Steele Giving Thanks
The crowd rose to their feet as the music came to a close. The young musician beamed as she stood next to the piano. She reached out to accept the dozen red roses being handed to her from the front of the stage, smiling all the while.
"Brilliant, Princess," the man said as he handed her the flowers.
"Thanks Daddy," she replied.
"Mom and I will meet you backstage," he said as her teacher came to escort her from the stage.
"…And that concludes this year's Malibu Academy Fall Talent Show," Principal Nilsson said from the MC's podium. "Thank you all for coming."
As the parents and friends moved to the theatre doors Remington Steele made his way to his wife, who was quietly accepting the congratulations of fellow parents. The Fall Talent Show was one of the Academy's biggest events of the year, and to be asked to close the show was quite an honor. For Kate, being only in the fourth grade, the honor was greater still.
"Ready, Mrs. Steele?" he asked, taking Laura by the hand.
"Absolutely, Mr. Steele," she answered. "Let's go get our little virtuoso."
When they arrived backstage, the Steeles were greeted by a brown-eyed whirlwind who had her mother's thick chestnut hair and freckles. Remington looked on with pride as his wife and daughter embraced. He loved that Kate was a mini version of her mother. The little girl was definitely Laura made over---the only indication of him in her genes was her long and lanky frame. She was well on her way to being the tallest girl in her class.
"Honey, you were amazing!" Laura said as her daughter pulled back from her embrace.
"Thanks, Mom," Kate said. "I did it just like we practiced. I was a little worried about playing the Bach, but I think it was okay."
"It was perfect!" Remington interjected.
"You're a little bit prejudiced, Daddy," Kate said, rolling her eyes--- a habit, Remington noticed, that she'd picked up from her mother.
"That may be so," he said to her, "but you were still perfect."
"Daddy's right, Sweetheart," Laura agreed. "Not a note out of place."
Kate smiled warmly at her mother's praise. It meant a lot to the little girl. Where her father was always telling her she was perfect, her mother was less effusive with her praise. And in this particular case, since Laura was a very talented pianist in her own right, her compliment made Kate even more proud.
"Now," Laura said, rounding up her family. "Let's go celebrate."
"Morning, Murph," Laura said, looking up as Murphy Michaels entered the offices of Remington Steele Investigations.
"Morning," Murphy responded. "How was the concert?"
"It was really good," Laura told him. "Better than I'd expected, actually. And Kate was fantastic."
"No bias there," Murphy said with a laugh.
"Of course not," Laura answered, smiling.
"I'm sorry we missed it," Murphy went on.
"Kate really missed you, but she understands," Laura said. "How is Brendan?"
"He's better. Rachel thinks he can go back to kindergarten tomorrow."
"That's great," Laura answered. "I'm glad he's feeling better. I remember when Kate had chicken pox. It was awful."
"He's been a real trouper," Murphy said, like a proud father.
"Don't say that word," Daniel Piper groaned as he walked into the office.
"What word?" Laura asked.
"Trooper," Danny lamented. "I got a ticket on my way into work this morning."
"Ouch," Laura winced. Everyone always said her nephew took after her in his driving habits. "How bad?"
"Not too," he answered. "Just don't tell Mom, okay?"
"My lips are sealed," Laura said with a smile. She looked up at the receptionist, "Sharon, what's on the schedule for today?"
"You don't have anything scheduled today," the young woman answered. "Mr. Michaels has a one o'clock with Mr. Freidman, Miss Krebs is meeting with your tax attorney and Mr. Steele has lunch with the mayor."
"You have class this afternoon, right?" Laura asked.
She liked the young woman they had recently hired as a receptionist. She was finishing her last year of college, and the other members of the firm occasionally had to fill in when she had a class or project during office hours. It was a little inconvenient sometimes, but everyone was willing to pitch in because Sharon was a great fit to the agency.
"Yes ma'am," Sharon answered.
"Okay, if Mildred's not back, I can man the phones," Laura said with a smile. "Is Mildred in?"
"She's in her office."
"Good, I'll grab her on the way. When Mr. Steele arrives, we're meeting in my office." Laura beckoned Murphy and Danny to follow her. She stopped to knock on Mildred's door before opening the door to her own office. As her staff followed her in, Laura paused to take in the view from her window.
Shortly after Kate was born, Mildred got her license, Murphy came back to work at the agency and the office that had been their home for so long just wasn't big enough. Laura thought about moving, but her husband assured her they'd be able to make it work… and make it work he did. Remington had arranged for them to take the office suite next door and expand the offices. When the renovations were completed, she ended up with an office that was adjoined to and the mirror image of Remington's. There were offices for Murphy and Mildred with two more to spare, one of which was now being used by Danny Piper. They had a kitchen, a file/copy room and a conference room. The conference room was rarely used, as they most often used the Steeles' offices for such meetings. The conference room was more likely to be used as a playroom for Kate and Murphy's son Brendan when they visited the office.
"May I help you?" Laura asked as a man entered the offices.
"Yes," she answered, standing. "I'm Laura Steele, and you are?"
"Neil Larsen," the man said, reaching out to shake Laura's hand, still with a confused look on his face.
Reading his confusion, Laura answered, "Our secretary is out for the afternoon. How can we help you, Mr. Larsen?"
"I hope you can," he answered. "I wanted to speak to you last night, but you and your husband were a little bit busy."
A proud smile spread across Laura's face, as she remembered Kate's performance. "You were at the talent show?"
"Yes," he answered. "My son, Kyle, is a freshman at the Academy. He was one of the magic acts last night. The one with the birds."
"Oh, right," Laura said, remembering. "That was," she paused, "interesting."
"Yeah," Mr. Larsen agreed. "I know. The kid's got so much potential, but he thinks he's David Copperfield," he said, shaking his head. "I'd rather he play soccer or something. But Sara, my wife, is always encouraging him to be more artistic. Anyway," he went on. "I need you to help find my business partner."
"SHE disappeared a couple of days ago," Larsen told her, handing her a photograph. "Elizabeth Wexler. And while it's not really unusual for Libby to take off without telling anyone, this time three million dollars and the plans to our latest venture are gone as well."
"She disappears often?" Laura asked.
"I wouldn't say she disappears often, Mrs. Steele," he answered. "But she is sort of what you might call a free spirit. She likes to say she goes where the wind takes her. But she always lets me know where she's going and she's always accessible."
"But not this time?"
"No, I haven't heard from her at all, and frankly I'm worried."
"Does she have a husband?" Laura asked. "A boyfriend?"
"Yeah," he answered. "Me."