"Where are we going?" Laura asked.
"It's a surprise, Mrs. Steele," Remington answered, taking her hand in his as they sat in the back of the limo. "Hence the blindfold."
"You know I hate surprises," she pouted. Pulling her hand away from his, she folded her arms across her chest to emphasize her displeasure.
"Keep telling yourself that," Remington said, with a soft chuckle. In the years that he had known her, and especially in the two years of their marriage, he'd learned that Laura most definitely did not hate surprises, in fact... she loved them.
Damn him for knowing her so well. Wordlessly, she turned to the window. She didn't want him to see the smile that was spreading across her face. She was actually thrilled that he was surprising her; he always managed the best surprises. It was a bit disconcerting to be blindfolded, especially for someone who needed to be in control the way that Laura always seemed to, but she was willing to let go a little and see where the afternoon would take them.
Truth be told, she'd been a bit nervous lately. It had been about three weeks since they'd celebrated their second wedding anniversary and she was waiting for the other shoe to drop. They'd completed their obligation as far as the INS was concerned, and a long ago crack about divorce loomed in the back of her mind. Even though she loved him, and she knew that he loved her, a part of her had been afraid that it would all be over now that their two years were up. So afraid had she been in fact, that she was putting off telling him their news. She knew she had to tell him soon, otherwise her body would betray her and he would see for himself. Soon, she told herself. She'd tell him very soon.
Remington beamed as he held a blindfolded Laura's hand and led her into the empty room. He casually glanced over to be sure she wasn't peeking.
"Okay, open your eyes," he said. He kissed her as he removed the blindfold. Then biting his lower lip, he watched her take in their surroundings.
Laura opened her eyes to the most breathtaking view. They were in a house, specifically a great room with beautiful wood floors and a gorgeous stone fireplace. The room was lovely, but she couldn't take her eyes off the wall of windows. The entire back of the house was open to the Pacific Ocean through floor to ceiling picture windows. She wandered over to the gourmet kitchen, and ran her hand along the marble countertop. She looked up at her husband, who was still smiling from ear to ear.
"What is this place?" she asked.
"Our new home," he answered. "If you say "yes," that is."
"Oh," she said with a gleam in her eye. "You mean I actually get a say in the matter this time?"
Laura had long since forgiven his deception of letting her believe their marriage was fake, when all along it had been completely legal. However, there were times when she still liked to tease him about it.
She looked into the face of the man she loved. She thought about the life that they had created, the tiny baby that was growing inside her. She thought about her fear that he would leave now that they'd satisfied all that was required of them by the INS. The fact that he wanted to buy a house pushed her fears to the back of her mind. The house seemed to be perfect, and a lovely place to raise their child.
"It has definite possibilities, Mr. Steele," she said, walking back to where he stood. "I think we should see the rest of the place."
He took her hand and led her through the house. It was two stories; or rather three, as there were two large rooms on the beach level. It had four bedrooms, four bathrooms, huge closets, and the price was right. She had to admit, it was perfect…as was the timing. They wandered back to the kitchen and stood together at the window, looking out over the ocean.
"I think we should take it, Rem," she said, wrapping her arms around his waist. She kissed him with all the love she felt for him, and practically held her breath before saying her next words. "I think it's the perfect place to raise our family." She stepped back, taking his hand in hers and placing it flat against her abdomen.
Remington's blue eyes grew wide as he looked into Laura's shimmering cinnamon ones. He felt tears well up, and swallowed the lump in his throat. His voice barely more than a whisper, he asked, "Are you…are we…"
Tears fell from Laura's eyes as she looked into the face of the man she loved so much.
"Yes, Love," she said. "We're having a baby."
"When?" he asked."How?"
When she laughed, he responded, "Okay, I know HOW. When? How far along?"
"A couple of months," she answered. "You're going to be a daddy in January."
He wanted to pinch himself. He was standing in a beautiful home, holding the woman he loved more than life itself, and she was having his baby.
The next few weeks went by in a flurry of activity. Laura finally gave up the lease on her loft. They'd been using it for storage during the whole of their marriage, much to the chagrin of Gladys Lynch. There was plenty of room in the new house for all of their things, so it wasn't really necessary to hold on to the loft. In fact, it hadn't been necessary for quite some time. Laura knew she'd been hanging on to it like a security (or was that insecurity?) blanket. As she taped up the last of the boxes to leave the condo, she sat down on the box next to it.
Looking around the room, she realized that she was sad to leave this place. She loved the house in Malibu, it really was perfect. But this apartment held so many memories for her. This place was Remington Steele before there was a Remington Steele. This was where she and her Mr. Steele would go to celebrate a case or to simply find some quiet time to be alone. It was here that she found out he was a gourmet cook. It was here that she'd received the bulk of her education in the history of cinema. It was the home they'd returned to after finally making love in Ireland. It was the home they'd built together over the past two years, and the place where they'd made their baby. It held so much significance in the lives of Remington and Laura Steele.
Remington stood in the doorway watching Laura. He knew what she was feeling, part of him hated to leave this place, too. It was the first real home he ever had... the first place he'd ever been able to call his own, although it did actually belong to Laura. It was the place where he realized that he'd found the life that was meant for him. It was the place where he'd held Laura in his arms so many times. It was the home that they'd created together and the place where they'd created the tiny little life that his wife was carrying in her womb. His wife. The thought that this incredible woman was his wife still amazed him, and it was almost impossible to fathom that she was carrying his child. If only Daniel could see him now.
"Let's keep it," he said softly.
"Hmm?" she asked, looking up.
"The condo," he said. "Let's keep it. We can certainly afford both mortgages and it seems that we always need someplace to stash a client or two..."
She didn't need convincing. She stood up and stopped him with a kiss.
"I think that's a wonderful idea, Mr. Steele," she said as they parted.
Laura snuggled against her husband as the room began to fill with sunlight. She'd never been one who could sleep with a lot of light in the room, and now as she looked out over the ocean she realized that would have to change. With one entire wall of their bedroom being windows, she'd either have to become a very early riser or learn to sleep in the morning sunlight.
"Good morning, Mrs. Steele," Remington said, stirring beside her.
"Good morning yourself," she answered, reaching up to kiss him.
"You're up early," he said.
"Ah," he said. "Maybe we should look into getting some drapes."
"Not on your life," she said, shaking her head against his chest. "And spoil that view? No, I'll get used to it."
"What do you want to do today?" he asked.
"You mean besides unpacking?"
"Yes," he answered, wrapping his arms around her. "We've almost finished. But I was thinking more along the lines of calling your mother."
"Laura, we talked about this."
"I'm not ready."
"Darling," he soothed, "you're already into your second trimester. Don't you think it's time we told the family we're having a baby?" He held her close and gently ran his hand over the small swell of her belly.
"I want to enjoy this pregnancy," she told him. "This is a new experience for both of us, and I want us to be able to share it --- happily. As happily as we can with my mood swings," she amended with a smile. "As soon as we tell my mother, you know she'll be on the first plane out here and spend the next five and a half months... scratch that, the next eighteen years, telling me everything I'm doing wrong."
"Do you really think it will be that bad?" he asked.
"I know it will," she answered. "Let's at least wait until after my checkup with Dr. Elliott next week."
"Whatever you think is best, my love."
He began to get out of the bed.
"Where are you going?" she asked, pulling him back.
"Breakfast," he answered. "Aren't you hungry?" He smiled at the question. After last night, she should be. He was ravenous.
"Yes," she admitted. "I'll join you."
"No," he said. "Stay here. I'll bring it to you. This is our first morning in our new home. I think that calls for breakfast in bed." He pulled on his robe and then leaned down to kiss her soundly. As he opened the door he looked back. "Try to get some more rest," he said. "I'll be back in a bit." He winked at her and left the room.
She stretched and felt like purring like a cat. Her life was good, she thought as she rested her hand against her expanding belly. Very good.
Dr. Elliot looked at the couple seated across from him. He'd played out this scene so many times in his long career: a young couple still starting out, nervous about starting their family. The scene was always the same, though it had begun to change in recent years. The Steeles were an example of that. Working mothers were becoming the norm, rather than the exception to the rule.
He'd known Laura Holt for many years and he knew how much her work meant to her. He'd also seen how much she'd grown and begun to change since she became Laura Steele. But there were some things that were inherently "Laura." He watched as she took in his every word, feverishly making mental notes that he was sure would be put to paper as soon as she got to the car. Laura was a planner.
"So everything is really okay?" Laura asked.
"Right on schedule," the doctor answered.
"And I can continue working?"
"Right up until your water breaks if you feel you must," Dr. Elliott said, noticing the look that crossed Remington's face. "But I do think you should take it a bit easier. I'm not saying you should sit behind a desk for the next five months, but no chasing bad guys. Let's leave the running and jumping to Dad for a while, okay?
"Okay," Laura agreed with a sigh. She knew the doctor was right, and he hadn't really set much limitation. He'd at least made it clear that she wasn't an invalid. She didn't need to be chained to her desk, and Remington was there to hear it. No excuses.
"Now then," Dr. Elliot said. "I want you to keep on doing what you're doing. Your diet is good. Keep up with your exercise. Your regular routine is fine for now. We'll need to adjust it a little as the pregnancy progresses, but for now you're fine."
As Laura nodded, the doctor turned his attention to Remington.
"Remington," he said. "I know the inclination now is for you to take care of Laura and the baby. You're going to want to protect and to nurture them. And that's fine, but just remember your wife," the doctor went on, with a wink in Laura's direction. "I've known Laura for a very long time, and I suspect she'll take to being overprotected about as well as oil takes to water. It's important to keep her stress level as low as possible, and how we do that is different for every mother. For Laura, I suspect that means allowing her to maintain her independence."
"Thank you," Laura mouthed so only the doctor could see.
"Now, Laura," Dr. Elliott said, "I want to see you again in three weeks. Set up an appointment with Julie and call in the meantime if you have any questions or concerns."
After saying their goodbyes to the doctor and setting up their next appointment, Laura and Remington made their way back to the Auburn. Remington opened the door and made sure Laura was settled in before going around to the driver's side and getting in, himself.
"What say we play a little hooky?" he asked. "Go home, have a little lunch... practice sleeping in a room filled with sunlight..."
"Something tells me sleep is the last thing you have in mind, Mr. Steele."
"Ah, Mrs. Steele. You know me too well," he said with a smile. "You know me too well."
"And you know me," she answered. "So I'm sure you know my answer to that question."
"To the office," he said with a sigh.
"To the office," she repeated, smiling.
"How was your appointment with Dr. Elliott?" Mildred asked as her employers came into the office.
"It went very well, Mildred," Laura answered. "He said I can work as long as I want."
"But no chasing bad guys," her husband added.
"That sounds reasonable," Mildred said.
"I thought so, too," Laura said. "Now that we've established that we're actually working here today, what's on the schedule?"
"Not much. I didn't know how long you kids would be at the doctor, so I didn't schedule much. We do have a client coming in at three."
"Anything interesting?" Laura asked.
"Pretty routine," Mildred answered. "Just a simple background check. One of our former clients has been asked to fund a charity and he wants you two to make sure they're on the up and up."
"Who is it?" Remington asked.
"He offered more than our usual fee, and it's a pretty straightforward case," Mildred said nervously.
"Who is the client, Mildred?" Laura asked.
"It shouldn't take much time at all," Mildred went on.
"Mildred," Remington said firmly, "WHO is the client?"
Mildred winced and closed her eyes as she said quietly, "Bingham Perrett."
"Oh no," the Steeles said in unison.
"Absolutely not," Remington said.
"Our insurance rates can't take it," Laura agreed.
"And the doctor just told us that we have to keep Mrs. Steele's stress level as low as possible."
"Right, my blood pressure…"
Remington did a double take. It was saying a lot for his wife to use her pregnancy to get out of a case. She noticed his reaction and the glare she sent his way dared him to say something. He did not take up the gauntlet.
"I know Bing was a pain, Kids, "Mildred said. "But this is a simple background check and it's gonna bring in a lot of money. I didn't think you'd want to turn down the fee."
Laura sighed as she looked at her husband.
"We do have two mortgages," she said.
"And a baby on the way," he agreed.
They both turned as Mildred silently congratulated herself.
"We'll meet with him," Laura said. "THEN we'll decide whether or not to take the case."
"Fair enough," Mildred said.
Laura was sitting at Remington's desk going over her notes from their last encounter with the Prince of Caviar. Remington sat on the sofa going over his notes for renovations on the new house.
"What time is it?" she asked without looking up.
"Two fifty-five," Remington answered.
Laura looked up at him and then dropped her head and sighed.
"It's almost time," she said.
"Deep breath, Darling," Remington said as he stood. He walked over to the desk, stood behind her, and placed his hands on her shoulders. She sighed as he began to rub gently.
"Is everything nailed down?" she asked, closing her eyes.
"The office has been Bing-proofed," he answered.
They both looked up as they heard a soft knock at the door. Mildred opened the door and stuck her head in.
"Mr. Perrett is here," she said.
"Show him in," Laura said, as she stood up next to her partner. Together, they walked toward the door to greet their visitor.
to be continued...