- SUN SENSITIVE STEELE
by Lauryn Poynor
Rated SPF 45 (Coppertone)
with heartfelt apologies to Rick Mittleman, writer of "Sensitive
Thanks go out once more to Anne Rose for "sensitive"
and most helpful beta reading.
Remington Steele walked through the glass doors of the agency
with the lightness of body and spirit that only the best tailoring
could provide. He had recently made the acquaintance of Gianni,
a newly transplanted Milanese and true man of the cloth, who
could work earthly miracles with a needle and thread.
Gianni left school at a very young age to study his craft and
to hone his skills under the watchful eye of Domenico Caraceni.
Throughout his long career Caraceni had clothed royalty and the
elite of Hollywood: Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, and Douglas Fairbanks,
Jr., among others.
Steele considered it a matter of extreme good fortune to have
discovered the talents of Caraceni's apprentice and spiritual
successor. However, he knew it was too good to last. Once Gianni
gained a foothold in Los Angeles (his first showroom was due
to open soon), Steele sincerely doubted he would be able to afford
his services much longer. His spending habits would have to be
painfully reduced for the next several months to cover the cost
of this suit alone, not to mention any future purchases. But
that worry was for another day. Nothing could shake his good
humor this morning.
Steele glanced around looking for Laura. He wondered if he could
steer her to some more elegant than usual restaurant for lunch
today. As he walked through the office he could feel the fine
fabric of his jacket move with him like a second skin. This suit
was definitely not one to waste on the grind of routine business.
"Mildred, where's Miss Holt?"
"Boss, she called just before you came in. She had a little
fender bender in the Rabbit this morning. She'll be here as soon
as she can."
"Did she have any appointments?"
"Just one. A Mr. George Sommers at 9:30."
"No problem, Mildred. I'll interview Mr. Sommers until she
Mildred gave him an uneasy glance. Laura had asked her to stall
until she was able to get there for the meeting. Mildred knew
Laura was supposed to be "in charge" of such things
but on the other hand Mr. Steele was the boss. Sometimes, she
thought, the nuances of this job could be trickier than an IRS
agent on a witness stand. "OK, Mr. Steele, I'll send him
"Is there a case file on Mr. Sommers?" Steele inquired.
"Not yet. Just some notes from Miss Holt's phone conversation
with him. I've got those right here."
"Excellent Mildred. Let's have them."
Mildred handed him the notes and he disappeared into his office.
Steele looked over the notes on Mr. Sommers Laura had made in
her neat handwriting. He was the director of the Paraiso del
Sol, an exclusive spa and resort in Palm Springs. A random series
of accidents had been happening to resort guests which seemed
beyond the bounds of mere coincidence. No one had been killed
but several guests had been injured. Sommers wanted the agency
to look into the matter as soon as possible.
It didn't sound terribly exciting but the chance to spend some
time at an exclusive spa with Laura didn't sound like a bad idea.
He was lazily going over the possibilities in his mind when Mildred
buzzed him on the intercom.
"Mr. Steele. Mr Sommers is here for his appointment. Should
I send him in?"
"By all means, Mildred."
Steele got up from his chair to greet the arriving client. "Mr.
Sommers? I'm Remington Steele." They shook hands.
Steele was a bit taken aback by the man's appearance. Admittedly,
what passed for proper business attire in these parts often amazed
him but Mr. Sommers was casual even for California. He was wearing
an open necked Hawaiian shirt and a shell necklace. A pair of
Ray Bans hung from the waistband of his khaki shorts. His skin
was deeply tanned from his hairline down to his Birkenstock clad
feet. He was probably in his mid-fifties, possibly younger. The
beginnings of a pot belly were barely covered by his shirt. He
looked like an aging surfer.
"Please sit down Mr. Sommers. Now tell me, how can I be
"Well I spoke with your associate on the phone and she assured
me your agency could help us." His tone was businesslike
even if his appearance was not.
"Yes, Miss Holt should be arriving shortly. Tied up in traffic.
I've been perusing your file Mr. Sommers. Tell me in as much
detail as you can about these accidents at your resort. When
did all of this start?"
"About two months ago. Someone tampered with the wiring
of the hot tub. A guest was almost electrocuted. Would have been,
too except a bird skimmed across the water first and got a nasty
shock. Burnt to a crisp. Then there was the incident on the riding
path. A cinch broke on one of the horse's saddles. It had been
cut but not entirely so that it would break several minutes into
the ride. There are a lot of steep drop offs along the mountain
trail. Mr. Sellers, one of our guests, rolled down one of them,
saddle and all."
"Was he hurt badly?"
"A broken rib and a lot of cuts and abrasions. He's threatening
me with a lawsuit."
"I see. Any other guests injured?"
"Yeah. Some of our guests do a bit of mountain climbing.
Our resort is at the foot of the San Jacintos. One of the more
experienced climbers had a bad fall two weeks ago. He's still
in the hospital. I know this guy. Fanatic about his equipment.
Says he checked everything beforehand. One of the links on his
tether had been partially sawn through. It was no accident."
"I'm inclined to agree. Any other incidents I should be
"Well, there was one more. We were having a group sing-along
and our song leader got a nasty shock at one point when she touched
the microphone. But it was outdoors and it was beginning to rain.
I'm not sure if it's anything suspicious. We always have our
sing-along outdoors. It's part of National Nude Weekend. Our
'Bare Fair' celebration."
Steele's attention had wandered a bit so he wasn't sure if he'd
heard correctly. "Wait a minute. Hang on. National Nude
Weekend? Bare Fair?"
"Well yes. I thought you knew. It's a naturist resort. We're
pretty well known. Television features. Magazines."
"Naturist? You mean - "
"Nudists if you prefer. We use the term 'naturist.' It encompasses
the Zen of the whole experience. We believe people should be
accepted for who they really are. Not who their clothes say they
are." He looked pointedly at Steele's Italian suit.
Steele returned his stare, then looked directly at the man's
belly which was straining against his shirt buttons. "I
prefer the sentiments of Oscar Wilde. 'One should either be a
work of art, or wear a work of art.' "
Steele continued with more than a trace of annoyance in his tone,
"I'm not so sure our agency is the right fit for this job.
Perhaps you should look in the yellow pages under 'naked guns
for hire.' I'd put in a call to another agency but they'd probably
think it was a practical joke."
"I'm sorry you feel that way Mr. Steele. I was counting
on you and Miss Holt to help us. For you to investigate would
require that you join our club. Be able to blend in and mingle
with our guests. But I can see you'll have a difficult time getting
into the total mind and body experience. Perhaps your associate
would be a bit more open minded -"
At that moment the door opened and Laura walked in to the office.
"Mr. Sommers. So sorry I'm late. Couldn't be helped. Someone
had an accident on the freeway and tied up traffic."
"Yes. Someone certainly did," Steele remarked with
an edge of sarcasm.
Laura ignored him.
"Mr. Steele was just expressing some doubts about accepting
our case," Sommers began.
"Was he really?" Laura gave him a glare. "Mr.
Sommers, would you mind if Mr. Steele and I caucus for a moment?"
"Of course not."
Steele followed Laura out into the hall. She closed the office
door and nearly dragged him to a corner. Being stranded in the
heat on the freeway with her wrecked car boiling over had not
done wonders for her patience. Neither had a solid hour of horn
honking and creative hand gestures from motorists. She'd thought
this day couldn't get any worse. Obviously she was wrong.
"Since when do you decide which cases to accept? And what
are you doing interviewing Sommers? He was on my schedule. I
told Mildred to have him wait until I got here. But no, you can't
resist forging ahead without me. We're partners, remember? Sometimes
your ego simply overwhelms me." Laura delivered her verbal
barrage in rapid fire succession.
"Really, Laura. Don't you think you're overreacting just
"I just wish once in your life you could stick to the script.
Not make hasty decisions. Let me handle the details."
Steele tried vainly to get a word in. "Laura, it's the details
of this case that worry me."
"Mr. Sommers and I have already discussed them."
"Yes, but are you sure you know-"
"I know everything I need to know. Need I remind you that
I've been handling clients for a lot longer than you have."
"Yes, but -"
"This discussion is over Mr. Steele," Laura said with
She turned on her heel and strode back into the office, Steele
following close behind her.
She extended her hand. "We'll take the case Mr. Sommers."
Sommers shook her hand, looking at her with a mixture of relief
and uneasiness. "Are you sure it's, um, your sort of thing?"
"Versatility is our watchword at the Remington Steele agency,"
Laura replied confidently. Mr. Steele and I will solve this case
with every means at our disposal."
"Yes, Well I'm gratified to hear it." I'll expect you
both on site by tomorrow morning if possible. Here's a brochure
about our resort. Driving directions included. He gave her a
sly grin. "Oh, by the way, pack light." He walked out
of the office, his sandals making a slapping sound against the
Laura gave Steele a puzzled look. "What does he mean pack
Steele raised an amused eyebrow at her. He handed her the brochure.
"Perhaps you'd better read this, Laura. And see if your
versatility is up to the task."
To Be Continued...
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