- Sun Sensitive Steele Part
Date: Tuesday, September 24, 2000
- Lauryn Poynor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
SUN SENSITIVE STEELE PART IV
by Lauryn Poynor
Rated SPF 45 (Coppertone)
Thanks again to Anne Rose for ever helpful beta reading
Laura gripped the counter of the sink and took several deep breaths,
trying to calm her nerves and get her pulse rate back to normal.
It was no use. She wanted to do something violent. Break something
or scream. She saw a large plastic bottle of complimentary sunscreen
labeled "Barely There - the tanning lotion for the experienced
sun bather." She picked it up and flung it with all the
strength she could muster toward the tiled wall of the whirlpool
bath. It ricocheted wildly off the wall several times before
bouncing to a stop at the bottom of the tub.
Breathing hard, she sat down on the edge of the bathtub and stared
at the gleaming, Spanish-tiled floor. Damn him, she thought murderously.
How could the man manage to make her so angry when they'd been
here for less than an hour?
That was just the point, she thought. Why did he always have
to push? This whole insane situation was difficult enough. Did
he really think she would be ready to hang out the "do not
disturb" sign and get naked with him before they had even
unpacked? The problem was she had come damned close to doing
it. Pressed intoxicatingly close to him as he had said those
words, she had wanted nothing more than to strip him completely
bare and throw him down on the bed - or let him do the same to
Why did he have such an effect on her? It seemed her body, if
not her mind, was always itching to give in at the slightest
stimulation. What made it even harder to endure was she was sure
he was aware of it too. So sure of himself. So sure of her. It
would be sweet revenge to make him think twice, to shake him
up a little. She smiled slightly and savored the possibilities.
A sharp knock on the bathroom door made her jump to her feet.
"Go away, " she called out loudly as she leaned against
the door frame. "I don't want to see you or talk to you."
"Laura, it's Mrs. Sommers. She's here for the tour."
"Oh," Laura exclaimed in surprise, quickly unlocking
the door and stepping outside. She looked up into the puzzled
face of Mrs. Sommers. "I was just freshening up after the
drive over," Laura hastily explained, hoping she didn't
sound as foolish as she felt. Laura extended her hand. "I'm
Laura Holt, Mr. Steele's associate."
"Sonya Sommers." They shook hands. Mrs. Sommers was
a slender, athletic looking woman in her early fifties. She had
stylish, close cropped auburn hair and a brisk, no nonsense manner.
She was wearing white medium length shorts and a crisp sleeveless
blouse in pale pink cotton. She looked like a typical, well preserved,
country club spouse on holiday.
"I know this whole situation must seem pretty strange to
you. Gerald tells me that you're not naturists but that you're
both committed to investigating these accidents. That's asking
a lot from both of you and I hope I can help to make your progress
here as painless as possible. I think you'll find it's not as
difficult as you imagine. Clothes free living can be very liberating.
I think you'll find it will seem very natural to you after a
Mrs. Sommers led them around the grounds, pausing to chat with
and introduce several staff members and guests. Most of the conversationalists
were pretty much bare, with the exception of the occasional fanny
pack or towel around the waist or shoulders. Laura practiced
keeping her chin up and eyes front. I didn't always work - there
had been this swimming instructor who'd definitely caught her
eye, but she thought she done rather well under the circumstances.
Laura noticed that Steele hadn't contributed much to the conversation
lately beyond a few basic "hellos." Wondering how he
was taking it, she hazarded a glance in his direction. His gaze
seemed riveted on several particularly bouncy young ladies playing
volleyball on a sandy area by the fitness center. She could almost
swear she heard him say the words "nice moves" as they
continued along the path.
After they made the circuit of the grounds and facilities, Mrs.
Sommers walked with them back to their suite. "I'll get
that list of resort guests to you as soon as possible, Miss Holt,
or should I say, Mrs. Blaine," she added, smiling.
"We'll need a complete employment history on all of the
staff as well," Laura informed her.
"I'll be glad to furnish you with that information, Miss
Holt. Perhaps you'll find some clue to this mystery that I've
overlooked. There doesn't seem to be any pattern here. I feel
like I'm pretty much in the dark. What possible motive could
there be for these random acts?"
"Who would stand to gain if the resort were to be shut down?"
Laura was almost startled to hear the formerly silent Mr. Steele
enter the conversation.
"The property is held in trust by the California Naturist
Society. It was given to them by Friedrich Gauss. He was a lifelong
naturist and ecological activist. However, there was a codicil
in his will that held that if the resort ceased operation, the
property would pass out of the Society's hands to the State of
California. No one else could touch it. It was a way of ensuring
that his legacy outlived him, I suppose. Gerald is just as committed
as his mentor was. He's not going to close down the resort without
Laura looked thoughtful. "We'll see to it that he has a
fighting chance, Mrs. Sommers. Let me know when you have gathered
all of the information from your files. Perhaps they can tell
"Thank you again, Miss Holt and Mr. Steele. I appreciate
everything you've done. Gerald couldn't get any other detective
agency to help us."
"He tried others?" Steele looked slightly miffed that
they hadn't been first choice.
"Oh, yes. None of them would take him seriously at all.
I'm glad your agency was a little more open minded."
Laura chimed in. "We never make snap judgments about clients,
Mrs. Sommers. Open-mindedness is one of our watchwords at the
agency. Open-mindedness and - "
"Versatility," Steele added with a smirk.
"Yes, versatility," she added, giving him a sour look.
"We'll be in touch Mrs. Sommers."
After good-byes were said Laura and Steele entered their suite
and tried to unwind after the day's events. Laura sat cross legged
on the bed and began dragging out a pencil and notepad from her
luggage. She busily jotted down some thoughts. "I wish I
had brought this with me. Especially since you didn't seem to
be paying much attention - to the conversation, that is."
"Exactly what do you mean by that? Pray enlighten me. Because
if you're disturbed by the fact that I noticed a few young lovelies
out there, get used to it. A man has to seek his recreation somewhere."
He turned his back to her and began to unpack his suitcase with
decidedly more energy than was needed.
Laura grabbed his arm as he strode determinedly to the closet
with several pairs of shoes. "You're going to have to keep
your mind on investigating this case. A professional never lets
distractions interfere with the job at hand."
He shook her off. "Professional is it? I saw how you ogled
that swimming instructor."
"Well you have to admit he was rather strikingly um - built."
Steele paused in mid stride, still carrying the armload of shoes.
His gaze was icy. Laura flinched involuntarily as if she was
afraid one of the shoes might come sailing across the room.
She backed off and sat down on the bed. "Look. We're never
going to solve this case if we spend the whole time second guessing
each other. It's not going to be easy but we can get through
it if we keep our emotions in check."
"You're the expert there, Laura. You've been practicing
it with me for some time now."
"I refuse to spend this whole day arguing. The cafe is still
serving breakfast. After I unpack I'm going down for a bite to
Laura unpacked her suitcase and began to ponder the inevitable.
What should she wear? Or not wear?
That was the question. She looked over at Steele who was still
unpacking and hanging shirts and trousers. She noticed a large
bottle of sunscreen inside Steele's open suitcase.
"Do you mind if I borrow your sunscreen? she asked him.
I think it's a higher SPF than mine."
He gave her the briefest of nods. "Be my guest."
She selected several items from her luggage and moved toward
the bathroom. "I'm going to be in here for a while slathering
this on. Is that a problem?"
"Not at all. I'm getting rather used to you spending time
in there, Laura." He was lounging on the bed staring sulkily
"Are you just going to mope in here all day or are you coming
In answer, he clicked the TV remote and begin surfing through
"Fine. I'll just go by myself."
Laura closed the bathroom door and began removing her clothes
and underwear. She rolled them into a bundle. Laura picked up
the bottle of sunscreen. She began to apply it all over her body,
paying special attention to usually unexposed areas of skin.
She wondered if she was using enough. Oh well, a few more freckles
won't hurt, she thought. Except for the hard to reach areas of
her back she thought she had done a pretty thorough job.
She tied on the briefest of bandeau style tops and cinched a
fanny pack around her waist. She put her smaller bottle of sunscreen
in the pack along with some money which she had gotten out of
her handbag. She took a medium sized towel and secured it around
her waist with the elastic from the fanny pack. She surveyed
herself in the mirror. The towel covered all the strategic areas,
but just barely. Sitting down was going to be a challenge but
she thought she could manage it. She completed her minimalist
ensemble with a pair of sandals and some Ray Bans.
She picked up her bundle of clothes and the large bottle of sunscreen
and walked out into the suite. Steele didn't seem to notice her
presence. He was staring straight ahead at the television screen.
"Could you do my back? I think I missed a few spots."
He looked up and his unprepared gaze fell upon her brief attire
and the curves of her athletic form. He swallowed hard. He looked
her completely over from head to toe and then once more just
because he liked the view. "Peter Sellers used a guitar,"
he said with more nonchalance than he felt. At her puzzled expression
he continued. "A Shot in the Dark. Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer,
MGM 1964. Peter Sellers as Inspector Clousseau has to investigate
a series of murders, one of which takes place in a nudist colony.
He uses a guitar to cover himself. He and Elke Sommer end up
driving through the street of Paris completely naked."
Laura laughed. "Didn't bring a guitar with me. I hope life
doesn't imitate art. That last part would be tricky in the Auburn.
It would make a great highlight film for the local news, though."
Steele smiled back and some of the tension between them faded.
"Come here. I'll do your back for you."
She handed him the bottle of sunscreen and he rubbed her back
and shoulder area gently but thoroughly.
It was a businesslike rub, strictly confined, with no teasing
or lingering touches. Laura wondered if he was still angry. He
padded to the bathroom, washed his hands in the sink, walked
toward her, then stopped. She looked up and caught him watching
her, his expression unreadable.
"Well I guess it's time for the Christians to face the lions.
I hope it's safe out there."
Steele didn't think it was safe at all. "Don't worry, Miss
Holt. Your backup will be along shortly. I just have a touch
more unpacking to do."
"See you later, then." She leaned down and kissed him
lightly on the cheek. Then she took several strides and
a deep breath and walked out into the sunlight of the brave new
Steele crossed to the bed, gave a heavy sigh and fell back against
the pillows. He closed his eyes, trying to erase the fresh images
of Laura crowding into his mind. Her long, tanned legs, the way
the towel clung to her hips and thighs, the graceful line of
her back and shoulders. His visceral response to these things
unsettled him. He had always suspected, or perhaps hoped that
Laura would respond as strongly to him. But the barriers were
always up, the ground rules always in effect.
What was it she had said? "Look but don't touch." Well
she certainly had him looking. And he doubted that he would be
the only one. Who knew what the ground rules were in a place
like this? The thought jolted him into action. He sprang up and
began to undress, leaving a trail of discarded clothing in his
- End Part 4
- To Part