ANY HOLT IN A STORM
Summary: Picking up after "Steele in the Family." They actually make it to Catalina. Too bad it's raining. Then again, maybe it's not too bad...
Remington Steele stared out the hotel window on what should have been a beautiful Catalina evening. Instead, torrential rain drenched the island, accompanied by howling winds and violent lightning. He was soaked to the skin, his suit ruined, his shoes sogged. Granted, he'd flown in worse conditions, but those circumstances had been about life and death -- his own. Tonight wasn't about a harried race from authorities; it was supposed to have been about enjoying a relaxing dinner with Laura, taking a hand-in-hand a stroll along a moonlit beach and perhaps sharing a kiss or two under the stars before returning to Los Angeles prior to the first clouds rolling in. Now, his borrowed whirlybird sat grounded for the evening and all his post-dinner plans were nixed. So much for the best laid plans.
To top off the injustices for the evening, Catalina was playing host to a regatta for the weekend. All the good hotels were booked. He considered himself lucky that after greasing the palm of the front desk clerk at the Hotel Catalina, he'd managed to snag a single room with a spectacular view of the hotel's name in red, blinking neon letters. It was as far from the Ritz as he could imagine, with its mustard and avocado décor stuck squarely in the 1970s.
But Remington smiled. Despite the horrid weather and less-than-optimal lodging, there was always a silver lining. He and Laura would be sharing that single room. Yes, there were two beds, but he would get to spend the entire night with her only a few feet away.
If she'd ever get out of the bathroom.
While he'd checked in, she'd excused herself to the hotel gift shop to find some dry clothes and over-night essentials. Once they'd hit their room, she'd disappeared into the bathroom, tossing a towel his way before locking herself inside.
He'd heard water running and figured she was taking a warm shower. To be honest, it sounded good. He was freezing. Peeling off his wet shirt, he reached for the towel and started drying off. The click of the bathroom door opening drew him around.
His eyes widened at the sight of her. Another silver lining: Laura in an oversized Catalina t-shirt that went down to mid-thigh, giving way to bare legs and feet. His eyes swept back up, catching on her chest. The shirt's palm tree designs couldn't hide the pert tips standing at attention underneath. Whether she was reacting to the chill in the air or to the sight of him half-dressed, it didn't matter. Remington shuddered.
She shifted. He expected her to adjust the shirt, cross her arms...do something to cover herself. She wouldn't allow him to admire her in that state for any longer than it'd take for her to realize he was staring. He watched, waiting, as her eyes darted between his face and his chest.
Her hand went to her hair instead, which was down, still wet, but combed straight. She said, "There's no hair dryer."
"We'll manage," he said.
"I bought you --"
He pulled the towel from his shoulders to give her a fuller view.
"-- some, uh --" Her mouth caught mid-sentence, her eyes resting squarely on his bare chest.
He smiled, enjoying the game, knowing it'd be a brief flirtation.
She blinked and shook her head. "-- clothes," she concluded. "I bought you some clothes and toiletries."
"Thank you." He moved past her, brushing his arm against hers, feeling her shiver at the contact. "I'll be right back."
Inside the bathroom, he leaned on his palms over the sink and exhaled a ragged breath.
"Icy calm," he told himself. There was no use getting worked up, he knew, as Laura was famous for bringing things to a sudden halt. It didn't matter that she'd started it, she wouldn't finish it. The circumstances of their evening wouldn't allow her an exit, nor would he be left alone to resolve his frustrations.
He stared at his reflection in the mirror, but his eyes caught on something dark in the shower. Turning, he saw her dress hanging from the showerhead to dry. He wasn't surprised to see her bra hanging from the towel rack. He was utterly shocked, however, to see her panties hanging next to it. Forget silver lining. Laura in nothing but a t-shirt was a golden lining. He swallowed.
"Icy Calm," he reminded himself again, though his palms were sweating and blood was draining from his brain.
To distract himself, he focused on discovering what items Laura had brought from the gift shop. He pulled Bermuda shorts from the bag and pursed his lips. Bob Peppler's golf pants weren't as loud. Sighing, he draped his wet slacks and underwear over the shower curtain rod and replaced them with the baggy shorts.
He continued digging through the bag, hoping she'd bought him a toothbrush. His hand brushed against a box and he pulled it out.
Any semblance of calm he'd regained vanished. He nearly swooned as all his blood rushed back downstairs. Was she trying to kill him?
Remington flung the bathroom door open and stalked back into the bedroom.
"What's the meaning --" But his words died in his throat as he saw Laura reclining on what he'd claimed as his bed. The sheets were turned down, pillows were stacked behind her. She had one arm raised, propping her head, which had the unsettling side effect of also raising her t-shirt dangerously high on her thighs.
"I think you know what a box of condoms means," she said, her voice low.
He averted his eyes from her body. "Laura," he said, but he had no idea what to say beyond that.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw her move.
She was closer to him when she spoke again. "You don't want this?"
He chanced a look at her and was slapped by the memory of Clarissa sitting in the exact same position the previous night. This was precisely what he'd wanted, what he'd told Clarissa he was waiting for, why he wasn't about to accept her freebie.
But this...this didn't seem right. It was too easy. Laura was never this forward. Ever.
His eyes darted away from her to the two-dollar painting above the bed, to the blinking neon sign outside, to the box of condoms in his hand. No! Not the condoms. Anywhere but the condoms.
He closed his eyes, ignored the throbbing in his outrageously ugly shorts, gathered as much of his composure as he could and looked her in the eye.
"You don't want this?" she repeated.
"We've been down this road before," he said. "Perhaps not this far or this blatantly, but I'm afraid that you won't want this."
Laura rose to her knees and moved toward him. "I came to Catalina willingly."
"That was for dinner," he reminded her, "there were no plans to stay."
"I checked the weather reports. You had to have known the storm was coming."
"It wasn't supposed to rain until after we were home."
Laura fell back into a seated position. "You're telling me you had no plans to 'accidentally' get stuck on Catalina this evening?"
"If I'd planned this, don't you think we'd be at a considerably nicer hotel?
"I thought it was part of your game," she defended, "to keep me off balance."
"If anyone here is out of equilibrium, it's me."
Her eyes sparked. "I've thrown you off balance?" A proud smile spread across her face. "Really?"
He nodded. "You're in my bed, half naked and I'm holding a box of condoms that you bought. To top it all off, I'm actually wearing these horrid shorts without complaint. If that doesn't scream 'knocked on my ass,' I don't know what does."
"Then how about a real shock?"
She reached out, snagged his waistband and pulled him toward her. One hand went behind his neck to pull him down for a kiss, the other went right for his crotch. His eyes bulged.
She released him and angrily snapped, "What is your problem?"
"I could ask you the very same thing." He shifted his hips. The baggy shorts covered his erection, but she had already felt his arousal. With a rather firm grip, his libido noted. He ran both hands through his wet hair, trying to banish such thoughts. "This isn't like you, Laura."
A flash of indignation crossed her features, but then her shoulders slumped and her eyes fell to the sheets. "I suppose not." A moment passed. "But I thought -- " She glanced up at him, studied his face. "Never mind. I'm sorry." She stood then and made for the bathroom.
He caught her arm. "Wait."
Her eyes didn't rise above his hand at her elbow. "Let go."
"Laura," he said. He put a finger under her chin, tilted her head upward. "Talk to me."
Her brown eyes darted away. A moment passed where he didn't think she'd answer. Finally, she said, "I didn't like the competition."
She looked him in the eyes and he could see the rage she clearly wanted to control. "Clarissa," she spat.
"You had a hooker in your bed!"
A flash of anger speared his gut, the muscles in his fingers twitched. "I told you, nothing happened!"
"You told me to not blow it out of proportion! That's what you told me."
The conversation from that night sped through his mind. Laura taken at gun-point. A man that does that sort of thing for a living. Latin. Gymnast. Pajamas. Bernard. Delanian. Murder. Hidden body. Accessory after the fact.
His stomach clenched. He hadn't explained Clarissa. At the time, the case had been forefront in his mind and he'd given Laura all the details about that, but made no mention of the half-dressed lady of the evening in his bedroom.
Remington let go of her elbow, his hand dropping to his side. "Laura, I -- " Her glare was like steel. He was at a loss. He cast his eyes downward and reiterated, "Nothing happened."
She stepped away from him. He knew the rest of the night would be spent in frigid silence, topped with an ample helping of avoidance in the morning. He anticipated the slam of the bathroom door.
"Honestly?" she asked.
He looked up to find her still standing near the bed, her back to him. Hope fluttered in his chest. He reached out, caught her hand, turned her toward him and looked in her eyes. No longer did he see rage, just trepidation.
"She did offer," he answered. Laura tried to tug her hand back; he held on. "But I turned her down. I told her -- " A simple "I told her no" would suffice, would save him admitting too much. Then again, Laura was standing before him in nothing but a t-shirt. The rational part of his brain suspected any plans she'd cooked up for the evening were out of the question now, but his baser instincts shot a reminder to his groin that maybe all was not lost, if he'd just quit being so reticent about things. He drew in a deep breath. "I told her I was waiting for you."
As she stared up at him, her eyes became shiny. "You told her that?"
He nodded. "I... care...very much for you, Laura, and I'd never hurt you by doing something so unseemly as sleeping with a prostitute."
"I'm sorry," she exhaled. "I'm sorry I doubted you."
He gathered her in his arms, held her close, resting his cheek against the top of her head. "I'm sorry I didn't explain the situation that night."
The feel of her arms tightening around his middle relaxed him. It also reminded him just how little was between them, which piqued his curiosity. "Laura, if you thought I'd slept with another woman, why attempt to seduce me?"
She pulled back, her face red. "Would you believe me if I said I'm drunk from too much wine at dinner and am not in complete control of my libido?"
"No, because you're always in control -- which is part of your problem, by the way -- so try again."
"I was jealous," she sighed. "I thought I'd lost you and I wanted you back, no matter how low I had to sink."
He frowned. "Should I be flattered?"
"I'm not sure." Her eyes darted down and she seemed to realize what she was, or rather wasn't, wearing. "No, probably not. Lord, this is embarrassing." She dropped her arms from his waist. "I'll just go put on -- "
Remington reeled her in, one hand low on her back, the other even lower, his fingers brushing the bare skin of her thigh. "I think you've got on plenty. Too much, in fact." His hand edged upward, pushing the shirttail out of his way, until his palm made full contact with the flesh of her bottom. He squeezed gently. Her eyes widened and her back arched, pressing her breasts to his chest. He smiled at the tiny gasp she emitted and took advantage of her opened mouth to descend upon it with his own.
Instead of wrenching away, she responded with her tongue against his, her hands caressing his chest. Encouraged, he slid his hand down her leg, raised her knee to his hip and pressed himself forward, groaning at the intimate contact. There was no attempt to hide his arousal as he pushed himself further, pulled her closer. He would not be denied.
"Mr. Steele," she mumbled around his tongue.
Then again, maybe he would be denied.
He broke their kiss, dropped her knee. "I'm sorry, Laura. I was unrestrained for a moment."
"No! I just..." He noticed both her hands were on his waistband. "I couldn't reach..." Her fingers traveled to the center, battling with the knot on the drawstring of his shorts. "Damn it." She attacked the string with both hands for a few frustrated seconds.
"Here, let me," he offered too late, for she'd finally loosened the string. A hand plunged inside his shorts, honing in on her goal. It was his turn to gasp. Her grip was strong, her explorations sure. Her other hand tugged the garment away from his hips.
"Ugly shorts," she commented as the fabric pooled at his ankles.
"Offensive pattern," he agreed.
"Part of the plan to get you out of them faster," she said. Her hands dropped away. "Wow. You're a truly, truly gorgeous man."
In all his years, he didn't think he'd ever blushed under a woman's scrutiny, but he felt his ears grow hot as Laura perused his body.
"Big feet, scrawny legs," he evaded.
"Luscious lips." She kissed his mouth. "Beautiful hands." She laced the fingers of her right hand with his left. "Broad chest with just enough hair to be manly without being grotesquely furry." She dragged the nails of her free hand over a nipple then downward to tickle his bellybutton. "And this." She cupped him, stroked him, made him impossibly hard.
Pressing forward, she guided him to sit on the edge of the bed. Before him, she knelt, her hair brushing against his inner thighs, and removed the shorts that bound his legs. When she looked up at him there was a glint in her eyes, one he'd never seen before, one that said she wouldn't be denied. She maintained eye contact as both hands came up to his knees and worked their way inward, nails lightly scratching, fingers gently probing. Her lips parted and he could feel her breath on his penis. It jumped with anticipation. She smirked, but deprived him the wet warmth of her mouth; instead she traced lazy circles with her thumbs just behind his balls. His hips tilted, bringing his tip close enough to touch her bottom lip.
"Do you want something, Mr. Steele?" she asked, her voice ringing with false innocence.
His hand went to the back of her head, encouraging her closer. For too long he'd had a mental image of this moment, but he'd always pictured her as demure, even reluctant; he'd have to coax her, persuade her that it was okay, something they'd both enjoy. Never did he expect to find her staring up at him, her brown eyes twinkling with mischief, withholding not out of prudishness, but out of fun; pushing him to the point of begging.
She brushed her lips up his shaft, kissed the very tip, darted her tongue around the ridges. His fingers clenched in her damp hair. He wouldn't plead. She scratched his balls with her nails, rubbed her cheek against his thigh. His other hand buried itself in her hair. He wouldn't beg. She moved closer and inhaled, he heard her rumble with approval at his scent. He wouldn't... To hell with it.
"Please, La--" She engulfed him. The sudden warmth nearly shot him off right then. He strangled out a warning grunt, and her hand was at his base, pressing, as her mouth held him still. With effort, he calmed. He wanted to collapse, but the view she offered -- her head in his lap, her lips around his cock, his hands in her hair -- was the only thing keeping him upright.
She began a pattern: a slow suck from where her lips rested against her fist, up to his tip, where she'd swirl her tongue over the end, before plunging back down. The muscles in his legs and stomach quivered with restraint. She could bring him off in an instant, if she so desired, but she kept her fingers pressed tightly against his base, providing enough discomfort to keep him distracted.
He had no concept of time beyond her regular suck-lick-plunge rhythm. The torture lasted through multiple series until she faltered just a little; the suck lasted too long, the lick didn't end. She breathed hard around him; he felt her elbow bump against his calf in fast succession. His eyes struggled to focus lower. He saw her left hand moving between her own legs and he was undone. It was sudden and ungraceful as he came, partially in her mouth, partially on her cheek and his own thigh. Below him, she tensed, her shoulders shuddered.
Distantly, he was pleased that they'd both reached climax at the same time. But the guilt he felt for not helping her there and for losing his own control in such a messy way cast a dark shadow over what should have been an amazing moment.
"Laura, I'm so sorry," he said, stroking her back. She'd not looked up yet and he feared her regrets had already overpowered her.
When she did move, it was to yank the shirt off over her head and wipe her face and his leg. His first view of her naked was when she stood up in front of him and pushed him backwards onto the bed. He didn’t have time to savor the sight before she was on top of him, her bare skin pressed against his.
"Don't be sorry. It was amazing." She kissed him.
Her mouth tasted of salt -- from him, he knew. An unexpected surge of ownership restored his strength. He twisted his leg around hers and reversed their positions. Finally, he got a good look at her.
"Perfection," he breathed.
"Sure," she said, clearly not agreeing. "I've got small boobs."
"Shall I extol the virtues of your most perfect breasts, Miss Holt?"
"Extol the virtues...?"
He slid down beside her and propped himself on an elbow. "Your breasts are without equal. Shapely." A finger trailed between them, around them, causing her nipples to perk up. "Small?" He cupped first one, then the other. "No. The exact right size for my hands." He lowered his head and brushed his lips beneath the nearest. "Soft, smooth skin. Very tempting." He settled in, suckling on the one closest to him, tweaking the other nipple between his thumb and forefinger.
Her fingers threaded through his hair and he felt her hum with pleasure. There he stayed for long, lazy minutes; only his hand worked its way down, caressing her curves. The small patch of curls between her legs was still damp from her own earlier ministrations, allowing his thumb to slide effortlessly over her clit. Her legs relaxed, fell open to his touch. He pressed a long finger inside, then two. She trembled.
Her hips gyrated with his hands' movement; he humped against her hip, growing hard once again. He left her breast, trailed a line of kisses down her stomach, flicked his tongue over her clit.
"No," she groaned, her hands grasping at his head.
Ignoring her plea, he started in earnest, tasting her sweet flavor, breathing in her most intimate scent. Her fingers pulled his hair enough to hurt. He looked up, dazed.
"Later," she said as she struggled away from him, out of bed.
"Laura?" Confused, he watched as she crawled on the floor and fumbled for his shorts. She couldn't possibly want to stop now. Not now. He reached for her. "Laura?"
She sprang to her feet and he feared she would run. Instead, she turned to him, the found box of condoms in her hand. "I want you," she said as she ripped open the box and extracted a single foil packet. "Now."
He took the packet from her as she crawled back in bed and straddled his thighs. His fingers shook as he tore the foil and plucked the rubber from its place. She held his cock steady as he rolled on the protection.
"Good?" he asked.
"Excellent," she agreed then mounted him in one swift move.
She hissed through her teeth and he knew it had to have hurt. His hands went to her hips to support her while she adjusted. Her eyes were squeezed shut as she took a few steadying breaths.
When she looked up, she smiled sheepishly. "It's been awhile."
"We can take it slow," he told her.
"We've waited too long to get here." She glanced down to where they were joined.
He, too, looked down so his brain could confirm the truth of which his penis was already happily aware.
"Next time we can do slow," she said then squeezed her inner muscles around him, erasing all thoughts from his mind.
The next minutes focused on nothing but the goal of finding the best position for deepest penetration, most sensation. She rode him from the top; he rolled them over to press her back to the mattress as he pistoned between her legs; she pushed them to their sides, using her knee to hold him close; he withdrew and flipped her over, re-entering her from behind. Ultimately, she ended up back on top, her hands braced behind her on his thighs, his hands fondling her breasts as they jutted forward.
One of her hands came forward, found where they joined and started rubbing. He swatted her away to take over massaging her clit.
"Yeah," she sighed.
"That's it," he agreed.
He moved faster, both inside and out. "Let go," he coaxed.
"Ladies first." He bent his neck, took her nipple between his lips and sucked, his hands and hips never slowing.
She bit her lip and whimpered, her hips bucked and her muscles convulsed around him. Every nerve in his body exploded. He fell back to the pillows, she fell against him.
Later, when they'd caught their breath, she raised her head. "We did it."
He chuckled. "We certainly did."
She leaned down, captured his lips in a leisurely kiss.
"Not that I want this to end," he said, "but I need to take care of this." He gave his hips an ineffectual thrust.
He patted her bottom and she moved off. After discarding the condom, he stretched out by her side, his arm draped across her stomach.
"Can I be honest with you, Laura?"
"That'd be a first." She said it lightly, jokingly.
"This isn't how I pictured our first time together."
"I pictured candlelight, rose petals, champagne..."
"The blinking neon 'hotel' sign hanging outside our window doesn't do it for you?" she deadpanned.
He lowered his head to her shoulder. "I wanted a better setting for us."
She picked up his hand from her belly, laced her fingers through his. "You know what I think?"
"I think I'm not paying attention to anything in this room but you."
He smiled. "You truly are one of a kind, Miss Holt."
"As are you, Mr. Steele."
Readjusting himself to his back, he pulled her close; she settled her head on his chest. Exhaustion was quickly catching up with him. He'd need a short nap before round two. Her yawn indicated she was of the same mind.
He looked out the window, past that blasted neon sign. "Looks like the storm has let up. We can go home in the morning."
She snuggled closer. "I am home, Mr. Steele."
Remington smiled as he thought back on how his intentions for the evening had been ruined by the rain. The best laid plans, indeed.