Remington handed Laura a glass of wine and settled down on the floor next to her. Often they'd end their day by winding down in front of the fireplace, much like they used to do at the condo. It was here that they would discuss cases they couldn't talk about in front of Kate, talk about whatever was on their minds, or just quietly enjoy being together.
Laura sighed as he put his arm around her and she leaned back into his embrace.
"Long day?" he said.
"Yeah," she replied. "I really missed you today. Murphy is great, but I work so much better when you're with me."
He smiled. It was good to know, even though he knew she was just saying it to make him feel better about her having gone to see Billingsley without him.
"What did you find out?" he asked.
"Pretty much what we suspected," she said. "He tried to sell off Collinsworth's antiques to pay what he owes to Goodwin. He's been doing it for years, but as his debts mounted, he increased the number of his father-in-law's precious artifacts that he was taking. So much so that Mr. Collinsworth became suspicious. He actually didn't suspect Paul, he doesn't know about his problem…"
He held her close and listened as she went on, trying to think of it like any other case she might be filling him in on.
"…When Paul didn't come up with answers right away, Mr. Collinsworth directed him to hire a detective."
"So he came to you," Remington said, with a slight edge in his voice.
"Not exactly," she said. "He came to US because his father-in-law told him to. Makes sense, really. Arthur Collinsworth is exactly the type of client we set out to attract."
"Good to know your marketing plan is working."
"So, Paul came to hire the great Remington Steele. He didn't expect to find me there…"
"… but when he did…"
"…but when he did," she said. "He changed tactics. He knew I'd feel sorry for him, so he played on that by telling me he was embarrassed of his mistake and didn't want Kristin to know. And then, once I'd agreed to take the case, he came up with the rest of the plan."
"Being pretty sure that I'd not only believe him, but support his 'theory' -- he set us on Davidson's trail."
"But that was a wild goose chase."
"Right," she said. "But it bought him time. By getting Davidson started on his bender and setting us in his direction, he had time to get out of town. While Mr. Collinsworth was satisfied that Remington Steele was on the case, he wasn't constantly after Paul. In fact, he'd pretty much gone back to ignoring him. "
Remington got up and refilled their glasses as Laura went on to tell him how Paul Billingsley had planned to hide out long enough to sell off the rest of the warehouse's inventory and flee the country. Then she told him about her plan to recover Collinsworth's antiques AND stop Goodwin. She only hoped that Paul's wife loved him as much as she loved her own husband. Her plan depended on it. It was ambitious, but nothing they couldn't handle--and he was pretty sure it would work.
"Thank you," Kristin Billingsley said to Laura and Remington as she stepped into her husband's embrace. "I don't know what we would have done without you."
Laura squeezed Remington's hand as Kristin spoke. Seeing Paul and his wife both together and happy made her appreciate what she and Remington had more than ever. She'd made a mistake by not fully believing in the strength of their relationship, but it was nothing compared to the mess Paul had created by not having faith in his partner.
Kristin turned out to be a valuable ally in rectifying the situation. Once brought in to the loop, she informed them that most of her father's "artifacts" were in fact, forgeries and there was no way he would be bringing charges regarding their loss. In fact, she persuaded him to cover Paul's debt with Goodwin just so he could stay in her good graces.
The Billingsleys had just stopped by the office to thank the Steeles again for their help in getting their problem solved, one of them anyway. They were on their way to Montana where Kristin planned to stick by Paul's side as he sought treatment for his addiction.
When they were gone, Remington and Laura sat together in his office.
"All's well that ends well, eh, Mrs. Steele?" he said, pulling her close.
"Not exactly," she answered. Laura still felt guilty for not telling him about Paul in the first place. She still hadn't told him just how close they actually had been. "I still owe you an apology," she said. "I should have been up front with you about Paul. It's just… well, I wasn't really thinking. I didn't want you to be jealous, and…"
She hated thinking about Felicia… and Anna… and Shannon… being able to put a face to a name and thinking about Remington being with them. She didn't want to put him in that same position… especially not with Paul. There were some secrets worth keeping.
"Laura," he said. "I'm always going to be jealous of any man you've been with. But everyone has a past and I know you weren't living as a nun before we met," he smiled as he paused and then said, "that came AFTER we met." He waited again, this time for the inevitable elbow to the gut. "What I'm trying to say is that while I don't like to think of you with anyone else, at the end of the day you are the mother of my child, you bear my name and spend every night in my bed. It's all those other blokes who should be jealous."
How did he always know the right thing to say?
"Thank you for that," she said. "But that doesn't solve everything. Twice in this case, I let my personal feelings affect my judgment. First in the thing with Paul and then with you in that motel room."
"No," she said, stopping him. She didn't want him to smooth this over. "Don't try to make it better. I've always prided myself in my professionalism. For years, the agency was the first and sometimes the only thing in my life. It's still very important, but you and Kate come first now, and that's as it should be. I guess I just sometimes have a hard time reconciling my priorities."
He didn't speak, just nodded--unsure of where she was going.
"I think maybe we need some family time. Time away from the office. Rachel's going to be having the baby in a couple of months, and Murphy's going to need more time off. We're going to be needed more around here. In the meantime, what would you say to a family vacation?"
"Keep talking, Mrs. Steele."
"Well, Kate loves Disneyland. I thought maybe we could take her to Florida, to Walt Disney World."
"Sounds like a plan," he agreed with a kiss. "I'll call Rosie at the travel agency to make the arrangements."
"Sounds good," she said. "And Mr. Steele?"
"Let's make a deal, okay?" she said. "No more secrets."
"No more secrets," he agreed and leaned in to seal the deal with a kiss.
They were interrupted as the door opened and Mildred came in.
"Chief," she said as she handed Remington a small box. "Here's that new set of lock picks you ordered. Something happen to yours?"
Remington just smiled as both women looked at him.