Sun Sensitive Steele Part One
Date: Thursday, September 14, 2000
Lauryn Poynor <>



by Lauryn Poynor

Rated SPF 45 (Coppertone)

with heartfelt apologies to Rick Mittleman, writer of "Sensitive Steele"

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 arrives."

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 through."

"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

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 of service?"

"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 aware of?"

"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 a touch?"

"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 finality.

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 carpet.

Laura gave Steele a puzzled look. "What does he mean pack light?"

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."

End Part One
To Part Two