This is my first fic ever, so please
send any thoughts, observations,
questions, conclusions, musings, etc. right along. I'll be posting it in 15 parts. So far I plan for 1 part a day. It is def. post-SWAK and is kind of intended to be a "where did they all end up." I've broken it up into where
I would place commercial breaks. Thanks for reading; hope to hear from you
Archiving is fine by me if anybody cares to do so and all standard
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Laura turned off the kitchen faucet and dried her hands on the dish towel
hanging on the refrigerator. She picked up her cup of tea and padded in her
sock feet from the gourmet kitchen to the large sectional couch in the
living room. She couldn't see the black clad figure crouching on the patio
just outside the nearest kitchen window. Laura flipped through channels
until she reached the rebroadcast of the 10 o'clock news. She sipped her
tea and watched. The figure slid the window open slowly, quietly. Laura
tucked her feet up underneath her body and leaned her head on her hand. The
figure stretched one leg onto the kitchen counter, pivoted and softly landed
on the tile, only momentarily glancing at Laura watching a segment on the
recent traffic problems in a normally quiet part of town. The figure
silently crept past her across the living room toward a door on the opposite wall.
"Don't you dare." Laura said without taking her eyes off the news.
"I was just-" the figure began to reply.
"I don't want to hear it. You
know you're supposed to call at 8 o'clock if
you're going to be late."
The figure pulled off the black hood
and hat to reveal long brown hair.
"Mom. Really. I hardly think-"
"I still don't want to hear it."
"What time is it?"
"Awh c'mon now."
"Still, it's a Tuesday night. You know better."
The girl in black walked around to
sit on the couch next to Laura. An
enormous black Great Dane sauntered from his pillow embroidered "Mercury"
near the television and lay on her feet.
"I got sidetracked. We were having a good time and I just forgot. Ok?"
"That's not an excuse."
"I'm not a child."
"That's part of what worries me."
"I can take care of myself."
"That's what worries me the most."
There was a long pause before the
girl in black spoke again. She indicated
the news, "Anything important happen?"
"Same as yesterday and the day
before. Power outages. Traffic. Shootings.
Gangs. Mudslides. Earthquakes. Wildfires."
"Why do we live here again?"
"I like the weather."
"You'd have to; that's all that's left."
"What else are you going to do tonight?"
"Have a shower and watch a movie."
"Weren't you and Sean going to a gallery opening?"
"I told him I was going out with some old friends and probably wouldn't make it."
"Ah. In the mood for anything in particular?"
"I think Jezebel tonight."
"Why that one?"
"I feel sorry for her. She pushes the boundaries of 'ladylike behavior' and the man she loves runs off and marries a Yankee for it."
"You have the strangest taste in movies "
"Me? All you ever watch are those
stupid old murder mysteries. Don't you
get enough of that in the daytime?"
"Well, sure. If escapism is what
" They continued to tease each
other good-naturedly and their laughter floated out the open window making
the alley cats look upward.
Wednesday, December 1
The next morning, Laura breezed into Suite 1157 promptly at 9:30 a.m. "Good
"Good morning, Mrs. Steele."
The receptionist greeted her in between asking
callers to hold.
"Anything for me?"
"Just the usual, I've left it all on your desk."
"Is Mrs. Krebbs in?"
"No, ma'am. But she did call
to say she's tracking a lead in Malibu with
Chase and expects to be in around 11 or so."
"Great. I'll also need you to
add the information I've gathered this
morning to the Cooper file. Go ahead and send my calls through."
"Yes ma'am. And Mrs. Steele,
is it still all right for me to go an hour
early? I have my doctor's appointment today."
"Of course, just be sure to call
Miranda and make sure she can cover the
Laura proceeded across the lobby and
through the door to her office. She
picked her mail up off her desk and began to open the handful of letter
sized envelopes when she came across a particularly thick one. Curious, she let the other envelopes fall back onto her desk and ripped the top off the
thicker envelope. Tied in a bundle of bubble wrap, Laura found an old key.
A glance back at the front of the envelope showed only that it had been
addressed to "Ms. Steele" and was postmarked in Los Angeles. She turned the key over in her hand before going back out into the lobby.
"Steele Investigations, please hold. Yes, Mrs. Steele?"
"Were we expecting anything from a client?"
"Like what, Mrs. Steele?"
"Like this." Laura held the key up.
"Not that I know of, but I can check."
"Good. Let me know if you find anything."
"Yes ma'am. Steele Investigations,
please hold. Steele Investigations, how may we help you? No, sir,
I'm sorry but Mr. Steele is out of the country
right now. No, sir, I'm not allowed to disclose his return plans. "
Laura barely set her teeth at the
sound of his name anymore. She just
returned to her office and put the key in her drawer. She spent most of the rest of the morning opening the remainder of her mail and keeping up with
paperwork. Shortly after 11 Mildred knocked on her door.
"Hi, hope you didn't need me
this morning." Mildred showed few signs of
aging over the past years. Laura decided that detective work agreed with
her. She certainly had a natural talent with the student interns and their
ability to do the running and pursuing helped Mildred in her cases as well.
"No, it's been pretty quiet for
me. Crazy phones, but not too bad back
here. Any luck in Malibu?"
"A little. I need to look into a few more possibilities."
"How did Chase do?"
"Just fine. Smart kiddo."
"Good." Laura rubbed her eyes.
"You look tired, Hon. What's up?"
"She forgot to call again last night. I just don't know what to do."
"She's not a child anymore-"
"So I hear."
"Ah, had that one did you?" Mildred remembered her nephew at that age.
"Yep. Then we stayed up watching
some old movie. One minute I'm the evil
warden and the next it's like nothing happened."
"Maybe Aunt Millie can talk some
sense in her." Is what Mildred said. But
what she thought was how much that sounded like the way Laura's relationship used to be with someone else.
"You're welcome to try. Sometimes I think I'm screwing this all up."
"Hey, it's not your fault"
Mildred lowered her voice and leaned across the
desk. "Nobody could love a real daughter more than you love that girl."
Laura whispered as well, "I think
it's always in the back of her mind that
I'm not her mother."
"How about we get together tonight
to talk about this case and then I'll
just casually bring it up?"
"At this point it's any help I can get. Why don't you come for dinner?"
"Sounds great. And don't worry; Krebbs always gets her point across."
Laura laughed and then lost herself
in her work until 3:30 when heard
Miranda come through the front door.
"Good afternoon, Miranda."
Sarah greeted the young woman wearing a
sweatshirt and jeans with her hair up in a ponytail and toting a backpack
now instead of her black ensemble of the previous evening.
Laura looked up to see Miranda enter
her office and plop down the chair
opposite the desk.
"How was the final?"
"Breeze. All essay."
"How many do you have left?"
"No more tests. We've got one
more lecture on Tuesday and we've got to
present our project and then I'm done."
"Is Sean coming over tonight?"
"Will there be food?"
"Yes. Mildred is coming for dinner."
"Then he'll be there."
"Did Sarah get a hold of you?"
"Yeah, I got her message on my
way to class. I came early thinking she'd
appreciate an extra 30 minutes. She's getting her stuff together."
"You're not riding tonight?"
"No, I went this morning instead."
"Then I'll need you to stop by
the market if we're having a full house for
"I'll drag Sean along after we close up. Whatever's easiest to microwave?"
"You got it."
"Been busy today?"
"It's quieted down this afternoon
but this morning was a zoo for Sarah.
I've had a chance to catch up on some paperwork though, and Mildred is
apparently making a lot of progress on the Marks case."
"Sorry to interrupt
Sarah poked her head around the office door, "but I'm
"Have a good evening." Miranda said moving to the reception desk.
"Thanks. Oh, and Mrs. Steele, I wasn't able to link anything to that key."
"That's ok, thanks anyway. We'll
see you tomorrow." Laura waved the
receptionist out the door. Sarah smiled and exited the office.
"What key?" Miranda asked.
Laura opened her drawer and showed
Miranda the key explaining how she'd come
into possession of it.
"Huh. Odd." Miranda concluded.
"That's what I thought."
Laura agreed. "Though I dare say we'll find out
about it sooner or later."
"What are you going to do with it?"
"I'll just keep I in my desk until we know more about it, I suppose."
"Hey, kiddo." Mildred came out of her office and greeted Miranda. "Is 'The Muscle' coming in today?"
"I really wish you wouldn't call
Sean that to his face. He's getting a big
head" Miranda pivoted in the doorway."
"I'll try" Mildred agreed. "Heard you were out pretty late."
"Beautiful subtlety, Mildred." Laura sighed.
"One," said Miranda, "1:15
is not late. Two, I tried to come in quietly.
"The phone is ringing, Miss Receptionist." Laura cut in. "We'll talk about this tonight."
At 15 to five Sean arrived. Seeing that she wouldn't be alone and reminding her to go to the market, Laura and Mildred left the office a little early to check out one more lead Mildred wanted some back-up on.
"Need me?" Sean asked in a thick Australian accent as the older women left.
"Neah," Mildred replied,
"I don't think it'll get rough, just want another
opinion." And she and Laura headed for the elevator.
"Been quiet?" Sean asked
Miranda stretching his 6'10" frame across two
chairs. At almost 270 pounds he would have been menacing if not the general "teddy bear" aura clinging to him.
"Yeah. Apparently Sarah got most
of the calls this morning so I've been
mainly filing and working on odds and ends."
"Ah, the exciting life of a PI."
"Speaking of that exciting life,
Mom wanted some of the cabinets moved in
the file room. I tired but the tires are flat on the dolly again. Would
"Is this just an excuse to ogle
my bulging muscles?" He flexed his
admittedly impressive biceps gratuitously.
"I would, but alas I cannot dissert
my post" Miranda feigned a sense of
"Why don't you just lock up now and come help me?"
"That would be terribly unprofessional.
What would Mother say?" Miranda
joked playfully. "Besides, by the time you're finished it'll be time to go
anyway. You're invited for dinner, so we have to stop by the market."
Sean perked up at bit at the thought
of dinner and left the lobby for the
file room. Miranda could her him pushing filing cabinets together as she
tidied up the desk in preparation for the next day. She was surprised when
a tall, lean gentleman came into the lobby and asked for Mrs. Steele.
"I'm sorry but she's not in right
now. Did you have an appointment?"
Miranda looked worriedly at the computer screen.
"No, no. I was just in the area and wanted to say hello to an old friend."
Miranda almost couldn't breathe. The
voice was so familiar
but from what?
"May I take a message?"
"What about Mr. Steele? Is he in?"
"No sir he's out of the country
right now," after two years, the response
"My, he does get around doesn't he."
"You have no idea." Miranda mumbled.
"I'm sorry?" the tall gentleman asked.
"Yes, he does. Would you like
to make an appointment, Mr.
." she trailed
off to allow him to provide a name.
"O'Leary. Michael O'Leary. And no thank you. I'll try again another time, Miss ." He could play the name game, too.
"Steele. I'll be sure my parents know you were here."
"Your parents? I didn't realize you were Miss Steele."
"Most people see the family resemblance
right off." She and Laura had
discovered that that very phrase made people see a family resemblance even
though there couldn't be one.
"Of course you are. Now that
I look, you have your mother's eyes. And her
hair. Well, almost. Laura's hair is a chestnut and yours is more of a
copper; darker and redder." Miranda didn't know how to respond to his
reverie and she couldn't quite shake the feeling that she knew him "Yes.
Well." The man continued, coming out of his daze, "Um no need to tell them I was here. I'll pop in and surprise them later."
"If you'd prefer." Miranda
made an attempt to be business-like. The tall
gentleman left and Miranda stared after him as Sean came out of the file
"Yes." Miranda said quietly.