Steele Upon a Mattress - Part Five
Date: Friday, March 07, 2003
Lauryn Poynor <>



Lauryn Poynor

Permission to archive. Rated "R" for sexual situations.

Laura adjusted the shower nozzle and sighed blissfully as the warm water
rhythmically pelted her back and shoulders. Maybe it wasn't a Tibetan
massage but it felt pretty wonderful all the same. Just how much of a
massage expert was Mr. Steele? she wondered. He'd demonstrated his
"mastery" of the art to that blonde witch Felicia, or so the witch
claimed. Not exactly a reliable source, but Laura had seen the look that
passed between them and it was plain that the blonde had more than her
share of hands on experience.

A sigh caught in her throat, then escaped, as she imagined those long,
preternaturally gifted fingers alternately kneading, pressing, stroking
- and balancing, too. Whatever that was about. It sounded better than
sex. It probably was sex - and sex with Mr. Steele was better than sex.
It had to be. All of those cosmetically enhanced blondes, brunettes, and
in betweens he squired around weren't interested in his conversational

No doubt the fact that Steele was as free spending with his wallet as he
was with his massage expertise also helped turn a few well coiffed
heads. One evening she'd overheard Claude observe with dry Gallic wit,
that the restaurant would have to install a revolving door to
accommodate the endless procession of femmes. His establishment could
certainly afford it. With Remington Steele's largesse they could
practically build their own Arc de Triomphe.

Strangely enough, the largesse never seemed to run the other way. If
Steele received so much as a tie pin from any of his amours he kept the
news under wraps. It was probably safer that way given the questionable
taste of some of his conquests, with their chronically overdressed
bodies and undersized brains. Of course, not all of them were
overdressed. Some couldn't even keep track of their underwear, like that
dizzy blonde from Steele's apartment. His standards had never been high
but she hadn't realized they'd slipped to subterranean.

She didn't want to think about that now. Not when things had been going
so well. At least, thanks to her efforts, Mr. Steele was learning to
exercise his body in more ways than just one. She doubted if any of his
mattress partners could get him into better shape. Not that it was going
to be easy.

The exertions of the last two hours had tested his muscles, but had
tested her resolve even more. She was finding her attraction to him more
dangerously physical than ever. Even now, her senses could conjure up
every detail; his lean body in motion, clothes clinging to his sweating
form, the scent of his maleness mixed intoxicatingly with his cologne.
It had taken all her willpower to keep his exercise regimen from turning
into a contact sport.

Her hormones went on a roller coaster ride whenever her partner was in
close proximity. Whatever he wore, no matter how good it looked on him,
she was always imagining him not wearing it, or wearing just what was
underneath. It would be briefs, she guessed, not boxers, if her quick
glimpse from the night before was any indication.

Laura wondered what he would be wearing in the pool. Her imagination
idled pleasantly for a moment, then one hand flew to her mouth in shock.
She suddenly remembered something. A very little something. That itsy
bitsy teeny weeny swimsuit she'd dared him to try on. It had turned into
more than just a dare, as Mr. Steele was about to discover when he
opened his gym bag.

Laura ran both hands through her soaking hair, trying to steady her
nerves. What had she gotten herself into, or more to the point, what
had she gotten Mr. Steele into? No more than he deserved after this
morning but she couldn't help feeling a little guilty. Half of her
anyway. The other half was holding her breath and dying to see what
would happen.


After chatting up two very receptive blondes at the reception desk,
Steele headed for the men's shower area. He turned a corner and almost
bumped into a solid mass of muscle. It was Masters, naked except for his
briefs and a towel around his neck.

"Mr. Steele," he said with a self-satisfied smirk. "I hope that little
woman of yours has cooled down some. That whole pin thing was an
accident. Scout's honor."

Steele could imagine what Laura would think of that "little woman"
remark. Masters was lucky he wasn't in her field of fire. "All in a days
work for you, I suppose."

"No harm, no foul, right?"

"Precisely. Tell me, Mr. Masters. If a man was interested in bulking up
and wanted to get on the fast track, so to speak, there are, well, how
do I put this delicately - chemical alternatives. Correct?"

Masters leaned in and gave Steele a conspiratorial wink. "Between you
and me and the gatepost, well, sure. There's more stuff on the market
and off the market than all the tea in China."

"You're the marketing expert."

"If you're really interested I can, um, get it for you wholesale, for a
small handling fee. Unofficially, you understand."

"These chemicals of yours, um, steroids and such -"

Masters put a finger to his lips. "We prefer to call them 'performance

"Really? I find that rather curious."

"Curious? How's that?"

Steele feigned reluctance to broach the subject. "Well, one hears -
certain, ah, rumours that these 'performance enhancers' aren't quite as

"Would I lie to you? Take a good look at the results." Masters preened
and patted his artificially inflated chest. "I'm living proof."

Steele waited a beat before letting the other shoe drop. "Oh, dear," he
clucked, apprehension clouding his features. "I certainly hope not."

"What do you mean?"

Steele leaned closer and lowered his voice as if imparting a deep, dark,
secret. "It's just that one of the Lifestyles Managers at your reception
desk, a rather shapely blonde, tells me that such remedies have been
known to have a very detrimental effect on -- well, to put it bluntly -
male performance."

Masters' eyes narrowed with sudden suspicion. He wasn't at all sure he
liked the direction the conversation was taking.

"In fact," Steele continued with a smirk, "she says that not only do
users lose their sexual potency, but certain portions of their anatomy
shrink down to the size of raisins."

With cool deliberation Steele's gaze traveled down the other man's
barely covered torso, then back up to eye level as he smiled blandly
into the muscleman's flushed face. All traces of Masters' smug
superiority were gone and his mouth opened, then shut again as he
struggled to form a reply.

"She's ly -- that's not true!" He clenched one ham-like fist.

"You see, she once dated a bodybuilder with a large hairy mole on his
left thigh and -" Steele looked downwards again.

A muscle twitched uncontrollably in Masters' right cheek. Speechless, he
squared off towards Steele, threat implicit in every line of his
enormous frame.

"Have I said something wrong?"

Masters had heard enough. "You just made the biggest mistake of your
life, pal." The hulk's massive right fist wooshed through the air.

Steele ducked under the blow and moved into a crouch, lowering his right
shoulder and throwing an uppercut sharply to Masters' chin. Steele's
opponent may have had fists the size of footballs but he was stiff as a
California redwood and cursed with a glass jaw. He fell backward,
hitting the tiles with a force that registered on the Richter scale.

Shaking his head to clear the haze, Masters spat out some blood and
fingered a loose molar. He pointed accusingly to the wet floor. "You see
that? I slipped."

"Of course you did. Purely an accident. No harm, no foul." Surveying
his skinned knuckles, Steele managed not to wince as feeling returned to
his right hand. He flexed it, praying that nothing was broken.

His performance enhanced opponent was putting a towel gingerly to his
face. Steele looked on, a half-smile forming on his lips. "I'd put some
ice on that if I were you." He took one more deeply satisfying look at
Masters' battered chin, then strolled, whistling softly, toward the


Feeling refreshed and inordinately good humored, Steele stepped out of
the cubicle, towel wrapped loosely around his waist. He combed through
his wet hair with his fingers and began rummaging through his gym bag.
His imagination was ticking off the possibilities. What had Laura
decided to wear poolside to lead him into temptation? If only. His
mind's eye filled with visions of Laura's body finally, transcendently
unveiled like the newly sculpted form of a goddess. Unveiled might be
too much to hope for but his Venus wearing only a few strategically
placed scraps of cloth would be an excellent substitute.

Steele was eager to get his own kit on and head for the pool. He dug
under his sneakers, socks and rolled up sweats, but found no hint of the
muted shades of his boxer style swimsuit. Instead, a turquoise spandex
fabric was winking at him, in glorious Technicolor, price tags still

What on earth was that doing there? Steele wondered. He thought he'd
left it in the shopping bag. Eyeing the offending item with disdain, he
emptied the entire contents of the bag onto a sink counter. He
discovered, to his horror, that his more sedate swim togs were
mysteriously missing in action. He hastily repacked everything, picked
up the bag, and ducked back into the shower cubicle.

Steele's brow furrowed in consternation. He'd packed the boxer trunks,
hadn't he? Of course he had. There was no way they could be missing
unless someone else . . . but Laura had been the only someone else in
the vicinity.

His heart hammered against his chest as a half wonderful, half
terrifying idea occurred to him. What if that was her plan all along?
She'd dared him to try them on back at his flat. There had been nothing
businesslike about that gleam in her eye. Only the thought of how
ridiculous he would look in them kept him from stripping off then and
there and hoping she would shed her inhibitions as well. That his other
suit was gone was a clue even a detective in training couldn't miss. It
was obvious that Laura had wanted him to wear briefs and not boxers, and
very brief briefs at that.

Steele stood frozen as a statue at the thought; no-nonsense,
business-before-pleasure, room temperature Laura Holt resorting to no
holds barred chicanery to see him practically naked. Practically naked.
The implications spread through his brain and his body like wildfire,
causing an almost instantaneous, and very visible reaction under his
towel. Though the stretch qualities of spandex were considerable Steele
was not eager to put them to the test. He threw off the towel with a
sigh and turned on the cold water to the shower. These emergency
measures were getting to be a habit lately.

After a minute his erection subsided, but his imagination was going full
tilt. What was Laura thinking that very moment? Was she breathless by
the pool, waiting for him to appear wearing his day-glo fig leaf? Maybe
the spandex suit wasn't as bad as it seemed; it was, after all, tame
enough to be sold in an American mall without a plain brown wrapper.

Steele retrieved it from his gym bag and tried it on. Despite its
stretchy fabric, it was a pretty tight fit. No matter how diligently he
pulled and adjusted, the material barely covered the essentials. He
supposed that was the idea. Steele looked down at himself and winced.
One false move or unexpected sneeze, and he could be arrested.

Steele poked his head out of the shower stall to survey the territory;
thankfully, not a soul was in sight. Pulling a dry towel down from the
rack for a cover up he set it nearby and took a quick look in the
mirror. He blinked twice in shock at his skin tight reflection. The suit
showed every line and every bulge. Not to mention every inch. He
couldn't have felt more on display if he were starkers and wearing a
flashing neon sign.

Panic rose in his chest. Steele had never minded being naked or half
naked, in the right company, but he was not going let Laura or anyone
else, for that matter, see him wearing this little item. He looked like
a chorus boy from a drag cabaret act. He grabbed on to the towel for
dear life and wrapped it around his waist.


"Mr. Steele." Laura suppressed a giggle. "That's a very large towel
you've got there. Planning to spread it out and have a picnic?" Laura
bobbed in the water near the edge of the pool, out of the path of
splashing swimmers.

"Very droll, Miss Holt. I think Manet had the right idea about picnics."


"'Le D_jeuner sur l'herbe.' Shade trees, green grass, fruits of the
vine. The women naked, or nearly so, the men fully clothed."

"How quaint. That idea belongs in a museum. Women aren't the only thing
on the menu these days." She winked at him. "It's the 80's. You show me
yours. I'll show you mine."

Steele hesitated. "Ah, if you insist. You first."


Laura showed excellent form, springing gracefully out of the water to
sit on the edge of the pool. She was wearing a stylish red bikini in an
ultra-sheer fabric that clung to her wet curves like flame-colored

"Hey, you cheated! You louse!" Steele had plunged in while she was
making her exit, somehow managing to keep his towel aloft on the way
down. He smiled smugly and neatly folded it, placing it at arms' length
from the pool's edge.

Not to be outdone, Laura dived under the water, leaving Steele
sputtering in consternation. "Laura! You're not playing fair -"

She came up grinning wickedly. "Very stylish, Mr. Steele. What I could
see of it before you put both hands in the way. I didn't realize you
were so shy."

"Err, turquoise really isn't my color."

Laura smiled serenely. "I don't feel shy at all." She kicked up out of
the water to drift lazily on her back. Steele was left marveling at his
sweat suited partner, magically transformed into a gauzy, half-draped
Naiad. The shape of her breasts and the outline of her firm nipples were
plainly visible through the thin fabric and the tiny triangle of cloth
between her thighs was almost as sheer. It was as close to being naked
as the law allowed.

Steele had to remind himself to breathe. He felt a flash of heat course
through him, his body reacting viscerally to finding the Laura of his
dreams, of a hundred fantasies yet unfulfilled, right beside him in the
flesh. The coolness of the water was doing little or nothing to put out
the slow fire starting in his submerged loins. He could feel his
swimsuit becoming even more painfully tight.

"Shy? I should say not," Steele breathed huskily, still rapt at the
sight of her.

Laura stopped floating and shifted into a standing position. "You still
haven't shown me yours."

Steele felt something brush his thigh and winced as a lithe blonde in a
navy one-piece came up for air. Something about the way she smiled at
him made him certain she'd noticed his obvious arousal. He exhaled very
carefully. "Ah, Laura, perhaps later when we have a bit more privacy."

"Promises, promises," Laura smirked. "I'm dying to see you in it."

Steele swallowed hard and ran his fingers through his hair. Incredible
as it seemed, it was true. Laura was practically hyperventilating at the
prospect of him wearing a swimsuit the size of a hair net. It was either
true, or the best dream he'd had in months. He never was sure if he was
awake or asleep these days.

When her fingers brushed his chest he flinched as though they burned
him. "Are you ready to practice stroke techniques?" said Laura in a
teasing whisper. She took off across the pool, backstroking
effortlessly, then swam back to face him, slightly breathless, her skin
glistening with water spray. Her barely covered breasts floated
temptingly above the waterline, their thin drapery nearly transparent.

More than her words, the implicit offer of her body caused Steele's
brain to conjure up one fevered fantasy after another, each more sensual
than the last. His erection began to throb like fury. He had to get
Laura alone before he went up in flames. "Ah, regarding those
techniques. I know it seems rather confining," he murmured against her
shoulder, "but wouldn't the jacuzzi be less crowded? Certainly cozier."

Laura sidled even closer, one thigh briefly touching his. Steele froze
in near shock as her left hand began to travel a slow and seemingly
inexorable course down the front of his body, past his chest, sliding
ever southward, to slip under the water's surface. When her palm reached
the area just below his rib cage she leaned in and pressed her lips
against his right ear.

"Why don't you save the jacuzzi line for that ditzy blonde. The one who
tested out your mattress this morning?"

Steele frowned in bewilderment. How had such a promising conversation
suddenly veered left? He could feel the ambient temperature drop several
degrees. "This morning?"

"If you didn't like the color of your swimsuit, you should have asked
her to take it back to the store. She doesn't strike me as the shy

"Laura, what are you talking about? I'm afraid you've lost me."

"She probably needed to go shopping for underwear, anyway," Laura

Steele raised an offended eyebrow. "They're hardly classified as
undergarments. I'll admit it's not my usual style -"

Laura rolled her eyes in disbelief. "You expect me to believe you picked
them out for yourself?"

"Of course not! In a manner of speaking, you did."

"I did? No, I didn't. She did!"

Steele stared in utter confusion. "She who?"

"That half dressed bimbo you sneaked out of your apartment, that's who.
How many girls do you know that don't wear underwear?"

Steele's mouth opened, then closed.

"Don't answer that."

"But, Laura. Amber didn't buy these for me."

"So the ditz has a name. Amber. How idiotic."

Steele couldn't believe he'd let that slip. That wasn't like him at all.
Not that it mattered. Laura, it seemed, was way ahead of him. So much
for this morning's Houdini-like escape plan. How on earth had she
guessed? He'd been careful not to leave any tell-tale clues.

"The manager let her in, actually. We've barely been introduced."

"Just long enough to exchange phone numbers," Laura sniped. "And bodily

"She lives down the hall. Came to see me about some -- signatures.
Perfectly harmless, really."

"And left her underwear in the hallway like a trail of breadcrumbs?"

To Steele, the signs had become painfully clear. Except for one. One
question still needed a definitive answer. "Look, if you thought they
were a present from someone else, why did you pack the bloody things? I
certainly never intended to wear them."

"Hah! Likely story. If you could wear them for her then you could wear
them for - " blushing furiously, Laura put a hand to her mouth. She had
stopped just one word shy of a true confession.

Steele grinned at her in his most irritatingly cocksure manner. "Would
you like me to complete that thought, Miss Holt? I'm quite certain it
was X-rated. Who knew that you'd go to such lengths to see me in

"Of all the absurd -"

"You said it yourself. You were dying to see me wear them."

"Only because I knew it was a bluff," Laura shot back. "And it was a
bluff, Mr. Steele. When you came out of hiding, clutching that towel
like a life preserver -" Despite herself, Laura started to laugh.

Steele's expression was grim. "I hadn't realized my diversionary tactic
was so - diverting."

"Where's your sense of humor, Mr. Steele?"

Steele looked down at himself. "A bit waterlogged, I'm afraid." He
shrugged his shoulders. "I suppose I should count my blessings. They
might have been plaid."

"Then you could have palmed them off on Murphy."

"Laura, I thought you wanted me and Murphy to be chums. I don't think
his weakness for plaid would stretch quite that far, despite the

"What a shame," Laura said airily. "The agency could have its own
Chippendales fashion show. Bernice and I could sell tickets to everyone
in the building."

"I don't think that's a very safe suggestion. Murphy knows where the
bullets are to the agency gun."

"Good point."

"It isn't fair, you know," Steele sniffed indignantly. "Why does a man
look utterly ridiculous in a bikini while a woman - the right woman,
looks absolutely . . . breathtaking?" He gazed hungrily at his swim
partner's half-submerged form.

As if in answer to his prayer, Laura lifted herself out of the pool,
leaving Steele to stare open mouthed and awestruck as water sluiced down
her barely covered curves.

She shrugged tan shoulders and toweled off her hair. "Who knows, Mr.
Steele? Maybe Manet was on to something." Steele only half-heard her
reply. He was hypnotized by the sway of her scantily clad bottom as she
walked away from him.

"Jacuzzi at two o'clock? he called after her.

Laura looked back, smiling flirtatiously. "Swim time first. Six laps. No
cheating. Then I'll see if I can pencil you in for something more --

"Hold that thought, Miss Holt." Steele took off like a rocket for his
first lap.

As Laura gathered up her things something she'd almost forgotten caught
her eye. She'd packed it on impulse, not sure what opportunities she'd
have to use it. She leveled it and gazed through the lens.

The athletic blonde swimmer that had surfaced next to Steele was
lounging by the pool. She watched as Laura fiddled with the camera. "I
hope you have fast film. Some of these guys can move at a pretty good

Laura put down the camera and pointed toward the center of the pool.
"You see that tall, dark, man over there? Swimming as if his life
depended on it?"

The blonde smiled back. "I've seen him up close and personal. Where has
he been all my life?"

"Well, don't get too personal, but do get fairly close, that is, if you
don't mind - and snap him for me, will you? Full length. When he gets
out of the pool. Make sure you get just the right - exposure. There's
plenty of film." Laura gave her the camera with a grin.

"Mmm. Sounds delightful. Don't I get a souvenir?"

"I'm sure we could work something out. I get double prints at the photo

"Collect 'em. Trade 'em. Better than baseball cards." They both laughed
at the joke.

"I'll be back soon. Oh, and give him this." Laura handed her a very
large towel. "After you snap the picture."



Steele stared glumly out of the window as Laura steered the car through
the mid-afternoon traffic. At the stoplight she turned to her
disconsolate partner with a sigh. "I know I'm going to be sorry I
asked, but are you going to spend the rest of the day sulking?"

Steele looked daggers at her. "I told you we should have taken care of
the essentials first."

"But how could I know all the jacuzzis would be reserved this afternoon
for a stress management seminar?"

"You were the one who had this little outing timed down to the
millisecond," Steele replied testily. "I thought you had a firm grip on
the schedule."

"Well, I -"

"I'll admit I find the gym culture somewhat mystifying, but whatever
happened to standards?" Steele expostulated. "To serving one's loyal
clientele in the manner to which they've become accustomed?"

The light turned green and Laura hit the accelerator.

"Accustomed? You just signed in two hours ago."

"Does that matter? One's expectations are the same, or should be."

"Don't worry, Mr. Steele. There will be plenty of other opportunities
for you to enjoy the lap of fitness luxury."

"I've had quite enough laps for one day."

The thought of Steele swimming those lonely laps in the pool sparked a
stray pang of sympathy. Laura patted his shoulder. "Strictly for future
reference, Mr. Steele, I hear that jacuzzi number seven has a marble tub
and stereo sound. And there are seven water jets that are adjustable to
any position -"

Steele brightened at this encouraging news. "It sounds like you've done
quite a bit of research. Number seven, eh? Excellent choice."

"Of course this doesn't mean you get to forego your regular fitness

"Wouldn't dream of it. I'll need every ounce of stamina." He flashed her
a devious grin. "I wonder if they take reservations for two?"

Laura begged to differ. "Mr. Steele, I never said we were going to

Her partner was undeterred. "Luxury loves company, Miss Holt. We've
made such a winning combination thus far. We could set the fitness world
on its ear. Planning. Execution. Teamwork."

Laura rolled her eyes heavenward. "Soaking in a jacuzzi requires

"If done properly. Division of labour, for example. I bring the
champagne, you bring the 'do not disturb' sign. I bring the seven
varieties of massage oil, you bring the towels. With me so far? Perhaps
you should make a few notes."

Laura's businesslike faade began to crumble in the face of his singular
brand of charm. Bringing champagne to a gym would never occur to anyone
but Mr. Steele. "I suppose I could use a hand with those seven
adjustable water jets." Her mind wandered idly down the sevenfold path
to nirvana . . . just the two of them, warm, pulsing water, cool
champagne on ice, adjustable positions . . .


"Wha -?"

"That was a red light. And a cement truck you just missed by inches."

"It was?" Laura gulped. "Sorry."

Her fingers tightened on the steering wheel. Get a grip, Laura Holt. Get
a grip.


At Rossmore, Laura parked the Rabbit near the elevator. She switched off
the ignition and turned toward Steele with a no nonsense glare. "I'll be
back in four hours. That's seven o'clock sharp to take you to the sleep
clinic. No ifs, ands, or buts this time - and no side trips."

Steele sighed heavily. "Well, doctor. Since you insist on shadowing me,
we might as well make the best of the situation." He put his fingers to
his temples meditatively. "Let's see, pencil me in for -- pillow
fluffing every quarter of an hour, sponge bath at eleven, tension
relieving massage at bedtime, lullaby optional." Steele's brow furrowed
in momentary confusion. "When is bedtime? Or when isn't it?"

Laura shrugged her shoulders. "Good question."

"I'd suggest you pack an overnight bag."

Laura's jaw dropped at his presumption. "Mr. Steele, I'm not your
doctor, you know. Or even your Nurse Friday. I function best in an --
advisory capacity."

Steele quirked an eyebrow at the phrase. "Laura Holt? Advisory capacity?
What a ridiculous notion. You have a gift. A rare instinct."

The sincerity in his tone had her half-convinced. "Rare instinct?"

"And a most promising bedside manner."

"Would you stop teasing and be serious? I never know what you really -"
she gestured helplessly. "All this massage business and - "

Steele took her hands lightly in his and kissed each of her palms in
turn. He studied them gravely for a moment, then let them go.

"I'm leaving matters in your hands, Dr. Holt," he said with barely a
hint of irony. Before she could reply her enigmatic partner had gathered
his things, shut the car door behind him, and was stepping into the

Laura stared after him for a long moment, her hands resting in her lap
exactly where he'd left them. Anxiety ran through her veins like
quicksilver; maybe she hadn't turned in that stethoscope after all.


Laura parked the Rabbit at the curb and walked toward the door of the
small but bustling photographer's studio that handled the Remington
Steele agency's most confidential casework; it didn't hurt that the
owner of the business, Jo Hunter, knew her way around a photo-op and was
the shutterbug most likely to get Steele's good side whenever the
debonair sleuth made headlines in the LA Tribune.

"Laura!" The petite redhead put down her proof sheet and peered at her
visitor over her chic horn-rims. "Any news that's fit to print? How's
the PI biz?"

Laura smiled and waved in greeting. "Oh, still a little rough and

"Speaking of tumbles, fill me in on that breathtaking boss of yours. Has
he offered you a better position? Something horizontal?"

Laura looked at her watch and made a calculation. "Not in the last
twenty-five minutes, but there may be, ah, further developments, that
is, if you can work your usual magic." Laura slipped the roll of film
onto the counter with a wink. "Handle him with care, Ms. Hunter."

"You're such a tease. What's on this? I can tell by that 'cat that ate
the canary' smirk that you've captured one helluva Kodak moment."

"A picture is worth a thousand words, but I think you'll be downright

"Oh, my! Just what has my favorite snoop been up to?"

"Oh, a little - dirty pool. But all's fair. I'm sure once you, ah, see
the proof, you'll appreciate that this one's not for publication."

"Our eyes only? You're too good to me. The Trib pays lousy anyway."

"Remington Steele Investigations has certainly gotten its money's worth.
The office wall never looked better."

"You know me. A freelancer has to have a nose for news and I'm a sucker
for guys in trench coats. Or tuxes. That is, if they have ebony hair,
blue eyes, more charm than the law allows, and tight, firm - "

"Easy, girl. Or I'll have to change my instructions from 'handle with
care' to 'do not handle.'"

"Don't worry. The only thing between us is a telephoto lens. Not to say
I haven't been tempted. Then I take another look and say 'there goes
trouble in a three piece suit.'"

"Mmm. And it looks so good walking away."

"Now who's dreaming about those firm, tight buns? Do you still keep that
photo of him in your desk? You know the one I mean."

"Guilty as charged."

"Ooh, baby. You've got it bad."

Laura laughed and shook her head ruefully. "And that ain't good."

"You gotta admit, Laura, the camera loves him so much it practically
lights up a cigarette afterwards." The redhead picked up the film and
flipped it over in her palm. "Still want double prints?"

"Make it a triple."

"I love this job."

"Don't fondle the negatives. I have big plans for them."

"If you're thinking of maneuvering that blue-eyed hunk into a dark room,
and having your way with him, just remember. Your friendly neighborhood
photographer beat you to it."

"Clever girl. Oh, make sure you let him drip dry. He's not wearing a

The redhead fanned herself and grinned. "I'm sending out for pizza.
This sounds like an all-nighter."
To Part 6