We discover Laura pacing the lobby of the Huntington Sheraton, looking a bit impatient.
She seems to be waiting for someone … ah!
It’s Gordon Hunter! Laura starts to explain that she’s just talked to Mr. Steele, but Hunter interrupts to say he’s just spoken with Steele as well – the great detective just arrived!
In fact, “There he is with Special Agent Ben Pearson!”
Hm. Our Mr. SuddenlySteele doesn’t look too happy to see Laura.
It seems the feeling is mutual!
Something wrong, old chap?” Agent Pearson inquires of his new detective pal.
“Stomach’s a bit queasy,” SuddenlySteele groans.
Agent Pearson commiserates: He’d be gaseous, too, protecting over $2 million in rare gems. Still, Mr. Steele shouldn’t worry, Pearson notes.
“I’ll be watching you every step of the way!” I have to wonder if Mr. Steele’s discomfort is about his present predicament, or a reaction to Agent Pearson’s very questionable choice of headwear. Is it me, or does that hat look very much like Mustache’s favorite topper?
Who wears it best?
Pearson takes his leave – either to pursue Kessler and Neef, or perhaps to search for the lost Ark of the Covenant.
Laura and Hunter hurry over to Steele. Hunter curtly reminds them they have “less than 20 minutes to get to the airport.” Because if they’re late … what? The plane turns around and goes home again? The gems crumble into dust? Or maybe, if you’re late to the airport, THIS happens when you open that little metal box containing the Lavulite:
Now we know why Agent Pearson brought his hat!
Uh oh. Looks like Laura’s picked up a touch of whatever is turning Mr. Steele’s stomach. Still, they make a cute couple, don’t they?
Laura has something important to tell her companion:
“That man who was with you?”
“He isn’t Remington Steele!”
She informs the man she thinks is Agent Pearson, whom Hunter thinks is Steele, that the man whom she doesn’t know actually is Agent Pearson isn’t Mr. Steele. He’s an imposter, pretending to be Steele. Got it?
She begs NonAgent NotPearson SuddenlySteele (NANPSS!) not to let on to Hunter that something is amiss.
“You can count on me!” NANPSS declares.
At the limo, NANPSS suggests Laura and Hunter go on ahead to the airport, while he stays behind to “reconnoiter.” Hunter ain’t buyin’ it.
“I want you BOTH at the airport,” he insists, hustling NANPSS into the limo with Laura.
Oops. Looks like that queasy feeling is back!
The limo follows the Graybridge truck away from the hotel toward the airport.
“What did he say to you?” Laura wants the scoop on phony Steele!
“We were merely introduced,” NANPSS replies. He’s puzzled about something, however.
“Why didn’t Gordon Hunter blow the whistle on him?”
Laura explains that Hunter has never met Steele.
“But surely our charlatan realizes that he’ll be exposed once the real Steele comes on the scene,” NANPSS predicts.
Laura can’t tell NANPSS when Steele will arrive, but assures him that Mr. Steele will be a big part of the operation. “It’s a bit tricky, Mr. Pearson,” she concedes.
“So it appears!” (I think poor NANPSS is getting a migraine from all these shenanigans!)
“You musn’t tell Hunter!” Laura pleads again. “It would only undermine his confidence in the entire operation.”
But NANPSS wonders how long they can “keep this charade going?”
“Just until the gems are delivered safely,” Laura promises.
And once that’s accomplished, Laura intends to nail the imposter.
“To the WALL, Agent Pearson. To the VERY WALL!”
She asks if she can count on NANPSS’s cooperation.
“Believe me,” he says sincerely. “Mum’s the operative word here.”
Laura is grateful!
“You’re the only one I can turn to,” she confides, as he slips an arm around her shoulders comfortingly.
“There, there, Miss Holt,” he soothes.
“As long as you trust me, there’s nothing left to worry about.”
Well, that’s a relief, isn’t it? I’m sure everything will work out just fine!
I’ll leave it there with a question: At this point, do you think our conman is still planning to steal the Royal Lavulite? Or does he just want to extricate himself from this mess?