HOLT TO HOLT TALK

By: xffan_2000

Summary: Frances knows. Set after "Bonds of Steele."

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When Laura arrived home, her phone was ringing. She just didn't care. A shower, some food, maybe a good stiff drink, that's what she was interested in. Dealing with Mr. Steele was not on her list.

While she scrubbed the mud away, the phone rang. While she munched on a bowl of Frosted Flakes, it rang again. While she reclined on the sofa with a glass of wine, it did it again. She clicked on the television for the mindless distraction of an Atomic Man rerun. Still more ringing.

Finally, she snatched up the receiver. "What?!?"

"Laura!" the female voice said. "Where have you been? I've been trying to reach you for hours."

"Frances?" The persistence her sister had shown in calling all evening frightened her. "Is everything all right?"

"I was going to ask you the same thing."

Laura bit back the truth. "I'm fine. Why do you ask?"

"I saw it on the Channel 3 news. I can't believe you didn't tell us!"

"Tell you what, Frances?" Laura asked cautiously. What did her sister know? What was the news reporting?

"Oh! Turn on KWAP now. It's on again."

Laura flipped channels for the kicker story on the 11 o'clock news.

The perky anchor smiled at the camera. "And in local celebrity news, famed detective -- and friend of this station -- Remington Steele was spotted at the Little Chapel of Perpetual Happiness today with a lovely woman on his arm."

A string of still photos appeared on the screen: Steele in his tux standing at the altar with Clarissa, him kissing Clarissa, Norman Keyes pointing his cigar at him and Clarissa.

All the blood drained from Laura's head.

"Spotlight News' intrepid on-the-scene reporter was able to snap a few pictures of the groom and his unknown bride before the great detective was pulled away on urgent business."

A shot of Laura and Mildred dragging him out of the church flashed for the world to see.

Laura collapsed against the cushions.

"We called Remington Steele Investigations to ID his new spouse, but there was no response. We'll assume they're already happily on their honeymoon and that he'll update us with the full scoop when he gets back. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Steele!"

Laura felt queasy.

"What's going on?" Frances asked in her ear. There was an unfamiliar concern in her tone.

"It's...uhm..." She stared at nothing.

"Who is that woman?"

"Clarissa..." Had she said that out loud?

"Who is Clarissa?" Apparently she had. "I thought you and Mr. Steele were....you know...." Frances lowered her voice. "...together."

"We..." She just couldn't formulate a sentence. Seeing that splashed all over the news, knowing that her sister knew, which meant her mother would also know... "Oh, Lord."

"I feel awful for you, Laura." Oddly, she could hear genuine sympathy in her voice. "But honey, a little bit of sister to sister advice: sleeping with the boss is one thing when he's single, but you've got to stop now that he's married."

Laura snapped back to herself. "Frances!"

"I'm serious, Laura. Don't be a home wrecker like Cookie was with Howie. God rest their souls."

"Oh, for Pete's sake, Frances, Clarissa didn't marry him, I did!"

There was a second of absolute silence during which Laura realized what she'd blurted out.

Frances gasped. "You what?!"

"Just forget I said anything."

"But those pictures on the news. That woman in the wedding dress. You looking like a truck hit you."

"An example of sensationalistic and inaccurate reporting by Channel 3."

"You married him," Frances confirmed.

"Yes," Laura sighed.

"When?"

"About five hours ago."

"And you didn't even bother to call me or mother?"

"It's not been a good day, Frances."

"You got married. How can it not be a good day?"

She felt the back of her eyes prickle. She sniffled. "It's a very long story."

Frances remained quiet for a moment, then softly said, "Tell me about it over coffee sometime."

Laura nodded. "Sometime."

"Is Mr. Steele there with you now?"

"No. I sort of...stormed out."

"Typical."

Laura ruffled. "Hey..."

"That's no way to start a life together, Laura. You need to hang up the phone and go find your husband."

Laura sighed again. "You're probably right."

"There's no 'probably' to it."

"Fine. I'll call you tomorrow."

"I won't expect a call too early. After all, you've got a wedding night to attend to."

"Frances!"

"Oh, come on, Laura, I've got a husband and three kids. Let me have a little vicarious thrill."

They laughed, and Laura felt good for the first time all day.

"Tell Mr. Steele -- no, he's my brother-in-law now, I'm going to call him Remington -- tell him welcome to the family and that we all love him."

"Yes." Laura smiled. "I think I will tell him that."

END