More Of A License To Steele/pt 2
Date: Thursday, March 15, 2001
By Ilsa Lund <>

Part 2

rating, summary, etc. in part 1.


Secretary/receptionist Bernice Fox ceased her grooming, replaced her mirror and answered the phone.

"Remington Steele investigations? - I'm afraid Mr Steele's not here at the moment. May I take a message? - I see. Mr Steele refuses all press conferences. If you want to deal with us, you have to deal with his associate Laura Holt. I'll let her know as soon as she comes in - Thank you."

She hastily scribbled on a notepad and checked her watch. Where was Laura?

"Hey Bernice!" A loud giggle and rapping on the suite glass
interrupted her reverie. Grinning at Rebecca Douglas, a secretary from law firm Leiber & Stollerman, the gregarious Miss Fox slunk over to the entrance and pulled a door ajar.

"Hi Rebecca. Where're you off to?"

The svelte blonde with a cap of perfectly coifed hair answered with a wiggle of her eyebrows. "There's a new hunk two floors up. I'm pretending that we've run out of sugar. Wanna come see?"

Bernice groaned in response. "I can't. We're too busy here."

"Never mind, I'll tell him you said 'hello' okay?"

"Yeah right."

The response was a sardonic grin. "In my position, you'd do exactly the same thing. Any more gossip on what's-his-name? That South African dreamboat?"

"None. You gotta see this guy Rebecca. He says things
like 'delightful' and he pronounces every syllable too. None of the creeps we know do that."

"Yeah, the only guy I've ever heard say 'delightful' is Cary Grant."

She sighed dreamily. "I'd like to hear him say 'breakfast in bed.' Lunch later?"

"I'll call you Bernice and I'll also let you know what this hunk upstairs is like."

"Okay. I'll let you know when South Africa returns. Hopefully he's in the market for a 'delightful' female."

"Does he like blondes?"

"Get to the back of the very long line Rebecca. I think someone's got her eye on him."

"Oh yeah? Who?"

Bernice smiled enigmatically and waved her friend away. She slowly walked over to her desk, picked up the report on the Jameson case and scanned it.

Minutes passed but eventually a jaunty Laura bounced into the reception area and picked up her messages.

"Cutting it a little close, aren't you?" Bernice admonished mildly.

Her beam widened. If she had a pair of wings, she'd have taken off. "I had the most incredible evening."

Bernice gaped at her employer. She'd seen that expression before. She'd had it herself. A man usually caused it.

In all the time she'd been at Remington Steele Investigations, she'd yet to spot it on Laura. Now at last - there it was. What kind of guy had breached the goddess of ambition? This was practically anewsworthy event. She should call Elliot Walsh at Spotlight.

"With who?"


One word. No name. It was obvious who'd spun her propeller. Way to go Laura!

"I wanna hear all the gory details." Bernice ordered as she trailed behind the brains of the agency.

"First, he bought me a bottle of champagne -"

The normally genial Murphy Michaels emerged from the bathroom, frowning. He was decked out in the linen company uniform ready to play his part as the decoy in their covert Royal Lavulite scheme.

"Who bought you champagne?" he demanded imperiously. Some man had bought her champagne? She was seeing someone? Why didn't he know? Laura didn't even like champagne. And why did she look so - so - so happy?

Both ladies ignored him.

"Actually, it was a magnum." Laura clarified, pleased to have something juicy to tell her secretary for a change. Listening to endless tales of Bernice's sexual exploits had become an all too familiar occurrence - not that she minded. The attractive, go-getting brunette was always highly entertaining. But damn, it felt good for the positions to be reversed. For once.

Murphy stubbornly pressed on. "I thought you didn't like champagne?"

Both ladies ignored him again.

Bernice scrutinised the face before her. It was glowing. Did she -? With him? Only one way to find out: "What happened after the champagne?"

The question sounded innocent but it was loaded with meaning.

Laura retrieved a small stool needed for the climb up to their storage area. She was oblivious to both her associates as she recalled the events of only a few hours ago. She'd hardly slept all night - and when sleep finally came, he'd played a starring role in her dream. She'd stretched out an arm, puzzled at the cold, empty space. That's what had finally woken her up.

"We went for a drive and that's when things really got hairy."

"Hairy?" Bernice prompted. Was that a coded message? Was Laura trying to say she saw hair? That she got it on with the South African dreamboat? If she did, a girl after her own heart - straight to the action. Yowza!

By now, Murphy had had enough of being treated like he wasn't in the room. "Who went for a drive?" he queried, raising his voice.

The secretary impatiently turned to him. It was on the tip of her tongue to sarcastically respond, 'Duh!' but instead, she answered his question. "Laura and special agent Ben Pearson."

Him! Murphy glanced at his partner as she rummaged around in their storage space. Was he the reason for Laura's enthusiasm? What the hell was so special about him? He talked funny. And besides that, there was something about him, a shiftiness. His gut instinct said that that South African agent wasn't quite what he appeared to be. He'd distrusted the fella on sight and he had a suspicion that the feeling was mutual.

As his associate busied herself with whatever she was looking for, Murphy took the bull by the horns. "You went joyriding with a man who could be an international jewel thief? Or for all we know, a mass murderer? That's not like you Laura."

"Didn't he check out?"

Chagrin flooded through him. He looked at both ladies then grudgingly admitted the truth. "Yeah, he checked out. I talked to his supervisor this morning. The only bump is that Pearson wasn't supposed to arrive until today. So just to be sure I requested a wire photo."

Laura finally found the item and shot a querying glance at her secretary. "Where are the bullets?"

Bernice hastily departed.

Murphy gawked at the woman he'd worked with for years, the woman he'd rarely seen with the agency gun. "What are you doing?"

She matter-of-factly replied, "This isn't going to be the piece of cake we thought it would be. The men who originally stole those gems are brutal murderers."

Bernice returned shells in hand. She passed them to her boss who promptly began loading the weapon.

"They followed us last night. Even though Ben took care of them brilliantly -"

"Ben?" Murphy echoed, sickened. She was on first name terms with the creep? What the hell had gone on last night? How far did he get?

Ben? Bernice thought impishly. She was on first name terms with the South African dreamboat? What the hell had gone on last night? How far did he get?

Laura handed the gun to Murphy. "I'd feel better if you packed a rod."

He was utterly lost. "A rod?" What the hell was she talking about?

Mission accomplished, she picked up her purse and quickly headed for the door. This would be the most crucial day yet. She had to stay one step ahead of Gordon Hunter and convince him everything - what was Ben doing today?

"Bernice, page Remington Steele in exactly -" good lord! Was that the time already? " - twenty-seven minutes just to keep his presence alive. I'll tell Hunter that Mr. Steele has already left for the airport."

"Good luck," her secretary called out as Laura cheerfully strode through the suite doors.

"Sounds like he got a lot for his lousy bottle of champagne!" Murphy barked bitterly.

Was that jealousy? Bernice smiled mischievously. "It was a magnum," she reminded him.

They exchanged looks: his said, 'I didn't need to hear that' - hers said, 'I know.'

He resumed his preparations for the Royal Lavulite and she sat at her desk singing contentedly to herself. The phone rang.

"Remington Steele investigations? - She's just left Mr Hunter. She's on her way to - Thank you. You too." Bernice stood up and dashed to the grandest office in the suite where she found her colleague pacing.

"You'd better hurry Murphy. That was Hunter on the phone."

"Champagne. Huh! What's so good about champagne? I got her Raiders tickets."

"Murphy there's -"

He continued wearing down the carpet. "They weren't easy to get either. I had to pay top dollar for those seats."

Bernice crossed her arms. "You and Laura went to a Raiders game?"

He stopped, shocked. "You didn't know? You work here for pete's sake!"

"Laura didn't tell me. How could I know?"

Murphy slapped his thighs in exasperation. "She didn't tell you?"

"No. When was this?"

"A couple of weeks ago."

She shrugged. "First I'm hearing about it."

"I don't believe it. I take her to a Raiders game, a great game, and you know nothing. Some creep goes for a ride with her and she can't wait to tell you everything."

"Look on the bright side, the Raiders scored. Ben Pearson didn't."

"How do you know?"

Bernice pursed her lips. "Whaddaya mean 'how do I know?' I know! You're talking to the afterglow expert and Laura didn't have that one. I'll say this for that South African hunk, he's got her glowing but not from a hop in the sack."

"She's like that and they didn't -?"

"Yep. Boy, imagine if they did."

"I'd rather not." He checked his pockets. "I don't like this Bernice. I don't like this one bit. I don't like him either."

"You don't say," she responded dryly.

"I do say."

"Look, what're you worried about?"

"Worried? Me?"

"She'll never see him again after today. After we deliver the Royal Lavulite. Which reminds me, Gordon Hunter just -"

Murphy brightened. "Bernice, that's the best thing you could've said to me. We do our job, deliver the Royal Lavulite, he goes back to South Africa and that's the end of -" he spat out the name, "Ben Pearson."

"Yeah, life returns to normal. Remington Steele stays non-existent, Laura's married to her work and you can carry on trying to get her attention in peace."

He grinned.

She flicked her hair. "After today, you won't have to worry about a rival."

"God, it'll feel so good to be rid of him and his stupid accent. Bernice, I love ya!"

"All the guys say that. And then I wake up."

Murphy picked up his keys. "Listen, I want to know as soon as that wire photo comes through."

"Don't worry. I'm on it. What's the big deal anyway?"

"Something tells me that that guy isn't what he appears to be."

"You don't think he's a South African agent?" She placed her hands on her hips.

"I can't explain it Bernice but I've got a bad feeling about him. Let's just say that I'd be very surprised if he's who he says he is."

She gasped. "But if he isn't Ben Pearson, who is he?"

"If he isn't Ben Pearson, he might be after the jewels."

"You mean, he could be trying to get close to Laura just to get -"

"Yep," Murphy proclaimed. The dirty, rotten, lousy -"

"That son of a bitch!"

He nodded. "My thoughts exactly."

"Don't say anything to Laura until we're sure." Bernice's blood was starting to boil. "If he isn't Ben Pearson - I'll kill him myself. Did you see the look on her face? She's sold on the guy."

"I'm disliking the creep more and more."

"You gotta get outta here. Go! I'll take care of things after I've paged Remington Steele. Go on!"

"This whole thing's crazy but I think Laura might've pulled the wool over Hunter's eyes. He doesn't know that Remington Steele is her creation."

"Remington Steele's the least of our worries Murphy."

"Yeah. He sure is. I still say we should've passed on Hunter, referred him to another agency. If we'd done that, we'd never have met that agent."

"Suppose he is Ben Pearson?"

"Suppose he isn't? That's the problem Bernice. We can't be sure until we see that photo. If only Ben Pearson, or whoever he is, could be just like Remington Steele."

Halfway to her desk, she paused. Stupefied. "Run that by me again?"

"Invisible." Murphy supplied, laughing as he strolled out of the suite doors.

Bernice whiled away the last few minutes listening to the radio and reading a magazine until the time came to page Remington Steele ...