- Steele on Our Own Part 3/6
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000
From: "Linda" <email@example.com>
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
Standing in front of the building where Tony lived, Laura began
to have second thoughts. And third thoughts. Why exactly was
'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
"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,'
Less complicated, hmm? Right now Laura could really go for 'less
"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
"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
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