The Real Steeles
Tracy Lords – formerly known as Collette DuBois, formerly known as Bonnie O'Parker, formerly known as Nora Charles, formerly known as Laura Holt – studied her reflection in the mirror. This new life was going to take some getting used to … at least more ginseng to help her memory. She ran her hands through her freshly styled and blonded locks.
"You said a whole new look, Ms. Lords." The stylist reminded her nervous that the transformation was too severe.
Tracy nodded slowly. "Well … They say blondes have more fun." She thought to herself, 'Not sure how much more 'fun' a girl could have, but …'
"Make up and nails, Ms Lords?" The young woman asked.
"Soup to nuts." She declared.
It had been just under six weeks since their escape (as she had taken to thinking of it) from Los Angeles. The first five days were – to say the least – uncomfortable. She had never been a good camper. She didn't like being hungry, tired or dirty, but something had switched off or on in her that changed her whole outlook. She had thrown out the rulebook she had been living by for the past eight years and was up for anything. She didn't complain about the accommodations on the fishing boat or the fact that the champagne was cheap, domestic and warm. She didn't balk at the predawn transfer with the rest of the contraband to a freighter bound for the South Seas. She accepted with uncharacteristic zeal their job in the galley feeding 35 lasciviously hungry pirates. She threw herself in to the role of associate to the fabulous Parisian decorator Sebastian LeFeete for the Lindstrom's bungalow on one of the smaller islands in Fiji (bungalow? 6500 square feet with six bathrooms). And she easily relaxed into vacation mode – sans le nom - when they were finally alone at Heaven's Door: a two-story villa on 37 rolling acres that overlooked the gorgeous Coral Cost of Viti-Levu, Fiji.
There was little or no discussion between them as each new role was presented but there was no need. They were completely in sync. He had said she was a natural – her accents needed work – but a natural. She felt she was anything but, but she was having fun.
Laura actually was a natural. She had been in the detective game so long she knew how to read people and size them up quickly. She knew how to solicit information without attracting attention. She knew how to get them on her side without effort. And her biggest asset: she knew how to lie close enough to the truth as not to get caught up in some implausible scenario down the road. She actually reined him back a few times when his stories got too convoluted.
Clearly the most enjoyable role she had taken on since the unceremonious departure from the life she had created was one where she had no name or fake persona at all. It was the 11 uninterrupted days at the villa. It could not have been more romantic: relaxing in the sun, playing in the surf, dancing in the moonlight, dining on gourmet fare. The entire experience was more than intoxicating with or without the tropical concoctions they experimented with. She could not have planned a better honeymoon. They didn't refer to it as a 'honeymoon' but for all intents and purposes it was two weeks of bonding physically and emotionally like they had never known or believed was possible (aka a honeymoon).
It was not all perfect. There were times when tempers got testy; there were hours when they didn't speak at all. Do not misunderstand. It was not because they were angry at each other; rather it was because they were just lost. They didn't know how to be unemployed together (KP duty and picking swatches notwithstanding). A vacation was one thing, but as one day stretched out in front of the next with no end in sight an uneasy feeling developed. For the most part it was a lot of swimming, eating, drinking and … romance … more ROMANCE than these two were comfortable with after the previous four years. It was a new role for each and very scary for both. The honesty policy was still in place (not that either one was asking pointed questions) and there was very little talk about the future or the past. Both knew that it would end sooner than later, and both were trying to hang on to the moment for as long as they could; yet still anticipating the future.
Toward the end of the two weeks – about five and a half weeks away from LA – Laura was getting uncontrollably antsy. She had taken to waking before dawn and running on the beach for miles. The last two days, he had joined her. One morning they were running in silence - each absorbed in their own thoughts. For no apparent reason she stopped. He had gone several steps further before he too stopped.
"Something?" He panted.
She placed her hands on her hips and tried to catch her breath walking in slow circles around him. "Nothing." She lied.
"Laura …" He drawled.
"How long do we stay here?" She asked. She still had no good name to call him.
"Until the money runs out." He panted knowing full well that they could live for months on that little island on what he had stashed away, or longer if they stopped pretending like they were rich tourists.
She shook her head not liking the answer.
The truth was he was getting bored too – well, not bored so much as restless. He had discovered that the idea of 'living on a deserted island with a beautiful woman' sounded better than it really was. "Tomorrow." He answered. "Day after."
"Where to?" She asked … really asked, she wasn't trying to bait him.
"Australia, Tokyo …" He told her.
She nodded holding back what she wanted to ask.
"What?" He prodded.
"Nothing." She started to jog down the beach again.
He kept pace with her. "Laura." He asked after he was sure she wasn't about to say anything.
"Nothing." She said again but then changed her mind. "I don't like running." She said casually.
He laughed. "I can think of several other ways to work up a sweat." He smirked.
"Not that kind of running." She explained even though she knew he knew exactly what she meant.
"Yeah … so … then we go back home." He said evenly not really sure how exactly they were going to do that.
"Home?" She stopped in her tracks.
"Yeah." He stopped running and tried to catch his breath. "Let's go home." He told her honestly.
"How?" She wasn't sure if he was just saying what she wanted to hear or if he really meant it. She had been very careful in her criticism, because she had a feeling in the pit of her stomach that if he thought she were unhappy or homesick, then he would probably drop her off at the nearest airport with a ticket for LA and disappear from her life. Now that she had seen how easy it was to disappear, she knew that it would be difficult to catch up with him if he were truly trying to hide from her.
"Don't have a clue." He said clearly.
She thought about it quickly. It was obvious. "We go through Ireland."
"Laura!" He warned.
She stepped up to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. "We go back together – or not at all." She told him. "We go back legit … or not at all."
He thought for a moment. "Ireland?"
She nodded. "The Emerald Isle." She confirmed.
He kissed her. In all his life, he had never known anyone who was so willing to sacrifice so much to help him. She was truly an amazing creature – and grew more amazing every day. A plan was hatched to fly to Ireland and find his roots. There were hopes that they would be home by Christmas. It made the last days at the villa more precious.
The next morning they went into the village. He was going to find transportation and she was to go to the bank. He was to find the acquaintance that had set them up at the Villa and she was to collect the contents of their safety deposit box. It felt good to have a mission again, even a small one. It felt good to think that they were on their way back home. There was no way to anticipate the information that was about to come their way or how it was to totally alter their plans.
It came to them at almost the same time. Laura was shopping and had decided to pick up a paper. She could have chosen the London Times, but opted for the LA Times instead. It wasn't a front-page article and she may never have noticed it if she hadn't dropped the paper by accident. It was a small article on the lower third in the corner. She didn't recognize the pictures at first, it was the headline that caught her eye: "Search for Steeles Goes Global". Below it were their pictures and an article saying that the police were widening their search and contacting international agencies to help them locate Laura Holt and the man posing as Remington Steele in connection with the murder of Norman Keyes. He had gone missing the night they had left Los Angeles. The police suspected murder but were still searching for the body.
Laura closed the paper quickly worried that someone might recognize her from her picture. She needed to find him. She couldn't allow him to be blindsided by this information or worse be arrested. She was headed back to their rendezvous place when he pulled her into an alley.
"Keyes is dead." He told her quickly.
"And they think we did it." She pushed the paper at him. "How did you …?"
"Ozzie." He told her. "He has known for weeks, but was hoping we would stay down until it blew over."
"Blew over?" She was annoyed at the ignorance. "This is murder … it's not going to blow over!"
"I realize that." He was trying to stay under control.
"He knew?" She scoffed.
He explained. "And chose to believe that we knew and were hiding out."
"That is unacceptable." She was livid.
"Laura … this is how it is on this side of the game." He explained. "People keep information to themselves … well the good ones."
"We have to go back … clear our names." She told him.
"Just how do you expect to do that?"
"We weren't in Los Angeles when Keyes was killed." She reminded him.
"No … we weren't." He remembered. "We were making an illegal escape from the US and from the INS on a fishing boat headed for a meeting with …"
"So … they can give us an alibi." She reasoned.
"Laura … they won't …" He explained. "That's the deal … we were never there … they were never there."
"I hate this." She announced as if she had been thinking it for weeks and was finally given an opportunity to say it.
"I know … I'm sorry." He was not taking responsibility for the situation, but he was sorry that she hated it. He knew that was not built for living outside the law and he was sorry that the first serious bump and her true feelings came out. He was sorry that she had been acting for the past six weeks. He was sorry that it was all about to come to an end with little hope in sight.
She heard the tone in his voice. She knew she had hurt him. That had not been her intention. She was just frustrated. Laura was never good at living under someone else's control. She was out of her element and vulnerable. The worst part was the injustice of it all. They had done nothing wrong – save leaving town for some silly immigration issue. If she hadn't gone with him, she would have been there to clear their names – at least his name; she probably wouldn't have been implicated if she had stayed.
"Go back to the Villa." He told her as he turned away. "I will be there in an hour."
"Where are you going?" She asked.
"To find a way back to Los Angeles." With that he turned on his heel and walked away.
She didn't like that plan. He could not go back with or without the Keyes development. They would throw him in jail the moment he set foot on US soil. He knew that. He knew that she knew. He wasn't going to find a way back for them, he was going to find a way back for her – and then he would disappear. He probably thought he was being noble. She hated it when he was noble.
On the other hand if she went back without him, she could work to clear their names. If they came up with a way to stay in contact, she could alert him when it was safe to return. However, they would probably throw her in jail for her role in Keyes' death and for helping him flee the country. So she couldn't go back either – at least not without proof of their innocence. She was not sure he knew that.
She looked back down at the article. There was something strange about it. They hadn't found Keyes' body but they had no other suspects and apparently didn't suspect that he had gone missing on his own. There were pieces missing – more to the story. She wondered how much she could find out from their little tropical paradise or how close they could get to LA without risking too much.
On the other side of the article was an advertisement that caught Laura's eye.
Misplace your keyes, your bosses, your passports?
Need to boost your Visa limit?
Trying to get home but can't find the way?
Contact the Amazing Madam K!
Madam K knows all!
Madam K sees all!
Madam K tells all!
"Dear Mildred." Laura smiled. "Need to teach you about being subtle." She laughed. He would know how to contact her in anonymity – and more than likely how to get her to respond the same way.
She looked down at her picture again. She had always hated that picture – her hair was too poofy, and her smiled was crooked – he of course was GORGEOUS. That man couldn't take a bad picture. She caught her reflection in the show window. She needed a new look. Caddy corner from where she was standing was a hair salon. She made a decision. If they were looking for Laura Holt, then Laura Holt would have to disappear.
Laura arrived back at the Villa two hours later. He didn't immediately recognize her as she was walking up the drive. Her clothes were different, her walk was different, her hair was different, and her make up was different. He was about to duck out of sight, when she took off her sunglasses and called out.
"Ahoy the Villa." She drawled with a hint of a southern accent.
He stepped out on to the balcony. "Ahoy." He puzzled. "May I help you?" He asked.
"Looking for Nicky Charles." She flipped her blonde hair off her face and flashed her blue eyes at him.
"Who may I say is calling?" He started down the stairs to get a closer look. The transformation was incredible. He didn't know if he liked it, but it was clear that no one who didn't really know her would recognize her. More than the hair, colored contacts and wardrobe – she had a very different air about her: sexy and spoiled, lazy and reckless.
"Lords … Tracy Lords." She stepped up to him and dropped her bags.
"How did you get my name?" He scanned her up and down.
"From a friend." She dragged her freshly polished red nails up his chest and laced her fingers behind his neck. "She had to leave … UNEXPECTEDLY … sent me to keep you company." She pulled him down for a teasing kiss.
"This friend have a name?" He took her arms off his neck and held them tightly against his chest.
"Nora … Laura … Maura … something like that." She tried to kiss him again, but he kept her at bay. "She wasn't much of a friend." She declared.
"My wife." He said sternly. For some reason he really didn't like this character she was portraying and he didn't like what it meant. It meant she wasn't going home. It meant that they were both still in danger of being caught. It meant that he couldn't do what he needed to do to take care of the situation – namely, HIDE. This Tracy Lords was changing his plans. He wanted to fight her on this, but she had so completely transformed he didn't know where to start or how to turn it off. "Laura is my wife."
"Your wife?" She laughed evilly. "That button-down, hospital-corners, plays-by-the-rules egghead was your wife?"
"Still is." He stated firmly. "I'm not giving her up."
Laura dropped out of character. "You mean that don't you."
"Yes, I do." He was not happy.
"Interesting." She declared.
"Why?" He asked.
"I didn't know you considered yourself married." She was truly surprised. Regardless of the marriage or the fact that they had been physically a couple for nearly six weeks, she really wasn't sure that the vows they had taken had meant anything or not. She chose not to think about it.
He didn't want to discuss what was or was not going on in his head. He needed to discuss this new development. "What do you think you're doing?" He asked.
"Hiding in plain sight." She told him. "We are going to figure this out together and go home together - - or not at all."
"I appreciate your initiative Laura, but …"
"But nothing … this is how it's going to be." She told him. "We are going to Ireland to find your name, we are getting your paperwork in order and then we will deal with this Keyes situation." She stated. "With any luck, the police will have figured out that we had nothing to do with his death by then."
"Laura …" He warned.
"This is not up for discussion." She pulled away from him and started up the stairs. She dropped into her Tracy Lords drawl again. "Get my bags … will you, hon?"
He followed her with his eyes. He had known women like the character she was playing, he had been with women who were spoiled and reckless as she was acting. He never expected to be with anyone like that again … not after Laura. He felt everything turn out of his control. Laura was again in the lead; the only difference was that this time she was totally out of her depth. He knew that if she didn't.
"Be careful, love." He said under his breath. "You are playing with matches."
The morning they were to leave Laura noticed how much he had changed as well. He had shaved off most of the beard he had been growing leaving a very ominous looking goatee. His hair had grown out wildly and was touching his shoulders. She had playfully called him a beach bum over the weeks, but now he was just dead sexy in his untailored linen suit, and combed back hair.
"Mr. Steele no longer." She said to herself as she watched him pack.
He looked up at her. "Did you say something?"
She came up behind him. "Just noticing how different you look." She wrapped her arms around him and looked at their reflection in the mirror.
"Different?" He asked looking at their reflection. "It's only a beard, Laura."
"No." She sighed. "It's more than that … you look … I don't know …" She searched for a word. "Dangerous … treacherous …a scoundrel." She had to think that if he had been a character on TV that this would be the look of his evil twin.
He laughed. He checked his reflection out in the mirror and tried to see what she saw. It was true, he did not look like the clean-cut pretty boy he was as Remington Steele. If he were forced to choose, he would have taken freshly shaven and tailored suits any day. "You couldn't pass for your passport picture either." He leaned back into her.
"I guess not." That comment made her think. It was true. She didn't recognize herself any more. 'Be careful what you pretend to be, because you are what you pretend to be.' She pulled away from him.
"Laura?" He quizzed.
She snapped her attention back to him. "Exactly."
"I am Laura … Laura Holt … Steele … Laura Holt-Steele … and only you and I will know that … only you and I will remember that." She cried. "I have to trust that I can keep myself honest … be true to myself … I can't lose myself in … in … in …" She nearly broke down.
"In me?" He asked.
"In this game we are playing." She corrected. "It's different for you … you slip in and out of personas like changing your clothes … it may be second nature to you, but it's not for me." She turned away from him.
He pulled her back physically with his touch and emotionally with his voice. "It's not second nature any more … it's a suit that doesn't fit." He turned her completely to face him. "Laura … I am Remington Steele … maybe not the Remington Steele you had in mind …."
"I'm not sure I could have made you up." She said with a smile.
"Disappointed?" He asked.
"Not at all … the reality is so much better than the fantasy." She kissed him. "But how can you be so sure?" She asked, really wanting to know.
"Be so sure?"
"That you are Remington Steele?" She shook the thought away. "That you know who you are?'
"Because for the first time in my life I am comfortable in my own skin." He said easily as if he had been thinking it for a long time. "I'm not worried that you will see through me … that all the stuff that came before helped to shape me … but it doesn't prevent me from being who I want to be." He added, "Or who I want to be with."
She was totally shocked by his honest declaration. "Wow." She turned away from him.
"What?" He followed.
"I am not sure I can handle so much honesty." She smiled.
"Be careful what you ask for." He wrapped his arms around her from behind and kissed her neck.
"Then tell me one more thing." She turned to face him and struggled to find the right way to ask what she needed to know but feared to hear. "Where is home to you?" She was prepared for him to say he didn't have a home.
He smiled. "Are you expecting that I will say my home is wherever you are?"
She laughed. "I would hope that you wouldn't be so … so … Lifetime."
He nodded. "Los Angeles … my home is Los Angeles … my career is as a partner in a detective agency … my life is with my wife." He stated.
"You use that word a lot." She stated referring to his 'wife' comment.
"You don't think of me as your husband?" He wasn't hurt, he was just asking.
"Honestly … I'm still getting used to the idea that you are my lover."
He pulled her to him. "Well that is a step in the right direction." He kissed her and carried her back to bed to continue to help her get used to that idea.
Tracy Lords looked out over the water with her second martini in hand. She actually hadn't had more than a sip of the first one, but it was a show she had to put up for her new companion. Tracy's story was that she was in trouble with father. He had cut her off in Fiji and told her to find her own way home with or without her latest boy-toy.
Enter Morgan Farnsworth-Whiting of the Philadelphia Farnsworths. She was about Laura's age, newly married to Jason Whiting, a very wealth family from New York who has business interests with the Farnsworths. It could be called an arranged marriage – there was certainly no love but there was an expectation of children. Morgan had never worked a day in her life, never finished a college course and would never have to lift a finger to maintain her rich bitch lifestyle. So she was very sympathetic to the control the family can exert over the purse strings – and consequently Tracy's current predicament.
Morgan was on an extended holiday with her husband. He had just returned to the states to take care of some business, but would join her in Monte Carlo in a week. Morgan had the family jet and was headed to their home in the South of France and offered to take Tracy and her lover as far as there and to put them up for a week or more. Since Tracy had no intention of going home, France was as good a destination as any.
"So where is this mystery lover of yours?" Morgan asked as she nodded to the waiter for her third drink.
Tracy looked over her glasses at her. "Can't put a watch on that man … but he will be along."
Just then Morgan sat up and licked her lips. Tracy followed her eye and saw her lover strolling up the beach. "Yours?" Morgan asked.
"Mine." Tracy confirmed.
"Share?" Morgan scanned him lustily.
"Sorry … Not clothes, not jewelry." She rose to greet him. "And not men."
"When you're done?" Morgan begged.
"When I am done." Tracy confirmed.
Tracy walked over to him and kissed him hard. He wasn't sure what role he was supposed to play. He had gotten a cryptic call saying that she had found transportation and to meet her at the restaurant down the beach. He decided to let her take the lead. He kissed her back and let his hands do more exploring than he normally would have publicly (egged on by her PDA no doubt). Surprisingly he found that he didn't like this role. He wanted to protect her; not exploit her and he really didn't like how men looked at her – or women for that matter. But she was in the driver's seat so he played along. He kissed down her neck, holding her close knowing that she would take the opportunity to catch him up.
"Father cut me off and left me to find my own way home preferably without my lover." She whispered into his ear before sucking his ear lobe between her teeth. "Jeffrey Matthews … no profession."
He whispered back. "Jeffery Matthews?"
She explained. "Gidget, Sandra Dee, James Darren, Columbia, 1959"
He smirked. "Needed to widen your movie going horizon, Tracy."
"Oh Moondoggie." She cooed softly. "You can widen any horizon of mine you like." She kissed him again. This time is was not for show, but if it killed two birds …
Introductions were made and Jeffery decided to play aloof, mysterious and sexy. He chose to flirt with Morgan behind Tracy's back and that seemed to satisfy her for the moment. He had to trust that Laura would keep Morgan in check for however long the three of them were together.
Dinner and drinks was to break the ice, Morgan was always the first to offer to bring people into her circle and she was typically the first to regret it. They were set to fly out in the morning. She liked Tracy and was charmed by Jeffrey. Interestingly enough, neither Tracy nor Jeffery thought twice of Morgan, they were both involved in the change their relationship was taking with these new personas.
Tracy had gotten up to 'powder her nose' leaving Morgan and Jeffrey alone.
"How long have you and Tracy been …" Morgan dove right in.
"About six weeks." He answered honestly … a policy Laura had taught him.
"Six weeks?" She was surprised it was so long.
"Tracy bores easily." He tried to convince her that the romance was nearly over.
"And you?" She purred.
"I don't quite have that luxury." He said simply.
"Her father has cut her off." Morgan reminded him trying to lure him away.
"Fathers never completely cut their daughters off." He smiled evilly. "Nor do husbands … not when there is a man around."
"Very true." She agreed. "But there is always another daughter."
"Or wife." He corrected.
"Exactly." She leaned in to whisper to him. "Just how loyal are you?"
Tracy came back before he could answer. He maintained his distance for the rest of the night, but he felt Morgan watching his every move and he was compelled to be less than attentive to Tracy.
Morgan watched her new friends walk away. She smiled to herself and nodded to the man who had been watching them all evening. He joined her.
"And?" She pushed when he didn't speak immediately.
He tossed the folded newspaper he had under his arm at her. "Without a doubt … Remington Steele and Laura Holt."
She picked it up, looked at the pictures and then back down the beach. "I don't see it." She said again.
"Trust me." He picked up her glass and drained it.
"And what do we get for turning them in?" She tossed the paper back at him.
"All charges will be dropped." He said.
She shook her head. "Fine … change the flight plan."
The man got up and left.
Morgan looked saddened. She never liked being a rat, but sometimes it was a necessary evil.
This is a TEST BALLOON … and one interested in seeing where this goes? It won't be quick, but it could be fun.