- Steele Stakes His Claim
Date: Saturday, November 11, 2000
sue hantak <email@example.com>
Steele Stakes His Claim
(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
"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."
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
"Uh? What did you say?" Laura blinked as Remington
waved his hand in front of her eyes, checking for some sign of
"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
"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?"
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
"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,
"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
"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.
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
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
"I wanted to show you that he's changed; that you need not
worry so much."
"Him coming worries me even more."
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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
"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
The Robe? Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, 20th Century
"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."