Steele, Interrupted...

Remington Steele sat back in his seat and closed his eyes. Laura looked over at him and smiled as she noticed the slight upturn on the corners of his mouth. She was relatively sure she knew what he was thinking. He couldn't believe that she'd finally agreed to go away with him... she was having a hard time believing it, herself.

Yet, here they were sitting next to one another on an airplane headed for New York City. It wasn't the tropical vacation that he'd been rallying for but when she'd received the invitation to Wilson's wedding, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to "test the waters." She asked Remington to go along with her, knowing that it would give them some time to be get away with no case to worry about, but they would also be busy with all the festivities. She would be able to gauge for herself what going away with him on a vacation that had nothing to do with work might be like. They'd done a lot of traveling in the recent past, but none with romance in mind.

It was almost a year ago now that Mr. Steele had tried to plan a romantic getaway to San Francisco under the guise of a case that hadn't existed. Of course like every other time that they'd planned a romantic interlude, things had gone horribly awry and a case did come up and foil his plans. He'd gone to London in search of himself and she'd followed, in search of him. They'd found their way back to each other on that trip, but found no time for romance. Since then, they'd gone to Iowa... for a case, and with Mildred in tow. They'd flown to New York while working undercover for an airline... on that trip, they'd made it so far as to kiss and cuddle on a hotel bed but again, the case came first. They'd spent the night at her sister's, playing house with the kids. They'd spent a weekend in Malibu at a trendy spa for a couple's weekend... that hadn't gone well either, on the romantic front. Although it had made them take a hard look at their relationship and where they were headed... which brought Laura's thoughts back full circle to this trip and the man seated next to her.

She knew she was in love with him. She knew she didn't want to live without him. And she knew that they couldn't go on the way they had been. She wondered why she'd been holding him so long at arm's length. She wondered why he stayed and why he put up with all of her tests, and her pulling back. She wondered why she'd been pulling back. She wanted to make love with him as much as he did with her. She'd always been a very sensual person. Sex had a been a big part of all of her relationships in the past, but something was holding her back this time. She'd begun to think that it was because she'd realized, even from the beginning, that this relationship would be different. This one mattered, and it would be the one that defined her life.

She reached over to take his hand, lacing her fingers with his. His smile broadened, but he didn't open his eyes. Laura leaned back in her seat and closed her own eyes, relaxing for maybe the first time in four years, as they headed to New York and their destiny.

They landed at JFK early on Friday afternoon. Since they each had only a garment bag and an overnight case and hadn't checked any baggage, they moved quickly through the terminal and to the sea of waiting taxis outside. Remington took the bags and put them in the trunk of a car as Laura climbed inside. Once her partner had joined her, she instructed the driver to take them to the Waldorf Astoria and they settled back for the drive into midtown.

"What's that?" Remington asked as Laura pulled a packet of papers from her bag.

"The itinerary," she answered.

"Itinerary?" Remington asked. "For a wedding?"

"Wilson is a planner," Laura answered, smiling. "And from what I've noticed, Caroline is cut from the same cloth. They've got quite a few festivities planned for the course of the weekend. And since we've come so far, they've invited us to join in on practically all of them."

"Just what kind of festivities are we talking about here, Laura?"

"Oh, the usual," Laura answered noncommittally, never looking up from the paper in her hand. "Dinner, the bachelor party..."

"Bachelor party?" Remington queried. "I'm supposed to go to your ex-fiance's bachelor party? Isn't it odd enough that we're even here?" he went on. "Much less for us to be included in the... festivities?"

"Yes, I admit it does seem a bit odd on the surface," Laura agreed. "But Wilson and I made our peace a long time ago. He's very fond of you, and you have to admit that in the times we've met her, Caroline is a lovely woman."

"Yes, she is," Remington agreed. "But I still think it's odd. It was strange enough for us to keep in touch with Wilson when he left California, and then for him to want us to meet Caroline when they were in town. I really thought the invitation to the wedding was just extended out of courtesy. I never thought they'd expect us to do more than show up and bring a gift."

"I think this is their way of being courteous in return, Mr. Steele," she said. "After all, we did travel such a long way. I think they just want to make sure we're entertained."

"I can think of much better things to entertain myself than attending Wilson Jeffries' bachelor party, Laura. And much better company with which to do it," he said, looking at her meaningfully. "Just what will you be doing while I'm at this bachelor party?"

"Attending the Girl's Night Out, AKA Bachelorette Party, apparently," Laura answered with a sigh as the taxi pulled up in front of the Waldorf.

The wedding reception was being held in the Waldorf's Empire Room, so many of the out of town guests were staying there at the hotel. Laura thought that it was the practical thing to do, even though two rooms were going to cost a fortune. Remington tipped the driver and took their bags, following Laura in to the hotel.

"Laura Holt," she was saying as he walked up to the desk behind her. "And Remington Steele."

"Ah yes, Miss Holt," the desk clerk said. "You're with the Jeffries wedding. Rooms 1428 and 1430."

"Separate rooms, Miss Holt?" Remington asked discreetly as the clerk handed her the keys.

"Separate, but equal, Mr. Steele," she answered with a grin as they walked to the elevators.

Remington stood beside Laura as she opened the door to her room. He followed her in, setting her bag on the bed and hanging her garment bag in the closet. He placed his own bag on the floor and his garment bag over the desk chair, before sitting down on the edge of the bed. He watched as Laura walked over to examine the fruit basket that sat on the table by the window.

"There's a note," she said, picking it up. "It's from Wilson and Caroline."

"Oh?" he said, walking over to where she stood and pulling her into his embrace.

"Yes," she said, distracted by the gentle kisses he left along her jaw line and down her neck. "They wanted to thank us again for coming…" She closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of his lips against her skin. "They want us to meet them for drinks before dinner…" She dropped the card on the table and wrapped her arms around his neck.

He tightened their embrace and brought his lips to meet hers in a passionate and exploring kiss. Hands began to roam as the couple moved slowly toward the bed, never ending their kiss. Remington lost his footing as he bumped in to the bed and they tumbled onto it together, laughing as they hit the mattress.

Smooth, Remington thought, chiding himself.

"Nice moves, Mr. Steele," Laura said sincerely. She reached up to gently touch his cheek. She was beginning to think that this weekend might hold more than merely "testing the waters." Perhaps it was time that she and her Remington Steele crossed that line, turned that corner…

"Thank you, Miss Holt," he answered, with a grin and a raise of his eyebrows. He felt the familiar stirrings of his heart as he looked down into her warm chocolate brown eyes. He knew that she needed him to say the words, but he just couldn't find words that were adequate to describe what he felt for her.

He leaned in again to capture her lips with his own. Soon, his arms were holding her close and her fingers were twined in his hair. Both of them ceased thinking and were running completely on feeling as they kissed and explored. They were nearing the point of no return…

There was an audible groan from both of them as they heard a knock at the door.

"Ignore it," Laura ordered in a low voice. "Maybe they'll go away."

The knocking persisted.

"I don't think they're going away," Remington said. He kissed Laura softly and then sighed as he rolled off of her and stood up. He reached down and offered his hand to pull her up from the bed.

"This had better be good," Laura ground out as she marched to the door.

Remington watched, barely containing his amusement. He was pleased to note that Laura seemed just as frustrated with the interruption as he was. He stood back as she flung open the door.

"What?" she said sharply, and then faced a sheepish-looking Wilson Jeffries. Seeing the look on his face, Laura realized how her "greeting" had sounded. "Oh Wilson," she said. "I'm sorry. Please, come in." She stepped aside to allow Wilson to enter the room.

"Steele," Wilson said, nodding in Remington's direction.

"Wilson," Remington answered. "Good to see you."

Wilson looked from Steele to Laura and the rumpled bedcover in between. Noting the blush that had come over Laura's face, he felt his own cheeks begin to flush.

"Sorry to… uh, interrupt…" he said. "But they told me at the desk that you'd checked in, and I just wanted to thank you again, personally, for coming."

"Thank you for inviting us, Wilson," Laura said sweetly, moving to Remington's side.

"We're meeting downstairs for drinks before dinner," Wilson said. "And we'd love for you to join us."

"Yes," Laura replied. "We got the note," she said, nodding toward the fruit basket.

"Right. Uh…" Wilson paused awkwardly. "Well, uh.. we're downstairs," he said, moving toward the door. "I guess we'll see you shortly."

"We'll be right down, mate," Remington answered as Wilson made his way to the door.

"See you in a few minutes," Laura said, standing beside the open door as Wilson exited the room. Laura closed the door behind him and leaned against it, closing her eyes. She began to laugh and Remington walked toward her.

He reached out and took her hand in his. He brought it to his lips as she opened her eyes.

"I should take my things next door and get settled," he said quietly.

"Yes," she answered softly, "and I guess we should get changed for dinner."

He nodded.

"I can be ready in twenty minutes," she said.

Heads turned as the striking young couple walked into the bar at the Bull and Bear. It only took a moment for them to locate the party that they would be reluctantly joining.

"Laura!" Wilson Jeffries called out as he stood from the table near the end of the bar. "Steele," he said, waving them both over.

Remington placed his hand at the small of Laura's back as he followed her along the bar and to the table where Wilson stood. Seated next to him was his fiancée, Caroline Forrester. There were two older couples and one younger one seated at the table.

"Hello Caroline," Laura said, greeting the bride. "Congratulations."

"Thank you, Laura," Caroline answered. "I'm so glad you could make it."

"It's our pleasure," Remington said, pulling out an empty chair for Laura.

"Mom, Dad," Wilson said. "You remember Laura."

Laura nodded toward Wilson's parents.

"Evelyn," she said. "Tom. Hello."

"And this is Remington Steele," Wilson added. He turned to the couple seated next to Caroline. "Caroline's parents, Charles and Millicent Forrester."

Caroline's father jumped up and rigorously shook Remington's hand.

"Steele," he said. "It's a pleasure to meet you. When Wilson mentioned that you'd be coming to the wedding, we insisted on getting together…"

Laura rolled her eyes. It was going to be a long evening.

"I'm exhausted," Laura said, leaning against Remington as the rode the elevator up to their rooms. "And we still have to go out tonight."

"That was a rather long dinner," Remington agreed, stepping out into the hallway.

"What do you have to complain about?" she asked. "The whole evening was practically a Remington Steele love-fest. I'm surprised no one asked for your autograph!"

"Laura, how was I to know that Caroline's father followed our cases?"

"Thank you," she said, her tone softening as he opened the door to her room.

"What for?" he asked.

"Our cases," she said. "Thank you for trying to give me credit. Not just here, but down there, too. You always do that."

"Laura," he said. "I may get to use the name, and even bask in the glory…but we both know that you are the Remington Steele that everyone admires."

"I don't know about that," Laura said. "Not anymore." She shook her head. "No, we're a team. You, me and Mildred. You've come a long way, Harry," she added with a wink as he sat on the corner of the bed.

"The name is Steele," he said. "Remington Steele."

He reached for her hand and pulled her down to sit next to him. She smiled as she twined her fingers with his.

"Oh?" she said.

"You don't agree?" he asked.

"No," she said softly. "I do."

"Then say it," he said, bringing their joined hands to his lips where he kissed her fingertips.

"Say what, Mr. Steele?"

"Say my name, Laura."

"But I don't know your name," she answered, smiling.

"You can't do it," he said, covering his impatience with amusement. "Can you?"

"Of course I can," she replied, not looking at him.

"Laura, do you realize you've never really called me anything other than Mr. Steele?"

"Of course I have," she protested.

"Harry doesn't count," he said, gently. "That's not who I am, anymore. And you never knew him, really."

"I think I did," she answered. "I do, actually. But …" Laura paused as if gathering her thoughts. "It's never really occurred to me to call you anything but Mr. Steele. It's become rather… intimate, to me…"

Remington leaned back on his elbows, watching as Laura began to pace the room. Now, they were getting somewhere.

"I suppose I could call you Remington, but …"

Laura's statement was interrupted by the ringing of the telephone.

"Bloody hell," Remington muttered under his breath as she moved to answer the phone.

"Hello," Laura said into the phone. "Oh. Hi, Caroline." She looked at her watch. "Is it that late already? I hadn't even realized. I'll be down in just a few minutes."

Laura hung up the phone and turned toward the bathroom. As she walked past the bed, he reached out and gently grabbed her wrist.

"We weren't finished here, Laura," he said softly.

"The parties await, Mr. Steele," she answered.

"Do we really have to go?" Remington asked as Laura pushed him toward the connecting door.

"Yes," she answered. "And we're having brunch with Wilson and his parents in the morning, so don't get yourself into such a state you can't recover quickly."

"No chance of that, Miss Holt," he said dutifully. "Only you can get me into that kind of state."

She ignored the wagging of his eyebrows, and she laughed as she closed the connecting door between them.

Remington sat in a wing back chair in the corner of an expensive cigar bar. He took a sip of single malt scotch as he looked over at Wilson and his friends. At least they hadn't been so cliché as to have this little gathering at a gentlemen's club. The only bright spot was that Wilson's and Catherine's fathers had finally called it an evening. He was beginning to see why Laura got so annoyed when people fawned over him. It could get extremely tiresome.

He watched the group of men as they drank, laughing and carrying on. They told stories about the good old days. They never even noticed when he'd slipped away from the table and moved to the back of the bar. Now, they were engrossed in the mysteries of a well-endowed young woman who undoubtedly saw herself as the next big thing on Broadway.

Remington Steele had no interest in debauching with Wilson Jeffries and his banker buddies. He would much rather have been back at the hotel with Laura. They were finally making some progress. Ever since the weekend they'd spent at that ridiculous spa, they had been inching forward. He had hoped when Laura asked him to accompany her this weekend that they might get a chance to explore their feelings… perhaps even move things along.

It was so rare that they actually had a chance to get away together… no case, no Mildred. He'd envisioned himself with Laura in a beautiful hotel suite overlooking Central Park, not alone in a dark bar watching a bunch of aging frat boys make fools of themselves.

"Bugger this," he muttered to himself. He stood and drank the last of his scotch, setting the glass down on the table.

"Wilson, old boy," he called out more cheerily than he felt. "I think I'm going to make my way back to the hotel. Long travel day and all…"

Wilson waved him off and thanked him for coming and Remington turned to make his way out of the bar, smiling as he thought that maybe Laura would decide to come back early, as well.

"Laura! Come over here!"

Laura looked up to see Caroline's sister calling to her from the end of the bar. Michelle Forrester was a year older than Laura. She was an attorney, following in her father's huge footsteps. Michelle was an independent woman, proving herself in a man's world. She tried hard not to be seen just as Charles Forrester's daughter. They had met at dinner, and she and Laura had hit it off right away. Laura was glad of that fact. She hadn't realized how uncomfortable she'd be, celebrating with Wilson's bride-to-be.

"This place is insane!" Laura called out as she reached the end of the bar.

"I know!" Michelle answered, laughing and shouting above the din of music and revelers. "Isn't it great?" She looked up at her new friend and realized that Laura's smile didn't quite reach her eyes. "You okay?"

"Yeah," Laura answered, bringing a margarita to her lips. "I'm fine, why do you ask?"

"You're not having a good time," Michelle observed.

"Well, you've got to admit, it's a little weird."

"What? You being here?"

"Yes, I mean… I was going to marry Wilson myself, once."

"Right, but you didn't… thank God," Michelle said, laughing. "He'd have bored you to death! But he's perfect for my little sister… and you've got that gorgeous hunk of an Englishman… oh, I get it now, you're just missing Remington."

"Maybe a little," Laura admitted.

"So what are you doing here?" Michelle prodded. "Get out of here and go get your man!"

"He's out with Wilson…"

"Laura, I saw the way he looked at you tonight," Michelle said. "And he definitely has no interest in the wedding… or Wilson. He was probably more bored than you are! I bet he's back at the hotel right now waiting for you."

Remington walked down the hallway, stopping at Laura's door before reaching his own room. He knocked lightly, hoping she'd come to her senses and left the bride and her attendants to come back to the hotel. Maybe they could finish this afternoon's conversation where they left off. He was sure Laura had been about to have a breakthrough… at least where his name was concerned.

He stood outside the door for just a moment, realizing she wasn't going to answer, and then went on to his own room.

He changed into his pajamas and turned on the television. He began flipping through the channels, and stumbled across one of Laura's favorites on the classics channel.

"Ah," he said. "An Affair to Remember, Deborah Kerr, Cary Grant… 20th Century Fox 1957. Perfect."

Laura sat in the back of the taxi as the driver weaved his way through the Manhattan traffic toward the Waldorf. She was lost in her thoughts, not paying attention to the city that surrounded her. She realized that she was hoping Michelle had been right and that Mr. Steele would be waiting for her when she arrived at the hotel.

But then again, he had been trying to be more accommodating of her wishes lately… as if he hadn't always been. And she had encouraged him to get into the spirit of the weekend and try to enjoy the party. He probably wouldn't be back for hours yet.

The car came to a stop at an intersection and Laura looked up to notice a movie theater. She smiled, thinking this was a sign… divine providence, perhaps.

"I'll just get out here," she said, reaching in to her purse for cash.

She paid the driver and climbed out of the car, looking up at the marquee in front of her. The classic movie house was showing one of her favorites.

"An Affair to Remember," she said quietly, to herself. "Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, 20th Century Fox, 1957… how appropriate."

She paid for a ticket and went inside the theatre. If she couldn't be with her Mr. Steele, this was the next best thing.

Laura closed the door behind her quietly as she entered her hotel room. She set her purse down on the dresser and slipped off her high-heeled pumps.

She tried to sort out the jumble of thoughts running through her head as she changed out of her cocktail dress and into her pajamas. She went into the bathroom to scrub her face and brush her teeth. As she was pulling her hairbrush through her chestnut locks, she looked at herself in the mirror.

What are you doing?

Caught up in the romance of one of her favorite movies, she realized that even though Caroline's call had been a welcome interruption this evening… it was time for forward movement. The conversation they had been having was uncomfortable, and Laura wasn't sure she was really ready to have it. She hadn't consciously realized that she'd never called him by his first name, but she'd never thought of calling him Mr. Steele as being formal, either. Of course at first it had been about establishing him as the agency's figurehead. There might have been a bit of keeping him at arm's length in it too, she supposed. But somewhere along the line, it had taken a decidedly different turn. She'd meant it when she'd told him that there was an intimacy to it.

She walked out of the bathroom and over to the closet. She took out her robe and put it on as she crossed the room to the connecting door. She opened the door to find that the one on his side was already open.

The room was dark, except for the television that was playing quietly. She looked over at it and smiled. The classics channel, of course. She turned off the television, glancing over at him. He didn't stir.

Remington Steele was asleep on top of the bedspread. She walked over to him and covered him with the blanket that lay across the foot of the bed. He looked so peaceful; he almost had a smile on his face. She was tempted to wake him… to finish their conversation, maybe more.

Instead, she leaned over him and placed a gentle kiss on his lips. She went back into her room, leaving the connecting door ajar on both sides.

She climbed into bed and soon fell into a restful sleep.

Remington awoke with a start. He sat up, surprised to see that he'd been covered up and the television was turned off. He didn't remember doing that.


He glanced over at the connecting door and noticed that it was open on both sides. He got up and walked over to the doorway. Looking in, he saw her and smiled as his heart beat just a little faster.

Laura looked so small, curled up in the huge white duvet. She was the picture of serene beauty with her hair tumbled across the pillow as she slept. He wanted to wake her… to walk over to the bed and take her in his arms and show her all that he was feeling.

Instead, he leaned over her and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. He returned to his room and climbed in the bed under the covers. Soon, he fell into a more restful sleep than he'd had in a very long time.

He woke to the most magical sound as the morning sun streamed through the windows. He smiled, closing his eyes to listen as Laura sang softly in the other room.

The sound was muffled as she was in the bathroom with the door closed, but the dulcet tones of her voice called to him just the same.

Remington sat up and picked up the telephone to order coffee and tea to be brought up to his room. He wanted to order breakfast. Yes, a nice intimate breakfast with Laura here in the room would be perfect, but they had to attend brunch with the Jeffries' a little later in the morning.

He was on his way to the bathroom when Laura tapped on the open door between their rooms.

"Good morning," he said as she peeked her head in.

"Good morning, Mr. Steele." She answered, walking in to the room.

She was dressed in a soft pink skirt and matching summer sweater. She looked lovely and he was just about to compliment her when they were interrupted by a knock on the door.

"That would be Room Service," Remington said, as he stepped into the bathroom. "Would you mind getting it?"

"No, not at all," Laura answered. She walked over and answered the door as the bathroom door closed behind her.

Laura stepped aside to allow the young man to come in and he walked past her to set the tray on the table.

As she closed the door behind the waiter, she heard the shower turning on. She walked back over to the table and poured herself a cup of coffee. She took the cup and went back into her room to wait for Mr. Steele to get ready.

"Laura, are you sure I can't convince you to forgo this brunch?" Remington asked as they crossed the lobby toward the main entrance of the hotel. He looked around to see if they were within earshot of anyone in particular before leaning in close to her ear. "Go somewhere quiet? Just the two of us…"

Don't tempt me, Mr. Steele.

Laura kept her eyes toward the door. It wouldn't take much to get her to stand up Wilson and his parents and go back upstairs for a private breakfast. The thought was a fleeting one and she fell back into the safe and comfortable realm of letting anything and everything come between them.

Brunch awaited. Together, they walked through the doors of the hotel and on to East 50th Street. Laura applied a tried and true method of distraction.

"Arthur," she said, nodding toward the building across the street.

"Arthur, who?" Remington asked.

"Arthur, Mr. Steele," Laura repeated. "Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli. Orion Pictures, 1981."

Again she indicated the building across the street.

"St. Bartholomew's is where Arthur and Linda were married. That's where we're having brunch. They have a lovely little restaurant called Café St. Bart's."

"Really?" Remington queried. Arthur wasn't the greatest picture ever made, but having brunch at one of the movie's locations seemed interesting, at least. Laura nodded. At least this meal would be with just Wilson, his brother and sister-in-law and his parents. Remington was getting weary of Charles' Forrester's undue attention. "Carry on, Miss Holt," he said, following her across the street.

After brunch, Remington and Laura finally had some time on their own. Remington was anxious to get back to the previous day's discussion. Maybe he could get Laura to finally open up to him if they could have a real discussion. She was the one who insisted that a relationship needed words.

But Laura had other plans. As soon as the Jeffries' had departed the restaurant, she informed him that she'd planned an afternoon of sightseeing…starting with a guided walking tour of Greenwich Village and culminating in a private showing of the Rohrberg Miscellany, a collection of rare and priceless gems from Germany that were on display at a chic gallery on the Upper West Side. After which, they'd have just enough time to get ready and get over to St. Patrick's Cathedral for the wedding.

After a beautiful wedding ceremony, Wilson and Caroline Jeffries led their guest from St. Patrick's Cathedral back to the Waldorf Astoria where their reception was being held in the elegantly decorated Empire Room.

Finding their seats, Laura was pleased to notice that Michelle was seated at the same table. Remington held out a chair for Laura and then did the same for Michelle before excusing himself to the bar.

"Laura," Michelle said, leaning conspiratorially toward her. "He is absolutely dreamy. If I were you, I'd never let him out of my sight."

Laura laughed.

"What?" Michelle asked.

"Nothing," Laura said. "It's just that you remind me of an old friend. "Bernice frequently gives me the same sort of advice."

"Bernice is a smart lady. So, how'd it go last night? I'm sure you had a lot more fun than I did."

"I doubt it," Laura answered.

"What? Don't tell me he stayed out with the boys."

"No, but he was asleep when I got back to the hotel."

"Asleep at eleven o'clock? I think I might have to rethink my assessment of him."

"It was closer to one, actually," Laura answered. She went on when Michelle gave her a quizzical look. "When I was on my way back to the hotel, the taxi stopped in front of a classic movie house. I noticed it was playing one of my favorite movies…"

"You passed on that," Michelle paused, nodding in Remington's direction, "for a movie?"

"Not just any movie," Laura protested. "It was An Affair to Remember…"

"Oh, well that makes it all better," Michelle said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

"No, you don't understand," Laura said. "First of all, old movies are a big thing for us. He's a huge movie buff, and he's gotten me into it, as well… "

"Okay, but that doesn't explain why you stopped off at the movies when you were on your way to… well, to him."

"That's just it, Michelle," Laura said hesitantly. She paused for a moment, looking up to where Remington stood in line at the bar.

He must have sensed her looking at him, since he looked over his shoulder to meet her eyes. She smiled warmly as he winked at her. When he turned back around, she returned her attention to Michelle.

"I really thought he wouldn't be there when I got back to the hotel, and when I saw the film that was playing, it seemed like a sign."

"I'm sure there's something here that I'm just not getting…"

"And, Mr. Steele and I don't have that kind of relationship," Laura said, pausing to see if she saw comprehension in Michelle's eyes before continuing. "At least, not yet."

"And it's all beginning to fall into place," Michelle said.

"It's rather complicated," Laura said with a sigh. "I want us to move things forward, but when push comes to shove, so to speak, I find that I'm not sure I'm ready."

"I can understand that fear," Laura's new friend offered, "but if I were you I might be more afraid that someone was going to come and snatch him away."

"No," Laura said, shaking her head as she saw her Mr. Steele making his way back to the table. "I'm not afraid of that, but I do wonder just how long he'll be willing to wait…"

"In the meantime," Michelle said with a grin, "find another pleasure to satisfy yourself. Try the veal on the buffet. I helped pick out the menu, and I swear that stuff is better than sex."

Much later, Remington watched with mild amusement as Laura filled her plate for the third time. She was usually such a dainty eater, although there were times that she'd surprised him on that score.

He wondered what had gotten into her this evening, however. The cuisine was quite good, he had to admit… especially for a buffet, but that didn't explain the voracity with which Laura had attacked her selections.

"Slow down," he said, raising his eyebrows when she looked at him sheepishly.

"What?" she asked with a mouth full of salmon mousse.

"Laura," he said, reaching over to take the fork from her hand. "What is going on? The last time I saw you dive into a meal with such exuberance, you were trying to avoid telling me that Derrick Vivyan had attacked you… is there something wrong?"

She couldn't help but react to the sincerity in his face and in his voice.

"No, Mr. Steele," she said, softly. "There's nothing wrong. I'm just hungry, that's all. We had a long day, after all and no lunch…"

"Mmm-hmm." He nodded, unconvinced.

"And Derrick Vivyan never attacked me," she clarified.

They both looked up as a tall redhead, a cousin of Caroline's, approached the table.

"Mr. Steele," she said. "Could I steal you away for a dance?"

"Oh, I…" Remington stumbled, glancing at Laura.

"Go ahead," she said.

"One dance," Remington said gallantly as he took the young lady's elbow and followed her to the dance floor.

Laura glared at their backs, and as they disappeared onto the crowded dance floor she shoveled another forkful of new potatoes into her mouth.

Finally, the cake had been cut, the bouquet had been tossed and Mr. & Mrs. Wilson Jeffries had departed for their room. The party was still in full swing, but Laura's heart wasn't in it.

She watched from across the room as Michelle flirted with a dark-haired guy. Laura thought she remembered him from Wilson's high school reunion. She smiled, and silently wished her friend well. She found Remington and told him she was tired and ready to go upstairs.

He walked her to her door.

Remington looked down into Laura's eyes. She was tired. It was late, and it had been a very long weekend.

He brought her hands to his lips.

"Good night, Laura," he said before turning toward his door.

"Good night, Mr. Steele."

Sunday was as jam-packed as the day before.

They slept in and then enjoyed the Waldorf's famous Sunday brunch at Peacock Alley. Again, Remington was amazed at Laura's appetite. He thought maybe it was his imagination, but he began to think that the more he flirted with her, the more she ate.

After brunch, it was off to the Times Square theatre district for a Broadway matinee. Once the play was over, they headed over to Hell's Kitchen to share a pie at the John's Pizzeria.

"A trip to New York is not complete without a slice of great pizza," Laura said, taking a bite.

"And the ambiance is wonderful," Remington added, taking a bite of his own slice. "The stained glass in incredible, and look at that ceiling."

They enjoyed the pizza and a light conversation. Remington noted to himself again that it seemed that each time he made an overture, Laura shoved more pizza in her mouth.

Laura felt slightly nauseous as they boarded the plane. Thank goodness she'd chosen the evening flight… she planned to sleep the entire way home. She was going to have to seriously rethink Michelle's idea of substituting food for sex.

They settled into their seats, and Remington took Laura's hand.

"Thank you for inviting me, Laura," he said. "It's been a lovely weekend."

"Yes, it has, Mr. Steele," she agreed, turning toward him and resting her head on his shoulder.

She closed her eyes and he sighed as she fell asleep. Another opportunity lost, but there would be others. He closed his eyes and fell into a peaceful slumber.

The taxi pulled up in front of Laura's building and she followed Remington out of the car. They stood on the curb as the driver began to unload the bags.

"The next time we're invited to a weekend wedding bash in New York," she said, "remind me not to eat everything in sight."

"You certainly took quite a bite out of the Big Apple," Remington said. "Ate everything but the worm, I'd say."

The driver took out Laura's bags and reached for Remington's.

"Just the lady's bags, please," Remington said. "Nothing personal, Laura. I just don't think I have the energy to coax you into a romantic interlude tonight."

"It's all right," Laura said as they walked up the steps to the front door. "I don't think I have the energy to thwart your attempts, anyway."

"Oh well, on the other hand… I think I just got my second wind," Remington said with a smile.

Laura stepped in for a kiss.

"I'll see you in the morning," she said, her voice husky with sleep… and something else.

"Ah yes, morning," he said. "Why break tradition, eh?"

The End….

(Final scene taken from the opening of "Beg, Borrow or Steele" written by Brad Kern)