Murder, Hearts and Steele
"Morning, morning, morning."
Remington Steele was all smiles as he entered the offices. Mildred grinned as she glanced down at her watch.
"It is," she said with a slight chuckle, "but you just made it, Chief. It's 11:45."
"Did I hear…" Laura was asking as she came out of her office, "…Mr. Steele?"
"Indeed you did, Miss Holt," he said, walking up to place a quick kiss on her cheek.
"Nice of you to join us," Laura said.
Ignoring both her glare and the ice in her tone, he responded.
"What's on the agenda today, ladies?"
"Mrs. Winslow at two thirty," Mildred said.
"Wonderful," he said. "That gives us plenty of time for lunch. Laura?"
"Lunch?" she repeated, incredulous. "You just got here."
"Yes, but you didn't," he said as Mildred watched them with mild amusement.
Ever since she and Laura had gone to London to bring him home, she found herself watching them. It was different than before--both because she knew the truth about "Remington Steele" and because the two of them had moved forward in their relationship. They were still dancing around each other, but they had made a commitment of sorts and she knew it was only a matter of time.
"He's right, hon," Mildred said. "You need to eat and there's nothing going on around here. Why don't you let Mr. Steele take you to lunch?"
"Excellent idea, Mildred," Remington said with a grin and a wink in her direction.
Laura threw up her hands in mock exasperation.
"I don't stand a chance with you two ganging up on me," she said with a sigh. "Let's go, Mr. Steele."
Remington leaned against the inside of Laura's desk as she prepared a file for their meeting with Catherine Winslow. This was a preliminary interview and they weren't even sure of the reason Mrs. Winslow wanted to hire them, a point Remington was loathe to make as Laura feverishly made notes.
"Laura," he said hesitantly. "We don't even know why Mrs. Winslow wants to see us. What are you doing?"
"Mr. Steele," she said too calmly. "Carlton Winslow is the most famous divorce attorney in the state, if not the country. His client list even beats Malcolm Marcall's," she said and then paused as if contemplating. "But it's actually in the reverse. Winslow usually represents the wives."
"But it's HIS wife that we're meeting," Remington said.
"Right," Laura answered. "Just the kind of client that could be great for the agency. If it's something high profile, the publicity will be fantastic. If it's something more discreet, the word-of-mouth among her circle of friends could be tremendous. Either way, it's a lucrative proposition."
"Which makes sense," Remington agreed, "but that doesn't explain what you're doing."
"Just getting my ducks in a row, Mr. Steele," she said as the intercom buzzed. "Yes, Mildred?"
"Mrs. Winslow is here to see you."
"Great, Mildred. Give us a minute and then show her in to Mr. Steele's office."
"So, Mr. Steele," Catherine Winslow said as she finished her story. "Can you help me?"
She didn't notice Remington's almost imperceptible glance at Laura or her equally stealth nod.
"Yes, Mrs. Winslow," he answered. "I believe we can be of some assistance. Miss Holt?"
"Uh—yes," she said. "While this isn't the type of case that the Remington Steele agency would usually take, due to the discretion necessary, I think you've come to the right place."
They said their goodbyes and Laura promised that Mrs. Winslow would hear from them very soon as Remington showed their client out. He then rejoined Laura in the office.
"I know," she said. "I know. I usually don't take these kinds of cases, but think of it. The country's most famous divorce lawyer cheating on his wife? What's she supposed to do… divorce him?"
"But it's so…" he said, furrowing his brow, "…distasteful."
"I know," she agreed. "But it could be great for the agency."
"I don't see how," he lamented.
"That word-of-mouth that I mentioned?" she suggested.
"So she recommends us to all her society friends and pretty soon all we'll be doing is keeping up with the bed-hopping of the country club set."
"I'm sure it won't be that bad," Laura assured him.
"Mark my words, Laura. We're about to be caught up in Peyton Place," he said.
"Lana Turner, Lee Phillips, Lloyd Nolan," she offered.
"20th Century Fox, 1957," they said in unison.
Laura smiled and rolled her eyes.
"Do you really think sending Mildred in there is a good idea?" Remington asked.
"You're the one who told her she could get her license," Laura answered from across the dinner table. "She has to log some hours doing undercover surveillance."
Remington didn't look convinced as she continued.
"She'll be fine, Mr. Steele," she said. "She's merely observing. Since the Winslows fired their butler last week, going in as domestic help seemed a great idea. Mildred is up for it. What are you worried about?"
"I don't know, Laura," he said. "I can't put my finger on it, but something just feels wrong. I think there's more to this than Winslow cheating on his wife, and I don't want Mildred to get caught in the middle."
"Stop worrying. Mildred is a professional, she'll be fine. Would you rather go in her place, Ruggles?" She smiled, knowing that would get to him.
"No, no," he said. "You're right. Our Miss Krebs is quite resourceful. She'll do just fine."
"It's only for a few days. And we'll be there for the dinner party tomorrow night."
"And how did we manage that?" he asked between bites.
"Simple. Mrs. Winslow invited us. They're actually putting together a fundraiser for one of her pet charities, and having man-about-town Remington Steele on board would be quite a coup for them."
"Okay," he said with a mischievous grin. "That takes care of me, but how are you getting in?"
"With you, you creep!" She tossed her napkin on the table. She stood up from the table and he couldn't help but smile at her irritation. He grabbed her wrist to keep her from walking away.
"Laura," he said. "Come here." He pulled her into his lap. "I was only joking. We're a team. Together," he said and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. "That's how we do things."
"Mrs. Winslow was called to San Francisco this morning. Her sister is ill," Laura said.
"Does that mean we're free for dinner?" Remington asked.
"No, the party is going on," she answered. "And it might even be better this way, we'll get a chance to observe Mr. Winslow without his wife around."
Remington shook hi s head, "I still don't like this, Laura."
"I know, Mr. Steele," she said. "But stick with me."
"Always, Miss Holt," he said with a smile.
"Mrs. Winslow will be back home late tonight," she said. "Mildred will pick her up at the airport."
"Cool it," Mildred Krebs said to the snarling dog at the window, as she finished arranging the canapés on the silver tray. The phone rang and she went to answer it.
"Winslow residence," she said.
"Mildred," answered the voice on the other end of the line. "We're on our way. How is everything going?"
"Fine, Miss Holt," she answered. "But you'd better hurry. I think we've got World War III on our hands."
"What do you mean?" Laura asked.
"Mr. Winslow and Mr. Kensington have been arguing for the last fifteen minutes. It sounds like it's getting pretty heated."
"We'll be there in just a few minutes," Laura promised. She hung up the phone and instructed Fred to hurry.
A few minutes later as Fred pulled up in front of the Winslow home and opened the door to let out his employers, they all jumped at the sound of a gunshot. Remington and Laura exchanged a glance before rushing to the front door, where they were greeted by a pale-faced Mildred.
"Mr. Steele," she said. "Miss Holt."
"Mildred?" Laura said. "What happened?"
"It's Mr. Winslow," Mildred answered. "He's in the library."
Remington and Laura followed Mildred into the library where they found Carlton Winslow on the floor. Remington leaned over him and felt for a pulse. He shook his head as he looked up at Laura.
"We have to call the police," Laura said.
"And where were you, Miss Krebs?"
"I told you, Detective," Mildred answered. "I was in the kitchen."
"I was in the foyer, getting our coats," Diane Kensington offered, without being asked. "We were just leaving."
"And Mr. Kensington," Jimmy Jarvis asked, "Where were you?"
"I'd just gone out to find my wife," Geoffrey Kensington answered. "She had taken off in such a rush; I went to make sure she was all right."
"Why wouldn't she have been all right?" Laura asked.
"Miss Holt," Jarvis scolded, "If you don't mind, I'll ask the questions."
"Right," Laura answered with a nod.
"Mr. Kensington?" Jarvis asked.
"Why wouldn't Mrs. Kensington have been all right?" Jarvis prodded.
"Carlton and I were arguing," Kensington said. "It upset Diane so much that she suggested we leave. She ran out of the room and I followed her."
"So, let me get this straight," Jarvis said. "The four of you were the only ones in the house, but none of you saw what happened."
"I didn't," Mildred said.
"Me either," Diane Kensington said, softly sobbing.
"No Detective," Geoffrey Kensington said. "We didn't."
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to take you in to the station," Jarvis said. "All three of you."
Mildred looked up at Remington and Laura.
"We'll come with you," Laura offered.
"No, Miss Holt," Jarvis said. "That won't be necessary. I want you and Mr. Steele to stay out of this. Go home, go back to your office and wait. Miss Krebs will be in touch."
"I was supposed to pick Mrs. Winslow up at the airport," Mildred said.
"We'll do it," Remington offered, guiding Laura to the door as she glared at him.
"Laura," he said quietly. "There's nothing we can do here at the moment, under Detective Jarvis' watchful eye. And someone has to tell our client that she's just become a widow."
to be continued...