Steele a touch of Christmas

Happily whistling Laura Holt paid a lot of attention to her looks, standing in her bathroom and drying her long, brunette hair. Since her boss, Remington Steele showed up and became a real person, work in her agency was still quite stressing, but, in a very special way, agitating. The never-ending tension and improving chemistry between her and Mr. Steele eased some of her anxieties and she became more and more self-confident and easy-going. In many cases she could rely upon Mr. Steele's entirely different point of view and ease some of her strain. Even her family could tell, since never before they met as often and things just went as a matter of course. She managed to get out of the emotional dead-end she had manoeuvered herself into. This day was her opportunity to say thank you for all the good his presence and attention did to hear. She had made a reservation at his favourite restaurant and, well, maybe this would turn out just to be the day… He did not yet know about it, it was her intention to give him a last- minute surprise.

So pleasant anticipation enlightened her mood, even early in the morning. She put aside her hair-dryer and critically observed her face in the mirror and was quite satisfied with her appearance. But all of a sudden something seemed to disturb her idyll. A strange odor? She thought she could smell a faint scent of sweat. Confusedly she started to turn around, when a masculine arm rudely grabbed her throat.

"Just another 122 days till christmas, pretty girl!" a hoarse voice whispered into her ear. Quickly she tried to recognize the voice, connecting it with the disturbingly unpleasant masculine scent. Cold sweat started running down her back when something soft touched her mouth and nose, consuming all her senses and she passed out into the arms of the intruder.

Mildred always loved the 30 minutes before the agency came to life in the morning. It gave her enough time to prepare for the day. She made coffee, delivered the newspaper to Mr. Steele's desk and prepared the coffee-mugs for everyone. It won't be long before Mrs. Holt would arrive, she was pretty early and always called in advance should there be any delays. But this morning was different.

When Mr. Steele arrived at the office, he was pretty surprised that Laura was not immersed in her paperwork as usual. But he was not yet concerned. He took his coffee and the newspaper and prepared himself for the daily tasks. Summer in L. A. took it's toll. Summer slump in it's perfection. Reading the L. A. Morning Post became more and more boring every day, the actual news incredibly marginal. He could not help a bored yawn. The summer, the heat, the closeness – he still could not understand the reason Mrs. Holt denied his request to close the whole agency for two or three weeks. There was nothing going on, especially nothing that required the attention of California's most famous and ingenious sleuth. Hawaii, Fidji, the Mediterranean, just a few suggestions he had made and had been rejected. Relaxed he rested his feet on his desk, the still unread newspaper in his hand, wondering about Mrs. Holt's whereabouts. By now she probably had realized that there was nothing but heat and boredom and took her time. Very understandable.

The heat of the summer made everything going it's own pace. The aircondition cooled down the temperature in Remington Steele's office to a comfortable 65°F, but this fact did not change his bored-relaxed mood. Little did he know that his world was about to completely turn over in a matter of a few seconds. Idly scanning through the newspaper he suddenly jumped up like something had scared the hell out of him. "Prisoner escaped", one of the headlines read. But more than that he was terrified by the corresponding picture. Within his career as a private investigator he had dealt with many people ignoring or bending the law in any possible direction, but no one had ever given him so much angst, panic and pain. He was looking right into the face of Anthony Delgetti, who had been sentenced to jail twice because of Remington Steele's whit and knowledge.

Laura's absence became an entirely different meaning, according to these circumstances. He never ever before felt so concerned, worried, frightened. He was scared to death. All of a sudden his panicking thoughts were disturbed by a scream and strange noises outside his office. Before he could check out what happened the door to his office opened and Mildred came in. Her face pallid, moving stiffly and with a gun pointed at her temple. With a shocked expression she glanced at her boss. "No. Wrong. Movement", a husky voice warned. Before he had a chance to look at the intruder, Remington Steele felt an ice-cold shiver running down his spine. He had already met a lot of criminals, some of them dangerous, some of them pretending to be so, some of them more or less persistent, some of them certainly daft. But no other person ever left him as frightened as the man who now held his secretary as a hostage. Right in front of his eyes he had the ghost of the Christmas past – Dancer, better know as Anthony Delgetti. "Now, Brunhilde", he threatened Mildred. "Don't even think of moving in a wrong direction or I will use you for target-practice." He pushed Mildred onto a sofa and with a swift movement of his gun ordered Remington Steele to sit right next to her. "So, pretty face, I sincerely hope you'll behave better this time. You caused me a lot of trouble the last time, now you'll pay back. I'm not in the mood for jail any longer and decided to start all over in Argentina. I haven't found enough reasons for the authorities to agree yet, so I'll do it my way. So first I need cash – 250.000 $ should be o.k. to begin with. And second- you will get me over the Mexican border. Today, if you want to have Brunhilde unharmed." He emphasized his words with his gun, holding it to her temples again. "Boss", Mildred mourned desperately, "please, do something!" Carefully Mr. Steele got up and raised his hands raised in a gesture of surrender. "Look, dancer, even if I was willing to assist you, where do you think I can get a quarter of a million bucks all of a sudden? Leave Mildred alone, kill me instead if you are in need to kill someone."

"Don't worry, nothing will happen to Brunhilde. As long as you do what I say. We will find a nice place for Brunhilde. And if that should not be enough- I'm lucky to still have an ace in the hole – another hostage." With this words he took a strand of brunette hair out of his pocket. "Pretty girl. I like pretty girls. Would be too sad, if she had to die!" The sight of Laura's hair in Dancer's hand brought Remington Steele to the verge of madness. Haggardly he tried to attack Delgetti, who again used Mildred as a shield. "Stay put, pretty face", he commanded. "Remember Brunhilde, remember your pretty assistant and don't lose your temper. Sit. Down.!" Remington Steele collapsed back on to the couch. Laura's life was endangered, Mildred had a gun pointed to her head by a psychopath. Momentarily his situation was even complicated by a complete lack of inspiration. But Dancer knew what he was up to. "Very well, pretty face. Then we can talk about the next step. Brunhilde will have a nice place in the closet, until everything went to my satisfaction." He handed some tape to Mr. Steele and ordered him to tie Mildred's hands and feet and to gag her. "Tightly!" he yelled, when he saw Mr. Steele hesitating. Roughly Dancer shoved her into her prison. "And don't even try to escape", he advised Remington Steele, "it would be your end. And now you'll get me the money." He took the weapon from Mildred's head and rudely jerked it into the detective's ribs. Dancer closed the door to the closet with his foot. Nobody would come to look for her in there, her life was as much in danger as the lives of Laura Holt and Remington Steele.