Steele Stakes His Claim
Date: Saturday, November 11, 2000
sue hantak <>

Steele Stakes His Claim

by Suejue

(permission to archive)

The phone rang several times before a half-dressed Laura could get to it. Slightly out of breath she huffed into the handset, assuming it was Mr. Steele, "I know I'm late. Geez, can't you give a girl a few minutes to change?"

"I would never ask you to change, partner." The pleasant and familiar voice on the other end responded.

"Murph! My God, it's good to hear from you. How have you been?"

"Did I catch you at a bad time? I can call you back later."

"Never a bad time for you."

"You just said you were late."

"Oh that. I thought you were Mr. Steele. We umm...we have a.... a thing tonight." Laura feebly tried to explain.

"A thing? Like a date kind -of- thing?"

"Something like that." Laura admitted awkwardly.

"You know, I still think that guy is trouble, but I promised myself I wasn't going to get into that with you again."

Laura saw that as an opening to steer the conversation in another direction, "So, why DID you call?"

"I need your help. Can you get away for a few days to work with me on a case?"

"What sort of case?"

"A case where my gender is slightly inappropriate." Murphy detailed the facts of the case and described Laura's role.

She agreed to help him, "I'll call the airline and hotel and make some reservations."
"Just airline, Laura, you can stay with me. My condo has a guest room."

"Fine, I'll call you tomorrow. Bye Murphy."

"Bye Laura."


With the lights dimmed they sat closely, side by side on the sofa. Remington pushed aside the hair from her neck as he brought his lips to that sensitive spot just behind her ear. She didn't pull away which was a promising sign but she didn't do anything at all. No stuttering sighs, no goosebumps, no soft moans, no wiggles, no giggles, no responses that this tactic typically elicits in the highly ticklish Miss Holt. "Stay with me tonight, Laura." He urged faintly near her ear. Still, she remained unmoved.

"Uh? What did you say?" Laura blinked as Remington waved his hand in front of her eyes, checking for some sign of life.

"Do you mind telling me what has you so preoccupied tonight?" He stood abruptly, a tad irritated that she had been distant ever since she came to his apartment.

"I've been thinking about a case, that's all." Laura reclined on the sofa clutching a pillow to her body.

Her mind had been mulling over Murphy's case as well as a tactful way to tell him that she agreed to help.

"Bright Age? The money laundering one we just completed? You can relive it tomorrow when you write up the summary report, can't you?" With one foot still on the floor, Remington placed his left knee between her legs and purposefully yanked the pillow out of her grasp. He lowered himself on top of her , determined to have her turn off her professional mind and turn on her personal body.

She reached around and caressed his back, "I'm sorry. I've been avoiding telling you something."

Her left hand moved to the front of his partially open shirt where her fingers lightly tangled in his dark chest hair. "I'm going to Denver tomorrow. Murphy called earlier. He asked me to help with a case."

"What time do we leave?"

"Well, he didn't ask exactly ask for you."

"Murphy never asked for me. Remember when he went to his college reunion? I seem to recall I solved that one."

"I seem to recall that we both solved that one." Laura corrected him.

"See, we work great together. So it's settled then. Now, is there a way to get your mind back to MY question?" His lips returned to her neck as before.

"What ...(giggle). Mmm..... What... stop that..." she could hardly speak as she squirmed helplessly, "What question?"


Act 2

Laura pulled a twenty dollar bill from her purse as the taxi parked in front of Murphy's townhouse. The cabbie set the bags on the curb, took the money from Laura and tipped his hat as a thank you. Murphy Michaels, his usual casual self was dressed in jeans, sweatshirt and barefoot. He graciously opened the front door. Much like the case Remington and Laura referenced, the first thing out of Murphy's mouth was, "What the hell is he doing here?"

"You really thought he'd stay in LA?" Laura asked rhetorically.

"Good to see you too, Murphy." Remington replied cheerfully ignoring Mr. Michaels' disdain of his presence.

"Laura...." Murphy started in a warning tone, then bit back what he wanted to say when Laura put her hands up and mouthed "I'll explain later" behind Steele's back.

"Do you have a phone book, we'll just check into a hotel, I don't think staying here is such a good idea under the circumstances."

"Nonsense, Laura. We wouldn't want to offend our host. Your guest room sounds perfectly suitable for the two of us." He put his arm possessively around her waist.

"There's only a full size bed in there." Murphy tried to dissuade him.

"Don't concern yourself Murph, Laura and I will be quite cozy." Remington trumped his statement with a smug smile as he picked up the luggage, "Now, where shall I put these."

"Top of the stairs on the left."

Once he was out of earshot, Murphy fumed, "I can barely stand the thought of the two of you together a thousand miles away in LA. Across the hall is definitely too close for comfort."


The entire evening, Remington stayed glued at Laura's side. When they walked in and out of the restaurant, he either had his hand supporting the small of her back or even held her hand on a couple of instances. Laura thought it was oddly pleasant, since he rarely made such public displays of affection. She began to suspect he had a hidden agenda, however, by his behavior back at Murphy's. Murphy and Laura were seated on bar stools reliving some Havenhurst escapade when Remington came down the stairs wearing only his silk pajama bottoms. He approached Laura from behind. Wrapping his arms tightly around her he announced, "I think I'll call it a night. Will you be joining me soon, Sweetheart?"

He kissed her on the back of the head then reached forward over Laura's shoulder to extend his hand to Murphy, "Night Murphy." He then kissed Laura on the lips and retired to the guest room.

Murphy chuckled and repeated, "Sweetheart? He calls you Sweetheart?"

"News to me," Laura shook her head wondering if all that really happened. "I think I'll call it a night too. See you in the morning. Murph."

When Laura opened the door to their room, he was sitting up in bed covered only from the waist down.

Laura wryly asked, "Did you lose half of your pajamas?"

"Actually I left the top out for you to wear."

"Aren't you going to be a bit cold?"

"Not with your body close by," he raised his eyebrows, smiling shamelessly.

"You want closeness, I'll give you closeness, buster." Laura proclaimed almost as a threat. It would have been too easy on him to keep a safe distance, relegating him to the sofa. Sleeping in bed with him, and just sleeping, nothing more, might prove to be a more fitting punishment. She grabbed the top half of his pajama and disappeared into the guest bath. Laura reappeared. His top came down to her mid-thigh with the top and bottom buttons open, teasing him ruthlessly. She calmly climbed into bed next to him. "Goodnight Mr. Steele." she snuggled up to him, draping her arm across his midsection and resting her head on his shoulder. "Sweet dreams."

Neither slept. He fidgeted, she plotted. With her eyes closed feigning sleep, she waited about a half hour then went in for the kill. With a deep snore-like sigh, she repositioned her hand sliding it down from his waist to rest in a spot he forever fantasized about her touching. He savored her contact for an extended moment, then deeply regretted having to put a stop to it . He put his hand on top of hers, lacing their fingers together, he wrapped her arm back around his waist as he roll to face away from her. Laura was rather pleased with her scheme. She taught him a lesson and finally satisfied her own greatest curiosity.

Steele was the first one up the next morning. Not surprisingly, he had a fitful night of very little sleep. He made a pot of coffee and was reading the paper when Murphy shuffled into the kitchen.

"There are omelets warming in the oven, Murphy." Remington voice informed him from behind the paper.

Murphy poured himself a cup of coffee, "Maybe you're not as useless as I thought."

Remington ignored him. Even Murphy Michaels barbed comments couldn't spoil the fact that Laura was all over him last night. Laura came bounding down the steps in her usual chirpy morning manner.

"Sleep well, partner?" Murphy asked, handing her a cup of coffee as well.

"Well rested and rarin' to go, partner."

Remington creased the paper, stood and pulled a chair out for Laura. "There's breakfast in the oven, Luv, would you care for an omelet?" Remington retrieved a plate and slipped on an oven mitt.

Murphy took a seat and mocked, "Sure dear, I'd love one."

Remington shot him an irritated look. Laura could feel the tension rising between them. Murphy was about to say something else when Laura put her hand on his arm and whispered, "Let's just find something for Mr. Steele to do so we get on with the case."

Murphy displayed a devious smile, "He's fond of the movies. I have several days worth of video surveillance he can watch."

"I thought you said the video tapes didn't reveal anything."

"I did... but HE doesn't know that."

Murphy dumped a large boxload of videotapes on the floor at Mr. Steele's feet before leaving with Laura. They never told him where they were going. He didn't want to ask in light of the promise he made on the plane to stay out of the way. Remington was soon bored watching tape after tape of middle aged women receiving an assortment of beauty services . His eyes drifted to the furnishings in the room. Lots of sporting paraphernalia; trophies, fishing gear, golf clubs, and the sort. Remington surmised it was the obvious trappings of the typical American bachelor. A few pictures adorned the mantle above the fireplace. One in particular caught his eye. Murphy and Laura smiling, close, very close, too close in fact. Remington scrambled back to the VCR he rewound the tape then found the necessary frame. Pressing the slow motion on the remote until he could barely read the name of Comforts Day Spa embroidered on one of the plush robes of a client. He picked up the phone, asking Mildred to get him an address of the spa and arrange for a rental car to be sent over to Murphy's. Thanks to Mildred's expedience, he had both within the hour.

Act 3

Margie Prentice owned Comforts Day Spa. It was a salon catering to some of the wealthier women in Denver. Massages, facials, and manicures were a few of the pampered services available. Many of these women often confided very personal information to the staff at the spa. The mystery involved how highly sensitive information about affairs, family scandals, and business rumors were leaking to the press. So far, the mention of Comforts as the source stayed out of the papers. Margie put two and two together weeks ago and hired Murphy, fearing she would be out of business if her spa was implicated . A member of the staff selling information was the logical conclusion, but her staff was a small, close-knit and extremely trustworthy group of friends. The other flaw in that theory was that Margie herself often accommodated customers and she certainly would not betray any client's confidence. Murphy did the preliminary background work, he swept the treatment rooms for transmitters and listening devices. Nothing but dead ends made it necessary to observe the day to day operation of the business. A man would be painfully conspicuous in such a place. He enlisted Laura to pose as the new receptionist. She could blend in, undercover and hopefully expose the informant. After Murphy introduced Laura to Margie, she got a brief tour. Going from room to room, Margie explained that the delicate information was not confined to any specific room or client. The video surveillance was set up as protection measure against potential client's accusation of mistreatment . The tapes have no audio portion, so they would be of no use to someone looking for gossip. Laura and Murphy stopped at a nearby bar and grill ostensibly to grab lunch and further discuss the case, but they both knew they had other catching up to do.

"Why did you call me, Murphy, Surely there must be women detectives in Denver?"

"I admit, I wanted to see you. I thought this case was a good excuse."

She touched his arm reassuringly, "You don't need an excuse, we're still friends aren't we?"
"All we do is talk on the phone. You assure me that you're happy, but sometimes there's something in your voice... I can't quite put my finger on it. It's like you're trying to convince yourself more than me. As long as you continue to waver, I'm going to continue to worry."

"About HIM? You're talking about him, aren't you?"

"I know I promised not to delve into your personal life when I called you..... but Laura..... him? GOD are you sure?"

"Murphy I sat on the fence for three years and all I got was a sore butt. I've made my decision, just please respect it."

Murphy took a bite of his sandwich, "So, why did you bring him?"

"I wanted to show you that he's changed; that you need not worry so much."

"Him coming worries me even more."

"What? Why?"

"I see the way he touches you, Laura. I saw that self-satisfied SOB's expression of triumph. It's a guy thing, you just can't see it."

"That's ridiculous."

"Watch him, Laura, you might as well be wearing a sign that says, 'Property of Remington Steele'. He'll take every possible opportunity to make it known."

Laura dismissed Murphy's theory, "Men." she muttered shaking her head.


Remington followed them from the salon to the restaurant. He watched them from a dark hallway that led to the public phones and restrooms. Murphy looked up in search of their waitress. He caught a glimpse of Remington just before he turned away.

"What the hell is he doing here?" Murphy asked for the second time in two days.


"Who else? Murphy answered while pointing in Steele's direction.

"It seems that our intrepid Mr. Steele is getting a little too good at this detective business."

"He came to club you over the head and drag you back to his cave."

"Excuse me."

Laura was the one doing the dragging, by the wrist into the nearby ladies restroom, Laura confronted him, "What in God's name are you doing here?"

A woman reapplying her makeup smiled sympathetically and asked, "Husband or lover?"

"Neither!" Laura declared emphatically. "Can we have a moment, please?" Laura held the door open.

The woman gathered her things from the ledge and whispered to Laura on her way out, "I wouldn't be so quick to throw him back."

Laura ran her hands through her hair and exasperated to herself, "Now complete strangers are giving me advice about us."

Laura crossed her arms waiting for an explanation, "Well?"

"You and Murphy having a good laugh that you duped me into watching those useless tapes?"

"I don't believe you! I'm sitting there DEFENDING YOU and you're spying on us."

"I wouldn't feel the need to spy on you if you two would let me in on what you are up to."

"We are not UP to anything, we are WORKING. Look, I would like nothing better than to send you packing back to LA right now, but I spent most of the day telling Murphy that he's wrong about you; trying to convince him that my decision to be with you is not headed for the heartbreak he imagines. Now, I've come her to finish a job. Can we please just keep the chest-thumping testosterone under control for a few days?"

"I will if he will."

"What are you talking about? Murphy has no romantic interest in me."

"Oh wake up Laura, he didn't have to summon you all the way from LA for a case. He's a skilled and capable investigator. The only reason he called you is to spend time with you."

"Murphy is my friend. That's all he'll ever be and he knows it. There is no reason to feel threatened."

"Threatened? You think I feel threatened," Steele exclaimed.

"Luv? Sweetheart? Parading around half naked in front of Murphy as a evidence to some kind of everyday intimacy.... Stop trying so hard to make it seem like sleeping together is a common occurrence.," Laura accused quite accurately.

"Laura, I just want to make it clear to him where we stand."

"Murphy's right, it is a Neanderthal mentality. You don't have to prove anything to him. What did I wear to bed last night? Where did I sleep? Where was my hand?"

"Your hand? You mean you were awake that whole time?"

She was not about to admit that she intentionally fondled him. Her eight shades of red was proof enough. She abruptly opened the door, "I have to get back to the salon."

Laura walked back to the table. She grabbed her purse with one hand and Murphy's keys with the other, "He'll give you a ride back to your office, I'm going back to Comforts."


Laura returned to Murphy's office at eight to pick him up. He lifted his coat from the rack and turned out the lights asking, "Any news to report, partner?

"Fraid not, just a full day of appointments . God, what I wouldn't give to trade places with any of them. Spending the day in coddled luxury; a plush comfy robe, slippers, treating myself to a full day of self indulgence, " Laura wistfully imagine with her eyes closed. A moment later she came back to the reality of the case, "What about you? Did you interview the newspaper reporters?"

"Nothin'. They're all hiding behind 'privilege' and 'source confidentiality'."

They continued their conversation walking toward the car. Murphy unlocked the passenger side for Laura wondering out loud, "What do you think your Mr. Steele has been up to all day?"

"I don't know. I really let him have it in the ladies room this afternoon."

"Now that's one ladies room I would have like to been in. Look he's the LAST guy in the world I would ever want to help, but I think I have a solution that might ease his mind and make him back off a little."

"And what would that be?" Laura asked warily.

"A double date. If he sees me with another woman and I just happen to stay out VERY late with her... Hell, if necessary, I would stay out all night............" Murphy proposed with a mischievous smile.

"How chivalrous of you, sacrificing yourself like that," Laura sarcastically replied.

Dinner was pleasant. Murphy called Penny to be his date. She had always been overtly affectionate and guaranteed to invite him to stay a while at her apartment. She also made it perfectly clear that she was only interested keeping things very casual. Murphy could put on his own unmistakable moves without the risk of getting construed as being too serious. Remington paid the bill and the couples went their separate ways after coffee and dessert. Back at Murphy's condo they were enjoying some solitude for the first time in a few days.

"Penny seems nice," Remington started.

"He tells me they are very close," Laura added, inferring he has nothing to worry about.

Murphy came in about 2:00 AM to find them asleep in each other's arms on the sofa. They woke up disoriented for a moment. Murphy joked, "I thought I'd never be saying this, but why don't the two of you go to bed?"

Laura chimed in, "I thought I'd never be saying this, but that's a good idea."

Once in bed, this time, she was the one facing away. Spooned behind her, his arm was on top of the comforter at first, but when she seemed to welcome his proximity, he moved it under the covers . His silk pajama shirt that she wore again had ridden up over her hip to gather at her waist. His hand stretched out, splayed against her belly. She jumped at his touch, "God! Your hands are freezing."

"Perhaps if I moved it under your shirt, it would get warmer." Remington suggested as his hand crept dangerously higher.

"If you move it any farther, it's going to get broke."

"I always heard that turnabout was fair play," Remington ignored her warning and made contact with her breast. The palm of his hand supported the swell of her delicate bosom while his thumb stroked the nipple in maddening circles. "You know Laura, you said something in the ladies room today about having made a decision to be with me. Are you saying..."

Laura interrupted him when it finally registered, "Speaking of the restroom, how did you know where to find us this afternoon?"

He pulled up her shirt even higher and started planting small kisses down her spine. "I froze a frame on the video tape that showed the name of the spa on a robe."

"What did you say?" Laura sat up unexpectedly.

"I said....." He tried to ease her back down, "I saw the name of the spa on the robe."

"That's it! Of course, it's the robe!" she popped back up.

The Robe? Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, 20th Century Fox, 1953?

"No, no. I've got to tell Murphy. We have to get over there!" Laura bounced out of bed. She knocked on Murphy's bedroom door wearing only the top of Remington's pajamas, "Murphy, c'mon, I think I've figured it out."

Laura and Murphy changed in a hurry. Remington was considerably less enthusiastic. The three of them went to the salon and met Margie. Sure enough, the robes were kept in a linen closet, a room that never was considered to be a source of the information leaks. Consequently, Murphy never scanned it for electronic devices. Sewn in the cuff of each robe was a small transmitter. Margie confirmed their suspicions when she checked the dates on the invoices from her new laundry service. They coincided with the headlines her clients had made in the past few weeks. Remington concluded, "It appears that your laundry service is all washed up." They all groaned at his bad joke.


Murphy pulled to a stop and put the car in park, "You said it yourself Laura, you wanted to be treated to a full day of pampering and self indulgence." He nudged her through the door, "I've arranged for Margie to give you the works."

"But what about..." she began to protest.

"Don't worry, Mr. Steele and I will just go do some guy thing. We'll go to a bar, pinch some chicks and brag about our conquests last night."

Laura was shocked, "He told you about us last night?"

Murphy was joking with his remark but intrigued by Laura's confession, "Not yet, but I'll be sure to ask."

The End