So I'm posting this a little earlier
tonight because I've got a job
interview this week and am directionally challenged so I've gone on a dry
run to make sure I can get there without getting lost when it counts.
Feedback certainly appreciated. Standard disclaimers, etc. Hope you enjoy!
Steele Stainless (Part 2)
Later, at dinner, Laura and Mildred
again broached the subject of Miranda's
forgetfulness where notification was concerned.
"I was fine." Miranda reminded her family, yet again.
"But how were we supposed to know that?" Laura's voice began to rise.
"Hon," Mildred interjected,
"we know you're used to taking care of yourself
and not having to check in. But you're also not used to having people worry
about you like we do now."
Against his better judgment, Sean
had to agree. "It's not just about you
any more, you know. There are other people thinking about you these days."
"Oh so now this is a team effort?"
Miranda's ire was rising. At her feet,
Mercury raised his head.
"That's not it at all."
Laura wanted to jump in before it became a team
effort. "It's not that I'm trying to put a leash on you or anything like
that. I just worry about you and I want to know you're safe."
"It sounds so
you say it like that." Miranda was smiling
again by this point. Despite herself, she rather enjoyed having a mother.
"I guess I've kinda got used
to the role." Laura smiled, too, glad to be
rid of the tension. When Miranda gets this way it reminds her so much of
him. But no. No thinking about that tonight. Tonight Laura reminded
herself think about the family that's here; that wants to be with you.
"Ok, I'll make you a deal."
Miranda brought Laura out of her reverie again.
"I'll tell you when I plan to be back and if it looks like I'll be more
than an hour or two late I'll call."
"Hour and a half."
"No more calling at 8?"
"Deal. All right, are we done
here?" Miranda's tone completely changed as
she began to clear the table.
"Yes, thank you. But you didn't eat much," Laura looked up at Miranda.
"I've got a date and I need to
shower," Miranda wiggled her eyebrows
"Oooh, a new beau. Anybody I'd
know?" Mildred had come to think of Miranda
as one of her "kids" and took an interest in all of her doings.
"Maybe, his parents are big in imports or something."
"So you're saying they're drug
smugglers?" Sean called from the kitchen
where he was already dipping into the still warm leftovers with the Mercury
looking up at him hopefully.
"No. I'm saying that they're in imports or something."
"In Southern California that
translates into drugs." Sean insisted between
"Well I doubt he'll bring any with him. Not on a first date, anyway."
"Wait a minute," Mildred began.
"I'm just kidding. I think they
import crystal from England or something
equally lucrative and boring." Laura was visibly relieved. "Look, I had my
chance with drugs. Didn't tempt me then, doesn't now. I've seen too many
girls go the wrong way fast like that." Miranda was suddenly serious.
"I know, but I worry." Laura
almost caught herself before falling into that
hole again. Almost.
"Ok. You worry, Aunt Millie worries,
Sean worries, everybody worries about
me. Now that we've concluded this very special episode of 'Everybody
Worries About Miranda,' can I get ready?"
She took their muffled giggles as permission.
"Wait a minute," Sean called
as Miranda went into her bedroom, "I still want
to know more about this guy."
"Of course I'm jealous. I'm jealous as hell."
"Of course you are." Miranda
rolled her eyes and the dog whimpered at her
closed door. Miranda opened it just enough for him to enter, "Ok Merc,
c'mon. Good boy."
"I'm serious. Who is this guy
really?" Sean managed before she shut the
door again. "What do you know about him other than his arguably boring
family business? What's his name?" No answer from the other side of the
"Oh, you were finished lecturing and wanted a response?"
"Cute. His initials match. How precious."
"What if his middle name is Albert or something?"
"You don't even know his middle name?"
"Why should I?"
"Then it can't be serious."
"You don't know that."
"You don't know his middle name."
I know he's a 'the fifth.'"
"Oh nice. I bet he even uses that little 'V.'"
"I haven't had him sign any contracts
yet--can I get back to you on that
"See, you don't know near enough
about him to get in a car together after
"Oh lord" was the last thing Sean heard before the water started running.
A little over an hour later Miranda
was out of the shower and Sean was on
the couch with Mildred watching television while Laura watered her window
plants. Miranda had her hair down in loose curls at the ends and was
wearing a mid-calf cocktail dress in scarlet silk that dipped in the back
and flared slightly near the bottom. Sean was having a hard time looking
"How long have you known him?"
He asked as Miranda balanced on his shoulder
to put her heels on.
"About a week."
"Where did you meet?"
"On a bridle path. He was having trouble with his horse."
"Get off it."
"Ok now you two." Laura
felt the need to jump in. Miranda could fire with
a temper worse than her own if you let her get too wound up.
Sean was indignant at this point and
looked to Laura, "Are you going to just
let this happen?"
"Yes." Laura had thought
that was fairly obvious. "Miranda, please be more
careful coming through the window. You broke a stem on my African Violet."
"Sorry. I'll try to put in a
little extra spring off the counter next
time." Miranda pursed her lips and flashed that half-smile that reminded
Laura so much of him.
"Where are you two kids going?" Mildred called from the couch.
"Polo club dinner."
"When do you expect to be back?" Laura asked.
"Probably not until 11 or so."
Sean was not willing to let this topic
go, "Have either of you even met this
guy?" No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the doorbell rang.
Laura smiled over her English Ivy, "Almost."
Miranda slipped her shoe on and opened
the door. "Hi Rob." The dog stood
stoically at her left hand.
Rob was easily 6'1'' and was clearly
athletic, comfortable in his skin, and
used to his own way. "Hi, Babe. Is he going to be ok?" he said, eyeing the
undoubtedly menacing dog.
"Yeah, I don't do 'Babe'."
"Oh, ok. What do I call you?"
"Miranda will be fine. And so
will Mercury, so long as you don't make any
quick moves toward me." She patted the dog's head. "Lie down." Mercury
obliged, laying his head on her foot.
"Is he coming with us, because
I don't think-" Rob was cut off by Sean
snorting loudly from the couch. "Uh," Rob continued, "I don't think the
Club allows dogs in the dining room "
"Of course not. He'll be here with my moth-"
"Certainly, Mrs. Steele!"
Rob's hand shot out and be began enthusiastically
pumping Laura's free hand. "I've read all about your agency. It's so great
to actually meet you."
Laura was a bit taken aback, "Why thank you, we-"
Rob wouldn't let her finish, "Is
Mr. Steele around?" He craned his neck to
look around the apartment.
Laura's response was almost reflex, "Out of the country. So sorry."
Rob pretended to understand, "Oh
wow. Very hush hush I suppose. Maybe
another time then."
Sean snorted again, "Don't count on it."
"I'm sorry?" Rob was a little taken aback.
"Oh, that's Sean. And Aunt Millie."
"Ah. Hello there. Are you Miranda's cousin, Sean?"
"Bodyguard?" Rob smiled.
Miranda, Mildred, and Laura burst into laughter at this near-truth.
"Pretty close," Miranda was still laughing. "Let's go."
Laura managed a "Have fun" in between laughs.
Sean called out "We'll wait up."
"Oh no we won't." Mildred called after them as the door closed.
"I wonder if there's anything
decent on TV tonight
." Mildred mused as she
returned to the couch.
"Ooh, I saw a listing for a documentary
on Court TV that looked good."
Laura called from the kitchen where she was watering the last plant.
"Is it the one on the 'Streamside
Strangler'?" Mildred flipped through the
"That's the one. They used the
latest DNA databases to catch him. I've
been looking forward to it." Laura settled on the opposite end of the
Sean meandered from the doorway and
sat between them. After a moment of
silence, he said "Yeah, I didn't like him either."
In his Jaguar, Rob chatted eagerly
about the great detective Remington
Steele and how "awesome" and "inspiring" it must be to have him as a father.
Miranda sat quietly. At the Steele apartment Mildred and Laura intently
watched the documentary. Sean stared off into space.
At the polo club dinner Rob introduced
Miranda to a friend. "Mark, this is
Miranda Steele. Her father is Remington Steele." Mark intoned that she
must have some great stories to tell.
"You don't know the half of it."
Miranda assured him after shooting Rob a
dagger look that completely escaped him.
"How did you meet Rob?" Marks date, a slightly frumpy blonde, inquired.
"He had just fallen off his horse
as I came around the bend..."Miranda
began. Rob blushed.
At the Steele apartment Mildred gathered
her things and offered Sean a ride.
He declined "I followed Mire on my bike." He never looked away from a
spot on the wall just above the television. Mildred and Laura exchanged
looks across the room.
At the polo club dinner, Miranda danced
with Rob to a marginally talented
jazz singer on a piano. "That's some dog you've got." Rob attempted to
mask his surprise.
"Mercury? He's usually fine -- just very protective of me."
"I guess he was a gift from your
father? With those people having kidnapped
you before "
"No. You could say we sort of found each other."
"Before or after your father found you?"
"Quite sometime before."
"Was it scary? Before Mr. Steele found you?"
This conversation was not moving in
the direction she wanted. I change of
tactic was definitely in order. Putting on her best Scarlett O'Hara face
she said, "Oh please don't make me talk about that now. It's such an awful
memory and we were having such a nice time."
Rob brightened at her suggestion that
she was enjoying herself. His thumb
was moving is a slow pattern on the exposed skin of her lower back and if
she wanted to change the subject, he felt compelled to oblige, "I guess
Mercury is kinda like the dogs at our warehouse. They act fierce around
people they don't know, but if you just command them in a strong voice they
usually calm down."
"Some guard dogs those are."
Miranda commented with a smile thinking that
Rob didn't understand Mercury at all.
"Oh, the security system is tip
top in the warehouse. We use the dogs more
to scare off the small timers who might get ideas." When Miranda didn't say
anything he assumed she'd slipped back into her bad memories and he added,
"I've had a lovely evening as well, Miranda. We should do this again
"I'd like that. Do they have these often?"
Rob was pleased he'd got her to talk
again. Not wanting her to lapse back
into memories he continued, "On the first of every month. But I'd rather
not wait that long. Are you free on Friday afternoon? Oh no. That's no
good. I've got to help Father prepare for a shipment. We're going to
London next Wednesday and won't be back for at least a week."
"I guess it will be a while then."
"There'll be the Christmas ball
in a few weeks. Can I call you when we get
"If you'd like."
"I would. I'd like it very much.
Of course you'll be at the 'Playthings
for Pre-Schoolers' Benefit Friday night?"
"Yes. We have a table."
"I'll be there with my family
and Dad's business partners, too. They'll
talk about this shipment all night. But I've got to be there for it. Make
connections, and all" Rob sighed.
"But I'd like it if you saved a few dances for me "
"What kind of shipment is it?"
"Oh, cut glass bowls or something.
He's grooming me to take over" Rob
preened as best one can while dancing.
"And you're leaving Wednesday?"
"Will you miss me?"
She flashed him a devastating smile, "I guess we'll see, won't we."
Rob beamed at her and they continued
to dance. Miranda stared thoughtfully
into his shoulder, missing the jealous glances of other men still sitting at
At the Steele apartment, Laura laid
a pillow and folded blanket on the couch
next to Sean who was still pretending to watch TV. She smiled knowingly at
the back of his head as she closed her bedroom door.
Some hours later, Miranda and Rob
arrived in front of her door. "I just
want to tell you again what a wonderful time I had." Rob began to lean
"Thank you, I'll see you at the
benefit on Friday" Miranda opened the door
and let Rob leaning into empty space looking puzzled. When she saw Sean
still watching TV, Miranda growled and slammed the door. "What do you think
you're doing?" She tossed her handbag at him and he caught it with one
"Watching TV. The Learning Channel is fascinating, you know."
"I'm sure it is. When did Aunt Millie leave?"
"About an hour before your mother went to bed."
Laura poked her head out of the bedroom door, "Did you have a nice time?"
"It was fine." Miranda replied.
"She's up, too. Why aren't you mad at her?" Sean feigned insult.
"She was in her bedroom with
the door closed. You were sitting in the
middle of the living room watching monkeys fling poo at each other! There
is a subtle difference. What if I had asked Rob to come in?"
"Then we could have had another oh-so-enticing conversation."
"'Night, you two." Laura said as she closed her door again.
"Night Laura," Sean nonchalantly
leaned back onto the couch before
addressing Miranda again, "So, how was your date with R-R-V?"
"I always have a wonderful time,
wherever I am, whomever I'm with. Harvey.
Jimmie Stuart, Universal. 1950. Actually I was bored to tears, but I got
what I needed." Miranda said, dialing the phone.
"What are you talking-" beginning to get the wrong idea, Sean turned white.
"Wednesday week," Miranda
said into the receiver, "London. At least a
week. I'll see what else I can do on Friday night at the benefit. No, I
haven't gotten it yet. I'll keep an eye out," and she hung up.
"It's always and angle with you, isn't it?"
"You know about my past."
"And I suppose it's safe to assume Rob the Fifth doesn't?"
"I'm sure he reads the society column."
"And you went out with him for information?"
"A girl's got her motives."
"So you've had a productive evening?"
"Productive, but dull as hell.
I was half asleep at dinner and now I'm wide
awake. The music was tepid at best. 'There should be a society for the
prevention of cruelty to musical instruments.' Brief Encounter. Trevor
Howard, Celia Johnson. Cineguild, 1945."
"It's swing night at the JazzPot."
"It sounds like you're suggesting."
"Dance out some of those frustrations, Miss Steele?"
"Have you forgotten that I threw my bag at you not three minutes ago?"
"How long do you need to change?"
"What I have on will do."
Sean smirked to himself as he grabbed his coat.
"Mom," Miranda called as
they walked out the door, "Sean and I are going
In her bedroom, Laura smiled behind her book.
Half an hour later Miranda and Sean
were the focus of attention at the
JazzPot, a small club that featured the best musicians in Jazz, Big Band,
and Swing. Everyone who'd ever played the JazzPot was infinitely better
than the mediocre at best music Miranda had been forced to listen to not an
hour earlier and she was eager to 'dance out her frustrations' as Sean had
put it. As a gimmick, each night had a theme; Swing Night was especially
popular and Miranda and Sean were regulars. In fact, Miranda had met Sean
at the JazzPot on Swing Night shortly after coming to town. They'd danced
almost nonstop until close and then agreed to meet the next week. It's not
everywhere you can find a good swing partner anymore. They had become
regulars and fast friends. Not long after, Laura gave Sean a part-time job
at the agency as what Mildred liked to call "the muscle of the operation."
Miranda was teaching Sean about surveillance and other less legal forms of
information gathering and Sean was smitten. Much to Sean's disappointment,
Miranda continued to treat him like a best friend, but nothing else.
But tonight, Sean reminded himself
as he flipped her over his shoulder and
into a turn, she ended up with me.
Thursday, December 2
The next morning Miranda woke to the smell of bacon burning. "Oh great,"
she sighed, pulling the covers back, "Mom?" she called, stepping over
Mercury who was lying in her bedroom doorway.
"I'm in the kitchen."
"So I smell. What are you doing?"
"I thought we agreed you wouldn't cook."
"I was awake early and thought I'd give something simple a try."
"But I thought we agreed-"
"The bacon got a little out of
control but I think the pancakes are all
Miranda eyed the stack of pancakes
near the stove; they looked all right.
Of course, that didn't mean much. Suddenly remembering the customer from
the previous afternoon, Miranda turned to Laura, "Do you know a Michael?"
"I don't think so "
"Laura almost dropped the frying
pan. Trying to hide her shaking hands by
pretending to look for something in the refrigerator, "Why do you ask?"
"A man came into the office yesterday
after you left. Asked for you and
then him. Said his name was Michael O'Leary."
"Did he say anything else?"
"I gave him the 'out of the country'
bit but I don't think he bought it. He
just said, 'He does get around, doesn't he?' Like he knew something."
"What did he look like?" Laura had moved back to the stove.
"Uh, maybe 6'3" pretty lean.
I'd say 50's dark hair, graying--very slight.
English accent. Seemed very familiar but I can't remember how I'd know
"English accent?" Laura filled Mercury's bowl.
"Yeah, you know him?"
"You could say that."
"You could say that. He didn't recognize you?"
"No. Why would he?"
"I thought maybe from the papers or something."
"My press time has died down
considerably in the last two years, so unless
he'd been looking Would he have been looking?"
"I don't know."
"How good a friend was he?"
Silence from Laura. "What aren't you telling
"Nothing," Laura lied, "I just think it's odd, that's all. Are you hungry?"
"A little. Is this edible?"
Laura shot her a glance, but was glad
to have moved off the topic. The
pancakes were tolerable and she ate breakfast quickly and left, claiming
work on a case. Miranda only gave her a five minute head start. As Laura
got off the elevator at the office she was so preoccupied she didn't notice
that the door was partially open. She walked into her office and pulled out
a file. Every document she had on the mysterious Remington Steele lay in a
neat pile in front of her. Every trace she and Mildred had been able to
establish and then lost again, every time someone named Richard Blaine, or
Douglas Quintain, or Michael O'Leary or any of Humphrey Bogart's other
characters had surfaced was documented. Every time he'd vanished almost as
quickly was detailed in the folder as well. She had just started to flip
through the papers when she heard a scuffle in the adjoining office.
Reaching for the agency gun, she crept toward the door that connected her
office to his old one. She opened it quickly and saw a tall man heading for
the door. Miranda had her arms wrapped around his neck from the rear and
was trying to hold him back.
"Don't make another move!"
Laura yelled, aiming the empty gun at the black
hair covering the back of his head. He stopped with his back to her. But
he didn't need to turn around, she'd know him anywhere. "You can let go.
I've got him." She cocked the gun.
"You wouldn't really shoot me,
would you Laura?" His voice was honey as he
turned to slowly face her. "Besides you probably still keep the gun
From Miranda's angle it was like a
million pieces falling into place. The
wall behind him displayed dozens of pictures of the man who was now standing
in the office he had once occupied. "You're-" Miranda began.
"Yes," said Laura. "Miranda, meet the great detective Remington Steele."
To Part 3