Steele, Laura and Mildred trailed wearily toward the double doors to the Towers. Steele opened the one on the left and gallantly motioned the ladies through. Mr. Standusty and the Dusty Bookshelf would soon have their stolen books back, though Standusty seemed to feel more guilty about the entire debacle than the perpetrator, who had sold the contents of his uncle's library for far less than their value. The medallion would be held as evidence for the time being, until the nephew's various assaults were sorted out.
The police paper work always seemed to take longer than the investigation itself, wearing in its tediousness, especially it seemed, when Jarvis was involved. He had puzzled both Laura and Mildred with his dogged questioning of Steele's role in the investigation, even his role at the agency, Mildred finally staunchly declaring, "Not that we don't appreciate your help, now and then, Detective Jarvis, but with the chief's case closure rate, I'd think you'd be bending over backwards to thank him for his help!"
At that Jarvis had reluctantly sent them on their way, the letter in Steele's suit coat, at least in the mind of the agency's namesake, crackling ominously.
"Mildred, we really do appreciate your calling Detective Jarvis." Laura finally broke into the silence. I can't quite figure out why a homicide detective has been so interested in our missing book case, but your timing was perfect."
"Looked to me as if you and the chief had things covered, Miss Holt, but since Jarvis was already involved...he seemed like the right person to call." Mildred peered a bit anxiously up at Steele. "Was I right, Mr. Steele?"
The trio had reached the bank of elevators and were waiting there.
"Of course it was!" Laura touched Steele's bicep subtly. "Mr. Steele?"
"Wha'? Oh, absolutely, Ms. Krebs. Glad to have the calvary ride in." Steele offered distractedly, hand tapping a nervous rhythm on his left chest.
The doors opened, a single woman stepping from the otherwise empty car, a shapely dark haired beauty, crisply dressed in a burgundy tailored skirt and jacket. A slight smile slid across her face upon seeing the three members of the detective agency. She glanced at Laura, and then at Steele, opening her mouth to speak, when Steele placed a firm hand at both his partner's and Mildred's backs to shepherd them past her into the open elevator car.
"Come now, ladies, it's been a long day."
"Mr. Steele!" Laura interjected, pulling away from Steele to step toward the woman. "Ms. Gilbert, isn't it? From the advertising firm on the tenth floor?"
"That's right." the woman said, hesitantly, but with a quiet confidence. "Call me Madeleine, please! I'm flattered you know who I am, and a bit embarrassed at the same time. I'm so glad to finally have a chance to speak with you. I've wanted to for quite some time."
"Advertisements?" Steele asked with a quirk of his mouth, and a nervous half laugh. "Television, radio, that sort of thing? How fascinating. I might have guessed a government agency official of some kind."
"Magazine copy, more specifically," Madeleine answered. "I'm a writer."
At that the young woman blushed and grew a bit flustered. "I write more than just copy, actually. I've wanted so badly to meet the two of you. You see, I've written quite a few stories based on you, a handsome private investigator and his beautiful partner, solving crimes in Los Angeles and around the world. Your work, your lives are the perfect fodder for story telling."
The two detectives glanced at one another, and then back at Ms. Gilbert.
"Stories about us?" Remington grinned crookedly. "Really?"
Laura was more taken aback. She thought briefly of the whole 'Stories of Steele' that had distracted Steele in the early years of their relationship. "I'm not sure we really merit that kind of attention. What do you plan to do with your stories?"
"Oh, the stories are all from my imagination, simply using you as the inspiration! I think you'd find them enjoyable - they're really just an exercise for me in writing," Madeleine said wistfully. "Some day I hope to create other characters, a novel perhaps, but in the meantime I've had so much pleasure taking you and Mr. Steele across the country and even throughout Europe solving crimes. In my stories you've met and foiled some truly evil men."
At this Madeleine grinned shyly and shrugged. "Anyway, it's a true pleasure to finally meet you. I would be very happy to share my stories with you if you like, but I shouldn't keep you any longer. I know you're very busy."
"I'd love to read your stories, Ms. Gilbert. You just bring them by the office any time." Mildred stage-whispered to Madeleine. "I think these two are the perfect subject for a romance story.
Laura blushed deeply, while a saucy smile lit Steele's face.
"Lovely to meet you, Ms. Gilbert." With a wink for Madeleine, he once again motioned Mildred and Laura into the waiting elevator, allowing the doors to separate them from the attractive young author.
The sleek lines of Steele's desk lamp provided the only illumination in the dim office. The debris of carry out - a styrofoam clam shell holding the remains of a salad, and another neatly emptied of a pasta dish - were stacked in the office's small waste can. a dark suit coat was draped neatly over the back of the desk chair; polished Italian oxfords, could they have been seen, were lined up under the desk, their owner having long ago pushed them from his tired feet.
Laura leaned forward from where she sat on the broad expanse of the office's white sofa to make a final note on the top page of a file before snapping the folder shut and laying it aside on the low table in front of her. Steele's long legs were crossed on the table, his fingers laced behind his head, the lean line of his body stretched out next to Laura with a feral grace. As the brunette sank back against the sofa, she drew her legs up under her and turned to Steele, her left hand moving to play absently with the buttons of his crisp white shirt.
"People certainly make their lives more difficult than need be, don't they?" she mused.
Anxiety crept across Steele's face. "What do you mean?"
"Mr. Standusty would have happily helped Williams assess the value of his uncle's books if he had only known enough to ask. As it is, he'll likely spend time in jail and spend the remainder of the estate he inherited on legal fees."
Steele hummed thoughtfully. "I've known plenty of blokes like him; never had the good sense or good luck to get past their own mistakes. Could'a been me if Daniel hadn't shaken me by the scruff a time or two."
Drawing back to level her partner with an appraising gaze, Laura remarked slowly, "It's hard for me to see Daniel as a good influence over you, but assuming he hasn't dragged you into another of his nefarious schemes, remind me to thank him next time I see him."
Grinning a bit, Steele dropped an arm around Laura's shoulder and snugged her in tight. "No worries, Laura. Daniel's schemes can't hold a candle to your charms."
Sighing softly, as she thought of the times Daniel had pulled Steele away in the past, Laura shifted and stood up, reaching for the file on the table as she rose. "It's been a long day, Mr. Steele. Thank you for your help at the Dusty Bookshelf. You, Mildred; I couldn't do it without you."
Steele grabbed her wrist before she could step away. "Laura, I meant what I said. I plan to be here, right here with you, to be part of whatever stories we write together, the adventures of Remington Steele."
Rising to pull her into the circle of one long arm, he buried a hand in her thick hair , cradling her skull. Brown eyes and blue drifted closed as they swayed slightly. A tight lipped smile curled the edges of Laura's mouth, before she tipped her head upward to kiss the hard edge of Steele's jaw.
"Perhaps we should leave the story telling to Ms. Gilbert, eh Mr. Steele?"
With a final hard squeeze, Steele released Laura just far enough to brush her lips with a tender kiss.
"As long as she writes us a happy ending, Miss Holt. As long as she writes us a happy ending."
Though I have long known where I wanted to take this tale at it's end, never have I more decidedly felt the disparity between the author I wished to remember, and my own writings than now. It has been nearly a year since MG was too soon silenced, the remainder of her stories about Remington Steele and his lovely wife and partner, Laura Steele, lost to us along with their author. She gave us so many lovely images of this couple, took us on so many marvelous journeys throughout Europe and the states, ever in pursuit of the villainous Tony Roselli. Though we didn't get the happy ending we might have liked for our friends Laura, Remington and MG, oh how we loved our time together. I encourage you to go back to read Steele in Perspective, Steele-In-Law, Ancestral Steele, Steele in the Shadows, Requiem in Steele Major: The Prequel, Notoriously, Steele, Wife of Steele, Something Wicked This Way Steeles or DoppelSteele, found under Madeleine Gilbert's name on this site.