Title: Laura's Lost Love-

A follow-up story for "The Interview-Perry and The Interview-Della"

Author: Bibliophile tropicale

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of Perry Mason and Della Street. My reward is not monetary. The only reward is the joy of creating and the pleasure of bringing these characters to life

Rating-PG-13 Sexual situations and innuendo, mild language, discussions of suicide, alcohol and tobacco use.

Suppose the 'Lost Love' was really Perry Mason?

From Laura Donaldson's point of view...

The big jet soared upward, climbing through the atmosphere like a bird of prey. The city of Denver and its surrounding mountains changed from darkness to shadows as the sun peaked above the horizon. The first class section was quiet and dimly lit as commuters on the red-eye flight read the paper or caught up on missing sleep. The pilot turned off the seatbelt lights and the flight attendants began the routine of caring for those special first class passengers.

Laura Donaldson sat quietly in the last row of first class. She watched the snowcapped mountains and tufts of clouds at lower altitudes. The dress she wore was one of her favorites, a wine colored outfit that accentuated her figure and coloring. She wanted to look her best when she arrived at her destination.

Everyone at the office thought she was heading to Phoenix for an extended weekend at a very exclusive spa. Her secretary knew not to contact her unless it was an emergency. The entire story was true, except for a side trip to Los Angeles. That was her special secret and she had made the arrangements herself.

Thank god, the space next to her was vacant. She had piled her fur coat and briefcase on the empty seat. How she hated making small-talk with complete strangers. Now all she needed was a stiff drink to fortify her nerves.

A young flight attendant stopped the cart and spoke softly with the passengers across the aisle, then turned to her. Sunlight bore hotly through the window, shedding light over the interior as Laura looked at the young woman who must be all of twenty-two. What she needed was not on the cart of a red-eye flight. "Excuse me, but do you have anything stronger than juice or coffee?"

The attendant's smile showed her regret. "No ma'am, we sure don't."

"Then I'll have black coffee, please."

As Laura took the poured coffee, the bright sunlight caused the ring on her left hand to sparkle. The younger woman's eyes were drawn to its brilliance like a magnet. Laura watched her gaze of envy and smiled. The ring was certainly stunning and she was quickly growing accustom to the compliments and questions it created.

"Oh, my!" the attendant exclaimed softly. "That's the most beautiful ring I've ever seen."

Laura held out her hand and watched the morning light play across the facets of the pear-shaped diamond.

The young woman continued her fascination. "I wish my boyfriend would pop the question and give me a ring like that. Thank you so much for showing it to me."

Laura nodded and ran her hand across her fur admiring the vibrant piece of jewelry. It had caused quite a stir at the firm and she relished the attention. Now as miles and mountain peaks slipped below she only wanted solitude. The cart and the attendant slowly disappeared as Laura pulled the shade across the window casting her seat into semi-darkness.

Sighing deeply, she enjoyed the shadowed quietness; it matched her mood. Not that her mood was dark. On the contrary she was hopeful… hopeful that her trip, her side-trip, would be fruitful.

The cool air flowed through the vents as her mind began to wander. "Why did it feel nice to leave Denver? Wasn't that where you always wanted to be, a mile high and on top of the world?" She smiled to herself. She had been right about choosing to go to Denver instead of Chicago or New York. It would have taken her many more years, in those larger cities, to accomplish what she'd achieved these past three. The last two had born good fruit from the hard work of the first. Laura closed her eyes against the pain of those earlier twelve months. It had never quite gone away…

The first year at Robertson, Stein, Moore and Whittier had been full of challenges and long hours, coupled with sleepless nights and an empty bed. No amount of praise or acceptance from her co-workers could keep her thoughts from continually drifting back to Perry in LA. Professional accomplishments weren't enough. She had still desperately wanted him with her.

"Please come with me."

"I'm sorry,' he whispered. 'I can't, not now."

Near the end of the first year, Tom Robertson, the firm's founding partner, had asked his secretary to summon her to his office late one afternoon.

Laura hesitated outside her boss' door before knocking softly.

From inside she heard, "Come in."

Slowly she opened the door and was greeted by Tom Robertson dressed in gray slacks, red suspenders, and a white long sleeved shirt with the cuffs turned up. Robertson stood six feet, had a wrestler's build, snow-white hair and piercing brown eyes. In his hands, he carried two glasses of whiskey.

"Close the door, Laura," he requested as he handed her a glass and walked to his desk.

Laura walked across the room, enjoying the view from the well appointed corner office. Robertson's desk sat in the center of it all. Glass formed two sides of the office from floor to ceiling and looked out over the Denver panorama and the Rocky Mountains beyond. Stepping near the window, she looked down and then out. It was though she stood on a pinnacle, a position of omnipotence. Her body tingled at the power the room conveyed, the man in it, and the vision of conquering and controlling the world beyond.

"I can't get enough of this view," she spoke softly. From her peripheral vision, she could see her employer sitting in his desk'schair, his eyes moving over her.

"I know the feeling," he responded. "It is intoxicating."

She turned to face him and smiled.

Robertson leaned back in his chair, facing her. His left thumbwas hooked beneath his red suspenders while his right handcradled his drink. "Sit down, Laura."

She gracefully moved across the floor and placed a hip on the corner of his desk. Her skirt edged up her thigh.

"I've been quite impressed with you," he began, his voice soft and conspiratorial. "You have a talent for mergers and acquisitions, as well as, proxy fights and corporate takeovers. You're not afraid of hard work and taking chances. Your strategy before the Omnicor proxy count was very discreet and creative. Our client was very impressed with your performance.

You excelled in the 'snake pit', the counting room. Went in knowing each proxy you wanted challenged and charmed them into underestimating you." He grinned. "The attack was quick and from behind."

Robertson nodded towards an elegantly framed picture of a large cat and its conquered prey. "Reminded me of an experienced tigress. By the time they realized they were in trouble, it was too late." His eyes met hers. "The kill was from behind, quick and clean….exactly the way I like 'em."

Robertson swirled the whiskey in the glass. "You know snake pits are like the wild west of the corporate world, informal, contentious and unruly. You were quite impressive in your challenges, holding your own, physically going chin to chin with their lawyers." The attorney grinned, recalling the scene. "I believe you told their main guy he'd better take his best shot because he was going down and it was up to him whether it would be hard or easy."

Robertson's eyes narrowed in thought. "The inspector of elections ruled in your favor. You, Miss Donaldson, managed to pull off one of our largest takeovers. Our client was extremely satisfied and included a bonus for handling the acquisition in sucha discrete manner."

He paused in thought. "Those boys in LA called you a firecracker."

Tom's eyes moved along her silken legs. "I think they underestimated you as well. But it doesn't matter, because now you're," he emphasized the words, "my tigress and my firecracker."

Laura laughed softly as she watchedhim lean forward and pick up his gold cigarette case engraved with an elegant, TR.

Effortlessly he flipped opened the case and offered her a cigarette. She took one and placed it between her lips. Robertson flipped open the cover to a matching gold lighter and gazedcovetously as she lean forward revealing an ample view of cleavage. She watched as he leaned back in his chair, lighting his own cigarette.

"I could make you asenior partner with a snap of my fingers. But I'm afraid the boys would put up a fuss, especially Moore. You have what it takes and I like what you do," Robertson paused. His eyes moved over her again,as he brought his cigarette to his lips and inhaled. "You've mentioned another attorney, Perry Mason."

Laura kept a tight reign on her emotions as he watched her.

He continued. "I did some checking on him. This Mason is doing quite well for himself in LA. You'd like for him to join our firm." His eyes watched for any reaction. "But I think your interest is more than just professional, isn't it?"

She inhaled deeply on her cigarette, exhaled, and watched the smoke rise through the air as she stalled, gathering her thoughts. "Now really," she began smoothly, "couldn't you say the same for yourself when you asked me to come on board?"

A wicked grin pulled at the corners of his mouth as he ground out his cigarette in the ashtray. "Touché!"

Robertson abruptly stood and moved next to her, his voice soft and urgent. "Let's get this straight. I understand what makes you tick, Laura Donaldson. This office, this view, you would love to be sitting here, doing what I do, running the show. I know that; I can see it in your eyes and in what you do. You're driven; you're ambitious. I'm no fool! I just wish Glen had…." His voice trailed off.

Looking up at his face only inches from hers, shewatched the pupils of his dark brown eyes open to their fullest extent. She could feel the excitement, the electricity between them.

"If only I were younger," Robertson smiled wanly, his eyes moving over her face, his voice wistful, "and things were different."

He took another sip of the whiskey before continuing. "I will consider your Perry Mason. You've scratched my back," he paused, "and now I'll scratch yours. If he's anything like you, heaven help us all."

Laura smiled with satisfaction and finished the whiskey in one gulp.

She had both called and written Perry, begging him to accept Robertson's forth-coming invitation for an interview and join her in Denver. His answer had remained the same. He appreciated the interest, but his caseload was full. He couldn't get 't he understand she had been paving the way for him? They could be a power couple, an unstoppable legal force. They could be on that pinnacle together. Laura closed her eyes against an emotional flood of frustration and hope.

Then there was Glen Robertson, Tom's son. The elder Robertson had brought his son into the firm to join his college friends, Elliot Moore, Gerald Stein, and Frank Whittier.

After her confirmation, Glen had waited till the others had moved on before he spoke to her. "I imagine the firm in LA was sad to see you leave." The moment stuck in her mind as she studied Tom's son, trying to compare the two men. The resemblance was superficial, the personalities polar opposites.

She smiled seductively. "I'm hoping you and this firm will make me happy that I left."

His reserved manner disappeared for a moment; his eyes moved hungrily over her and then met her gaze. He extended his hand. "I will do my best to make sure you're happy with your decision."

Glen had been serious in his efforts to make her happy. He made sure her office was to her liking, her secretary one of the firm's best, and her clients a very select group of influential citizens.

Through the office grapevine, she'd learned about his wife's death from ovarian cancer. Since then, he had thrown all his energies into his work. He was a wealth of information and influential connections, extending back to the time his father had first opened the office. His quietness and reserved manner had meshed well with her flare and outgoing personality.

Then one Friday afternoon as the building was clearing for the weekend, he entered her office. At first she did not notice him, her mind busily deciding what work she needed to finish at home. It was his nervous manner that caught her attention.

"Laura," he began softly.

She looked up when he failed to continue. "Yes?"

"I haven't dated in years, decades actually," he blurted out.

She stifled a laugh. "Decades?"

He grinned self-consciously. "Yeah. Decades."

Glen paused gaining his nerve, finding the silence between them unbearable while Laura waited, not sure if this was some kind of joke.

"My wife and I were married a long time and after she died, well, I, uh, I simply wasn't interested."

She closed her briefcase,not really paying attention or preferring to ignore where this was leading. "That's understandable."

"But working with you has changed that."

Suddenly a knot formed in her stomach. Her lungs felt as though the air had been squeezed from them and the blood in her brain seemed to disappear, causing her to feel faint.

"Will you have dinner with me, Laura?"

She leaned on her briefcase, not daring to look at him for fear he would see the panic in her eyes. Her only thoughts were of Perry and her longing for what she'd had in LA.

"Oh, Glen," she whispered without looking at him. "I'm not feeling well, not tonight." She was being honest; she felt ill.

"What about tomorrow night?" he asked hopefully.

"I'll call you," she blurted out as she picked up her briefcase and moved to the door. "Really, I'll call you."

That night she had lain in her bed, the phone cradled on her shoulder. The phone to Perry Mason's apartment, his private unlisted number rang continuously. At first their calls had been frequent and always late at night, she lying on her bed, he no doubt on the couch in his pajamas. Their conversations were like pillow talk, soft, sexy, and intimate. Over time, the conversations became more formal, more businesslike. And now the phone went unanswered. The calls to his office were brief and formal and always on the run. He promised to call. He promised to visit Denver, perhaps after the next case. Time slipped by and nothing.

Reluctantly she'd picked up the phone and called Glen. Up until then, she'd filled her evenings with work, which only diverted her mind to a certain extent. She was growing depressed and felt she might go mad if she didn't do something. Even her sessions with Dr. Emmitt Michaels had not helped.

Their first date was like the man, quiet and reserved. The second date more relaxed and they had enjoyed their time together. Glen was a pleasant distraction, like a quiet and relaxing soak in the tub. Quiet, relaxing, and pleasant, exactly what she needed at the end of a tough day but…?

Laura moved the diamond ring back and forth on her finger. But was it enough? Was it possible to have it all? What did she really want? She closed her eyes as she slipped the expensive piece of jewelry off her hand. Perry Mason. She had wanted him with her then and she wanted him with her now. She wanted the thrill of him, the stimulation of his thoughts and ideas and the fire of his conviction. She reached for her purse and dropped the ring into a side pouch.

Their heated arguments were like foreplay. Once entering his apartment, still bantering back and forth, he would start the fire, while she mixed their drinks and threw the comforter before the fireplace. Quietly she would move near him, his eyes blazing, his speech forceful, his hand moving… trying to drive home some point. Gently her fingers would slip along the buttons on his shirt, feeling the pounding of his heart, her other hand circling his neck drawing his face near hers. His voice would slow, his hands slipping beneath her blouse. She would kiss him lightly, then along the angle of his jaw, his neck and then it was an explosion, an explosion of passion like a hot spark and gasoline.

Laura stared at the hand devoid of the shiny diamond. The lack of sparkle and fire was how she felt without Perry. She wanted to live those passionate times again.

The roaring flames of the fireplace had been spent, like the lover who lay propped on the pillows and comforter. Her eyes moved over the expanse of his broad chest covered with dark silken hairs. His arm propped behind his head, full lips half-parted, a strand of dark wavy hair draped across his forehead. His eyes still smoldered like ambers, hot and sexy.

She wanted ….needed to live that moment over and over again.

Feeling her intense gaze, he gave a small grin, the dimple in his left cheek visible. "What is it?"

Her hand beneath the comforter gently stroked his thigh; the other hand loosely held the comforter across her chest.

"You," she whispered.

"Me?" he laughed softly.

"This is how I want to remember you, the way you look right now. I want to remember you like this the rest of my life."

His hand slipped beneath the comforter and took the hand on his thigh and pulled her to him.

She sighed, her eyes closing in the darkness. She had to know. Was the passion still there?

LA-Outside the Brent Building-

Laura Donaldson sipped another cup of coffee while watching the front of the Brent Building. Katherine Graham had yet to make her appearance. She checked her watch, noting the time. Katherine should be leaving to have lunch with her courthouse friends any moment now.

'Afternoon delights'she had called them long ago. Slipping away from her work, she would try to arrive at the Brent Building at noon, hoping to catch Perry alone in his office. Later that evening, they would meet at his or her apartment to further the 'delight'. Why did that time seem so long ago?"

Suddenly her eyes spotted Gertie Lade, the receptionist. The petite blonde fingered her hair nervously as she darted across the street, disappearing around the corner. Laura paid the bill and picked up her purse and fur coat. The adrenaline began to pump as she crossed the street and stepped into the Brent Building's elevator. Looking down, she recognized the elderly elevator operator and for a moment she wondered if the old woman would remember her.

"What floor, honey?" the operator asked, looking out for others who might try a last second entrance into her domain.

"Ninth floor, please," Laura answered, a little relieved the old woman had a short memory.

The elevator door opened on the 9th floor and cherished memories quickly returned. The hallway, at noon, was as quiet as she remembered. Purposely she moved toward Mason's suite and stopped outside its door. What will you say? Were words really necessary when lovers are concerned? Her hand reached for the doorknob and turned it. The door was unlocked. Opening the door slightly, she heard silence.

The waiting room was empty and just as she remembered.

She smoothed down her dress and checked her hair before reaching for the next door knob. She remembered Katherine Graham was a pleasant woman and ready for retirement when Bull Johnson persuaded her to continue as Perry's secretary.

Laura opened the door to Katherine's office and heard voices, laughter. The elderly secretary did have a wicked sense of humor, perhaps she had said something that amused Perry. The fact that she hadn't left for lunch yet wasn't a problem. She would recognize Laura and would know Perry needed some private time with his dear friend.

Stepping across the secretarial office, she noticed the room looked different. Turning around, she realized Katherine's things were gone and a fresh new look took its place, feminine… but still professional. Her eyes narrowed, remembering that the last time she'd called the office a new secretary had put her through. She hadn't thought anything of it at the time, but now…..the nuance was subtle; she could feel it like a tigress feels the presence of a rival.

The voices continued along with sporadic laughter. She slowly turned the knob leading to Perry's private office and opened the door slightly. The muffled voices became clear.

"The look on Allen Devane's face was priceless."

It was his voice. Her heart leapt at its sound.

"That smug look certainly disappeared when I brought that statue into the courtroom. The one he thought he had hidden." A woman's voice, it wasn't Katherine Graham's, then a throaty laugh. "That statue was heavy! Honestly, Perry, I thought I was going to drop it on Hamilton Burger's foot."

The attorney chuckled. "Even if you had, Della, he wouldn't have felt the pain. He was already feeling the disbelief of his case collapsing before his eyes. Your timing was impeccable."

"Why, thank you, Counselor." A moment passed.

"Your welcome."

"Wait, hold still." The female voice instructed as Laura could wait no longer to further open the door.

Quietly the door swung a little more open. She slipped halfway through and held her breath at Perry Mason and a young woman sitting side by side at the table near the sliders. Half eaten sandwiches and drinks sat before them. The young woman gently cradled Perry's chin in her hand while wiping his mouth and cheek with a napkin.

"Am I presentable Miss Street?" he asked with mock formality.

The young woman smiled back. "Not yet, how did you get mustard over there?"

Perry laughed. "Don't get coy with me young lady; you have mustard on your lips and cheek as well."

The young woman giggled as she finished wiping his lips, took the same napkin, turned it over and wiped her own mouth, then looked at the tissue perplexed. "Mustard!" she exclaimed. "I don't even like mustard." They both grinned, caught up in their own private world, enjoying the irony.

Laura felt the blood draining from her head; the room seemed to spin as she stepped forward and steadied herself with the knob. Its squeak broke their revelry. Mason stopped and turned toward the sound.

"Laura!" He called to her as he stood.

She plastered on a smile. "Steady! Don't make a fool of yourself."

She straightened her back, squaring her shoulders. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have walked in unannounced."

Perry and the young woman were both standing beside her.

"Della, this is an old friend of mine, Laura Donaldson. Are you feeling all right, Laura? You look pale; can we get something for you?"

"Yes, I'm fine; really I am. The flight was tiring that's all."

Perry finished the introduction. "Laura Donaldson, this is my confidential secretary, Della Street."

Della Street smiled sweetly, her cheeks flushed as she extended her hand. "It's a pleasure meeting you, Miss Donaldson."

She took her hand and felt softness and surprising strength. "Della Street." She repeated her name and nodded. "Della Street. So you're his new secretary. Where's Katherine? And when did you start?"

Laura turned back to Mason, her eyes moving over him, relishing in seeing him; her hand reached out to his chest. "It's good seeing you again, Perry."

Della's eyes surreptitiously watched their visitor lay her hand on her boss' chest as she moved to their coffee room. "We have drinks, Miss Donaldson. Would you care for one?"

"Thank you, dear," Laura said sweetly as though speaking to a considerate maid.

Perry slipped his hand over Laura's elbow and guided her to the table where they had been eating and pulled out a chair for her. She took the seat and stared across the table at their plates, at the two cut, half-eaten sandwiches, one with the mustard and the other with mayonnaise. The longer she stared the more this detail wormed it way through her mind and the greater her tension grew. Della Street didn't like mustard; her sandwich has no mustard.

Perry was relaxed and pleasant. "This is a nice surprise. How long have you been in LA?"

Her finger nervously moved across the edge of his plate as she stared at him. The question continued to eat away. "How did both of you have mustard on your lips, Perry? How did she get mustard on her face? Tell me."

Perry laughed. "Don't get coy with me younglady; you have mustard on your lips and cheek as well."

"Mustard!" she exclaimed. "I don't even like mustard."

She resisted the urge to scream and sling the plate across the room. "Laura, Laura, Laura," her inner voice cooed. "You did not travel this far to scream and become violent. This is not why you are here!"

"I just arrived. Tell me, Perry, how are you?" she asked in a forced calm voice.

Della emerged from the coffee room. "I hope you like lemonade."

Laura pulled her lips into a forced smile. "Oh that is lovely, dear. Thank you."

She watched the young woman place the napkin and glass in front of her.

Della announced, "If you'll excuse me, I have some business with our private investigator down the hall."

Laura watched Perry gaze follow his secretary as she gracefully reached across his desk to retrieve a steno book, her skirt rising, pulling snug, revealing a shapely hip and leg. Laura's fingers gripped the glass, resisting the urge to reach out and slap him as he gave directions to Della but let his eyes linger for a second too long on her shapely assets.

His voice was professional but warm. "While you're there, Della, tell Paul we need to find Grace DeWitt. I still have questions that need answering. Tell him to use several men if he has to."

"I'll get right on it," she answered crisply as she headed out the door.

Perry turned back to his guest, smiling, finishing their conversation. "I've been doing alright. I've been very busy. Just finished a case today and we have a preliminary hearing on another one week after next."

His voice softened along with his eyes as he looked at her. "It never ends does it?"

The warmth in his eyes and voice made her heart flutter. Neither time nor distance had changed the affect he had on her. "Be honest with yourself. He'll always take your breath away." Without hesitation, she stood and moved to his side, her hand moving across his shoulder. She sat on the edge of the table and looked down at him.

Taking his face in her hands, she bent toward him and whispered. "No, it never ends. It never will." Lightly she touched his lips with hers. She started in again but he drew back slightly and simply clasped her hand in his.

"It's been a long time hasn't it?"

"Too long," she sighed, then ignoring the increased distance, kissed him again more urgently.

How long had she waited for this kiss? It seemed like an eternity. His lips were soft and sweet, just as she remembered. The kiss was all she had hoped for, but yet. But yet what? Was it really the same? It was for you, but what about him? Don't be silly. You're just imagining things."

She leaned back, her fingers gently caressing his cheek. "Remember our 'afternoon delights'?"

His eyes turned slightly as he smiled. She marveled at their deep, serene blue and wondered what he was thinking. His silence surprised her. The lipstick on his mouth, she should remove it with a napkin. But no, leave it there; leave it for Della Street to see.

"Perry." Her voice brought his eyes back to her. "Let's have dinner tonight. Later we can sit by the fire and talk."

He rose from the chair. "Dinner would be nice, but I can't tonight. I have a business appointment in Santa Monica. Are you free tomorrow evening?"

"Yes, tomorrow will be fine." Laura smiled cheerfully, hiding the disappointment in her voice.

"Where are you staying? I'll stop by around 6:30."

"The Carlton hotel, you know, the one a few blocks from here." Her fingertips caressed the fabric of his shirt recalling fond memories.

Perry pulled back the sleeve of his jacket and noted the time. "I'm sorry, Laura, but I have clients stopping by to fill out paperwork in about thirty minutes. I'm sure Della has it all arranged, but I need to check it one more time before they arrive."

His fingers slipped around her elbow as she rose and he guided her across the floor to the door. "I'm glad you stopped by."

No, the goodbye was happening all too soon. "Oh, Perry, just a little longer." She stopped at the door. Her fingers moved across his chest and slid beneath his jacket, feeling the warmth of his skin under the dress shirt, her arms circling around his back, pressing her body close to him. How she longed to touch his bare skin. "Why can't Glen make me feel this way?" Without warning her body began to tremble, and he pulled back from her.

"Are you cold?" he asked incredulously, noting the fur coat she wore.

It was then she realized his arms were still at his side and his hands still on her elbows. He had not embraced her. But then hehad always been very careful of their behavior at either's office.

She fought the response, suddenly feeling embarrassed and self-conscious. The image of the cool, competent Miss Street popped into her head and the trembling stopped as she pulled away, letting her fingers trail along the buttons of his shirt.

"Of course not, Perry, don't be silly," she laughed. "I look forward to tomorrow."

"Good-bye, Laura." He walked her to the front of the office.

The door closed and she was in the empty hallway again. Her fingers nervously moved across her purse. "What about tonight?" She should have called? Too late now. There's still tomorrow evening. "There's still hope. He's just surprised, cautious. A client is coming." The sound of her heels echoed on the tile flooring as she neared the elevator. She paused in front of the closed door, her mind racing as she pressed the button and waited for the car to rise.

In a couple minutes she was out on the curb, breathing in cool air, crossing the street to the same little coffee shop. The brisk walk and cool air was refreshing to her.

The waitress smiled. "Would you like your old table?"

"Yes, please and could I have some pie and coffee. Banana cream if you have it and the coffee….."

The young woman finished her sentence. "I know, black. I'll bring it out."

Laura took her seat with a renewed purpose. The words of Tom Robertson ran through her mind. "You have a talent for proxy fights and hostile takeovers, Laura…they underestimated you…in the proxy count you came at them like a tigress, striking from behind…..."

The young woman smiled sweetly as she served the coffee and pie. "The banana cream pie is very good. I had a piece myself and it was delicious."

Laura turned on her winning smile. "Why thank you, dear. You've been most kind."

"Thank you, ma'am!" The young woman beamed as she moved on to serve other customers.

"Now was that so hard?" Ply that charm.

The custardy pie felt sensuous on her tongue in contrast to the bite of the strong coffee; the difference felt divine as she plotted her strategy. The variable of change was the new secretary.

Tonight she would dine with this new secretary….this Della Street. Just like a proxy fight, she would discover what made her tick. Then at the proper moment, she would make her move, quick and deadly. This was a hostile takeover of a different order.