TCOT Lost Love missing moment story
DISCLAIMER: It should be obvious that I do not own or make any claim to the "Perry Mason" franchise. Were I to enjoy such ownership, I would publish stories such as this for profit. No such profit is expected from this endeavor. I believe the rights belong to CBS and whichever monster conglomerate owns the corporation. Mores the pity, they missed some great opportunities
AUTHOR'S NOTE: this is my first Perry Mason story. Though I have been a fan of the TV show, books, and TV movies since the 1960s, I have been away from PM for an extremely long time. I hope I have gotten the characters to be at least recognizable.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2: My great thanks to Mary for her awesome job as beta reader/editor. I appreciate all and used most of her corrections/suggestions. Little things often make a big difference
SPOILERS: "TCOT Lost Love", of course. This story will make much more sense if the reader has seen the movie and/or is aware of the story and history of Laura Robertson. Perry and Laura had some relationship years and years ago. Laura is an ambitious woman. In TCOT Lost Love, Laura is running for office, things happen, her husband is charged with murder, Perry defends him.
SETTING: This is a missing moment for TCOT Lost Love. Near the end of that movie, the last night, Della is last to leave Perry in his hotel suite (used also as the office for this case). She makes sure he has what he needs; the last thing she hands him are the photos she gathered, the photos showing the reception from the night of the murder. The photos that show the evidence it was Laura who was in the victim's room and therefore the likely killer. She hands the collection of photos to Perry and says "You still haven't looked at the pictures." I believe that Della has seen them and knows quite well what it is that Perry will find when he looks.
TCOT Lost Love MM story
Her hand grabbed the phone in the middle of the second ring and had it to her ear before her eyes were fully open. Years of experience told her that a call in the dead of the night was unlikely to be a good thing.
"Hello?" That same experience allowed her voice to sound much more awake than she felt.
"Della?" She had also expected the voice she heard would be Perry. Those same years of experience.
"Perry?" Her response was more an acknowledgment of the connection than it was a question. She waited.
More fully awake now, she noted the strain in his voice. By now she was out of bed, the light was on. "Perry? Perry, what is it?" Experience now pushed her into action. She had one arm into her light robe and she had still not heard anymore over the phone. "Perry?" she tried once more, her tone demanding a response. When none came, she dropped the phone and headed to the door. Those years of experience had taught her to keep room keys on the table corner closest to the door. She snatched up the key cards to both her room and Perry's before yanking open her door and dashing across the hall.
She was aware of the adrenaline infusing her system. Her hands shook as she fumbled with the cards, losing the fifty-fifty bet on which to use. By the time she slid the second card into the lock slot she had run a dozen scenarios through her mind; none of them were good. Prayer mixed with concern as she pushed her way past the door and caught sight of him, sunk low into the plush sofa. "Perry?"
Perry heard the scraping of the key cards in the lock, not the usual smooth actions of Della. The phone sat lifeless in his hand, resting on the armrest. He shouldn't have called; what could he say? He hadn't even thought to check the time, but it had been late when she had left and that had been hours ago. She would have been sleeping. He had wakened her with no thought more than to be reassured of the connection between them.
He closed his eyes, blocking out all but the one sound he loved above all else. Della's voice had made an immediate impression on him at their first meeting. Oh, he had certainly noticed the near perfection of her shape, approved of her style, had not missed the sparkle in her eyes and the way she looked as if there might be something deeper than the professional demeanor, but the voice had been a wonderful surprise. The tones of her voice had quickly woven their way into his consciousness so deeply that he regularly heard them, even in his dreams. He learned to read much from the subtleties of Della's voice. He could listen to her read a shopping list, but it was the way her voice caressed his name that warmed him most, playing along the depths of their connection.
"Perry?" She said again as she came around the end of the sofa where he sat. His heart ached at the anxiety he heard in the warm caress. He shouldn't have wakened her, but he knew it had to be faced. He knew that he owed her that much. He also knew he should not consider entering court in the morning without clearing some of the distractions. Not eager to start, he merely turned his eyes to study her face, creased with concern.
"What is it?" Her own eyes searched his face, noted the need for sleep. She saw that he limply held the phone receiver just as she noted his breathing seemed normal, his color was good.
Coming to stand in front of him, between him and the large coffee table strewn with the mess of work, she leaned over and firmly took the phone. Her hands hovered over it as she processed what she was seeing and debated whether to call the desk for help.
"Della," his capable hands reclaimed the phone and laid in on the end table. "I'm all right. I…it's late, I'm sorry."
His voice was sure and calm, belying the feeling in the pit of his stomach. His eyes met hers and he nodded, more confirmation of his words. He was pleased to see the tension ease from her face as she sat on the edge of the sofa next to him.
"Perry, you scared me half to death!" she rebuked him, relief evident in her voice. "When you didn't speak, well I…I was afraid you couldn't." She reached out her right hand and laid it gently on his arm. Her eyes asked for an answer, her lips teased with the hint of a smile. "What.."
Perry interrupted her, nodding toward the table. "I was working, didn't stop to think of the hour." He watched as she looked over the contents of the table in front of them. She returned her hand to her lap, clasping her two hands together. Along with the books were the 8"x 10" black and white photos Della had gathered; photos taken at the fundraiser the night of Dixon's murder. He had no doubt when it was she noticed their presence in the clutter. The change was slight, most people would not want to play poker with her, but Perry knew her so well. He was just now adding to that depth of knowledge.
"You knew." It was a statement. He kept his gaze on her, waited for her to acknowledge the change in subject. He watched as she drew in and released a breath, then turned to look at him, turned herself more fully to face him.
He took in every nuance, every motion. He saw as her expression moved from concern, flicked past pain, melted into compassion. "Perry," a deep, soothing caress, "Oh, Perry, I'm sorry." She leaned in slightly toward him, her lace trimmed nightgown floating away from her body. Her hand returned to his forearm with a light pressure. He let his eyes take this all in; his chest clinched at the sound of her words. She held her eyes steady on him until he returned his gaze to meet hers. "Perry, I'm so sorry." The compassion in her eyes and voice shot through him.
Here before him was the woman he loved; had loved for most of his adult life; the woman he did not doubt loved him. Here she sat beside him, offering him consolation for what she must believe was a devastating blow and he realized it was his actions that had allowed her to hold this belief. With clarity he had previously avoided, he saw that she subjugated her own pain in favor of offering him understanding.
He had clung to a sweet memory of youth and love, coloring it with the distance of time. He had chosen to overlook the attributes of Laura that had led to their parting, the attributes that precluded there ever being any lasting closeness between them. He had selfishly chosen to retain his vision of her as the lovely, brilliant, seductive woman who had shared some time with him years ago, before moving on in her quest for the mountaintop. In the privacy of his thoughts, Perry reluctantly admitted it was the part of him that heard the same siren call that clung to the memories, seeing truth rather than fantasy, just as it was the part of him that rejected that siren call that wanted so much for the memories to be real. With characteristic, if delayed, piercing examination, he realized the dynamics he had fostered and the position he had allowed Della to endure. The sharp memory that had benefited him over the years in his work now played for him scenes he had previously neglected to analyze. Scenes of Laura and Della, of their first meeting, in conversation, of tension filled encounters interrupted by his entry. Scenes of Della's demurring to comment beyond the most basic of responses to his questions or comments about Laura Robertson. As his personal paradigm made its final shift, he suffered searing internal recriminations, understanding at last the occasional distance between Della and himself and the obvious connection of the distance to Laura. The realizations stabbed at his great heart, damning him for the damage he had done to the one person he most wanted to protect. He vowed to spend the rest of his life working to repair that damage.
He placed his hand lightly atop hers where it rested on his arm, seeking to affirm their connection. "Della." He hoped that his voice to some degree mirrored the way her voice warmed him. "My Della." His eyes remained on her face and he moved his hand to gently brush away the single liquid diamond that dropped from her eyelashes. His eyes embraced hers as he lifted her hand to his lips, tenderly kissing the backs of her fingers. "It's all right, Della." He pressed her fingers to his lips again. "It's all right; I am all right." He saw her take a breath, catching the inner part of her lower lip between her teeth. Her eyes softened in a different way. He gently tugged on her hand. "Come, sit with me." He opened his arms, inviting her to settle into them. Her expression began to change again and he was sure he saw more glistening drops threatening for spill over from her eyes before she scooted herself up next to him, curling her legs up on the sofa behind her. With his left hand, Perry lifted the soft throw from the back of the sofa and pulled it over her legs. He smiled, noticing her bare feet, imagining the vision she must have made moving across the hall, fumbling with the door.
She was next to him, but not yet relaxed. "Tomorrow, in court…"
"Will be just fine. I've worked it all out. We'll need to remember to take the photos along with us." He could feel her preparing to speak and hurried on to stop her.
"Dawn will come too soon; let's rest. We'll iron out any details over breakfast."
Perry wrapped his left arm easily around her, adjusting the angle of his body slightly to accommodate her position as well as his knee. He felt her relaxing against him, molding her softness to him. Her left hand came up to rest on his chest, above his heart.
"You sure you're okay?"
With his right hand he pressed her hand to his chest. "As long as you're here with me, I'm sure." He felt himself settling more deeply into the cushions, delighting in the nearness of this incredible woman, his Della.
Perry knew the morning session in court would be difficult, but he was not overly concerned. He knew that the afternoon and later would be more so. He knew that he and Della needed to have a talk, knew he needed to clarify some things. He also knew that he would have to be the one to initiate that discussion. Rightly so. The morning would be enough time to cover the basics for court. They would not be unprepared. Later, they would face the past, his mistakes, and he would begin to make amends. For now, these brief hours until dawn, all he needed was to rest with Della in his arms.
Della felt Perry pull the throw over her as she snuggled in next to him. She was weary. The past weeks had been filled with the strain of dancing around Perry and Laura, never being quite sure where to stand. The past twenty-four hours had been agony, knowing what was in the photos, being unable to tell him. The past half hour had been a full on adrenaline high and the crash was taking its toll. She hated to, but had to ask, "Tomorrow, in court…"
"Will be just fine," he had assured her. They would cover the details over breakfast. Della knew from years with Perry that he meant his strategy had been set, he was prepared. She didn't doubt him. She felt him move, adjusting to the addition of her weight against him.
"You sure you're okay?" Her concern was deep. She had watched him with Laura off and on over the years. She had never doubted Perry's feelings, but his tie to Laura was something she had never understood nor liked. Once again she wished she had the fortitude to ask him about it. She knew she wouldn't.
Della felt Perry's hand pressing her own warmly, firmly to his chest. She could feel his heartbeat and heard his wonderful voice wash over her, "As long as you're here with me, I'm sure." Understanding all that he meant, Della relaxed, delighting to be in her favorite spot, secure in Perry's arms. There was more to say, perhaps someday. For tonight, for the few hours they had before the day began, it was all she needed.