Happy Valentine's Day!
I want to thank Zinger,
Neeney and Brenda for beta reading,
suggestions and inspiration!
This piece follows "To
Stop A Steele," but is not a follow up or
sequel to my Skeeziks Christmas story. I've just decided to put
Skeeziks in the titles of my S1 stories instead of Steele. Why be
Standard Disclaimers apply... I love 'em, but I don't own 'em.
Permission to Archive
It's Valentine's Day, Skeeziks
"Here's the paperwork on the
Harrad case," Bernice Fox said, walking
in to Laura's office. "All wrapped up, just needs your signature."
She stood looking at Laura, who seemed to be staring off into space.
She hadn't even acknowledged the secretary's presence. "Earth to
Laura," she said.
Laura looked up at her friend, "Oh, hi Bernice," she said. "What's up?"
"I just brought in the Harrad
file," Bernice answered. "If you sign
off on it, we can put this one to bed. Where were you?"
Laura let out a long sigh, "How do you do it, Bernice?"
"Let them down easy," Laura
answered. "I've never had a problem
breaking up with someone, but this is different."
*Breaking up?* Bernice thought. "Skeeziks?" she asked.
Laura shook her head and answered, "Murphy."
Bernice sat down in the chair opposite
her friend. "You need to break
up with Murphy?"
"No," Laura answered with
a sigh. "He told me he cares for me
than as a business associate, and more than a friend. He thinks we
could have something special."
"But you're not interested,"
Bernice surmised. "Because of him?" she
asked, nodding toward Steele's door.
"Partly," Laura admitted.
"I mean, we do seem to be getting closer,
but I've just never been attracted to Murphy in that way. He's my best
friend, almost like a big brother."
"But he wants more, and thinks of our bogus Mr. Steele as competition."
"Right," Laura confirmed.
"I told him it could never be, but he said
he wouldn't give up. Now I don't know what to do."
"What can you do?" Bernice asked, "Except what you always do."
"What do I always do?" Laura asked.
"Ignore it," Bernice clarified.
"I don't do that," Laura protested.
Bernice fixed her with a *don't give
me that* glare. "Laura," she
said, "you do the best impression of an ostrich that I've ever seen."
"Seriously Bernice," Laura
said, practically pouting. "I had no idea."
"You can try that with Murphy," Bernice said pointedly. "And he might
even believe you. But you are a very intuitive woman--- and a great
detective and then there's the fact that he's not too subtle about it."
"Really, I "
"You might not have WANTED to see it," Bernice allowed, "but you saw it."
"You're right," Laura agreed
with a sigh. "So now, I can't pretend I
don't know--- he laid it all out there."
"And you told him it wasn't happening,"
Bernice reminded her. "So just
go on with your life. How are things with you know who? Valentine's
Day is coming up."
"He's not really big on holidays, I've noticed," Laura replied absently.
"And you're avoiding my question,"
Bernice noted with a raise of her
eyebrows. "How ARE things between you?"
"I don't know," Laura answered
honestly. They'd shared a few dinners,
had drinks in front of the fire at his place. They'd enjoyed a few
kisses in stolen moments. In truth, she felt like a teenager reveling
in the first feelings of young love, but Marty Klopman couldn't hold a
candle to her Mr. Steele.
Laura paced her living room; maybe
Bernice was right. Maybe she
wouldn't have to DO anything. She'd already told Murphy that she
wasn't interested in him romantically. She had been spending more time
with their ersatz Mr. Steele, surely Murphy had seen that... not that
she and Steele were in a relationship, per se, and they certainly
She plopped down on the sofa with an audible sigh as she thought about
the women she'd seen with Mr. Steele. They were always the flashy
type- beautiful, but in an obvious sort of way. And although she'd
never actually conversed with any of them, she was fairly certain that
they were as empty headed as they were gorgeous. They seemed so
opposite from Laura herself. She began to wonder what it was about her
that interested him. Was it more than the mere challenge of breaking
Mr. Steele was reckless. He was dangerous. He was everything she had
to guard against - this man, this beautiful enigma. He excited her. He
fascinated her. She was more than a little flattered by his frequent
attempts at seduction. She wanted him, of that she was certain--- but
beyond that, what was there? He was a stranger, a con-man who barged
into her life not five months ago. When had she come to the point that
she thought of him as more than that? She felt something for her
Remington Steele, and that thought scared her to death or did it?
Just a couple of days ago, on that stakeout at Morrie Singer's Murph
had talked of hope for the patient's recovery meaning recovery from
her feelings for Steele. Was she really that lovesick? And if so, did
she really want to recover?
She got up and went to the kitchen. As she set about making coffee and
putting together a salad for dinner, her thoughts turned to Murphy.
Murph was the safe choice. Reliable, dependable, loyal to a fault---
that was Murphy. Ever since they'd met at Havenhurst, Murphy had been
there for her. It was Murphy who'd helped her prove herself at the
huge agency. It was Murphy who had listened as she ranted and raved
about the men always getting credit for her work. It was Murphy who
had held her hand and gotten her through the breakup with Wilson.
Murphy helped her start the agency. He was her partner, her best
friend. If she were smart, she'd take Murphy's offer and run with it.
On paper, he was the perfect "catch." Good ol' reliable Murphy. Too
bad the only love she felt for him, that she'd ever feel for him, was
the brotherly kind.
"Morning, Partner," Murphy said, smiling as Laura walked through the
doors of Suite 1157. He was sitting on the edge of Bernice's desk, but
stood as Laura entered.
"Good morning, Murph," Laura answered. She turned to face her
secretary, "Morning, Bernice. How's our day looking?"
"Fairly light," Bernice answered, handing Laura the day's mail. "You
have a new client at ten. You're meeting with Mr. Hillenbrandt in his
office at one, and He," she nodded toward Steele's office, "will be at
the Mayor's Council on Crime Luncheon from 11:30 until 3:00."
"Is that all?" Murphy practically whined, "Can't you find someplace
else to send him for the rest of the day?"
Bernice laughed at the question as Laura gave Murphy a disapproving
glare that didn't quite cover the amusement in her eyes.
"Morning, morning, morning!"
Three surprised faces looked up to see Remington Steele entering the
offices. Laura couldn't help but notice how devastatingly handsome he
looked. He was always so "put together," and this morning was no
"Close your mouth Murphy," he said. "You'll catch flies." He turned
his attention to the women who were both shocked to see him in the
office so early. "Miss Wolfe..."
"Fox!" Bernice interrupted.
"Miss Wolfe," Steele repeated, "be a dear and fetch us some coffee.
Miss Holt and I will be in her office."
Laura held back the urge to argue as Steele took her elbow and led her
into her office.
"What was that all about?" Laura asked as he closed the door behind them.
"This," Steele answered, pulling her into his embrace. He kissed her
She found herself involuntarily responding to his kiss, and quickly
pushed herself from his embrace.
"Mr. Steele!" she said with a huff. "This is a place of business!"
He held back the laughter that threatened to spill forth. He loved it
when he was able to fluster the unflappable Laura Holt.
"Sorry Laura," he said, his ocean blue eyes shining with sincerity,
"but I've been waiting to do that all morning."
Laura really wanted to ask what brought it on, but she chose not to,
she wouldn't give him the satisfaction. She couldn't let him see that
she was still reeling from that kiss. He'd kissed her before, but
there was something different in that kiss. It was stronger, deeper,
more what was the word? Proprietary. Remington Steele had just staked
his claim. Part of her was thrilled, but another part was simply
irritated, who did he think he was, anyway?
Steele watched her, waiting for her to ask the question that was so
obviously on her lips. When she didn't, he continued.
"I also wanted to ask you to have dinner with me on Monday," he said.
"I know how much you like to have advanced notice."
Before Laura could respond, Bernice walked in with two cups of
coffee--- one in a mug and the other in a bone china cup with saucer.
Steele took the cup and saucer and excused himself from the room.
"What was that about?" Bernice asked, handing Laura her coffee.
"I wish I knew," Laura responded. "First, he kissed me and then he
asked me to dinner on Monday night. Monday," she repeated. "Who plans
a date on a Monday?"
"Laura," Bernice said, "Monday is Valentine's Day."
Laura set the coffee mug down on her desk as she fell into her chair.
Mr. Steele had made plans for Valentine's Day. With her.
"So, Laura," Murphy began as he watched Laura, who kept her eyes on
the road. They were driving back from their meeting with Mr.
Hillenbrandt. "Have you given any more thought to what I said the
other day?" he asked. "About us?"
"No Murph," she lied. "I haven't. Not really. I told you then," she
said with a sigh, "Nothing can happen between us." She turned to look
at him briefly before turning her eyes back to the road. "You're my
best friend, Murphy. And I love you," she said softly, "just not the
way you want me to."
"It's because of HIM, isn't it?" Murphy sulked. "Laura, he's no good
Laura gripped the steering wheel tightly. She should have known this
wasn't going to be easy. Looking ahead, she noticed a small coffee
shop coming up on the right. She pulled into the parking lot and put
the Rabbit into a space before turning to Murphy.
"It's not about Mr. Steele, Murphy," she told him. "It's about me. And
you. Murph," she said, "I care for you. And I appreciate everything
you've done for me, but I just don't think of you," she paused,
"Why not?" He hated himself for asking.
"Come on Murph," Laura said with another sigh. "You know as well as I
do, if it isn't there, it isn't there. I don't want to hurt you," she
said as gently as she could, "but I don't want you to go on thinking
that this," she gestured between them, "can happen."
"I meant it when I told you I wasn't going to give up, Laura," Murphy
stated firmly. "Give me one more chance. Monday is Valentine's Day.
Have dinner with me."
Laura looked away. He almost didn't hear her when she said quietly, "I
Murphy shook his head and said with a rueful smile, "Steele."
"My god, Bernice," Laura
said, looking around as she sipped her
Chardonnay. "This place is a meat market."
"I know," Bernice replied
with a smile and raised eyebrows, "isn't it
Laura just laughed at her friend.
It was nice to be out with Bernice.
She always knew how to get Laura to open up and relax. She really
needed to kick back and have a good time tonight.
"Do you really come here all the time?" Laura asked.
Bernice shrugged. "Hey, SOME
of us don't have two gorgeous guys
falling all over themselves to hook up with us."
"Oh, don't remind me," Laura said, covering her face with her hands.
"Really Laura, there are women who would KILL to be in your position."
"Would YOU?" Laura shot back.
" Bernice hedged.
"Our Mr. Steele IS hot! I told you once
before, he's here- you're here- go for it! And if I hadn't seen the
way you looked at him that first day, I might have made a play for him
"Might have?" Laura said
with a laugh. "I'll put on some fresh
water " she said mockingly.
Bernice laughed with her friend as
she rolled her eyes, "Touché.
Seriously" she went on, "what are you going to do?"
"Take your advice, I guess,"
Laura answered. "I've told Murphy in no
uncertain terms that WE aren't going to happen. I don't know what else
"Forget about Murphy!" Bernice said with a smile. "What about HIM?"
Laura's eyes lit up as she thought
about Remington Steele, more
specifically the kiss they'd shared just this morning. "Oh Bernice,"
she said with a dreamy sigh. "He's spectacular."
Bernice laughed out loud, and nearly
spit out the sip she'd just taken
of her martini. "Tell me something I didn't already know."
Laura rolled her eyes as a smile spread
across her face. Had she said
that out loud? As the two friends laughed, Laura spoke.
"He intrigues the hell out of
me," she said frankly. "And he scares
the hell out of me."
"Laura," Bernice replied,
"I wouldn't call him scary. Annoying maybe,
but not scary."
"It's not HIM that I'm afraid
of, really," Laura admitted. "It's me.
It's what I could become with him. Bernice, no man has ever affected
me the way that he does. I can see myself getting totally wrapped up
in him. Consumed by him. The way my mother was with my father. And
then what? How long do you think he's really going to stick around?"
"I don't know, Laura," Bernice
said before admitting grudgingly, "but
I think you'd be surprised. I've seen the way he looks at you."
"With a lascivious glare?"
Laura asked with a grin as she took another
drink of her wine.
Bernice laughed. "Well, yes,
there is that. But there's something
else. Warmth. There's a kind of tenderness that he only displays
"Really?" Laura asked with genuine surprise.
Bernice nodded. "Mmm-hmm. He tries to hide it, but it's there."
"Bernice Fox," Laura said,
leaning back in her chair, "student of
human nature. Who knew?"
"Nah," Bernice said, shaking
her head with a smile. "Nothing so lofty,
I just know men. And though he may not wear his heart on his sleeve
like a certain sandy haired detective, Remington Steele is definitely
"in" to you."
Laura sat back and considered what
Bernice had to say. She wondered
how much of it was real, how much was Bernice's romantic nature, and
how much was just the martinis talking.
Monday morning, Laura arrived in the
office early. She had a lot to
accomplish today and wanted to be able to slip out a bit early to get
ready for her dinner with Mr. Steele.
She took out the photo that she kept
in the back of her desk drawer.
Even in black and white, he was gorgeous. Though the photo couldn't do
justice to the azure blue of his eyes, it was enough to get her heart
racing. She let her thoughts wander to the evening ahead. She wondered
where he would take her, what they would do. She imagined him in
tuxedo and herself in the red dress she'd bought when she and Bernice
had gone shopping on Saturday. It was Valentine's Day, was red too
obvious? She'd also picked up a white strapless evening gown and a
black cocktail dress
"Focus, Laura," she said
aloud. The whole point of coming in before
everyone else was to get some work done. She opened the file that lay
on the desk in front of her and began to write her report on the
Hillenbrandt case. She was so intent on her work that she didn't
notice the voices in the outer office or the opening of the door to hers.
"Oh my god, Laura!" Bernice
shrieked, nearly dropping the huge bouquet
of roses she was carrying. "What are you doing here?"
Also startled, but regaining her own
composure, Laura looked up as
Bernice set the vase down on her desk.
"The last time I checked Bernice," she said, "this was MY agency."
"Easy, Killer," Bernice said, holding up her hand.
"I'm sorry," Laura replied.
"I'm just a little nervous, I guess. I
came in early to try to get a little work done."
Bernice nodded toward the vase on the desk.
"If these are any indication,
I don't think you've got a thing to
Laura smiled as Bernice handed her
the card. Bernice stood, watching
in anticipation as Laura opened the card. Satisfied, the secretary
turned to leave as she saw a smile spread across her friend's face.
Laura leaned back in her chair and
ran her fingers across the front of
You never said "Yes."
Consider this a bribe.
Happy Valentine's Day,
She pulled out a blank sheet of paper
and scribbled something on it.
She picked up the paper and crossed the room to the door connecting
her office to that of Remington Steele. She went into his office and
placed the note on the desk. Smiling, she returned to her office.
"Good morning, Miss Wolfe,"
Remington Steele said with a smile as he
walked into the offices.
"It's Fox," Bernice corrected. "And it's afternoon."
"Minor detail, Miss Wolfe," he answered, turning toward Laura's office.
"She's not in," Bernice
said, effectively stopping him in his tracks.
"She and Murphy are out meeting with a client."
"Oh, well carry on then," he replied and went into his own office.
He walked over behind the desk. A
wide smile spread across his face as
he picked up the sheet of paper. There, in Laura's unmistakably neat
hand, was written one word, "Yes."
Laura checked her look in the mirror.
He would be there any minute.
She'd chosen the white dress. It was strapless and form-fitting. She
laughed quietly as she took in her appearance. She'd been worried
about the red dress being too obvious--- but this dress, with its fit
and the slit up the side that nearly reached her mid-thigh, was far
sexier. She'd put her hair up and was wearing silver drop earrings.
She chosen not to wear a necklace; and the dramatic, smoky look of her
eye make-up finished the polished look. She was pleased with the
result and hoped that Mr. Steele would be, as well.
She found herself staring at the man
who sat across the candlelit
table in the darkened restaurant. Laura was enjoying the evening. The
man she'd come to know as Remington Steele was more than just a
charming con-man. He was articulate, very intelligent and highly
engaging. The man was a born storyteller. For the past several months,
Laura wanted nothing more than to know about his history. Now, here
they were--- alone, no Bernice, no Murphy. He was regaling her with
stories of his youth, and she could barely pay attention-- to the
story that is, Mr. Steele had her undivided attention.
She watched him as he spoke. She already
knew that he could charm the
birds from the trees, but now she sensed something more--- a sincerity
that she hadn't seen in him previously. She knew the story he was
telling her was true. She could just picture a gangly little blue eyed
urchin sneaking into the back of a darkened movie house to find not
only shelter, but escape from the lonely and often dangerous world
that was his real life.
Laura was surprised that Mr. Steele
was opening up so much to her, and
she could tell that he was surprised by that fact himself. Laura knew
instinctively that her Mr. Steele was not normally so trusting. She
again began to wonder if there was something to Bernice's theory that
he actually had feelings for her.
They shared an easy camaraderie. She
felt more comfortable with him
than she had with anyone in a very long time.
After they'd finished eating, he stood and held out his hand to her.
"Laura," he said, pulling
her from her thoughts of him. "Would you
care to dance?"
"I'd love to, Mr. Steele."
Laura stood and placed her hand in
his as Remington Steele led her
onto the dance floor. The music was soft and lovely. He placed one
hand on the small of her back, held her hand with his other, and
pulled her close as they moved in time with the music.
She allowed herself to get lost in
the moment, in the feeling of being
in this man's arms. She was amazed at how well they fit together and
right now, she couldn't imagine any place she'd rather be. He leaned
down to place a soft kiss on her lips, and she didn't care that they
were in the middle of a crowded dance floor.
Laura stood next to the car as Mr.
Steele sent Fred home for the
night. They walked to her front door, hand in hand, as Fred drove away.
"Thank you," he said, bringing
her hand to his lips. "For a lovely
"Shouldn't I be thanking you?" she asked.
He began to respond, but changed his
mind when he saw her shiver.
"Let's go inside, shall we?"
She nodded, and reached into her bag for the keys.
He followed her into her living room.
She went to turn on some lights
considered making coffee
to keep busy. He was watching her. She was nervous. She was anxious.
Itchy. Bernice's words ran through her head. "He's here, you're here
go for it." Would tonight be the night? She'd been dreaming of this
chance for months. Why did she think of it as an opportunity? The
possibility was always there, she knew that they could be together at
any time; all she had to do was say the word. He'd been more than
candid about his desire for her. Why couldn't she do the same?
Before she knew what was happening, she was in his arms.
He leaned in and placed a series of
gentle kisses along her neck,
making his way to her lips. He captured her mouth with his, and she
opened herself to him her hands winding their way up his strong back,
over his shoulders and into his thick black hair.
"Don't think, Laura," she
told herself. "Don't think. Don't think.
Don't think "
They both knew the instant they'd
lost the moment. Laura knew it was
because she let her mind take over, and Remington knew she wasn't ready.
He stepped back to look at her, and
leaned in to drop a soft kiss on
"Perhaps it's time I should be going," he said, his voice soft and low.
"Don't go," she replied, her own trembling voice betraying her.
"We have all the time in the
world, Laura," he said, pulling her back
into his arms. "When the time is right, it will happen. For now, I
think I should call a taxi and we can enjoy the last few moments of a
She wanted to kick herself. What is
wrong with you, Laura? She was so
close to having this man that she so desired, but she realized that
what she would have with the man called Remington Steele was going to
be much more than a wink and a tumble. He'd opened up to her tonight,
and it had meant more than any physical intimacy could.
She knew they were destined for something incredible.
And given time, they would find out
what that was
together. If he
was willing to wait, so was she. She knew it would be worth waiting for.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Laura,"
he said quietly, as he pulled her in
for another long, promise filled kiss.