Steele Upon a Mattress - Part Eleven
Date: Friday, April 18, 2003
Lauryn Poynor <>



Lauryn Potnor

Rated "R" for sexual situations


Really, Miss Holt. Our session was confidential. I'm beginning to think
you've spent far too much time looking through keyholes."

"Occupational hazard." Laura admitted with a frown, twisting a lock of
chestnut hair around her finger. She was sitting in Steele's desk chair,
shoes off, legs stretched out, tired feet luxuriating in the softness of
the carpet.

Steele circled around the desk, admiring the view offered by Laura's
choice of a conservatively hued but rather daringly short skirt. "I'd
love to satisfy your curiosity," he mused, "but only if I can do it from
a horizontal position."

"I hope you didn't spend the whole time making flip remarks."

"There's a multi-syllable word for that. In the Freudian lexicon."

Laura's jumped to her feet and squared off combatively. "I knew you
wouldn't be serious. The most sought after, and need I remind you, most
expensive psychiatrist in LA and you spend the session cracking jokes!"

"In layman's terms it's called wit. I found it very therapeutic.
Especially the word association."

"I thought you weren't good at word association."

Steele began a dialogue with himself. "It was child's play."

"Bed . . . . . . Laura Holt. Couch . . . . . . Laura Holt. Elevator . .
. . . . Laura Holt. The top of Mount Fuji in a snowstorm . . . . . .
Laura Holt."

"Really, Mr. Steele -" Laura began.

"One has to keep warm somehow." Steele grinned back at her shamelessly.
"Where was I? Oh, yes . . . cigar . . . Cohiba Esplendidos."

Laura did a double take.

"Well, as Freud said, 'sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.' You should
try it sometime."


"Word association."

"You must be joking."

"Suppressing, Laura. Suppressing. Come now, it's easy. I'll start you
off." Steele clasped his hands behind his head and thought for a moment.
"Staff . . . . . . Mr. Steele," he prompted.

Laura raised an eyebrow. "That's a first. You admitting you're just an

"Laura." He lounged against the desk. "You're not entering into the
spirit of the exercise. Think Freudian. Allow me to demonstrate." Steele
began his recitation, an impish gleam in his blue eyes. "Staff . . . . .
. Mr. Steele. Long sword . . . . . . Mr. Steele. Scepter . . . . . .
Mr. Steele. Fire hose . . . . . . Mr. Steele. Really enormous -"

"There's a psychological term for that, too," Laura interrupted, not
failing to notice that with each innuendo her partner was closing the
distance between them. It was time to put a damper on his enthusiasm.
"It's called wish fulfillment," she said smugly.

Steele was undeterred. "Wish fulfillment, eh? Mine? Or yours?" A
shudder of anticipation ran down her spine as the challenge was murmured
into her left ear.

Laura willed her arms not to twine around his neck, her body not to melt
against his. "Mr. Steele, I wish you would -"

A kiss stopped her breath. She wasn't sure whose lips made contact. A
well timed switch was thrown and her pent up emotions -- desire, fear,
and worry -- combusted in a gasping, clutching minute of pleasure that
sent her resolve to keep her distance flying out the window.

A shirt button hit the floor as, aching to draw his lips back to hers,
she pulled at Steele's collar. After a mutual exchange of feverish
kisses, Steele extricated himself from their embrace, tie askew, and
declared an early victory. "I think you just answered my question," he
said, his breath becoming unsteady as Laura's fingers slipped around his

"Not so fast, Mr. Steele." One finger teased along the inside of his
waistband while her free hand lightly grazed his hip. Steele drew back
in surprise, not sure if the contact was accidental. He could feel the
pressure building in his groin at the anticipation of where she might
touch him next. Emboldened, his hands worked to pull Laura's blouse free
from her skirt.

Buried in the dormant rational side of Laura's brain was a frantically
beeping danger signal that was gradually climbing to full volume.
Mid-afternoon in the office was no place to play a game of "can you top
this?" with Mr. Steele. Laura groaned aloud, half luxuriating, half
panicking as his hand touched bare skin.
The sound sent Steele over the edge; he was almost fully erect now, his
form against hers, left hand inching across her rib cage. In alarm,
Laura stepped back, shoeless right foot landing on top of one of her
forgotten pair of pumps. Off balance, she reached out awkwardly to
steady herself; her right hand, aiming for her partner's waist, grabbed
his left buttock.

The click of the door handle was lost in a haze of confusion and very
nearly requited lust.

"Laura, here's that file you asked for -" Bernice Fox swept through the
door, mouth gaping at the sight of the two of them, clothes disheveled,
hands groping feverishly, bodies pressed together like sardines.

Two pairs of eyes slowly swiveled in her direction.

"Miss Wolf -"

"Bernice -"

Hands dropped to sides, then clothing was frantically straightened.
Steele's face flushed as he noticed the brunette's line of sight was
momentarily riveted below his waist. He took the file from her
outstretched hand for camouflage. He cleared his throat, feeling
decidedly foolish standing there with a manila folder clutched
strategically in front of him. "Thank you, Miss Wolf. You've done your
usual bang up job."

"Thanks for nothing," Bernice retorted, wrinkling her nose in distaste.
"But I don't think I'm the one who's been doing the banging."

Laura bit her lower lip and blushed a ripe shade of melon pink; Steele
opened his mouth to reply but for the first time since he and the
receptionist had crossed swords he could think of absolutely nothing to

Bernice stood in the doorway, savoring the moment like a belated
Christmas gift. "Warn me next time," she drawled knowingly. "I'll need
some extra caffeine to steady my nerves." She sauntered out, high on the
oxygen of finally getting the last word.

After a moment of stunned silence Laura made her escape.

"Laura, where are you going?"

"Damage control," she called out, grabbing her shoes and trying to slip
into them without losing stride. Steele stared after her as she
hopped-stepped through the office door, then he closed it quickly behind

Bernice was re-applying her lipstick in the bathroom mirror when Laura
appeared in her rear view.

"I know what it looks like," Laura began.

Bernice pursed her passion red lips experimentally. "Call me crazy, but
it looks like you had your hand on his ass."

"That was an accident," Laura protested, then wondered if maybe it
wasn't. "Oh, god." She squeezed her eyes shut, willing away a surge of

"Laura, you and Skeezix doing a striptease together is hardly a

"A striptease?" Laura spluttered.

"Yeah. Emphasis on the tease."

"But I wasn't -- he wasn't -" Laura groped for words. "I can't explain
it, Bernice. It just -- happened. I've been so worried about things, so
on edge lately -"

Bernice fixed Laura with a no nonsense look. "When are you two going to
stop torturing each other and get it over with? You can't keep up this
level of lust forever, you know. You'll both go up in flames and it'll
be hell on the insurance rates."

"I'm kidding myself," Laura moaned. "I say I'm worried about his
condition, but as long as his libido is functioning I'm perfectly
willing to take advantage - "

"Laura, take it from Murphy. It's impossible to take advantage of that
guy. Anything you've thought of, he's thought of first. And you know
what portion of his anatomy he thinks with."

Laura flushed, warmth spreading down to her toes at the memory of his
anatomy pressed against her own. "I'm not quite sure where my brain was
at that moment, either," rubbing her brow with a wince.

"You want my advice?"

"I'm afraid to ask."

"The guy can't sleep, right?" Bernice fluffed her curls with her
fingers. "So sleep with him. You'll be doing both of you a favor."

Laura sighed wistfully. "If only it were that simple."

"Hey, life can't be complicated all the time. And if it doesn't work,
at least you'll have scratched that itch of yours."

"I'll think about it."

"Don't think too much." They made for the door and Laura headed back to
Steele's office. "You're not going in there are you?"

"Why shouldn't I?"

"Unless you're ready to relieve that itch, I think he might need a
moment or two alone."

"Oh," Laura gasped, as understanding dawned. "Uh, Bernice, maybe you'd
better, um, hold Mr. Steele's calls."

"Sure," Bernice smirked. "As long as I don't have to hold anything

Laura tried and failed to repress a grin. "You don't think he's really
in there, well, uh, you know û"

Bernice weighed the odds. "Probably not, but if it makes you happy to
think so, go ahead and fantasize. I won't tell."

After what Laura, if she were counting, might have thought of as a
decent interval, Steele emerged from his office. His usually immaculate
appearance was intact, but only below the neck, his missing top shirt
button making it impossible to wear a tie in a businesslike manner.

"You wouldn't by chance have a needle and thread?" he queried with a
tinge of annoyance, the now superfluous length of foulard patterned silk
hanging loose around his shoulders.

A bit chagrined, Laura thought for a moment. "Maybe in my office."
Steele followed as she went in to check.

Laura poked around in the top drawer of her desk, managing to unearth a
bright magenta spool of thread. "Will this do?"

"Nothing in basic white?" Steele sniped.

"I guess not," Laura shrugged, after digging a little more and not
finding anything useful. She shoved the spool back in the drawer, hoping
Steele hadn't seen the Charlotte Knight romance novel secreted in the
back corner.

"Really, Laura," said Steele, peering over her shoulder. "You should
learn to control these passions of yours or I'll be left hanging by a

Laura spun toward him. "I should? What about your libido?" she protested
with righteous indignation. Her thoughts flashed back to the game of
word association. "You're the one with the enormous -- everything!"

"I was singularly inspired." The look he gave her made her knees feel
weak. "I'll wager, so were you."

Laura knew he wasn't referring to the wordplay. Why hadn't she kept her
mouth shut? She was not going to be dragged down that road. "Be
serious," she snapped. "Just because you've heard a few buzz words in a
psychiatrist's office doesn't make you an expert on feminine

"I don't think psychiatry enters into it," Steele replied with a
superior smirk. "That particular form of expertise is an art, not a

"And I suppose you think you're Michelangelo?" Laura sniffed.

"Raphael would be a more apt comparison. He knew his way around a lady's

Laura threw up her hands in disgust. "I can just imagine what you and
Doctor Sobel talked about!"

"To be perfectly candid, your name surfaced quite often in the
conversation," Steele mused, rubbing his chin.

"You talked about me?" Laura blurted before she could stop herself.

"Well, I'm not sure how often. I lost track, really," Steele replied
vaguely. He remained straight-faced with an effort, barely able to
refrain from grinning like a lottery winner at the thought of driving
Laura crazy with curiosity.

"Well, I hope you talked about something besides female psychology,"
Laura groused.

"Indeed. The good doctor was most interested to hear about my past

Laura's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "But I thought you weren't going
to talk about -"

"How Remington Steele became Remington Steele? Relax. Your secret is
safe as houses." Steele patted her wrist soothingly, then glanced down
quickly at his watch. "We'll have to continue this conversation later.
Must dash." He strode briskly out of her office into the reception area.

"Where are you going?" Laura called out as Steele headed for the suite's

"Home to change."

Curse him for being so damned mysterious, Laura fretted, scowling in his

Steele paused in the doorway, his expression innocent as a choir boy's.
"Don't look so worried, Miss Holt. As far as Dr. Sobel is concerned I
played it straight down the fairway."

What did that mean? The only time he played anything straight, Laura
told herself, was to set up for another shot.

As if reading her mind he replied, "As an arrow. Remington Steele's
official bio. Just as you suggested. Dr. Sobel found it quite --

That wasn't very reassuring, Laura decided, as Steele strolled down the
hallway and out of sight. Goosebumps pricked her bare arms and neck,
though the office thermostat read a comfortable seventy-eight degrees.


Steele loosened his tie, shifting his shoulders uncomfortably against
the chair back. "Can you explain it, doctor? One minute, we were
fighting, and the next -"

Sobel took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I've come
across this particular dream from a patient only once before."

"You know what they say," Steele remarked, to break the tension. "The
dream sequence always rings twice."

"Just twice if you're lucky. You wouldn't believe how many times I hear
from people dreaming they showed up for work naked."

"You sound rather bored by it. I take it Kathleen Turner never obliged

Sobel put on his glasses. "'Fraid not."

Steele looked thoughtful. "This patient who had the same sexual fantasy.
In the boxing ring. What did it mean in their case?"

"You really can't generalize about these things," said Sobel cautiously.

"Give me a clue, then."

"You're the detective. What do you think it means?"

Steele flashed the other man a look of irritation. "How should I know?
I've had more fantasies about Laura Holt than I can count."

"But there's something that disturbs you about this one." It was a
statement, not a question.

Steele rubbed his forehead. "A little." Now that he'd dropped his guard
he wished the subject were closed. He expelled an anxious breath and
continued. "It's just that -- I didn't pull this dream sequence out of
nowhere. I've done some boxing before and it's not a friendly sport."

Sobel nodded. "As a socially sanctioned form of aggression I'd say it's
top of the list. But your dream doesn't necessarily mean you wish to
overpower your partner physically. The way you described it, she
initiates the sexual act."

Steele gave a short laugh. "Miss Holt would say that that's a form of
wish fulfillment. In my case, not hers."

"Your fantasies could be closer than you think." Sobel paused
meaningfully. "You should also consider that your dream might not be
just about sex. Sport has other connotations. Would you describe your
relationship with Miss Holt as unusually -- competitive?"

Steele didn't bother to deny it. "The staff have learned to keep their
head down."

Sobel scribbled in his notebook. "I'd call that a yes."

"You know that song, 'Anything you can do, I can do better'? That's been
our motto from the first," Steele said, tugging his earlobe.

"Relationships have been built on less."

"It does seem to be the nature of the beast. You have to understand that
a woman like Laura Holt is always running full tilt, trying to prove
that she can be as macho as Sam Spade. The detective business is still a
rather exclusive men's club."

"And you have nothing to prove to her?"

"On the contrary, I'm forever proving myself. But she pretends not to
notice. If I were a lesser man, I'd be discouraged."

"You say she pretends not to notice?"

"She must be, doctor. She'd have to be blind not to see it."

"As a wise man once said, 'a child of four could understand this. Run
out and find me a four year old child.'" Sobel waggled an imaginary

"Groucho Marx in 'Duck Soup'. Not bad, doctor."

"A slight paraphrase, but you get the idea. Maybe the proof isn't as
plainly obvious as you think."

Steele rubbed his chin reflectively. "The more you explain it, the more
complicated it gets."

"It's psychoanalysis. If it were easy, anyone could do it."

"At these rates I certainly hope not."

"And a funny thing happened on the way to the subconscious." Sobel
calmly adjusted a sofa pillow behind his head. "There's an emerging
theory that holds that the dream state is a form of vigilance. In our
evolutionary history we had to be prepared to fend off physical danger,
to regain our mastery over our environment. In that sense all dreams are
future oriented. 'What's out there and how do I respond to it?'"

"A form of vigilance, eh? That's does rather take all of the fun out of

"All part of the mix. You don't think the sexual realm is rife with
control issues?"

Steele winced at the truth of the statement. "With some partners more
than others."

"Your boxing scenario may be a vigilance response to a strong stimulus,
and I don't mean just a hormonal one. Think of your dream as a metaphor
in motion. A fighter in the ring must be constantly on guard against the
blows that are coming at him. Perhaps this represents a situation in
your life you feel unprepared for, one that you fear will dominate you
and exert control."

"In my dream Laura Holt was in the dominant position. I admit I rather
enjoyed it at the time -"

"These theories are not thoroughly proven, of course," Sobel continued
with a judicious air, "but it's probably no accident that she was at the
center of your dream. And with your competitive natures, I'm sure the
issue of who's on top, so to speak, is never far from your minds."

"As a matter of fact, it, ah, came up yesterday. In the office."

"Speaking of workplace issues, I want you to think for a moment about
your associate, Miss Holt, how she manages the office, the caseload, the
clients. What are some things that annoy you, drive you up the walls?
Just say whatever comes to your mind."

"Things that annoy me? About Miss Holt?" Steele glanced down at his
watch. "Just checking the time, doctor. Don't want to shortchange the
subject." Steele fidgeted in his chair, a spike of nervous energy
animating his limbs.

"Is something wrong?"

"Can I get up, doctor? It's easier when I move."

"Suit yourself. Just don't throw anything. I'm underinsured."

Steele bounded to his feet and began to pace the carpet. "Where do I
begin? She's overbearing, obstinate, opinionated, officious --" Steele
expostulated, waving his arms in frustration. "And that's just one
letter of the alphabet."

"I have a 'New Webster's International' if it helps."

Steele shook his head. "I've already been caught cheating at

"OK. Try another vowel."

"Exasperating, exacting, exclusionary -"

"Why exclusionary?"

Steele vented his frustrations at full steam. "It's that not-so-subtle
way that she has of pigeonholing everyone. She's the only member of the
firm who's allowed to be a real detective. Well, Murphy, at times,
though I'd hardly call his job description riveting. Poor chap. Hand up
for every thankless task."

"Who's Murphy?"

"Murphy Michaels. Another detective who works for us. He has some
rudimentary expertise. Bagging evidence, deciphering autopsy reports,
that kind of thing," Steele said loftily, striding back to his chair.

"I take it he's not the head office type."

"Very perceptive of you, doctor. Some decent tailoring and a bit more
polish wouldn't go amiss. Laura has her loyalties, I suppose. They had
a relationship before the Remington Steele agency opened. A working
relationship," Steele hastened to add.

"A close working relationship?"

Steele scowled in Sobel's direction. "Not what you're thinking. They
were both previously employed at Havenhurst, the large, rather anonymous
detective agency I mentioned before."

"Does Miss Holt ever talk about her experience there?"

Steele gestured airily. "She's forever reminding me of her arduous
apprenticeship. Toiling anonymously in the trenches. Navigating mine
fields of office politics. I spent the weekend in the company of some of
her former colleagues. Found most of them dull as a butter knife."

Sobel eyed Steele speculatively. " Well you haven't exactly trod the
usual career path."

"I must admit background checks and trace skipping have never held any
great charms for me."

"You mean skip tracing."

"Quite. Slip of the tongue."

"This sleep clinic case you two were working on. How did you become
involved in it?"

"It's strange now that you mention it." Steele ruminated on the subject.
"The usual haggling over territory didn't arise. I was in the thick of
things from the beginning. True to form, however, Miss Holt didn't
bother to consult me first. Just forged ahead with this harebrained
scheme of hers."

"I thought she was the methodical type."

"That's so, up to a point. Laura has training but she also has talent
-- and talent can make one reckless," Steele affirmed, with the air of
a man who knew the signs. "At the time, of course, I thought she'd
completely lost the plot."

Sobel raised an eyebrow in puzzlement. "What makes you say that?"

"I know it sounds odd to say so now but I never thought of myself as a
likely insomniac. It didn't seem to fit the image of Remington Steele.
And to infiltrate a clinic posing as one, well, it didn't strike me as
standard operating procedure."

"It does sound like something out of a movie. Maybe your methods have
rubbed off on Miss Holt more than you think."

"That's small comfort, but a fair point. Movie plot or no, even I was
skeptical of her plan at first."

"The newspaper accounts say the both of you unmasked a murderer. Miss
Holt must have had trust in your abilities to put you in the position of
being a prime target."

Steele grimaced. "I'm not so sure trust is the operative word. Miss Holt
has always been willing to stick my neck out."

Sobel scribbled a line in his notes. "Sounds like a form of
passive-aggressive behavior."

"That's rather clinical of you, doctor," Steele replied with some
asperity. "She's also saved my neck on a few occasions."

"Duly noted." Sobel said calmly, as if the reaction he'd provoked had
been neatly planned. "The fact that you routinely place each other in
danger must mean something. Most people shy away from trusting someone
else's luck."

"I haven't really given it much thought. It's not something we agonize

"Was there anything unusual about this case? Any impressions that stick
in your mind?"

Steele gave the question due consideration. "Despite the fact I shared
my hospital room with a homicidal maniac I'd have to say, on the whole,
I enjoyed myself. No one from the office was tagging along; I had my
lovely sparring partner to myself." A fleeting smile crossed his face at
the memory. "Midnight rendezvous in the cadaver room. Undercover work.
Clues to ponder. Suspects to suspect. We were a team. Like Nick and Nora
Charles; William Powell and Myrna Loy staying up way past bedtime."

"I imagine you did get a little punch drunk."

"Strangely appropriate expression, eh? It was always cocktail hour in
'The Thin Man' movies."

"Do you think your teammate enjoyed the experience?"

"Aside from the occasional close brush with death, I'd say yes, I think
she did. I had some stage fright at first, but it was like finding the
perfect partner on a dance floor; once we established a rhythm, we could
anticipate the next step."

"You say you initially felt a little anxious. About filling the role of
an insomniac?"

"I suppose that was it."

"Had you and Miss Holt partnered up 'in the field', so to speak,

"More sporadically than I'd hoped, but we've had our moments. When it
comes to real detective work Miss Holt has always been somewhat
reluctant to share -- despite my protestations that a man can only
doodle on his napkin for so long."

"Is that a movie reference? I'm afraid you've lost me."

Steele's world weary countenance spoke volumes. "My associate is more
than willing to leave me the boring bits. Crime prevention committees.
Tte--ttes with the police commissioner. Charity events where they
hand out blue ribbons for the most boring speech."

"One thing I've learned from working with actors; one can't
underestimate the importance of a good public image."

"At least actors occasionally get to sink their teeth into something
besides the nearest journalist. One does long for a meatier role to

It seems to me that your star turn at the sleep clinic gave you more
than a nibble. You were playing detective and playing insomniac at the
same time. It's not easy playing multiple roles. Even Dustin Hoffman got
a little confused in 'Tootsie.'"

"He was wearing a dress. I wasn't quite that confused."

"Glad to hear it. Did working so closely with Miss Holt have any
particular effect on you?"

"Err -- what kind of effect? I've think we've exhausted the subject of
my fantasies for the day."

"That wasn't what I was getting at, but don't feel inhibited on my
account. I wondered if it might have been a little unnerving. The two of
you out there, rather isolated, working without a net in a dangerous

"The knowledge that a murderer may dispatch you at any moment does tend
to concentrate one's mind on things. That is, when one isn't dozing off.
I did feel a certain responsibility to the role."

"Did you feel any level of -- performance anxiety?"

"On the contrary, I could have slept with Miss Holt in a heartbeat, but
I was trying to stay in character," Steele quipped smugly.

Sobel ignored the jest and stuck to his line of inquiry. "No pressure,
then, to be convincing?"

"If we're talking about feigning insomnia, doctor, I think it's safe to
say I immersed myself in the role like a trouper."

"Even seasoned thespians have first night jitters."

"I'm well over that now." Steele confirmed testily. "If only my
performance had been a dismal failure; the production could have closed
early and I wouldn't have to be repeating it night after night."

"Speaking of repetition," Sobel queried, "how are those breathing
exercises coming along? Have they helped you to relax?"

Steele brightened. "Actually, they have done some good. I tried them
while watching a double feature of Brando in 'On the Waterfront' and
'The Missouri Breaks'. Now, there's a strange combo."

"With the exercises?"

"Or all by themselves. Brando's gift for comedy in 'The Missouri Breaks'
is sadly underrated."

"I agree."

"I did momentarily lose focus when he showed up as a frontier granny in
a poke bonnet but everyone in the movie seemed to be having such a good
time it was rather infectious. I slept better than I have in over a

Sobel smiled. "That's very encouraging. Stick with those exercises and I
think we'll continue to see improvement."

"I hope so, doctor. I'm not asking for much. Just a good fortnight's

"We'll keep working on it. To that end," Sobel began, with a slight
hesitation, "I have a favour to ask."

Steele raised an eyebrow. "I don't have to watch 'Mutiny on the Bounty'
do I? That's one Brando performance I'm not fond of."

"Nothing that traumatic, mind you. But you both can certainly feel free
to refuse."

Steele glanced around warily. "You both? Did I develop a split
personality when I wasn't looking?"

"Don't worry. There's no extra charge. Actually, I was referring to Miss
Holt. Forgive me for being so dense, but without her I feel like I'm
trying to solve a puzzle with only half of the pieces. Her name comes up
in the conversation more often than Sigmund Freud's -- or Groucho Marx's
for that matter."

"Not surprising. She's more my type. What are you inferring, doctor?"

"That she may be part of the problem -- or possibly, part of the
solution." Sobel was unfazed by Steele's doubtful expression. "I'd like
to talk to her, assuming you both agree to it, of course."

"You want to talk to Miss Holt? About what -- we've talked about?"
Steele said with the air of a general sending a soldier to his doom.
"Heaven knows where that might lead."

"I'd be interested to find out. Don't misunderstand, Mr. Steele. What
we've discussed here is still confidential, though I may have to touch
on it indirectly. I don't plan to get into your boxing fantasy, for

"Best not to delve there." Steele rubbed his chin. "I suspect she has a
mean right hook." Steele wondered if even a man of Sobel's mental
agility was entirely safe. When it came to ferreting out secrets Laura's
instincts were formidable. Suddenly he felt as though he were standing
on thin ice.

Sobel caught his look of apprehension. "I can understand if you have
reservations but it's not uncommon for me to interview a patient's
family members or friends. That is, when consent has been given or in
certain emergency situations."

"Situation hopeless, but not serious, eh?" Steele joked, trying to jolly
himself out of his own anxiety.

"Don't be unduly alarmed. Your situation is a long way from hopeless. I
think your associate would agree with me."

"I wish I were as certain of that, doctor, Steele replied with a wintry
smile. "Laura once referred to me as a lost cause." After a beat of
silence Steele straightened his tie. "If you'd really like to talk to
Miss Holt I suppose it could be arranged."

"You're sure you don't object? I think it might prove a very fruitful
line of inquiry."

Steele equivocated. "'Sure' is far too strong a word, doctor, but if you
think it could shed light on the matter I should be willing to risk it
-- but I'm not the one you should be worried about, mate."

"If I explain the need for it calmly, sensibly, logically -"

"Really, doctor. That's entirely the wrong approach. Perhaps I should
broach the subject with her first. Give you a sporting chance."

"A head start?"

"Precisely." Steele's equanimity wavered for an instant. "Just so we
understand each other, that dream sequence doesn't ring twice."


"Oh," Steele added quickly. "Perhaps you should downplay my brilliant
career in government service. Just to -- err on the side of caution."

"'You know what a cautious fellow I am.' Harrison Ford to Denholm
Elliott. 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. Paramount, 1981."

Steele smiled knowingly. "Well said, doctor, but Indiana Jones never had
to go up against Laura Holt."

To Part 12