Kate was more than visibly shaken when she arrived at the gallery. She was reeling from what she'd overheard. This was much worse than she had anticipated. It was sheer adrenaline that got her to where she had to be.
The gallery was a trap. If her parents went in for the painting, at least one of them wouldn't make it out alive. Jean Murrell wasn't just some guy from her father's "mysterious past." He was a crime lord. The crime lord in France, and he had a vendetta against Remington Steele… or Michael O'Leary… or whoever he really was. She'd have to sort that out later. But right now, she had to stop him from going in to that building.
Laura stood watch, and carried the equipment as Remington began to scale the back of the gallery. She turned toward the sound of footsteps in the alley. Before she could reach out to get Remington's attention, she was startled by a voice.
"What the...?" Remington muttered, falling as he turned toward the sound of his daughter's voice.
Laura and Kate rushed to his side.
"Are you all right?" Kate asked.
"What are you doing here?" her parents asked at the same time.
"Saving your life," she answered.
"What?" they asked.
"Look, I'll explain everything," Kate said, looking around. "But we have to get out of here."
"No," Remington said. "I have to get the painting."
"Daddy, it's a trap," Kate said sternly. "Trust me. We really have to get out of here. Let's go back to the hotel and I'll tell you everything."
Kate sat across from her parents in the sitting room of their hotel suite.
"Jean Murrell is really a man named Luc Desmarais," she said.
"Desmarais?" Remington repeated. "I knew a Philippe Desmarais. But that was a lifetime ago."
"His brother," Kate replied. "I didn't get the whole story, but apparently M. Desmarais holds you responsible for Philippe's death and this whole thing was a plot of revenge…"
"And just how did you become involved in all of this?" her father asked.
She reached into her pocket for her notebook and handed him the letter.
"It arrived by special messenger the day you left for Paris. It was sent to the house, and addressed to Remington Steele, but the letter on the inside was directed to Michael O'Leary. Since Felicia calls you Michael, and the return address was from Paris… I knew it had to have something to do with this case… Why does Felicia call you Michael, anyway?" she purposefully digressed.
"We'll get into that later," Laura said, knowing that they would. "Continue with the story that brings you to Paris on your own, young lady."
Kate gave her mother the same look that Remington had when he got his hand caught in the cookie jar.
"I thought about just telling you about the letter," she said. "But then, I thought about the new IDs I'd made…" She winced. That wouldn't be her last mistake of the evening.
"IDs?" her mother asked.
Kate nodded and went to the hall closet to retrieve her backpack. When she came back into the room, she handed her mother her Susan Vance driver's license and passport.
"You made these?" Laura asked, handing the items to her husband.
Kate nodded again, noting the brief note of amusement and pride that flickered across her father's face.
"We need to have a long talk, Katharine," her mother said. Kate knew she was in trouble when her mother used the formal version of her name. "Right now, consider yourself lucky that I'm happy you're all right. But you're going to be in for it later, I promise you."
"Yes ma'am," Kate replied.
"Now, let's get back to just exactly how you ended up in Paris," Laura said.
"Well, there was just something about the letter," Kate said. "I knew it was important, and the address had to be important. I mean, why put a return address on a hand delivered letter?"
"That makes sense, but why not just phone us and tell us about it?" her father asked.
"I don't know," Kate answered. "I just got this idea in my head that I had to go to that address. When I heard you and Mom talking about Giselle, I knew that it wasn't really about someone being after Felicia… and after reading the letter, I thought the perp might really be after you, Daddy."
"All the more reason to tell us what was going on instead of going in there on your own. I can't believe you actually traveled six thousand miles on your own, and then you went to spy on what turned out to be an international crime lord… my God, Kate you could have been killed!"
"I know, Mom," she said, chagrined. "And I'm sorry. But if I hadn't been there, Daddy might have been killed."
"You should have told us, honey," Laura said.
Remington noted the fatigue in his wife's voice as well as her carriage.
"It's been a long evening, girls," he said. "I think we should all get some sleep. We can talk more in the morning."
In the morning, the elder Steeles met with the Parisian police and several Interpol agents. They gave the officials the information Kate had gleaned regarding the true identity of "Jean Murrell," leaving out any reference to Cameron, Giselle and Kate.
When they got back to the hotel, they decided it would be best to get home as soon as possible. And since she thought it best to meet her mother on neutral ground, Giselle chose to accompany them. Her father would follow in a few days, after Felicia had a chance to calm down.
By evening, the four of them were sitting together in the first class lounge at the airport, waiting for the plane that would return them to the United States.
Worn out by her long and exciting journey, Kate had fallen asleep leaning on her father's shoulder.
"Thank you for coming, Uncle Michael… uh, Remington," Giselle said softly. "I'm sorry I got your family embroiled in all this."
"You didn't," Remington answered and looked at his wife, hoping she too would offer reassurance to the young woman.
"He's right, Giselle," Laura said. "You were only trying to help your father, and it really didn't matter in the long run. It was Desmarais' plan to get Remington here, all along. You just sped up the process by a couple of days."
"Thereby putting Kate in grave danger," Giselle said, glancing at the sleeping girl as her father laid her down on the sofa next to him.
"Kate did that all on her own," Laura said. "Like you, she was just trying to protect her father. I can't fault either one of you for that."
"Speaking of," Remington said, "I think it's time you explained how you and Cameron came to know one another."
"It's quite simple, really," Giselle answered. "We met."
"I should think there's a bit more to the story," Remington scolded.
"We met in London last year when I was on holiday. I can't explain it, but there was an immediate connection. I was drawn to him, but I didn't know why. I didn't expect him to be my father…I mean, I'd long since given up the dream that one day my father would just walk into my life, and then he did."
"I never knew a thing about my father," she went on with a sigh. "I barely knew my mother." She noticed the puzzled look on Laura's face and began to answer her unasked questions. "My mother was always afraid that her… lifestyle… would put me in harm's way. So when I was three, she sent me to Paris to live with my grandmother. I remained with her until she died when I was eighteen. By then, Maman had been in and out of my life for years, but she was still not living anywhere with any permanence. So I decided to go to university and that's when I ended up in the States. I read Art History at NYU." She watched as Remington watched Laura, both of them engrossed in her story. I moved back to Paris and took a position at le Musée d'Orsay. I've been working there for almost four years now. I was on holiday with friends when I met Julian at Crockford's in London. He said that I reminded him of someone, and that someone turned out to be Maman. Eventually, we figured out the connection and had a DNA test. We've spent the past year getting to know one another. Like all kids, I'd love to see my parents together. He's still in love with her, and from some of the things she's said over the years, I think she might be in love with him, as well…"
"I think you may be right," Remington said.
"If you'll excuse me," Giselle said, standing. "I think I'll go and get a drink."
Remington watched her walk away and then turned to his wife.
"Are you satisfied? They had a DNA test and everything," he said quietly, making sure not to wake Kate.
"I didn't think you were her father," she answered in an equally hushed tone.
"Maybe at first," she admitted. "But not after you told me you weren't."
"Laura, do you really think that if I had another child, you wouldn't know her? That she wouldn't be with us?"
"No," she said quietly.
"No," he said, nodding as he reached out for her. He folded her into his arms and kissed her temple. "I have one child, Laura. Our child. I would never have wanted to have children with anyone but you."
"Twenty years," she muttered against his chest.
"Twenty years, Remington. Why didn't you ever tell me about her?"
"It wasn't my story to tell, love. No one knew about her. None of our friends, not even Daniel. I'm the only person from the life that Felicia ever let meet Giselle."
"But she knew you. You've obviously seen her."
"Yes, whenever we've been in Paris and twice when she was in New York."
"And you couldn't tell me then?"
"Perhaps I should have," he said, leaning back to look down into her eyes.
"Yes, you should have," she answered. "How many other secrets are you keeping from me?"
"None, my love. I'm sorry. I just didn't know how to deal with it. I've been keeping the secret of Giselle's existence since long before I met you. It was a promise I made to Felicia before I ever knew you existed… before you came along and gave me a life. It was a secret from another life, and the most important secret she'd ever entrusted to anyone. If I had betrayed that trust, it would have devastated her."
"I understand," she said.
"Do you? Really?"
"I do. But there had to have been times over the years when you thought about telling me. When you made some excuse to leave me so you could visit her… Promise me something."
"The next time you get an inkling that something might be important enough to tell me… tell me."
"That's a deal," he said.
"Good," she answered, smiling up at him. "Let's seal it with a kiss."
"So it turns out that Desmarais sent a letter to our house indicating that he was looking forward to seeing Remington, and the five ladies. But the letter didn't come until after we were gone. My daughter decided she was Nancy Drew and she made her way to Paris," Laura was wrapping up the case for Mildred and Murphy. "Instead of giving us the information, she thought she could take care of things on her own. Using fake ID, which she made herself, she went to Paris and Desmarais' warehouse. She overheard a conversation where Desmarais admitted that he'd set the whole thing in motion to get Remington to Paris. He didn't care about the painting at all, he just knew that Cameron would ask Felicia to get it for him. He also surmised that Felicia would go directly to Remington."
"How could he know that?" Mildred asked.
"Well, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away," Laura said with a smile, "Remington and Luc Desmarais' brother Philippe were… associates. They worked cons together along the Riviera. So because of his younger brother, Desmarais was aware of the connection between the man he knew as Jean Murrell and Felicia Simone, it didn't take him long to make the connection to Michael O'Leary. Long after Mr. Steele became Mr. Steele, Philippe Desmarais got caught up in a con that was beyond his abilities. When he'd originally planned the sting, he'd planned on having a partner…"
"Steele," Murphy said.
"Right, but he wasn't available for Philippe, because he was here… with me, being Remington Steele. Philippe went ahead with the plan and was caught. He ran from the police and was killed in a car accident during a high speed chase."
"And the elder Desmarais blamed the boss for his brother's death," Mildred chimed in.
"You got it," Laura answered. "Over the years, he's become one of the biggest crime bosses in Europe, but he never got over the loss of his brother. He's been plotting his revenge all these years."
"And Kate went to see him by herself? That kid's got nerve we haven't even thought of yet," Murphy said.
"Tell me about it," Laura answered. "Of course, she had no idea who Desmarais was, or what she was getting into. She just decided that it was time she showed us what a good investigator she's going to be. She thinks she's ready to be out in the field."
"Maybe she's right," Murphy said.
"Et tu, Murphy? I don't think so," Laura said. "My daughter has a tendency to charge in where angels fear to tread."
"Like mother, like daughter. So how bad was the punishment?" Mildred asked.
"She's grounded for the rest of the summer. No cell phone, no beach parties, no car… and no movies. I'm sure I'll come up with something else," Laura said with a smile. "And we're considering delaying her entrance at Stanford for a year."
"Wow, that is pretty harsh," Murphy said.
"I'm just not as convinced as I used to be that she's mature enough to live on her own," Laura said.
"I think we might be wrong about that, love," Remington said from the doorway.
"Hi, honey," Laura said as he walked over to her, placing a quick kiss to her lips. "Did you get Felicia and Giselle taken care of?"
"Yes, they're tucked away in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Cameron will be joining them in a few days. I think it will all work out."
After dinner, the Steele family was alone for the first time in days. Kate had been quiet at dinner, but that was to be expected. The trip and the danger it presented had affected her more than anyone realized. She was also still pouting a little over her punishment, though they had decided not to delay her college enrollment.
"Daddy," she said quietly as they sat out on the deck overlooking the ocean. "Why do Felicia and Giselle call you Michael?"
He'd been expecting this. He and Laura had been discussing the idea of telling Kate the truth. He'd been hesitant, but he was beginning to see that it was time. Kate was brilliant and inquisitive. It was only a matter of time before she figured it out… and even if she were to lose all respect for him, he would rather she hear it from him and Laura than to stumble on it herself.
"It's the name I was using when I met Felicia, darling."
"Were you undercover?" Kate asked, already knowing the answer.
"Not exactly," Remington said, tugging his ear and looking at Laura. His eyes were pleading with her to jump in and save him. "And it was long before I met your mother." He reached out and took his wife's hand.
"You know, you've never told me about how you met," Kate said. "I just assumed it was when you went to work together at the agency."
Remington looked out over the ocean as Laura began their story. Kate would be leaving for college in a few months, and they knew that it was past time that their daughter knew the truth.
"It all started the day a man named Ben Pearson walked into the office," Laura said. Smiling, she looked over at her husband. He was more than a little uncomfortable. She knew he was worried about how Kate would take the news. She had always adored her father, and he was afraid that would change. Laura knew there wasn't a chance of that happening. She knew her daughter. Kate loved him almost as much as she did and knowing the truth could not change that. Like her mother, when this was all said and done, Kate would love Remington even more.
"He was the most attractive man I'd ever seen…" Laura continued, "…the epitome of tall, dark and handsome. He had blue eyes you could get lost in, and that accent," she said with a sigh. "He took my breath away."
Kate knew her mother was talking about her father, but who was this Ben Pearson? She also noticed her father was staring out over the ocean; it was as if he didn't want to meet her eyes.
"Mr. Pearson had come about some gems that Uncle Murphy and I had been hired to protect," Laura went on. "He said he worked for the South African government and he was there to retrieve the gems, which he claimed had been stolen, and return them to his government. This wasn't entirely true. Ben Pearson was a Special Agent with the South African government, but the man in my office was not Ben Pearson. He was however, there for the gems. He intended to steal, uh, retrieve them himself and return them to the South African government, for a finder's fee…"
Kate again looked at her father; he had always been very big on finder's fees. She remembered an argument she had once overheard where her father was suggesting the agency go into the retrieval business and her mother would hear nothing of it. She so was busy putting the pieces together, she was only half listening as her mother continued to tell her story.
"… and that's how he became Remington Steele."
Became Remington Steele? Kate thought as things began to fall into place. "What do you mean, Mom? How could he become Remington Steele?"
"Well, honey," Laura answered, "It actually started several years earlier. You see, I'd always loved excitement…"
"I don't get it," Kate said, shaking her head. "Michael O'Leary was a jewel thief!"
"Art, actually," her father corrected. "Richard Blaine was the jewel thief, Jean Murrell dabbled in gems, too."
Kate looked at her father in disbelief, and his heart sank. She turned to her mother. "And you knew about this?"
Laura nodded. "Eventually."
"So, it's all a lie?" Kate asked, bereft, as she stood up from the table. "The myth of Remington Steele is just that, a myth. This is just great." She began pacing the deck. "I don't even know what to think. I need to go for a walk." With that, she disappeared down the stairs to the beach.
Laura stood up to follow.
"Let her go," Remington said quietly.
"Rem, we have to stop her."
"No," he said, and her heart was breaking for the pain she saw in his eyes. "She just found out that the father she held up on a pedestal is a fraud. I think you and I both know what that feels like. Let's just give her some time, eh?"
He stood up and walked back into the house, but turned and walked down to the beach.
Laura watched as her daughter approached the spot where her father sat alone on the beach. She held her breath as Kate sat down. She saw the tension melt away from her husband's form as their daughter leaned in and laid her head on his shoulder.
She smiled, understanding that everything was going to be fine. As usual, Remington was right. Kate had been through a big shock--- she learned her parents were human.
But unlike their fathers, Remington and Laura put Kate first… always. That was what was different now. Kate knew that they loved her. She was a great kid, and she loved and respected both of her parents. It might take some time, but she'd come to understand why they'd done what they'd done, and she'd understand that it was those rather inauspicious beginnings that made them all who they were.
Three Steeles… unstoppable.
"Mama," Kate said, leaning on the rail as they watched Remington walk alone on the beach.
"Yes angel?" Laura answered smiling softly. It had been many years since she'd been referred to as "Mama".
"I'm really proud of you," her daughter said. "I mean, I've always been proud of you and Daddy… but what you did," she paused and looked up at her mother. "Starting the agency like that, all on your own… it must've been so hard. You're amazing. I can only hope that one day I'll be half the woman you are and I'll be lucky. You're a great investigator," she said. "But--and I think Daddy would agree with me here--you're an even better wife and you're the best mom a kid could ask for."
Tears glistened in Laura's eyes as she pulled her daughter into her embrace.
"Thank you, baby," she said. "But I think most of that has to do with you and your father. I wouldn't be who I am without the two of you."
Kate stepped out of the hug, and they both turned again to look at Remington down on the beach.
"He's pretty incredible, too you know?" Laura said.
"Yep," Kate agreed. "I'm a pretty lucky kid. And lucky to be here, too, I think. After everything you and Daddy went through to get us all here."
"She said she thinks I'm awesome," Remington said, pulling Laura close as they snuggled together in their bed.
"She's right," Laura said, smiling as she ran her hand over his chest. "I told you that you didn't have anything to worry about."
"I don't remember the last time I was that scared," he said honestly.
"You're her daddy… I think you finally know what that means. That little girl is going to hold you on a pedestal for many, many years to come."
"She's not a little girl anymore, Mrs. Steele."
"No, she isn't."
"Pretty soon," he said with a grin, "we're going to be empty-nesters."
"Oh, no," Laura insisted. "I'm way too young for that."
"Exactly. Unlike most couples, who turn to hobbies like knitting and golf when their offspring leave home, we can get back to what we do best…"
"Detecting?" she said with a giggle.
"Yes, Mrs. Steele," he said as a lascivious grin spread across his face. "Detecting. And we're going to do it in every room in this house…"
"That's big talk, Mr. Steele. I think maybe you should give me an example right now."
"My pleasure, Mrs. Steele."
"Oh, no, the pleasure is all mine."
"I think I can guarantee the pleasure will be mutual, my love."
"As always," she said. "Now shut up and kiss me."