Steele on Our Own Part 3/6
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000
From: "Linda" <>

Laura settled into her plush leather-backed seat in first class. Usually when she traveled alone she didn't indulge in such frivolities, but given how spent Laura felt, it was a small price to pay for constantly-flowing libations and several hours of peace. After accepting and polishing off the four-course dinner and drinking a full bottle of wine herself, Laura drifted off to sleep and didn't awaken until the captain announced their impending arrival at Heathrow.


Standing in front of the building where Tony lived, Laura began to have second thoughts. And third thoughts. Why exactly was she here?

'He's a friend. He won't kick me out. And he won't ask too many questions,' she rationalized. Besides, maybe he wasn't even home. But even as Laura trudged up the three flights of stairs to reach Tony's door she knew there was more to it than that. Tony had also been attracted to her, once. She knew it was her body and not necessarily her mind that had entranced him, but even so, it felt good to be desired, even if nothing came of it. And she didn't want anything to come of it, she told herself.

She rang the buzzer. And waited. And rang again. Just when she thought there was no one there, she heard his voice.

"Yeah, yeah, keep your shirt on. I'm coming."

As he opened the door, Laura caught her first glimpse of Tony. He had clearly just emerged from a steamy shower, and was clad only from the waist down. His golden-tanned chest glistened from the mist that still clung to it. His curly brown locks were shorter, still tossed carelessly and with a new touch of gray, but they were luscious just the same. It stirred something in Laura to see the way his eyes lit up for her. A long time had passed since she had elicited such a reaction from Harry.


Tony reached for Laura's shoulders and drew her into a bear hug, then relieved her of her suitcase and cautiously stuck his head out into the hall. Looking both ways, and satisfying himself that there was no sign of Laura's husband, Tony drew Laura into his flat.

"How've you been? Why didn't you tell me you were going to be in London? Ya know you're lucky to find me here. I spend way too much time on the road. Or at least I tell myself that until the checks come in." Tony stopped when it was evident that Laura was exhausted beyond words.

"Hey, you need to sit down. How 'bout a drink? No? Well at least have a seat." Tony hurriedly gathered the remnants of yesterday's Chinese takeout from his sofa and steered Laura there. They both sat down. Silence. Laura had yet to say a word, and Tony was decidedly spooked.

He reached out, and cupped Laura's chin in his hand. He spoke more softly now, "What happened-and whose head do I have to bash in to fix it for you?"

"Right now, right now I'd rather hear about you." Since it looked like Laura was about to burst into tears, Tony quickly decided to oblige.

"Okay, but I need a beer. And I'm getting you one."

When he returned from the kitchen, two beers in tow, he twisted off the caps and handed one to Laura. Tony's fingertips brushed against the back of Laura's hand, just for a moment, and even Tony could feel the jolt of electricity. He sat back for a second, contemplating just what Laura had in mind. Shaking his head, as if to clear from it the kernel of an idea that Laura wanted HIM, Tony opened his mouth as if to speak, then closed it. 'Hey, things are definitely looking up,' thought Tony.

"Are you enjoying your job?" The words stumbled out of Laura's mouth, if only to get Tony to start speaking. He had been staring at her, with his lips parted and his tongue slowly caressing his bottom lip, and it was driving Laura to distraction.

"I hope you don't have the wrong idea. I didn't take out an ad in 'Soldier of Fortune' ya know." Tony had been 'freelancing' ever since he was cleared of the charges brought against him as a double agent. He worked for whomever was willing to pay him, within reason. "I have my standards."

At that, Laura had to laugh. "I'm certain you do."

"Well, I do," Tony said defensively. "And I don't plan on doing this forever. The money's great, though, and after what happened I didn't want to be forced to trust the higher-ups with my life again. This arrangement is a lot less complicated,' he concluded.

Less complicated, hmm? Right now Laura could really go for 'less complicated.'

"And what about the rest of your life? Have you found anyone.special to share it with?"

"Take a look around, Laura. Does this look like anything but a sorry-ass aging bachelor's dive? Yeah, I've been with some women, but nothin' permanent, if that's what you're asking. My biggest mistake was letting YOU get away."

With that, Tony instinctively leaned closer to Laura until she could feel his warm breath on her face. His lips moved closer, and just when Laura thought he would cover her mouth with his, he tilted her head down and kissed her softly, but sensuously nonetheless, on her forehead.

"I'm getting the feeling that you came here for more than just to catch up for old time's sake. I've also gotta tell ya that I'm about a minute away from picking you up and carrying you to my bed and finding out what I've been missing all these years. The only thing that's stopping me is.hell, I don't even KNOW what's stopping me," Tony rumbled. "I know you. I know you're not the type to go in for a one-night stand. And while my ego wants to think you're here to tell me you're getting rid of Pretty-Boy, my head is still thinkin' that's never gonna happen. So which is it, Laura?"

With that, Laura did burst into tears. Her sobs shocked Tony and dampened his lust. He reached out and encircled her with his muscular bare arms, pulling her to his chest. As she let out all of the emotion of the last few days, she clung to Tony and relaxed in his tender grip. He held her like that for what seemed like hours, until her tears were spent. And with that, she poured out her story to Tony, ending with her conviction that Harry deserved a family, a family that she couldn't give him. Laura told Tony that she couldn't deny Harry the chance to have that family, and that if he stayed with her it was condemning him to such a fate. She couldn't bear to have Harry stay with her out of a feeling of obligation, or worse yet, pity.

Once more, Tony cupped Laura's face in his hands, tilted it back, look deep into her eyes, and said one word: "Bullshit."

Huh? Now it was Laura's turn to be shocked. Where did her sympathetic ear go? Where did the man who was so pointedly aroused for her go?

"You can tell yourself that if you want, but you're fulla shit," Tony spat out. "I don't believe that for one minute. You know why you left him. If you can't admit it to me, at least admit it to yourself."

Flushed and furious now, Laura responded haughtily, "I don't know what the hell you're talking about."

"Oh, yeah? Then let me tell you something, Laura, and this is obviously gonna be a news flash for you. NO man marries YOU for the babies you're gonna give him, the meatloaf you're gonna make, the sheets you're gonna wash. A man marries you so he can hold you in his arms late at night when nobody else is around, so he can smell your perfume on his skin, so he can feel your fingers run through his hair--"

"Are you finished?!"

"--not yet. From what I've figured out, Steele didn't even marry you because he was about to be deported. And now you're telling me you're leaving him for his own good? So he can find somebody else to have those babies, make that meatloaf? Bullshit. You know why you left him. Admit it. Say it."

The room was silent then, except for the sound of Tony and Laura's ruptured breathing. And then Laura opened her mouth, and spoke the truth. "I left him so he wouldn't leave me."

Tony reached for her and pulled her into his lap. He held her close for a long time.

End of Part 3
To Part 4