And we plunge onward with part
5. Woo hoo, 1/3 posted! Thoughts certainly
Steele Stainless (Part 5)
Friday, December 3
The next day passed at the office without incident. Laura was up and gone
before Remington made his way to the kitchen to find a note from Miranda to
call Fred when he was ready. After a brief reuniting with Fred, they drove
to the storage facility to retrieve the Auburn. Remington dismissed Fred
after the engine started--he silently thanked Miranda for her friend's
He took the long way to the office
but kept the top up. Still, the drive
was invigorating and he arrived in a surprisingly good mood at the office
only to find Laura sequestered behind a closed door with paperwork. He
tried the connecting door once but it was locked and he thought better of
making a scene at the office--around people who were strangers to him, at
any rate. He remembered when that wouldn't have stopped either of them.
But why be older if you can't be wiser. Perhaps he'd have the chance to
talk to her later in the afternoon.
He did see Miranda several times as
she breezed around the suite all day
looking rather sharp in her creased slacks. She reminded him very much of
Laura's business side. His duties were few, so Remington was glad when
Mildred called and asked if they could have a talk. Some of his cheer
evaporated when she entered his office with her best Fraud Squad walk.
Remington looked up at her in astonishment, "I-"
"No, no buster. Why are you
in here when she's in there?" Mildred pointed
to the connecting door and Laura's office beyond.
"She's very busy" Remington rolled a pencil around the top of his desk.
"That's never stopped you before"
Mildred leaned on the desk and toward him.
"Ok. You screwed up" Mildred's tone softened, "but I know you, Chief.
And I know her. I've been here while you've been gone. It's been hard on
"Don't you think I know that?" Remington broke in, frustrated.
Mildred ignored him and continued,
"But nobody's had as much to deal with as
"I assure you, Mildred, I've had quite a few obstacles on my plate as well."
"Yes, you have. But you're both
so caught up in your own hurt that you
won't see that the other is hurting just as much. It's not about whose had
it worse. You've both been through a tragedy--there's no argument there.
Most marriages don't survive something like this. But I know the two of you
aren't most people. Listen to what she has to say and then say what you've
got to say. I hate to see you both this way," she shook her finger at him
playfully, "And I'm way too old to go through all of that again. Try for us
all, ok, Chief?"
Remington got up and came around the
desk to hug the only mother he'd really
had. He kissed the top of her head, "Let's see what we can do, eh?"
She looked up at him, "That's what I like to hear."
Remington leaned back and propped
himself against the front of his desk,
"What do you know about this Miranda?"
Mildred sat in the chair in front
of him. "She came in acting like an
heiress looking for a long lost uncle or somebody," Mildred leaned forward,
"had me going. But Laura saw right through that one. It wasn't really a
very good story, once you get a chance to think about it. Anyway, they got
along so well that Laura hatched a plan. Well, really more like she tweaked
the original plan a bit."
"I don't know all of her reasons.
I know it's been better for business. We
were growing and doing ok but having her back has given us a real boost."
Mildred let him digest that for a moment before continuing, looking down at
her hands, "I think she saw an awful lot of you in this kiddo; she was smart
and willing to take risks, she certainly needed a family as much as Laura
did. I think they both needed each other. They were both so lonely. It's
a lot like the two of you, actually. And Laura works on a lot more cases
since Miranda came, but she keeps pretty regular business hours. It was
pretty easy to tell the press that you had found Miranda and you'd both
returned. Laura could quit being the grieving widow She's a lot more
willing to be seen in public now."
"She waited for me all those
years, why stop then?" Remington threw one hand
up in the air.
"You'll have to ask her that yourself."
After Mildred left and with at least
two hours before the day was over,
Remington took the opportunity to read the paper and then make himself seen
around the office. He tried to convince himself that he wasn't trying to
take his mind off anything, just trying to keep busy. He was sitting in his
chair looking out the window at the changes in the city when Miranda knocked
and asked him if he was ready to go home and dress for the benefit.
Alone in the limo with Miranda, Remington crossed his legs and ran a finger
down the crease in the thigh of his slacks. "So," he smirked, "a long lost
uncle. You couldn't come up with anything better than that?"
Miranda tried to look annoyed, "Hey,
I was sent. My job was to get her
looking for someone by faking a relationship. Mom caught on and I was told
to forget about it all together."
"And when she offered you this uh position?"
"He advised me to take it."
"This mystery benefactor?"
"I suppose he is a bit of a mystery.
But aren't we all" Miranda looked
directly at him.
"Where is Laura?"
"Something about last minute
paperwork before tonight" Miranda rolled her
"She's dodging me" he looked out the window.
"Sure looks that way."
Miranda paused as if realizing she'd been a bit
harsh and contemplating her next move, "But I think she'll come around."
"Knowing Laura, that could take years ." Remington trailed off with a sigh.
"I don't know. Sometimes she
says things I certainly don't understand.
Like when we went to see the apartment; it was really run down but all she
could say was 'think of the possibilities.' And she gets this look. I
guess some people make a lasting impression in your life. Some people, no
matter what they do, they stay with you. They change you. I think you and
Mom were that for each other. At the risk of sounding a bit sappy, that's
powerful. Even when they're gone you feel like you haven't lost them." It
was Miranda's turn to look out the window.
Remington sensed that there was something
more to her statement than talking
to Laura and Mildred about the past. But he also felt that they could both
use some time alone with their thoughts and the rest of the trip was spent
Remington dressed with his usual care
for the evening. As he was knotting
his bow tie he heard a knock at the bedroom door. "Come in," he called,
staring at his tie in the mirror. To his surprise, Laura entered.
She wore a floor length green dress
with a modest square neckline and light
gold lace overlay. He glanced at her and then back to the mirror without
moving his head. In a moment she spoke, "I just came to see if you were
"Ah, couldn't you have sent Miranda for that?"
"She's at the end of The Quiet Man."
Remington smiled, "John Wayne,
Maureen O'Hara. Twentieth Century Fox, 1952.
Frustrated, he undid his tie again.
Laura smiled despite herself, "Are you ready?"
Remington released the ends of his
tie and looked at her through the mirror,
"Haven't worn one of these in a while. Would you?"
Laura was still for a moment before
she moved toward him. She gave him the
'This Won't Work' look and he gave her the 'I Don't Know Why You're Looking
at Me Like That' raised an eyebrow. She stepped between Remington and the
mirror and grasped the ends of his tie. He lifted his chin obligingly. She
made her first knot, "This brings it back, doesn't it?" she was grinning
again, but just barely.
"Indeed," Remington smiled himself, "Laura, do-"
But he wasn't able to finish because
Miranda appeared in the doorway in a
lovely red dress with one sweeping sleeve and announced that The Quiet Man
was quite possibly the greatest movie ever made. This not only broke the
mood, but prompted Remington to retaliate with The Maltese Falcon,
Casablanca, and so on. As the Steeles left their apartment Remington and
Miranda had decided to watch all the mentioned movies as soon as possible
and decide. Laura bit her lip and played with her ring as they came out of
the elevator and got into the limo. Laura was thankful that the debate
continued all the way to the benefit; it let her have time with her thoughts
and ensured that her silence wouldn't be noticed.
She had to admit to herself that it
felt good to be on his arm again as they
strode up the red carpet amid frantic flashbulbs. She looked at him; he was
loving this. He had her on one arm, Miranda on the other, and that
thousand-watt smile in between. He was the leader of quite the parade with
Mildred, Sean, Sarah, and the interns in tow. At the door two lines had
formed. Uniformed doormen checked each ticket and announced the arrival of
the named guest. The Steele Agency party split with Remington and Laura,
Mildred, and Sarah in one line and Miranda, Sean, and the interns in the
other. Miranda reached the front first and presented both her ticket and
Sean's, linking her arm through his. Sean glowed.
"Miss Miranda Steele. Mr. Sean
Worland" the doorman announced as Miranda
and Sean continued into the ballroom.
It occurred to Remington where he
had heard that name before. He made a
mental note to ask Sean if he had any connection to the Melbourne Worlands.
The doorman checked their tickets, "Mr. and Mrs. Remington Steele" the
doorman read. He turned to announce them, but Remington laid a hand on his
"Laura and Remington Steele."
The doorman was surprised for only
the briefest of moments before announcing
the corrected version. Laura smiled to herself and squeezed Remington's
Once the entire Steele Agency party
was seated at an enormous round table,
Laura leaned toward Remington, "Thank you."
He just smiled at her and raised his
glass. The keynote speaker, chairman
of the 'Playthings for Pre-Schoolers' executive board, thanked Richardson
Crystal for providing the glassware for the evening. Miranda saw Rob
beaming from his family's table across the room as his father, a fat,
balding man, stood. The chairman then thanked Steele Investigations for
overseeing security for the event. Miranda saw Rob look over at her as
Laura and Remington stood to barely contained gasps from those who had
forgotten or never knew how good looking he was.
In short, the speakers were dull but
the food was fantastic. Even Remington
had to admit that it was well above his abilities. After dinner, Laura,
Miranda, and Remington made their way to the chairman's table where they
posed for the cameras as Remington made out the Agency's annual contribution
check and handed it to the chairman. As Remington shook hands with the
chairman, the questions began:
"Mr. Steele, have you finally concluded your business abroad?"
Laura squeezed his arm, but Remington
was cool and collected, "I thought so,
but I believe we'll need a little more time to be certain."
Another reporter tried, "Does that mean you'll be leaving again soon?"
Remington put his hand over Laura's
on his arm and smiled for the cameras,
"That depends on a number of factors."
"Can you share any of them with us?"
Remington looked at them as though
mildly scolding a naughty child, "I think
you all know the answer to that." To Laura's horror, he continued, "Why
don't you come over oh Sunday afternoon and you can have some photographs of
out little holiday decorating."
"Thank you" Laura waved
them off and they moved away from the table so the
next party could present their contribution. Rob was waiting at the end of
the long table for Miranda. The look on his face made Miranda sigh. She
rolled her eyes at Remington and turned on her most charming smile.
"Rob. So good to see you again. How are you?"
"Fine. The band was about to
start and I thought I'd come claim the dances
you promised me. Of course, unless you're here with somebody else."
"What's with that guy anyway?" Rob was perturbed.
"Sean's a good friend of the family."
"Is he your date?"
"Than what's going on?"
Rob shoved his hands into the pockets of his tuxedo
"A lady never appears alone in the evening" Miranda cooed.
Probably aided by Miranda snaking
her arm into his, Rob appeared satisfied
for the moment and led her off as the music started. They danced for a few
songs and chatted about nothing in particular until Rob asked her to come
over and meet his family.
Finally, is what Miranda thought. "I'd love to," is what Miranda said.
Rob put her arm through his and led
her to the Richardson Crystal table.
Rob introduced her to his mother first as his father was in heavy
conversation with another large, balding gentleman. After the two women
exchanged pleasantries, Robert Richardson IV turned his attention to his
"Father, this is Miranda Steele."
Miranda leaned in and shifted the
charm into high gear, "M-I-R-A-N-D-A
Rob's father smiled slowly, "Ah,
Miss Steele. So good to finally meet you.
I understand you came to my son's aid on a bridle path some weeks ago."
"I just let him ride with me instead of walking back to the stable."
"If there's one thing my son detests, it's walking."
To escape Laura's glare, Remington
had gone in search of Miranda. "You see
there, Darling," Remington came up behind Miranda and put his arm around her
shoulder protectively, "Perhaps you've rendered Mr. Richardson's son a
greater service than you know."
The elder Richardson's smile broadened,
"Mr. Steele. So good to finally
"And you" Remington replied as the gentlemen shook hands.
Miranda took her cue, "Daddy, this is Rob."
"Oh yes. So sorry I hadn't yet
returned when you came by the other
"Good to meet you now, Sir" Rob's excitement was tangible.
Miranda watched in exasperation as
Rob and his father engaged Remington in a
discussion of the similarities of their businesses. It didn't take Miranda
long to conclude that there really weren't any. Soon Sean approached
Remington, "Pardon me, Sir, but La- Mrs. Steele wants to speak to you."
Remington nodded, "Certainly,
tell her I'll be there in a moment." He
turned back to the Richardson's, "He's a good lad, Sean. Invaluable to the
Rob looked at Sean, recognition dawning,
"Ohhhh, you're an employee." Sean
clenched his fists as Rob emphasized the last word. "Of course you are."
After taking his leave, Rob smirked and led Miranda away to the dance floor
Remington put his hand on Sean's shoulder
as the younger man began to walk
after them. "Steady on, Mate" Remington said under his breath as he made a
mental note to keep an eye on the youngest Richardson.
Saturday, December 4
True to form, Remington stayed in bed the next morning until well after
Laura and Miranda were up. After a quick shower, he took it upon himself to
establish his presence in the apartment. He began by moving all of his
clothing into the gigantic walk-in closet in the master bedroom. The room
was spacious with two armchairs separated by a long coffee table, a king
sized bed, and a bathroom large enough to call a studio apartment in New
York City complete with a shower and garden tub for two. He moved next to
the kitchen. After taking inventory of the refrigerator, pantry, cabinets,
and drawers. he made a list of everything he would need to make it a true
gourmet kitchen. Miranda and Laura came down the spiral stairs in ballet
tights to find him checking the pots and pans.
"Whoa," Miranda held up
her hands in mock fright. "If you're going to take
an interest in those, please tell me you cook better than Mom does."
"Infinitely" he deadpanned, jotting on his notepad.
Miranda looked to Laura, expecting
her to be affronted. Instead Laura
nodded her head, "It's true."
Miranda let out an over dramatic sigh
of relief, "Good. For a moment there,
I thought we were in trouble."
Remington didn't look away from the
cabinet, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance
Kid. Paul Newman, Robert Redford. Twentieth Century Fox, 1969." He threw
one back at her: "I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble."
Miranda didn't miss a beat, "The
Maltese Falcon. Humphrey Bogart, Mary
Astor. Warner Brothers, 1941."
"Oh brother" Laura rolled her eyes.
Miranda continued, "Well nobody's perfect."
"Remington turned around, "Some
Like it Hot. Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis,
Jack Lemmon. MGM, 1959."
Laura felt the need to step in, "All right you two."
Remington countered, "Ah, then it's a gift."
Miranda laughed, "Doctor Zhivago.
My favorite version is the Omar Sharif,
Julie Christie. Warner Brothers, 1969."
"How is it that you make each
other worse?" Laura's laughter betrayed her
attempt at irritation.
Miranda smiled and leaned toward her, "I never knew it could be like this."
Laura smiled. Remington filled in,
"From Here to Eternity. Burt Lancaster,
Montgomery Clift. Columbia, 1953."
Laura tossed at dish towel at him,
"Enough!" They all dissolved into
laughter, each one thinking how eerie it was to feel so at home.
Later that afternoon Laura went upstairs
to work on paperwork. Remington
and Miranda elected to watch An Affair to Remember on the screen in her
room. Within the first ten minutes Remington had already commented that
this was certainly the way to watch movies. Twice. His mood turned much
more somber, though, when Deborah Kerr delivered his favorite line of the
picture, "Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories." Indeed, he
thought. When the movie was over Remington angled his head toward Miranda,
"If you'd like. I'm meeting
a friend who's passing through town in a little
while," she got up and pulled a pair of jeans and a shirt out of her closet,
"but you're welcome to watch as many as you want."
Remington looked at her over the back
of his chair, "Do you go out every
"Finals are over, Winter Break
has officially begun. I'm a nun all
semester, I promise" Miranda winked and closed the bathroom door.
Remington went upstairs to check on
Laura's progress. He found her in her
office bent over a file. "Penny for your thoughts."
She looked up, "Just trying to
get this out of the way before that impromptu
photo shoot tomorrow."
"Look, we can call it off if you'd rather."
"Sure, that would look great.
I can see the headlines: Famous Detective
Denies Promised Press Access--What Is He Hiding?"
Remington ran his fingers through
his hair, "Laura, I have to admit that I'm
She put her pen down, "Oh?"
"I thought we'd gotten past this.
We agreed that this didn't get us
"I expected better."
"Than disappearing. I expected
it from you in the beginning, but after more
than 10 years together I thought we'd gotten past that" Laura put her pen
"I didn't 'disappear' of my own accord" Remington felt his frustration rise.
"But I didn't know that. Not at first" Laura's tone matched his.
Remington looked at her for a long moment before sighing, "You should have."
Laura glared at him, "Don't you
think that's what makes me feel the worst
about it?" She looked back at the papers on her desk and then back up at
him again. "You went to find her out of guilt. You didn't come back out of
guilt. Is it so hard to believe that I felt guilty, too?"
"Laura, you didn't do anything-"
"Exactly. You did it all. You
ran to her rescue and I was 'Practical
Laura' looking in the grass for clues. Well fat lot of good it did either
of us." She was quiet for a moment, "I tracked you, you know."
"I know" Remington sighed.
"I couldn't let you. There was a time in the
not so distant past when if the people who took us knew that I was still
alive they might have come for you. Not knowing where or how our daughter
was is one thing, but losing you both permanently ." he shook his head.
Laura put her forehead in both her hands, "I have a headache."
Without another word Remington sighed
and left, looking across the desk at
her once more before softly closing the door.
Sunday, December 5
The Sunday society page boasted a large photograph of the Steele's
presenting their contribution check as well as the promise of a full
pictorial layout of the family at home in the next week's issue.
While the reporters and photographers
were there that afternoon, very little
actual decorating got done. Laura was thankful she'd gotten a good portion
of it finished already. They talked mostly to Remington and Miranda. The
only question directed to Laura was about her plans for Christmas dinner.
Remington ordered a 12 foot tree for the space in front of the formal dining
room. Laura commented that she was happy with the much smaller version that
had already been decorated downstairs. In the end, she had to admit to
herself that it did look good in pictures and certainly appealed to her love
of the season. Only once was Laura on edge and that occurred when one
reporter asked Remington if he felt outnumbered in a house with two women.
"Nonsense," Remington flashed
a million dollar smile and snaked his arm
protectively around Laura's waist, "I've always preferred the company of
women." Laura's cheeks turned scarlet.
After the press left, Miranda and
Remington rolled the big screen television
out into the upstairs hallway from the game room and continued working on
the large tree.
"It's not Christmas until It's
a Wonderful Life has been on," Miranda
gestured toward the television.
"Ah," Remington smiled nostalgically
and handed another ornament up to her,
"Jimmy Stuart, Donna Reed, Frank Capra. Republic, 1947."
Miranda climbed off the ladder and
looked directly at Remington, "Strange,
isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't
around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" Certain that Remington
understood her full meaning, Miranda took another ornament from him and
climbed back up the ladder.
Laura came out of the dining room
with a tray of hot chocolate and eyed the
tree decorated almost to the middle, "You certainly haven't gotten very
"It would go a lot faster if
we had another ladder" Miranda climbed back
As if on cue, Sean came up the main
staircase. In no time, Miranda was
sitting on Sean's shoulders and Remington was above them on the ladder let
out to it's full height. Laura kept both towers supplied with ornaments and
they made short work of the top half of the tree. When they were finished
Miranda and Sean went to watch a movie in her room, so Laura and Remington
found themselves alone. Remington caught Laura out of the corner of his
eye. She was humming a carol and the multi-colored lights seemed to reflect
off every part of her. He thought about her unflagging exuberance for the
holiday and smiled. "My god, I missed you." When she didn't respond he
stared at the tinsel in his hands and tried again, "Didn't you miss me even
She looked him in the eye and said honestly, "Yes."
That's a good start, he thought.
I just feel that I should tell
you that I didn't stay away to make another life." She looked at him and he
sighed, "I suppose I'm trying to say that there hasn't, uh, been anyone
else" the rest of the words came out in a rush, "And I didn't expect you to
do the same. As nauseating as the thought is, I never expected you to be
She turned on him, "There hasn't
been anybody else. Nobody before Miranda,
and then when I asked Miranda to go along with the charade that you had
returned I certainly knew that I was committing myself to a life alone."
"Not to seem ungrateful, but why would you do that to yourself?"
"Because I realized that the
choice to be alone had already been made for
"Laura, I didn't leave. I was taken. The difference is astronomical."
"But you didn't come back. You
left like everybody else. And you promised
you never would."
"You know better than that"
Remington was tired of conversations that came
to this point but not beyond.
Laura sighed and picked up the dirty mugs, "I know."
Remington concentrated on the tree
and then his half full mug and wondered
how much longer this could go on.