. She could stop whenever she wanted,
herself. Just not yet.
He leaned down to kiss her, softly at first, attuned to the cues
response, then with more insistence, his hand slipping to the
back of her
head. Laura shuddered involuntarily as he buried his fingers
in her hair.
At the mounting pressure of his lips on hers, she slipped from
the desk to
stand upright and facing him.
Her forearm brushed the rough stubble on his cheek as her arms
his neck. Laura could feel the cool surface of the desk against
of her thighs as his body leaned into her embrace. Her mouth
opened to him
and she heard him moan in response when she pressed her tongue
teeth. He let her explore at will until they were tongue tip
to tongue tip.
Laura's fingers slid under his collar, teasing the fine hairs
on the back
of his neck. She felt him flinch slightly. Maybe he was ticklish
thought. She applied more pressure. Abruptly, Steele squirmed
her as if he'd been branded.
"Mr. Steele." Laura exhaled in a rush. "What's
the matter? Don't like my
"Perish the thought, Miss Holt. You're indescribably good,
believe me. It's
not that at all. "
"Then what -"
"Damn!" Steele exclaimed in frustration. "It's
my neck, Laura. It feels
like something just went awry, a muscle or a tendon perhaps."
"Can you turn your head?"
"Just barely." Steele winced with the effort.
"Let me see."
Laura attempted to rub the area but Steele's collar was in the
unknotted his tie and slid it free and began to unbutton his
stopped short after the third button, shocked into inaction as
too late that she was actually undressing him.
Her throat felt dry as she stared at his chest, his open shirt
the dark, silken hair she'd just grazed with a fingertip seconds
Suddenly unsure what to do with her hands, she froze. Steele
captured them with his own.
"Laura. You were doing so well." He kissed her palms.
"Why stop there?"
Laura jerked her hands away, fighting to regain her composure.
your neck was the affected area, Mr. Steele," she said with
what she hoped
was a convincingly clinical tone.
"Well, mainly, yes. I didn't think it fair to overburden
you with my
various other bodily aches and pains. I'm sure if you start at
the top and
work your way down I'll feel much better in the morning."
"Try an aspirin."
"Never touch the stuff. Hate pills."
"An aspirin a day keeps the doctor away, Mr. Steele."
"Is that what you're trying to do, doctor? Stay away?"
An edge of weariness
and irritation crept into his voice.
"N-no...of course not," Laura stammered. Caught off
guard, a feeling of
guilt swept over her. "Maybe you don't believe me, but I
am concerned about
all this -"
"Perhaps it's churlish of me to notice," Steele sniffed.
"But your concern
was conspicuously absent two days ago."
"You're right, Mr. Steele."
"It's churlish of you to notice." Hurt and angry, she
spun away from him.
Steele barely managed to catch her at the corner of his desk,
between her and the door. "Laura, I -"
"You don't want concern," Laura spat. "You want
someone to fall at your
feet. To indulge your every whim. Well, consider me unavailable,
Steele had been prepared to apologize but her accusation struck
"My whims are easy to satisfy, Miss Holt. The sound of your
voice on the
other end of the phone would have done for a start."
"Why so starved for company? Lose your little black book?
Couldn't find a
bouncing blonde to re-enact your production of 'Once Upon a Mattress'?"
Did she really think his standards were that uncompromisingly
salved the wound with a quip. "Really, Laura. I give you
Cole Porter; you
give me dinner theatre. It's hardly an even trade...ohhh!"
unsuccessfully to suppress a moan as a sharp pain traveled from
his neck to
It wasn't fair, Laura thought as she surveyed the man facing
on empty, hair disheveled, shirt hanging open. She couldn't
--wouldn't--feel sorry for him. Her mind flashed back to that
night at the
clinic when desperate for sleep, he'd slipped under the covers
That moment seemed charmingly innocent now, though her thoughts
at the time
certainly weren't. How she'd hated to kick him out. While he'd
counting sheep, she'd been counting the buttons on his pajamas
wondering just how quickly she could unfasten them.
His voice shook her out of her reverie. "Mr. Steele?"
"I didn't mean what I said. Well, surely not the way it
came out. It's just
thatà" Steele sighed, too tired to dissemble anymore.
"I missed you."
She was too surprised at his confession to form any argument.
"Terribly, as a matter of fact. Your neck rubs. Your lilting
could ask for anything more?"
Laura still clung to a healthy strand of skepticism. "You
times in the last ten minutes."
"I'm only human, Laura. I'd hoped for more. But failing
demonstration of your devotion you could at least have helped
me with my
crossword puzzles. I gave up on the 'London Times' after the
"The right words would have convinced you, Mr. Steele?"
"From you, Miss Holt? Absolutely. Of course actions speak
say." He considered his options. "You could convince
me by -- starting
right here." Steele rubbed his neck gingerly.
Laura smiled in spite of herself. "You always know where
to start, Mr.
Steele. Just not where to stop."
"Perhaps we could meet halfway." He managed a lopsided
Laura wagged a finger at him. "No halfway measures allowed.
to aggravate your other aches and pains."
"Why do doctors always think they know what's good for you?"
"Dr. Holt knows exactly what you need. This for example."
She began to
massage his neck with slow, circular motions.
Steele could feel his entire body begin to relax. He closed his
sighed luxuriously, "Oh. Yes, that's incrediblyà
You're right. I don't think we need a second opinion."
"Are you sure there's not something about your past you
haven't told me?"
Steele murmured against her cheek.
"Stanford graduate. Mathematics major. Massage minor."
Laura laughed. "Sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Steele but
didn't cover it. Massage, that is."
"Pity not to nourish such a natural talent.
"It was the 70's, though," she mused, smiling. "Must
have been an elective
course." She continued to massage his neck area, working
her fingers up
gradually under his hair to the base of his skull.
"Well, if you ever decide to matriculate, Miss Holt, let
me offer my
services as your most willing class project." His head fell
rest on her shoulder.
"Are you sure you'll make the grade, Mr. Steele?"
"Mmmmh. Grade? Sure..."
Steele's breath warmed the skin of her throat; his dark hair
was thick and
soft under her fingers. She felt his body shifting as he leaned
heavily against her. After a minute passed she found her limbs
suddenly under his weight. He'd fallen fast asleep and was close
Maybe she could get him to his chair or to the couch, Laura thought.
managed to pull his desk chair closer and maneuver him into it
was jostled awake by the procedure.
"Miss Holt? Did I -" Steele blinked at her, a lock
of hair dangling
comically over one eye. Laura smoothed it back.
"Just for a moment. I was trying to get you comfortable."
"You're a nice person...doctor."
"Speaking of doctors, I'm calling Lindstrom. You've got
to get treatment.
Unless you want to learn to do it standing up."
"Any position you choose, Laura. I'm flexible. At least
I used to be."
"I'm relieved you're such a willing subject, because like
it or not you are
going to the sleep clinic."
"Must you be so concerned for my well being?"
"I'm afraid so."
Steele stretched his limbs and gave a sigh of resignation. "I'll
daily visits from Dr. Holt to check my vital functions. Fluff
sing me lullabies, give me sponge baths."
"Sorry, Mr. Steele. I've turned in my stethoscope."
"What a pity. I had visions of the two of us hooked up in
station, listening to the beating of each other's hearts."
Laura's pulse rate accelerated to fast forward. "I don't
Blackell would approve," she replied, feeling a blush steal
cheek. "She'd never be able to explain the readout."
"There's no one I'd rather make medical history with than
you, Miss Holt."
"Mr. Steele." Laura shook him gently by the arm.
"Very odd," he mumbled sleepily. "Why is the bed
"We're in the limo." She smiled down at him. The morning
ride to the clinic
was turning out to be an oddly pleasurable experience. Steele
to sleep almost as soon as Fred turned the ignition. He'd snuggled
Laura's shoulder, oblivious, as her fingers, unable to resist
temptation entirely, ran lightly through his hair.
Steele yawned, stretched his legs, and hazily surveyed his surroundings.
"So we are." He rolled down the window and sucked in
a bracing breath of air.
"I'm feeling better already. Slept like a baby. I do believe
I've hit on
the cure. I've always said this car had an excellent suspension.
simply cruise the streets every evening with me in the limo until
"Fred has more important things to do than have you drive
him around in
circles. Not that he isn't used to it."
"The simplest remedies are often the best, I find. Why must
method always take a back seat to medical science? Hospitals,
pills by the lorry load. What use are -" Steele stopped,
entranced by his
own flow of words. "Yes. Take a back seat...that's very
clever. Remind me
of that later, Laura."
"I don't think your automotive argument is going to hold
much sway with Dr.
Lindstrom. You agreed to let him treat you by more accepted measures,
"How could I forget, with his parting remarks over the phone
in my ears: 'we'll make a sleeper out of you yet, Mr. Steele.'"
stared sullenly out the window. "So much false cheer can't
be good for a
patient's morale. At least Lindstrom's colleague Dr. Wicker had
grace to expire before becoming unbearably tedious. Well, almost
"Are you always this grumpy in the morning?"
"'Sleeper.' Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, United Artists, 1973.
A man wakes up
in hospital two hundred years in the future after a routine ulcer
operation. Slept for two centuries. Routine ulcer operation!
could happen if they're trying to put me to sleep. The same thing
reverse. The wrong symbol on a chart somewhere and I could wake
up minus an
organ or two. I have several I'm rather fond of."
"You survived the clinic before, Mr. Steele. Don't be such
a worry wart."
"It's my m_tier, Miss Holt. I'm an insomniac."
"Worry is the interest paid on trouble before it's due.
So they say."
"Good lord. You sound like a greeting card. Or a slogan
perhaps. Why do Americans always assume strangers want to converse
Laura's brows knitted together in a frown. "Good question."
"Speaking of which, whatever happened to 'Bankers Do It
With Interest'? Did
you palm off that sartorial embarrassment on some myopic denizen
row? I daresay if he were sober he'd turn up his nose at the
"It's none of your affair, Mr. Steele," Laura shot
"Quite right. Your affairs are your own, Miss Holt. Unless,
of course, you
choose to advertise them."
"Advertise them? What on earth is that supposed to mean?"
"Come now, Laura. Surely you knew that one day I'd come
across those items
in your closet."
"Are you seriously suggesting I left them there for you
to find? Of all the
delusional, conceited -"
"What better way to stir my jealousy?" Silence hung
in the air as he noted
her flushed cheeks with satisfaction. "And what surer route
to bring our
emotions to the surface? Awaken our hidden desires, our lurking...
passions." His words teased feather-light against her ear.
Laura leaned toward the opposite window, trying vainly to resist
of his proximity. "You know perfectly well they were found
"An excellent plan but rather flawed in its execution."
She turned back to face him, seething. "Execution? There's
a thought. I'd
buy tickets to yours."
"To expect me to be jealous of a man so lacking in the barest
"I'll donate your wardrobe to the needy. A condemned man
doesn't need a two
thousand dollar suit."
Steele held up his hand in a conciliatory gesture. "I'll
gladly forgo the
mysteries of your closet if you'll allow me to explore the remainder
your bedroom. I'll have to admit, Laura, your wardrobe has me
lounged against the seat cushions, appraising her frankly. "
What did you wear to bed last night? That gossamer nightgown
of azure blue,
ever so transparent..."
Had he been spying on her? Imagination overthrew logic for a
then the pendulum swung back to reality. "I don't have a
she exclaimed in exasperation.
"What a pity. Your closet needs filling Miss Holt, and I'm
just the one to -"
"That's it." Avoiding his keen gaze, Laura punched
the controls for the
privacy screen and watched with satisfaction as it slowly rose
"I've had enough innuendos to last me a lifetime. I'm not
going to sit
here and discuss my -- nightgowns with a thief and a conman who's
around with half the female population of Los Angeles."
Steele's calm was maddening. "Well, then. If nightwear is
could always dispense with it."
"That's not what -" Laura floundered. "I meant
nightgowns are off lim -
never mind. End of discussion. I'm not sleeping with you, Mr.
"Laura! I was merely discussing the state of your closet.
Was ever an
insomniac so misunderstood?" Steele's expression of wounded
threatened to break out into an insouciant grin.
Laura's hands clenched and unclenched feverishly as she absorbed
latest round of infuriating, yet tantalizing proposals. Determined
ignore him, she stared ahead with fierce concentration at an
point in the glass partition.
Her visible discomfort only incited Steele to further mischief.
Laura a disarming smile and rolled down the privacy screen. "Fred,
locate a promising detour on the way to Sleep Central? One that
San Francisco, perhaps?"
"Too late, Mr. Steele." Laura said smugly. "The
clinic is just ahead on the
Steele's smile turned to a grimace. "Fred, do I have to
remind you again
whose name is on your checks."
"Miss Holt's, eh?" Steele shrugged philosophically.
"Just wanted to make
sure you were on your toes."
Steele fidgeted nervously with his tie as Fred pulled into the
"That sleep case has become very inconvenient. I'd have
much preferred to
use an alias during my stay as an actual patient. Now the whole
knows who I am."
"A blown cover is a risk we detectives have to take. What
alias would you
have used? Rip Van Winkle?"
"I'm an insomniac, not a narcoleptic, doctor."
"Just trying a little reverse psychology. I'm not your doctor,
I'm just here to make sure you and Fred don't take any side trips."
"In that case you'd better call Marty's, Fred, and cancel
"Wait a minute! You made a reservation at Marty's? Marty's
"With the snooze patrol breathing down my neck? Really,
Laura. Would I do
such an irresponsible, frivolous -"
"I've always wanted to go there."
"Reckless, profligate, impetuous, foolhardy -" Steele
wondering if he were dreaming or if he were still awake. "What
did you say?"
"Marty's. I've always wanted to go there. I've heard so
much about it. I
have this unfulfilled fantasy running in my head about the perfect
for two. Drinks at the Top of the Mark. Spectacular views. A
"Have you read my mind, Miss Holt or have I read yours?"
Each stared at the other as if they'd just seen a conjuring trick.
going to ask you the same thing, Mr. Steele. You didn't really
reservation, did you?"
"Sadly, no, but we could pick up the phone and -"
"First things first," said Laura. "I want you
following doctor's orders
from now on. I wouldn't want you to fall asleep before dessert."
"Laura Holt, a closet romantic. Boggles the mind. Now all
I have to do is
stay awake long enough to reap the benefits - or should that
be go to sleep?"
"A 'closet' romantic? If that's meant to be a joke -"
"Inadvertent, I assure you, Miss Holt. I take any romantic
impulse of yours
"If I've learned anything about you, Mr. Steele, it's that
Steele put his hand to his heart in mock distress. "Cruelly
yet again. Will science ever find a cure?"
- To Part