Remington Steele awakened with a start. He was not sure if it was because of the ringing telephone or the pounding on the door. He looked over at the woman sleeping next to him. It still amazed him what she could sleep through. He reached across her to answer the phone, calling out to the pounding door in the process.
"Cool it, Kate!" he called through clenched teeth. "You're going to wake up your mother." He turned his attention back to the phone.
"Steele, here," he said.
"Aunt Laura's still sleeping?" Danny asked from the other end of the line. "It's after nine, are we working or what?"
"Long night, son," Remington said with a smile.
Laura began to stir and when she was awake, he pointed her to the bedroom door.
"What have you got for us, Dan?" he asked.
Laura got up and pulled on her robe. She glanced over to make sure her husband had done the same. She opened the door to her scowling daughter.
"What took you so long?" Kate asked pushing her way into the room, laptop in hand. "You're not gonna believe what I found. Our Mrs. Wingate is quite the philanthropist. The Wingates have been the University's primary benefactors for quite some time. But the big news is that Mrs. Wingate was instrumental in, you might even say responsible for, the University's hiring Dr. Doke. She threatened to pull her funding if they didn't hire him."
Before Laura could process what she had just heard, her husband hung up the phone.
"That was Daniel," he told them. "It seems Wingate never left the country. He's been in Marin County the whole time."
Remington listened while Kate reiterated her information.
"Sounds like it's time to visit with Mrs. Wingate," he deduced.
"Let me do it," Kate offered as her parents exchanged looks. "Seriously," she went on. "It makes sense. She's the school's benefactor and I'm a very recent graduate. More importantly, I'm NOT a famous detective who just met with her husband."
"She makes a good point," Laura said, turning to Remington.
"She's making a habit of it," he replied, winking at his daughter.
He was as proud of her as he could be, and although he had had his reservations, he was looking forward to Kate's first case. As Laura had already pointed out, he knew she would be brilliant… she WAS their daughter, after all.
Remington and Laura held hands, they sat next to each other at the table on the deck. Remington looked out over the ocean as Laura began their story. Kate would be leaving for college in a few months, and they knew that it was past time that their daughter new the truth.
"It all started the day a man named Ben Pearson walked into the office," Laura said. Smiling, she looked over at her husband. He was more than a little uncomfortable. She knew he was worried about how Kate would take the news. She had always adored her father, and he was afraid that would change. Laura knew there wasn't a chance of that happening. She knew her daughter. Kate loved him almost as much as she did and knowing the truth could not change that. Like her mother, when this was all said and done, Kate would love Remington even more.
"He was the most attractive man I'd ever seen…" Laura continued, "…the epitome of tall, dark and handsome. He had blue eyes you could get lost in, and that accent," she said with a sigh. "He took my breath away."
Kate knew her mother was talking about her father, but who was this Ben Pearson? She also noticed her father was staring out over the ocean; it was as if he didn't want to meet her eyes.
"Mr. Pearson had come about some gems that Uncle Murphy and I had been hired to protect," Laura went on. "He said he worked for the South African government and he was there to retrieve the gems, which he claimed had been stolen, and return them to his government. This wasn't entirely true. Ben Pearson was a Special Agent with the South African government, but the man in my office was not Ben Pearson. He was however, there for the gems. He intended to steal, uh, retrieve them himself and return them to the South African government, for a finder's fee…"
Kate again looked at her father, he had always been very big on finder's fees. She remembered an argument she had once overheard where her father was suggesting the agency go into the retrieval business and her mother would hear nothing of it. She so was busy putting the pieces together, she was only half listening as her mother continued to tell her story.
"… and that's how he became Remington Steele."
Became Remington Steele? Kate thought. "What do you mean, Mom? How could he become Remington Steele?"
"Well Honey," Laura answered, "It actually started several years earlier. You see, I'd always loved excitement…"
"Mrs. Wingate," Kate said, approaching the woman in front of the Administration Building. "Thank you so much for agreeing to see me."
Wendy Wingate was tall and blonde, and if she judged correctly, not much older than Kate herself.
"Of course," she answered. "Anything for a fellow alum."
Kate smiled. "Alum, wow. That sounds so strange. I graduated less than a week ago."
"Time flies," Wendy said, and then placed her hand on her chest. "Class of 2003, my husband was in the graduating class of 1956."
Kate tried to hide her shock. Her parents never told her that Marshall Wingate was geriatric.
"It's okay," Wendy told her. "Everyone reacts that way. I met him at the Alumni gala the year after I graduated. It was love at first sight." Kate thought she sounded sincere.
"Will you be attending this year's gala?" Wendy asked.
"Oh…I…" Kate sputtered. "I hadn't really thought about it. My parents will be there, though.""Your parents?" Wendy asked.
"Yeah, my Mom is class of 1978."
"Oh, so you're a legacy," Wendy said, beaming. "That's great!"
Laura and Remington watched from across the quad. Kate seemed to be handling her own. In addition, based on Wendy Wingate's age, Laura thought that she probably related better with Kate than she would have with either of them. Then she glanced at her husband. Maybe not, she thought. Women of all ages were always throwing themselves at Remington, though she couldn't blame them. He had always been handsome, but time had been very kind to him. Too kind.
Kate Steele and Wendy Wingate walked around the quad until they ended up back in front of the Admin Building. Kate thanked Wendy for her generous support of the school, her purported reason for the meeting, and Wendy encouraged Kate to attend the gala and get involved in some of the Alumni organizations. Kate told Wendy that her mother was already encouraging her to join the Alumni Glee Club. The women exchanged air kisses and a brief hug after Wendy had declared them "fast friends." Kate headed off toward the parking lot and Wendy into the Administration building, where Laura Steele followed her.
Laura waited down the hall as Wendy entered Andrew Harrigan's office. She then advanced to the office herself, and peeked in the window. Much to her surprise, Laura saw the dean and Mrs. Wingate locked in a passionate embrace.
Arriving back at the hotel, Laura and Kate immediately went to work on their laptops. Laura phoned Danny and Mildred to have them dig deeper on both Mrs. Wingate and Dean Harrigan.
Laura and Kate worked in companionable silence, the only sound in the room the clicking of their keyboards. This went on for quite some time, as they were each engrossed in their own research, until Kate broke the silence.
"I got it!" she exclaimed. "Oh Mom, you are not going to believe this!"
"What is it?" Laura asked.
"In the spring of 2001, Andrew Harrigan who was then a tenured professor of Humanities," Kate began, "was censured for having an affair with a student."
"How can that be possible?" Laura asked, standing to look over Kate's shoulder at her laptop screen. "If that were the case, he could never have been made Dean."
"Exactly," Kate answered. "The incident was expunged from his record four years ago. You know he only became Dean the semester I started at Stanford."
"Where did you find this?"
"Ahhh..." Kate said with a grin. "You've got to love the Internet. This Dirty Deeds website is kind of folklore around campus. Everyone knows about it, but officially, it doesn't exist. There are all kinds of anonymous blogs. But there are some with names, too. Anything here can be checked out. I figured it was a good place to start."
"Excellent work, Kate," Laura looked at her daughter with pride.
"But wait," Kate told her. "You haven't even heard the best part. The student Professor Harrigan had an affair with… her name was Gwendolyn Mason."
"Wendy," Laura acknowledged.
"Right," Kate agreed. "And since his record was expunged shortly after she married Marshall Wingate, she probably used his money and connections to get it done."
"You're pretty good at this," Laura said with a smile. "Ever thought about being a detective?"
With Laura and Kate back at the hotel researching their latest discovery, Remington went to have a chat with Dr. Doke. He went to the Marine Science Center and knocked on the door to Doke's office.
"Come in," was the call from the other side.
Remington entered the office and Todd Doke looked up from his desk.
"Steele," he said coldly. "What are you doing here?"
"That's exactly what I've come to ask you, mate," Remington responded.
"Working. So if you don't mind…"
"Ah, but I do," Remington countered his sarcasm with a little of his own. "You see, I came up here last week to witness my daughter receive her degrees. Imagine my surprise when I discovered you to have joined the faculty. Funny, but I'm not exactly thrilled with the idea that my daughter has been sharing a campus with a man who tried to kill me."
"Look Steele," Doke said with a sigh. "That was a lifetime ago. I have long since paid for my mistakes. You know that Clarissa Custer was the one behind that whole mess."
"I do indeed, Doctor," Remington replied. "But it was your ingenuity that nearly ruined my agency's reputation, and it was your gun in my living room that night. However, you're right, that was a lifetime ago. Remington Steele Investigations is as strong as ever and my wife and I both quite well. My question is how can someone with your… track record… be working with students at one of this country's leading educational institutions?"
"Your guess is as good as mine," he answered honestly. "I was in Georgia working on the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary for the Marine Conservation Biology Institute. I've been very happy with my small boat and my small crew out on the reef."
"I got a call a couple of months ago with a job offer here at Stanford," Doke answered. "They were offering an obscene amount of money, more than I ever made at UCLA and a hell of a lot more than I'd ever make at the Conservancy."
"So you jumped at the chance to come home to California," Remington surmised.
"Not exactly," he answered. "Like I said, I liked my life. Nevertheless, they were pretty insistent. I really didn't have much choice. Mr. Steele," he said as his tone softened. "I know what happened all those years ago was terrible. But I'm not a bad person. At first, I just wanted to help my father. Then, after losing him…I guess something in me snapped. I was wrong and I know that. I paid my debt to society, and I owe you and your wife my sincerest apology. I enjoyed working on the Conservancy, but I love teaching. When Stanford is insisting on hiring you, with an incredible salary plus tenure, you don't say no, or question their reasons."
Remington accepted that Todd Doke was telling the truth. He said his goodbye and left to join his wife and daughter back at the hotel.
After comparing notes Remington, Laura and Kate Steele were sure they had their culprit. Now they had to prove it. They sat down to devise a plan. Kate just watched her parents in awe as the case unraveled before her eyes. She had always been proud of them; they were her parents…her heroes. Now she was beginning to realize that they really were as good as everyone said they were. They knew each other so well, and had worked together so long that sometimes they slipped into their own private shorthand. Watching her parents work was an education as valuable as the years she had spent at Stanford.
Once again, Laura Steele stood with her husband's handkerchief in her hand. This time, she had not had to use it…at least not yet. They were standing in their daughter's dorm room, preparing to leave her alone. She knew Kate could handle herself. Remington had been hesitant about letting her go away from home at such a young age, but Kate was ready. She had worked hard to be able to enter college early, not only had she graduated at the top of her class, but she had been admitted to Stanford University at sixteen. She was a wonder, their little girl.
"Come on, Mom," Kate said with a laugh. "No blubbering. This is almost as bad as the first time you took me to the Academy. I was fine then, and I'll be fine now."
"I know," Laura answered, taking her daughter into her arms. "I'm just so proud of you," she said softly, "and I'm going to miss you so much."
"Mom, it's not like I'm on the moon," Kate said with a roll of her eyes. "It's only a seven hour drive," she reasoned, smiling. "The way you drive, you could make it in five," she said with a laugh. "And it's only a little over an hour by plane. I'll call every week."
"Every day," Laura corrected as her husband pulled her close.
"How about twice a week?" Kate offered, as Laura pulled her into her embrace.
"Okay," she agreed. "I can live with that. You're going to do great."
"Laura," Remington looked at his wife. "Do you remember The Five Nudes of Cairo?"
"Are you kidding?" she said, "How could I forget?"
"Where is the safest place to hide a stolen piece of art before transporting it?"
"Of course," Laura said, smiling. "The museum. And it makes perfect sense. Either Wendy or the dean could come and go without question."
"But why bring you in on it?" Kate asked.
"To keep suspicion off them," Laura answered.
"Precisely," Remington replied. "We've got to get into that museum."
"It will be dark soon," Laura stated.
"Yes!" Kate exclaimed, and Remington smiled at her youthful enthusiasm.
He had always thought she was more like Laura than she was like him, but her excitement at the idea of breaking into the museum made him wonder. Then again, Laura did enjoy a good heist. His smile broadened and the blue of his eyes deepened as he thought of the affect tonight's work may have on his wife. Though they weren't actually "purloining" the gem itself...it was still close enough. He softly sang to himself "You, the night and the music..."
After gaining entry to the museum, the Steeles quietly looked around the vault room.
"How can you be so sure they'll show up tonight?" Kate asked.
"Because the gala is tomorrow," her father answered.
"And they'll want to be gone without a trace by then," her mother added.
Their timing was perfect, as it didn't take long before the entrance of both Harrigan and Wendy Wingate rewarded them. From their vantage point, they could see everything that went on, and Laura turned on the digital video recorder, with infrared night vision. Though she still preferred good old-fashioned ingenuity and legwork to get the job done, Laura had to admit that technology had its advantages.
"Wendy, are you sure this is going to work?" Harrigan asked, with more than a little hesitation in his voice.
"Of course it is, Andy," Wendy said, giving him a confident wink. She set about retrieving the stone from its hiding place. She held it up to her flashlight. "I saw Remington Steele down at the Marine Center this afternoon. They took the bait… hook, line and sinker. You just keep playing the part of the frazzled dean, I'll take the stone to the dealer we found in France..." she said as she reached out to kiss him passionately "…And then we can finally be together," she said before adding with a soft laugh, "and rich beyond our wildest dreams."
They were so caught up in themselves that they did not notice the approaching detectives.
"I don't think so, Mrs. Wingate."
Wendy, startled by the sound of Remington's voice, almost dropped the stone as she turned to run. She didn't make two steps before Kate grabbed her. The two young women fell to the ground and Kate held Wendy down as she took the stone from her hand. She handed it to Laura while Remington subdued Andrew Harrigan.
"Not a bad night's work, girls," Remington winked at his wife and daughter.
"We make a pretty good team, eh Dad?"
Laura nodded in agreement, "We sure do, Honey… all of us."
Remington and Laura Steele danced around the floor of the 2008 Stanford Alumni Gala. They twirled around the display of the Star of Karos, which was set in the center of the room, proud of the fact that they had recovered it and secured that it would be on display tonight. It had taken some doing, but with the help of Wingate's attorney and Vigilance Insurance, the Steeles had convinced the police that keeping a gem of such value in an evidence locker was not in the police department's best interests. After writing their reports and assuring they would have further access to the gem as needed, the police had returned the Star of Karos to Marshall Wingate. Wingate had agreed to let it be displayed as the Stanford Alumni celebrated the class of 2008.
Remington held Laura close as they quietly celebrated their own contribution to the class of '08. Their beautiful little girl had proven herself a worthy investigator as she had helped them solve her first official case, one full of tricks and turns. They left the dance floor and joined Kate, Danny and Mildred at their table, where Laura began to explain the details of the case.
"It turned out that though she was in love with Andrew Harrigan, Wendy couldn't bear the thought of life on a professor's salary. Thinking she could marry up and still stick close to Harrigan by getting close to a Stanford benefactor," Laura said.
"Enter Marshall Wingate," Remington picked up the story. "Wendy had agreed to a very tight prenuptial agreement thinking that she could outlive Wingate and end up with everything."
"The problem was," Laura continued, "she found out that Marshall had all but excluded her from his will. With the prenup and the way he'd managed to divert his assets, she would inherit very little."
"So she came up with the plan to steal the Star of Karos," Kate chimed in.
"But where does Todd Doke fit in to all of this?" Mildred asked.
"The same place we do, I'm afraid," Laura answered. "Wendy made sure that Harrigan hired Dr. Doke so that he would be on campus when the Star went missing."
"Then she had Harrigan come to us," Remington added. "Because she knew we'd remember his connection to the Royal Lavulite."
"Now, I really don't get that," Mildred said. "Weren't they running a big risk by bringing you in? You could have easily found them out and exposed their scheme before they got away with the gem… in fact, you did."
"You're right Aunt Mildred," Kate answered. "But they didn't count on Remington Steele Investigations living up to its hype. Wendy assumed Mom and Dad would be so focused on Dr. Doke that she could slip away with the stone right under their noses."
"And she also didn't count on us having our newest operative on the case,"Laura added, beaming with pride. "Without Kate, we might still be out there looking," she said seriously, as Remington stepped up and wrapped his arms around her waist. Laura knew she wasn't nearly as technically savvy as her daughter...refusing for YEARS to put the agency's files on backup discs.She probablywould have found The Dirty Deeds site, but maybe not before Wendy and Harrigan had taken the Star of Karos to Europe. Kate was really proving herself, and Laura was very proud.
Danny watched with interest as the Steeles volleyed the story back and forth. This was always one of his favorite parts of the case. Remington and Laura worked so well together---in life and in business. He hoped that he too, would find his perfect partner someday.
"What about Harrigan, Uncle Rem?" he asked.
"That's easy," Kate answered. "He was going to wait until things had died down and Wendy had gotten a chance to fence the stone. Then he was going to join her in Europe."
"That stone must be worth a fortune," Mildred said.
"Over one hundred million," Remington said, trying not to wince.
"That's a lotta clams," Mildred replied.
"And thanks to Kate, they didn't get their hands on any of them," Laura said with pride.
"They'll be the guests of the California penal system for a very long time," Remington said.
"And Mr. Wingate got his gem back," Kate added. "You should have seen him at the jail. He wouldn't even speak to Wendy. I think it's safe to say a quiet divorce is on the horizon."
"Here's to a job well done," Mildred said, raising her glass.
"To Remington Steele Investigations," Kate added, joining the toast.
"The next generation," Remington finished.
They all clinked glasses and took a sip as Remington Steele pulled his wife in for a kiss.