I've been a Perry Mason fan since the series first aired, and my parents (both lawyers) would let us stay up the extra half hour past our 9:00 pm bedtime to watch. I actually practiced law myself for several months, before ending up in publishing. This story, which I'm afraid goes against the current where Della is concerned, reflects my own experience.

No claim to the books, show, or characters.

Perry Mason stood by the open door of the taxi, giving last minute instructions to Paul Drake.

"Paul, Della's been working thirty hour days for me, and can't even be here to see me off. She deserves a treat. Take her out for a really nice dinner." And he handed Paul a fifty-dollar bill.

"Sure Perry. My pleasure. Have a good trip."

Paul headed back up to the Drake Detective Agency, and popped his head into Perry Mason's reception area. Gertie looked up. "Can I help you. Mister Drake?"

"Hi Gertie. Can you buzz me when Della gets back?"

"Sure can.", Gertie said with a smile.

Twenty minutes later Gertie called, and Paul crossed to her office.

"Hi, Beautiful!" Paul's standard greeting still brought a smile to Della's face.

"The Boss wants me to take you out to dinner and spoil you. How about it?"

"I'd love to. I'll be right with you, Paul."

Paul knew all the best restaurants, and bearing in mind Perry's instructions, drove to a cosy, intimate French restaurant. Dinner began with cocktails, and the excellent main course was accompanied by a vintage wine. Della found that she was hungrier (and thirstier) than she thought. As Paul recounted some very interesting details of his current case, Della soon lost track of what was going into her glass. By the time Paul ordered brandy to accompany dessert, she was quite mellow.

Paul looked at her across the table. "Well, gorgeous, what should we do now?"

"How about we go back to my place and go to bed together?" Della replied, looking him straight in the eyes.

Paul had taken uppercuts that hadn't shaken him as much. His jaw dropped. He turned red, and stammered: "But… Well… We can't. You're…"

"Perry's woman? His lover?" Della wasn't giving him a break. "I'm his secretary. I don't know why everyone assumes a secretary is in love with her boss."

"OK Della, but there is something special between you two, isn't there?"

"Yes, there is. I'm part of a team. I love working with him. I like taking care of him so that he can succeed. I suppose I love him - but not in that sense. But I also like the fact that I'm free to be Della Street the rest of the time. I'd lose that if I were Mrs. Perry Mason. I'd also lose it all if I slept with him. I've seen it happen in other offices. The girls who marry the lawyer don't really want to be secretaries – they've got their sights set on the money. The ones who get involved on a casual basis end up looking for another job when it breaks up. Lawyers aren't the only ones who can be professional. People shouldn't marry just because they work well together."

"You're right. I'm sorry, Della; I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions. But you threw me for a loop with that proposition."

He grinned impishly. "I don't suppose I could take you up on it?"

Della smiled. "I'm not your type. But then neither are the blondes you chase. They're just part of your Philip Marlow impression. One of these days you'll meet a nice girl. She'll be a little heavier than she'd like to be, and will fall for you like a ton of bricks. She'll probably be a farmer's daughter from the Midwest, and she'll cook like a dream. But don't stop flirting with me – it's good for my self esteem."

"And thanks for a wonderful evening."