* * * *
He watched wistfully from his apartment's private balcony as the sun began to dip low into the sky. It was the close of another day in the bustling city of Los Angeles. The dark haired man admired the streaks of red and orange that blazed across the sky. It was a rare treat to actually be able to see a sunset instead of the fog that always seemed to be hovering over the city. **But it had been an unusual day from the start,* * he thought to himself.
A gentle breeze playfully lifted a tuft of Remington Steele's dark hair. Steele hastily pushed the hair away from his eyes. The smell of roasting beef wafted out towards him from the kitchen. He felt satisfied. The champagne was chilling and the dinner preparations were progressing nicely.
**What would our clients think . . .** Steele thought as a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth, of the great detective Remington Steele preparing his own dinner . . . Played up by the press as a man of mystery and refinement, he doubted that any of the agency's clients would believe such a scenario.
In the end, he knew, that the only opinion that really mattered to him was his associate's, Laura Holt. Without her, there would be no Remington Steele or the detective agency bearing Steele's name.
The sound of a buzzer interrupted Steele's thoughts. He glanced down at his watch. **Seven o'clock . . .** he thought. **Laura is always so punctual . . .**
After taking a last quick glance around the apartment, Steele gave a satisfied nod. All was in order for the special evening he had planned.
He opened the door.
"Ah, Miss Holt, on time as usual . . ." Steele said, motioning for her to come in.
"Did you have any doubt that I would be, Mr. Steele?" Laura asked in a low tone.
"None at all," Steele said, removing the silk shawl from her
shoulders. Steele's eyes admired how the slinky cocktail dress hugged Holt's shapely form. "You look lovely tonight, Laura."
"Why thank you," Holt whispered as she slipped her arms around his neck, "Mr. Steele . . ." Her lips touched his with an intensity that surprised him.
Steele pulled back first. "Well," he said, clearing his throat, "I must say, Laura, I like your idea of an appetizer much better than mine."
She smiled at him wickedly. "I've wanted to do that all day . . ."
Steele steered the woman over to the couch. "Champagne?"
Laura nodded then watched silently as Steele expertly popped the cork on the bottle.
"To us . . ." he said, handing a glass of the bubbling liquid to Laura.
Holt took the glass and paused before answering. For two years she had put off Steele's attentions, always wary of what a commitment to man like Steele would mean. A man with a mysterious past who walked into her life out of nowhere one day and assumed the identity of Remington Steele. A man who could disappear just as easily the next. But she'd come to realize, after a fashion, that the Remington Steele of today was very different from the man she'd first met.
"To us, Mr. Steele," she finally answered. Tonight she felt ready to consummate their relationship.
Steele reached over and picked up a small jewelers box that was on the table next to the champagne. Nervously, he fingered the box for a moment before taking Laura's hands in his and wrapping her fingers around the box.
She looked down, a quizzical expression on her face. "What's this?"
Steele shrugged. "Perhaps you'd better open it and see."
Laura opened the box and gasped, overcome by the sight of the small diamond and garnet encrusted heart shaped necklace inside.
She looked up at him in surprise. "I - I'm overcome, Mr. Steele. It's not my birthday . . ."
"Do you like it, Laura?" He asked.
"Like it?" She smiled at him, like a child on Christmas
morning. "It's beautiful - I just don't know what to say."
"Let me explain," Steele said as he removed the necklace from its box. "I've wanted to give this to you for quite some time. But," he gently clasped the necklace around Holt's slender throat, "some case or something else always got in the way." He paused and admired the necklace. "Quite lovely on you, Laura, even I do say so myself." He took her hands in his. "I wanted you to have the necklace because . . ." Steele paused nervously. "Because it means something . . . about what's between us."
"And what is between us, Mr. Steele?" Laura asked in anticipation.
"I'm not the same man that I was when I walked into your life. It would be a lie to tell you that I lived an exemplary kind of life before I met you and I don't know why our paths crossed, Laura." He gently lifted her chin. " But I do know that we're meant for each other, you and I. And I know that it's always in the back of your mind that someday I might leave again." He paused. The woman's moist eyes glanced down for a second, a mute testimony to the truth of
his words. "That's where the necklace comes in - I wanted you to have it to remind you that no matter what the circumstances, whether we're together or apart, I'm still by your side . . ."
His words melted any lingering doubts she had about the man beside her. "If I didn't know you better, Mr. Steele," Laura's voice broke slightly, "I'd think that you were making some kind of commitment to me, to us - -"
"That's exactly what I'm saying, Laura," Steele said, pulling her closer. "If you'll have me . . ."
Overcome by the moment, Laura's glass tipped, spilling champagne all over Steele.
"Oh!" Their clinch broken, Laura grabbed a cloth from the table and dabbed at the champagne.
Steele closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation of the cool hand as it wiped his face.
"Mr. Steele? Wake up, Mr. Steele. . ."
Steele moaned softly, trying to ignore the pounding in his head.
"Mr. Steele!" The voice was harder this time. "A condemned man has no business sleeping through the morning!"
End Part 1
To Part 2