Sun Sensitive Steele Part 2
Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2000
Lauryn Poynor <>



Rated SPF 45 (Coppertone)
Also rated slightly R

Thanks again to Anne Rose for beta reading this one

Feeling more than slightly puzzled, Laura took the proffered brochure and began scanning the contents. It was a typically glossy, travelogue foldout with pictures of sun drenched, tanned, and happy people engaged in various leisure activities. Nothing unusual there. Except for one thing. These people were a lot more sun drenched than most - every inch of them in fact. Laura dropped the brochure on to the desk as if it were on fire. She tried to speak but at first no sound emerged. Finally she managed to gasp out, hand to her mouth, "Oh my God. It's a nudist colony."

"Naturist resort," Steele corrected without missing a beat.

Still trying to get her bearings and control the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, Laura continued, "Correct me if I'm wrong Mr. Steele, but did we just agree to go undercover on a case in a resort full of people who are completely naked?"

"Yes, Miss Holt, I believe you did." Steele replied, placing strong emphasis the last two syllables. "Although I don't know if I'd use the term 'undercover.' Working under any sort of cover is likely to be outside the rules of the game for this little adventure."

Laura felt a blush begin to creep all over her body. Steele eyed her closely, not bothering to conceal his amusement. He picked up the brochure. "Chin up, Laura. It can't be as bad as all that."

He began to read from the brochure with a theatrical flair. "Enjoy the ultimate in stress free living in a beautiful, clothes free setting for the discerning naturist. The sprawling acreage of our resort, nestled in the scenic and rugged San Jacinto mountains, offers unparalled opportunities for sport and leisure activities."

Still numb with shock, Laura listened to this recitation with a growing sense of dread. Hardly pausing for breath, Steele pressed on, scanning the flyer for bits of inspiration. "Splash in our heated 'fun pool,' practice putting on our velvety putting green, or go for the burn in our state of the art fitness and weight room. Summer never ends at the Paraiso del Sol. Have the vacation of a lifetime - au naturel, all the time."

Laura snatched the brochure from his hand, forcing out her reply through clenched teeth. "That's more than enough, Mr. Steele. I get the picture." Indeed, the picture was becoming agonizingly clear. "I'll just have to call Mr. Sommers. Say it was a mistake, a misunderstanding. He can't honestly expect us to -"

"Actually, Laura, I think he was rather counting on you - not on the both of us. I made it quite clear to him how I felt about it. But my more open minded associate had to rush in where angels fear to tread."

"It doesn't matter. Neither one of us is going to rush anywhere. I'm going to make a phone call." Laura moved toward the phone.

"Don't you think you should delay the phone call for a bit? It will take him two hours to get back to Palm Springs."

"Even a naked businessman must have a secretary. I'll leave a message."

"Laura, you owe the man the courtesy of speaking with him directly. After all, you agreed to take the case."

She hated to admit it, but he was right. "I'll talk to him, OK? Are you satisfied? Whatever it takes to get out of this mess. One phone call, over and done. Then I'm going home." Steele backed off in retreat as Laura pushed past him, furiously striding to her office.

Seven hours and several phone calls later, Laura finally admitted defeat. Sommers's secretary had been expecting him around three o'clock but had not seen him since early that morning. His attorney in Palm Springs had also called the resort to say Sommers had missed an important meeting.

Despite her earlier dismay and anger at the situation, Laura's investigative instincts were beginning to kick in. The fact that Sommers hadn't arrived was not a good sign. His secretary had sounded strained and upset over his failure to return. One could hardly blame her, Laura reasoned, given the fact that several injuries and near deaths had occured recently at the resort.

She was jarred out of her thoughts by a knock on her office door. After agreeing with Steele to call Sommers she had locked herself in for the rest of the day out of sheer frustration. She had only surfaced occasionally to see if any calls had come through the front desk. Feeling somewhat embarrassed by her behavior, she opened the door.

Steele stood uncertainly in the doorway as if unsure if he should try to breach the barricades. "I've sent Mildred home. She manned the phones faithfully but you didn't receive any calls. Are you ever coming out of there, or are you planning to keep a midnight vigil for Mr. Sommers?"

Laura sighed. "I called his secretary several times. She says he was expected back this afternoon but never returned. You don't think something could have happened to him, do you? I know I'm going to regret this, but I think we need to drive over to the resort in the morning and see if we can find out what's going on. He could be in serious trouble and he did ask for our help. It's not likely that anyone else will want to take this case."

"Laura I thought we had decided that we didn't want to take this case either. I agree that the man needs help. I'm just not sure I want to expose our skins to save his. Are you really prepared to run around in the buff, observing suspects and gathering 'bare facts' as long as it takes to solve this thing? Or do you think two fully clothed people will be able to blend in magically amongst a sea of naked flesh? Steele unconsciously straightened his jacket and tie as if armoring himself against invisible forces. "Need I remind you that I never agreed to take this case, Laura. If you're determined to 'go native' so be it. I'll buy you some sunscreen. Just don't ask me to tag along. Remington Steele prefers to conduct the business of the firm fully clothed."

"You're not suggesting I go by myself? I'm just as nervous about this thing as you are. I thought we could work more comfortably as a team. Divide and conquer. I concentrate on the female suspects, you on the males, for example." Steele looked unconvinced.

"Mr. Steele, do you really want me out there alone with a potential murderer on the loose? Wandering around without protection, striking up conversations with strange men who just happen to be completely naked? Who knows what could happen?"

Steele's blue eyes widened as realization slowly dawned. Laura was definitely not playing fair, he decided. "What time shall I pick you up in the morning, Miss Holt?"

"Oh, about six should do it."

Steele pulled her close and kissed her lightly on the lips. "I'll go along on this little nature walk of yours. Just remember, I tried to talk you out of it."

"I knew I could count on you, Mr. Steele. She ran a finger along his lapel and smiled up at him. "Nice suit. Very nice. Pity I won't be seeing more of it for a while."

After staring fruitlessly at her bedroom ceiling for hours, Laura tried to form a plan of action for the Sommers case. She considered several ideas but all of them seemed only to delay the inevitable. Sooner or later she and Mr. Steele would have to strip down for action. Steele had been dead right, they had no business taking this case. Still, there was something going on there, something potentially deadly. She fell into an uneasy slumber.

Steele showed up on her doorstep promptly at 6:00. Laura had just managed to get dressed and packed before he arrived.

"You're looking a bit pale this morning Laura. Rough night? No matter. I suspect you'll be getting a lot more sun in the next few days. Should bring a glow to your cheeks, eh?" He gave her a sly grin. Laura felt incredibly tired. Steele, on the other hand looked tanned, rested, and ready. Damn him.

"Forgive me Mr. Steele, if I'm not in a sunny mood this morning. I was up all night deciding what not to wear."

"Yes, the agony of choice. Although I do think it may be down to the bare essentials, with perhaps the option of sandals."

Laura blinked at the bright sunlight as they walked out to where the Auburn was parked by the curb. Steele opened the trunk and placed her single piece of luggage inside. Laura noticed Steele had two bags of luggage in the trunk. She lifted one curiously.

"This is awfully heavy. I thought we were supposed to pack light."

"Yes, well I thought we could steal away from the resort and make a few side trips into Palm Springs. It's supposed to be lovely. Just wanted to be prepared in case the opportunity arose."

Laura gave him a suspicious glance. "I hope you're prepared for more than that. I have a feeling you'll need to be."

They got into the Auburn and made their way to I -10, heading southeast to Palm Springs. It was perfect weather to drive with the top down and Laura felt herself begin to relax in spite of her misgivings about the trip. She had no idea what the next few days would bring but she couldn't help feeling intrigued by the situation.

Ever since the recent case in which they had acquired the Auburn, Laura had wanted her relationship with Steele to gradually become more intimate. Of course she never dreamed it might happen in such an unusual way. Then again, nothing ever happened in the usual way with the two of them.

In the not so recent past she hadn't been especially inhibited. She had gone skinny dipping several times in her high school and college years and never given it a second thought. Maybe the time for second thoughts was over. Maybe she and Steele could finally get free of all of the indecisions that had kept them apart. She couldn't help but wonder.

Steele glanced over at Laura, trying to gauge her mood. Neither of them had said much during the drive. After her skittish behavior that morning Steele had deliberately kept the conversation as casual and unspecific as possible. He wanted to know how she planned to proceed once they got to the resort but he'd been reluctant to ask.

He wasn't looking forward to that moment of truth, either. He hadn't wanted to take the case but leaving Laura on her own wasn't safe for any number of reasons. As he had drifted to sleep last night his dreams had been plagued by several disturbing scenarios - mostly involving Laura and other men. Most of the men hadn't had murder on their mind but that wasn't much of a comfort.

He had his own more personal reasons for wanting to avoid this trip. He'd never been shy about nudity. In fact, he'd gone bare on a number of clothing optional beaches in Europe. He recalled being more concerned about sunburn than anything else. It wasn't so much being naked that worried him. It was being naked quite publicly with Laura that was the problem.

He often found it difficult to control his physical reactions to Laura when they were conducting business fully dressed. Sometimes he would become aroused simply by the way she moved or by a certain look in her eye. Not that he didn't look forward to them being skin to skin. He just had hopes for a bit more privacy. Still, a few private moments weren't out of the question. He had to admit this case had possibilities.

They turned onto Highway 111 just outside of Palm Springs. From there it was just a short drive to Paraiso del Sol. Steele watched Laura warily out of the corner of his eye. She seemed relaxed enough. He took a deep breath then plunged in. "I hate to seem unduly curious Laura, but what exactly is our M. O. going to be on this case?"
End Part 2
To Part 3