Abigail sighed as she waited for Laura or Mr Steele to answer her call. Mildred had put her on hold and the long delay suggested that they weren't eager to discuss their unaccountable behaviour. She looked at the newspaper again, a brief and unsatisfactory announcement, with no details of the ceremony or the reason for the haste and secrecy.
At last, she heard Laura's voice, tense and brittle with a fake cheerfulness. "Hello, Mother!" she said in a singsong tone, "How lovely to hear from you!"
"Laura, is there something you want to tell me?" said Abigail, "It slipped your mind, no doubt, in all the excitement, assuming there was excitement. I wouldn't know, not having been invited."
"Ah, that." said Laura, "It's a little difficult to explain."
"Do you know how it felt to find out that my daughter is married when a friend mentioned the announcement in the paper? I know we haven't always understood each other, but I never thought I'd be excluded from your wedding - or kept from even knowing about it."
"Mother, it happened so fast, there was no time to invite anyone."
"If you'd called me, I would have been there, if I'd had to hijack a plane."
"There wasn't time." said Laura.
"What did you do, decide and get married in your lunch break?"
She heard Laura take a deep breath. In the background, she was sure she heard Mr Steele say, "Well, you lost the toss."
"I'm waiting." she said.
"Well, Mother, obviously we intended to get married at some point ... "
"You never told me. And it's not as if I didn't ask."
"I'm sure you knew that Mr Steele and I had strong feelings for each other." said Laura.
"Mr Steele?" said Abigail.
"Sorry, force of habit." said Laura, "I mean Remington."
"Laura, you're worrying me." said Abigail.
"We were in love." said Laura, "We planned to marry when time and work allowed."
"You did get married in your lunch break." said Abigail.
"Mother, will you try to keep calm?" said Laura, "This isn't easy for me."
"Do you want me to do this?" whispered Mr Steele in the background.
"Something came up about his immigration status. We had to arrange the wedding faster than we intended." said Laura.
"Laura, that cannot be the truth. He's been running a business in this country for years!"
"Someone, somewhere, made a stupid mistake and he was in danger of being deported. We had to do something and we did it." said Laura.
"Laura Elizabeth Holt, or Steele, or whoever you are now, I gave birth to you. I took care of you. I tried to be a good mother to you. I want the truth from you and I will know if you lie."
"Mother, I am telling you the truth." said Laura.
"Do you love him?" said Abigail, "Did you marry him for love?"
The silence was a fraction too long. She found herself cursing this man who had allowed her daughter to make so terrible a sacrifice. She was already planning her trip to Los Angeles to beat him to a quivering pulp with whatever came to hand when Laura said, "Do you think for a second I would marry for any other reason?"
She thought about it. Laura had a lot of odd ideas, but she was not the type to marry on a whim or for some frivolous reason. She thought of the way Laura had always looked at Mr Steele, and the way he had looked at her, with eyes that seemed to hunger for a sight of her. It was love, she was sure of it, and he was a dear, sweet, gentle man who would be devoted to Laura.
"I'm happy for you, dear, truly I am." she said, "He's a fine man and he'll be a good husband and father and I always hoped that you and he would ... " Her race against the tears was lost. She cried as she said, "I just wish I could have been there. I always thought I'd be at your wedding."
"I know, Mother." said Laura, and her voice was shaking, "I wanted you to be there too. It was a very simple wedding."
"In a church?" said Abigail.
"On a boat." said Laura.
"Oh, how romantic!" said Abigail, imagining a yacht with billowing sails and white flowers.
"It was," said Laura, "It was lovely."
"I wish you'd called me." said Abigail.
"I wish there had been time." said Laura.
"Well, you can make it up to me by making sure I'm at the christening."
"The what?" said Laura, sounding alarmed.
"Well, you do intend to have children one day, I hope." said Abigail, "I assume you've discussed that with ... well, I suppose I'd better start calling him Remington too, now he's my son-in-law."
"I'm sure that will happen." said Laura.
"The discussion or the grandchildren?" said Abigail.
"The latter." said Laura.
"Dear, you have discussed it, haven't you?"
"Of course!" said Laura with that same brittle brightness.
"He has no idea what we're talking about, has he?" said Abigail.
"Mother, the ink isn't dry, give us time."
"The clock is ticking, Laura."
"Mother, don't." said Laura.
"Well, I don't want to meddle, I'm sure. Just make sure the christening doesn't happen suddenly and without invitations."
"It won't. I have to go now, Mother. We have a client."
"Where are you living? I didn't know where to call."
"I'll call you tonight." said Laura, "I love you."
"I love you too, dear." said Abigail, "I'm so glad you found a man like him."
When she had put the phone down, she looked again at the paper. It wasn't so bad, discreet, not too boastful, nice and tasteful. She smiled as she thought of what it meant. Laura had married a man of impeccable character and taste, a man who, judging by his sophisticated air, came from an excellent family and who was already well established in his field.
She could imagine the looks on her friends' faces when she said, "My son-in-law ... no, not the very successful dentist, the famous detective." It would work either way around. She had not always been sure that Laura would ever marry, but now she was glad that her daughter had been so choosy. Mr Remington Steele was a son-in-law worth the wait.