Ok. Part...uh....what, 6, 985, I dunno. Thanks for reading, or not.
p.s. To those that don't read WIP's--you'll
probably consider this one of
Monday, December 6
After yet another typical morning at the office--Where are all the murders,
the intrigues, the gun toting Santa's? Remington wondered--he opened the
connecting door when he heard laughter coming from the other side. He found
Laura, Mildred, and Miranda in various stages of repose around the office.
"Hey, Chief" Mildred wiped
a tear from her eye as she continued to chuckle,
"We were just telling Miranda about the time we all posed as circus
Remington looked puzzled, "I
don't remember a cold-blooded killer back from
the supposed dead as being particularly humorous at the time."
"Not that part," Laura waved
her hand, "The trapeze lesson in the living
room of the loft," she paused to laugh, "All those pillows and mattresses on
the floor. You in that silly unitard."
Remington smiled himself at the memory,
"Ah yes, that was one of our more
interesting evenings." He clapped his hands together, "Who's hungry, eh? I
think it's time they dusted off my table at Che Rive."
Mildred looked apprehensively at Laura
and then back to Remington, "I think
I'll pass. All that rich food doesn't sit well with me anymore. And I've
got a lot of paperwork to catch up on. And I brought a lunch today, and-"
"Say no more" Remington held his hands up.
Laura looked at her desk, "I've
got a lot of work here, too. I think I'd
better stay as well."
Remington looked crestfallen, "If you prefer. Perhaps another day."
Miranda looked over her shoulder at
him, dejected, in the doorway. "I'd
love to go. I've never been there at lunchtime."
And so it happened that Mr. Steele
and his daughter were spotted at Che Rive
that afternoon. Remington wondered for a moment if that had been Miranda's
design all along, but soon forgot that thought as he genuinely enjoyed
spending the time with her. They discussed the Agency, the apartment,
school, and Miranda's horse--which reminded her that they had to be getting
back so that she could change in enough time to make it to her lesson that
Laura was in the corner office when
they returned. "How was it?" she asked
in a rather taciturn manner as Miranda went to check her messages.
"She's lovely." Remington
smiled after Miranda, "Quite charming. I think I
like her very much."
"Birds of a feather
Laura picked up a file that had been laying on his
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"She's not our daughter." Laura was ice.
Remington's entire demeanor changed
in an instant. "I know that. I'm not
trying to replace her."
"All evidence to the contrary,
'Daddy.'" She moved to walk back to her
Remington caught her just inside her
door and wrapped her in his arms though
not particularly tenderly, "You should know, 'Mom.'" They glared at each
other, faces inches apart. "Don't you know it kills me? You're not the
only one who lost a daughter."
"No. I lost you both."
Remington released her but she didn't
move. "Laura, I-" yet attain, he
couldn't think of the words.
She blinked at him and slowly raised
her hand to cover his mouth. "There's
nothing." She said. She took her hand away. "I've come to think of her as
my daughter. But not the same daughter and not a new one--not a
replacement. And I hadn't really thought of her as yours. Ours. Now I'm
just angry that I've missed all these years of her life. And I'm angry that
she had to live that life. That anyone has to. I do want you to get to
know her better. I think you could help her with some of her anger. We
told the press you were very close because of your ordeal and similar
childhoods, so you should be seen together often." Remington sighed as she
backed away and sat behind her desk. "Lunch was good, but why don't you go
with her to the stable this afternoon? It means a lot to her and the
publicity would be well worth it. There are enough snobby socialites
wandering around that place to get the word out." When he didn't move she
just stared at him.
Miranda opened the door, "Mom?
oh, sorry to interrupt." She started
to close the door again.
"Not at all." Remington faked cheerfulness. "What do you need, Darling?"
"I was wondering if Mom had seen
my keys. I was in here earlier
looked around the office.
"Haven't seen them." Laura
replied. "But your father's going with you so
why don't you go in the limo? I'll call Fred while you change and we'll
look for them while you're gone."
"Oh." Miranda was a bit
surprised. "Ok." I guess I'll wait in Daddy's
office when I'm ready. Won't be a minute." She eyed them uneasily again
and closed the door behind her.
Remington and Laura looked at each
other again for a moment. He spoke
first, "I'll call Fred."
He started to go back to his office
but paused with the doorknob in his
hand. "Would it be so wrong?"
"What?" Laura sounded tired.
"If she was." and he continued through the connecting door.
Laura tapped the eraser of her pencil
on her desk blotter, looked out her
window, and knit her brows.
In the corner office, Remington buzzed Sarah.
"Yes, Mr. Steele?"
"Please call Fred around front,
I seem to have
misplaced his phone
"He's here in the lobby, Sir."
"Excellent." Remington said
as Miranda opened the door from the bathroom.
"Ready?" Remington clapped his hands together.
"Sure, "she replied with a smile, "I'll put my boots on in the car."
"When they reached the lobby,
Fred took Miranda's duffel bag. "That's what
I admire most about you, Fred." Remington quipped, "Always right where I
"Fred was kind enough to help
me with the mail on my way back up." Miranda
"Miss Miranda was having trouble
with her boxes." Fred opened the glass door
for them both.
Laura watched them get into the limo
from her vantage point still at her
window. The love on her face was marred only by the worry around her eyes.
In the limo, Miranda chatted with Fred, "How are the grandbabies?"
"Very well, thank you. Tina's
decided to go back to school so they'll be
staying with their grandmother during the day."
"Oh she'll love that."
Miranda smiled, her elbows propped against the front
seat headrests. Remington watched her talk with Fred the way neither he or
Laura ever had. Well, maybe she did get it from Laura. He'd never thought
about what Laura did when she rode in the limo alone.
As they pulled off the main road Miranda
leaned back in her seat and pulled
her boots on. "I understand that you ride?"
"Yes," Remington replied, "I've played a bit of polo in my time."
"Ugh. Polo players. Terribly
mind-numbing. I but you were the rogue,
though." She smiled mischievously.
He returned her expression, "Indeed."
Fred parked and opened Miranda's door.
Remington noticed two other
limousines and a number of expensive luxury cars in the parking lot. "Nice
place." He mumbled as he stepped out of the car and put his sunglasses on.
"Image, image." Miranda
took her bag from Fred and strode toward the
clubhouse. "Parents usually wait in here. The trainer wears a microphone
so you'll be able to hear the lesson. I'll be right down there." She
gestured past a line of plush armchairs through a wall of windows to a
covered arena below. Remington arranged himself in a chair and a moment
later a well-dressed waiter took his drink order. He noticed several
mothers scattered around the clubhouse reading trashy romance novels or
chatting and sipping cocktails. He flipped through a magazine until his
drink came. The waiter sat a small radio on the table next to his glass.
He heard Miranda's voice, "My father's come with me today." Then he saw her
leading an enormous black horse into the arena below.
"Blackmail." He smiled to
himself. He watched her for an hour as she
circled around her trainer. She was quite good--what he saw of her while
not thinking about Laura--and he was impressed when she finished the last
half of the lesson without stirrups.
Miranda joined up with another student
just finishing her lesson and they
circled the arena to cool down. Miranda's trainer spoke to Remington, "Mr.
Steele, you can come down now." Remington followed a marked stairway to the
fence outside the arena. "So good to meet you." Miranda's trainer was a
woman of about 65. "I understand you handpicked Hal; you've got quite an
eye for horseflesh." She smiled. "Do you ride much anymore?"
"Whenever I've the chance."
"Yes, I hear from Miranda that you're very busy."
"Indeed. But my schedule should be uh much more open for quite some time."
"I hope we'll see you more often
then? Miranda certainly speaks very highly
of you. I understand you're very close."
"We are." Remington nodded."
"Then she's spoken with you about our little idea?"
"Er not really "
"I know your wife thinks it's
too dangerous, but I assure you I have a great
deal of experience with sidesaddle riding and instruction and I think
Miranda would excel."
"Uh yes. Well my wife does worry "
"And understandably. But your
daughter has a lot of drive. I was on a
sidesaddle drill team in Spain for almost 10 years. I can guarantee that
she would learn correctly." She broke off, "Very good today, Miranda. Do
think about it, Mr. Steele" she excused herself as Miranda rode up to the
As the trainer and the other student
exited, Miranda smiled at Remington,
"What do you think of him?" she asked, patting the horse's neck.
"Fine animal. Think he'd be up to learning sidesaddle?"
"She told you. He's very smart."
She dismounted and they walked toward the
barn. "I've had a few lessons in a stable saddle, but I really need one of
my own to practice more regularly."
"And Lau--uh your mother disapproves?"
"She thinks I'll get hurt. She
always thinks I'll get hurt. I think she
has a hard time balancing that with not wanting to run me off."
"I think I can understand that."
They chatted as Miranda unsaddled
and led Hal to a large wash stall.
"Watch." Miranda smiled and held the end of the water hose so Hal could hold
it in his teeth. She turned the water on gently and he drank ravenously.
"Ah, driven to drink by a woman,
eh? We've got more in common than you
might think." He and Miranda laughed.
Back in the limo, Miranda continued
their discussion of Laura. "Look," she
turned to Remington and said very matter-of-factly, "I don't have all the
details on your relationship so I won't pretend to understand what's going
on with you two; but I'm a pretty good judge of character and I like you. I
think you could make her happy again, and I'm willing to help out where I
"I'm sure you know how independent
Laura is. We both know she wouldn't take
kindly to uh interference with her agenda." Remington looked over at
Miranda looked him straight in the
eye, "If there's anything worse than a
woman living alone, it's a woman saying she likes it."
A large grin spread across Remington's
face, "Pillow Talk. Doris Day, Rock
Hudson. Universal, 1959."
Miranda returned his smile, "You are good at that. Mom said you were."
"You've grown close, haven't
you?" Remington was amazed by his rather
"I think of her as my mother.
She acts like a mother. And I push a lot,
but mostly I like it when I know she worries about me. I haven't had that
"Ah yes, and just how similar
are our pasts? You seem to know more of mine
that I do of yours." Remington pulled on his ear.
"Passed from family to family.
Orphanage for a while. Eventually struck
out on my own. Street life for a few years. Kindly gentleman to take a kid
in, teach him--or her--how to behave among decent, civilized people and then
rob them blind." Miranda smirked and Remington couldn't help but return the
look. "Came in trying to put a con over on Mom."
"Eh. Lot's of kids live that way. Except for the last bits, of course."
"Swanky place to live, good food
provided Mom doesn't cook, tuition, books,
spending money, and relative freedom; it's a pretty good life, considering."
"I always thought so." Remington
grinned at the memory of his early days as
"You loved her didn't you." Miranda wasn't asking a question.
"Still." Remington sighed.
"Maybe I'll live so long that I'll forget her.
Maybe I'll die trying."
It was Miranda's turn to smile, "The
Lady from Shanghai. Orson Welles, Rita
Heyworth. Columbia, 1948." She looked at him seriously, "Then that makes
two of us." Miranda leaned back in her seat. Trying to elevate the mood
again, she continued, "Mom tells me that you also have a perchance for
names. Did you really have 5 different names when she met you?"
"Heavens no. I had plenty more
than that. I'd probably used upwards of 20,
but I only had 5 passports."
"All names of Humphrey Bogart characters?"
"The passports? True."
"I'm impressed. I've only gotten to 4 total. And what Granda calls me."
"Oh, he sort of took me in when
I was younger. "Kindly old gentleman" and
all. Helped me out, taught me, sent me to school. Very much the way your
father did from Mom tells me."
"And what does he call you?"
"Believe it or not, running around
Ireland as a boy I heard that one a few
"I believe it. And I guess that's
what I was when we came across each
other. Well, no, I probably still am to an extent. Anyway, I that makes 5
total. Plus this one and whatever my real name is. If I even have one."
"Douglas Quintain." Remington extended his hand.
"Samantha Taylor." Miranda smiled and shook his outstretched hand.
"We've already met if you'll recall."
"Indeed. Richard Blaine."
"So nice to finally make your acquaintance" Remington smiled.
"Likewise" Miranda returned the expression.
Tuesday, December 7
Remington was looking over the case filed Laura wanted him to be familiar
with for the next staff meeting when Mildred buzzed him, "You busy?"
"Never too busy for you."
"I'll be right over."
Moments later, Mildred strode purposefully
to his desk and sat opposite him.
"So," she folded her arms, "what's going on with you two? I thought we
already discussed this." She raised her eyebrows and looked at him
"I don't know what you're-"
Mildred wasn't having any of that,
"Can it. I know the story, remember?
You can't fool me. I feel like I'm watching you two go through this whole
"You've picked up on that, too?"
"Yeah. And it stinks."
"I certainly second that"
Remington leaned back in his chair and looked at
the ceiling. "I didn't expect it to be the same right away, I know Laura
better than that." He sighed, "But she won't even let me explain. I've
tried. All our conversations go that direction and then end abruptly before
either of us really gets to say anything."
"She thinks she knows all the
answers" Mildred stated the fact without
"At least that hasn't changed."
"She's been through a lot."
Remington leaned forward again and
pressed both palms into the middle of the
desk, "Haven't we all?"
"At least all the time you were
everywhere you were, you knew where she was,
what she was doing, that she was alive. I don't know how else to get you
two to stop feeling sorry for yourselves and listen to each other, so this
is the best I can do: Don't you know, Chief; when she asked Miranda to be
Miranda it had to mean coming to terms with the real Miranda never coming
back" Mildred squeezed his hand over the desk. "And that meant you never
coming back either. Now I don't want to have to do this again. Put the
shoe on the other foot for a minute and see how it fits" Mildred rose and
left Remington to stare at the connecting door.
Wednesday, December 8
Rob called the next morning as the Steeles were dressing for work and,
unluckily, Remington answered. "Steele here."
"Oh, Mr. Steele. It's nice to
talk to you again. We mush finish that
conversation sometime soon-"
Remembering the tedium of his discussion
with the fourth and fifth
Richardson's at the benefit, Remington decided that his most curt "father"
tone would be in order, "Do you want to talk to Miranda?" Rob was taken a
bit aback but recovered and managed to answer in the affirmative. Remington
held the receiver at arm's length, "Miranda, darling, it's for you."
Once Miranda had come on the line,
Rob continued with the actual purpose of
his call, "My father's going to ride to the airport in the limo with some
business partners, so I'm in the town car," Rob explained. "It's an awfully
long ride to make alone. Would you like to come along? I'll have my driver
bring you back later this afternoon."
"I'd love to. What time?"
"I'll come by around 12:30 and
we can have lunch before we leave. Would
that be all right?"
"I'm working this morning. Can you pick me up at the office?"
"No problem. You'll be ready?"
"Ready and waiting," Miranda smiled into the receiver.
"Perfect. Until this afternoon, then?"
"See you this afternoon."
After meeting with a few high-profile
clients, Remington found Miranda in
her office pouring over the plans for a client's security system. "New
She shook her head without looking
up, "Upgrade for an old one. Pretty
standard. A lot like ours."
"I've been meaning to ask you
about that." Remington perched on the edge of
her desk. Miranda looked up at him questioningly before he continued, "With
the superior security system installed on the apartment, how do you get in
thought that window without setting it off?"
"You know, for a private detective,
she sure talks a lot." Miranda turned
the corners of her mouth down and shuffled papers for dramatic effect.
"Which one?" Remington referred to both Laura and Mildred.
"Both" Miranda deadpanned.
"She's just concerned about you
and thought I might understand it better
than she does."
"I think so. Everything but how you do it."
"Mom mentioned that you used
to be good with security systems having had so
much experience uh testing them. She suggested that I give it a try.
Turns out it's a pretty sound theory."
"Send a thief to catch one."
"Yep. I designed our security
system, so I just added a remote. I punch
the code and the system's disarmed on that one window until I push the
button to reset it. Terribly handy. Would you like one?"
Remington cleared his throat, "Perhaps later. Why that one window?"
"It's the only one accessible
from the street without a grappling hook. The
fire escape runs straight to it and I don't have to worry about getting over
the terrace wall. I've got a nice high counter to step onto, the
refrigerator is on the right if I'm hungry; it's not a bad location, really.
Unless she's in the living room."
At that point Sarah buzzed in, "Your lunch appointment is here."
"Thanks, I'll be right over."
She looked back at Remington as she put the
blueprints away, "Tell Mom I'm having lunch with Rob and then riding to the
airport with him. I'll be back around two."
"Shall I send Fred to collect you from the airport?"
"No, thanks." Miranda faked
her most snobby accent, "Rob's sending me back
in the town car." She laughed and breezed out the door.
Walking back out of the airport lobby,
Miranda reflected that it would have
been a pleasant lunch if she wasn't so absolutely bored to tears by Rob.
She swung her purse over her shoulder and thanked the older gentleman who
opened the door for her as she strode out into the sunlight. She didn't
expect to see Remington leaning on the agency limo.
She looked around quickly, "What are you doing here?"
"I've come to collect you."
"I was going to take the town car back to the office."
"Ah yes, I sent the town car back to Mrs. Richardson."
"A Steele doesn't need to ride
in anyone else's car. I'll even get you your
own driver if you'd like" he ushered her into the car.
"That's hardly necessary."
Remington closed the door. "You're working a job on Robert, aren't you?"
Miranda regarded him for a moment before responding coolly, "I am."
"I thought so."
"I think his father suspects you."
"I also think he would have had
the town car tapped. Were you planning to
report in on the ride back to the office?"
"I'm smarter than that."
"Good Lord, I hope so. At any rate, watch out for him."
"Rob? Ha." Miranda rolled her eyes toward the ceiling.
"Jr.? Probably not. Sr.? Most certainly."
"I do know what I'm doing."
"So do I."
Miranda heaved an exasperated sigh.
Remington ignored it. "You're going
riding again this afternoon?" When she nodded he handed her a large white
box tied with ribbon, "You'll need this."
She looked at him quizzically and
opened the box. Removing a sidesaddle
habit, she looked up at him again. He smiled. "I talked to your mother.
Give it a try. If you like it, we'll go from there." He saw Miranda's
frustration dissolve as she leaned across the seat to hug him exuberantly.
He was surprised at how right it felt.
That evening, Remington emerged from
the shower to find Miranda, Laura,
Sean, and all the interns in various stages of sprawl around the living
room. He caught snippets of conversation from the impromptu study party:
Laura explaining discrete mathematics to two interns, Miranda quizzing
another intern on French verbs, and Sean discussing music theory with the
fourth. It reminded him very much of the early days living with Daniel;
people moving about, lots of noise and laughter and learning, and most
importantly a sense of acceptance and belonging.
This is how it should have been, as
he watched Miranda, he found that he,
too, was angry for missing out on this marvelous young lady's life to this
point. He remembered fondly the last time he'd seen Laura, hair down,
laughing in her casual jeans and shirt. She and Miranda had been walking in
the garden at Ashford Castle. The baby had tried to reach a flower but
couldn't. Laura had scooped her up in one motion and brought her nose to
the bloom. It was still one of his favorite mental pictures and one he had
sketched many times. He smiled and opted to join the party and improve his
Thursday, December 9
At 5:30 Remington announced to the ladies that they had two hours to be
ready for dinner. Laura and Miranda smiled at each other and hastily went
to shower and dress. It had been a long week and his idea for a little
relaxation was met with open arms. As they came out of the elevator and
into the building's parking garage, Remington's pride swelled at the license
plates on each of the family cars. His Auburn had been christened 'STEELE
1," Laura's black BMW sedan was aptly tagged 'STEELE 2,' and Miranda's
ostentatious Auburn was, appropriately, 'STEELE 3.' What the neighbors must
think of us he beamed to himself as he got into the passenger seat of
By keeping to safe topics like the
agency, good memories from the early
days, and Miranda's schoolwork, they ate a pleasant dinner. As they were
leaving the restaurant, Remington commented that it was such a shame to
waste a beautiful evening. Miranda suggested they go dancing. Thursdays at
the JazzPot were dedicated to big band and lounge standards. Miranda made a
quick call to Sean and the entire party soon found themselves on the dance
floor at the popular club.
Laura and Remington danced, but did
little talking. Now and again they
glimpsed Sean and Miranda across the floor carefully giving them plenty of
space. When the band took a break they reconvened at a small round table.
They ordered drinks and talked about the music, the other dancers, anything
safe. When the music started again Miranda and Sean got up to dance. Laura
and Remington sat in an uncomfortable silence until Remington stepped over
to the bandleader. Laura caught Miranda's eye on the floor. Miranda
shrugged her ignorance. When the song ended, Miranda and Sean made their
way back to the table. "Do you suppose he's requesting something?" Laura
Before anyone could answer, Remington
walked back over. Noticing their
questioning looks he smiled, "Well ladies, how would you like to plan a
"A what?" certainly not what Laura had expected.
"I've just hired the band for
an entire evening and it's shame to waste the
music on so few people."
"Who do you propose we invite?" Laura's face hadn't changed.
"Oh just the staff and clients.
Business associates, neighbors, friends,
"That's not a party, that's an embassy ball" Laura's eyes widened.
"We do have a ballroom."
"And when is this 'little' event taking place?"
"Christmas Eve, of course"
Remington waved his hand in a gesture Laura knew
"Of course." Laura rolled
her eyes as Remington pulled her back out onto the
dance floor. Once they had set a rhythm she sighed.
"Really Laura, that's hardly
necessary. If you don't want to have a party
we'll just have the band all to ourselves. That might be even better, come
to think of it. We could send Miranda out-"
Around that time Miranda and Sean
danced by, "This may come as a shock to
you, but there are some men who don't end every sentence with a proposition"
Miranda said over her shoulder.
Remington called back, "Pillow Talk, again."
"Ah, but who directed?" Miranda challenged.
"Michael Gordon, of course."
Miranda conceded and she and Sean
moved away before Laura continued, "It's
"Oh? Then what is it? That was an awfully heartfelt sigh for nothing."
"First you say we're going to
dinner, then why not a little dancing, now how
about a party. It's a night of declarations for you, isn't it?"
"And I've just begun."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Tsk, tsk, tsk. Later."
Laura knew that she wasn't going to
get any more helpful information on that
front until he was ready. She tried another tactic, "I'm surprised the band
"They had planned to take this year off."
"Laura, you of all people should
know that the great detective Remington
Steele is very persuasive."
"Why am I more inclined to believe powers of wallet than persuasion?"
"What's more persuasive than that, I ask you. Honestly."