A little something to ring in the New Year.

TCOT Lonely New Year's Eve
By E. Wallace
2010

Her breath fogged the window as she looked out on the rain slick pavement below.

It had been wetter in Los Angeles than normal and colder, too. She had come to L.A. to get away from the frigid Midwest Decembers.

She had come to L.A. to work, to build a career, to get away from her family who wanted her to settle down and raise a family.

Della Street did not come to L.A. to fall in love with her boss.

But she did.

Which was why she was spending New Year's Eve, alone in her apartment, watching it rain.

Perry Mason, he of the commanding voice and beguiling blue eyes - and yes, she thought about both of those attributes far too much - had asked well before Christmas if she had plans for New Year's Eve.

Della was too honest to lie by saying yes, too proud to tell the truth by saying no and too guarded of their professional relationship to tell him she wanted a personal one as well.

Paul Drake's well timed knock saved her from answering at all. It wasn't until later that she realized Perry hadn't divulged his own plans for the evening.

Actually, she didn't want to know what his plans were for the evening. It was easy to conjure a mental image of her boss in his tuxedo since they had been to several professional functions that required formal dress. Picturing him wining and dining some blonde or redhead wasn't any more difficult, but it was considerably less pleasant. Her brain did, however, refuse to see him with a brunette just as it refused to see him kissing in the New Year with anyone at all.

Anyone but her, that is. Her imagination was quite inventive on that score, churning out a variety of scenarios by turns tender, playful, fiery, exotic, erotic -

She jumped at the sound of the buzzer announcing someone at the downstairs door. Crossing the room, she pushed the button on the intercom and offered a cautious, "Yes?"

"Della, it's Perry. May I come up?"

The one person she had been thinking about was the last person she expected hear. Flustered, she stammered, "Perry? Of course... yes... come in."

Waiting for him to make the short journey in the elevator to the fourth floor, Della tried to figure out why he was there. There were no trial dates scheduled for the next two weeks and they had only worked on a couple of briefs and one partnership contract today before closing the office early. He must have found, or been found by, a new client.

That wasn't an uncommon occurrence, even on a holiday, but he usually called first and it irked her a bit that he had simply assumed she hadn't gone out tonight of all nights.

Della opened the door at the light tap of his knuckles on the wood. She was surprised to see him wearing casual slacks, and open neck shirt and a sport coat. It was a far cry from the tuxedo of her imaginings. She liked it.

Which was when she remembered her own attire.

The pink marabou feather slippers had been a gift from her brother to start her new life in Hollywood. She rarely got anywhere near Hollywood, but they did give her a good excuse to splurge on the Chinese style black satin lounging pajamas embroidered with cherry blossoms in the same pink.

The ensemble had been her attempt at being festive when she was feeling anything but.

"I thought women only wore those shoes in the movies," Perry teased.

"No, average women wear them, too," she replied, trying to figure out why they were talking about her shoes.

"You, Della Street, are anything but average."

The compliment caught her off guard and she scrambled to regain her composure. "Thank you. Umm, did you need something... for a client?"

"What? Oh, no, nothing like that. I was just driving around and happened to come by here. I saw you at the window; I was worried that you were sick."

"No, I'm not sick."

"Then why are you home alone on New Year's Eve?"

"I had invitations but I didn't feel like going out. It seems all my friends have paired off this year. Being single in a group of couples is awkward and this is not the night for a blind date. Why were you 'just driving around'?"

"I didn't feel like being part of a crowd, but I didn't want to sit around my apartment either."

The small clock on the desk chose that moment to begin to softly chime. Della had never been quite sure what had drawn her to its ornate gaudiness when she found it in a tiny second hand shop. It wasn't until she got it home that she discovered the mechanism that turned the chimes off and on was stuck in the on position. She had stuffed padding in the back to deaden some of the sound and kept in the living room rather than her bedroom.

Ding, dong, ding, dong.

'Quarter past...'

Ding, dong, ding, dong.

'Half past...'

Ding, dong, ding, dong.

'Quarter to it...'

Ding, dong, ding, dong.

'The hour itself...'

She knew the quote floating in the back of her mind was from Dickens, but she couldn't remember which Spirit Scrooge was expecting at that point in the story.

Midnight.

Dong.

"It's bad luck not to kiss someone at midnight. It means a year of loneliness." Della didn't know why she said it, but she wished she could take it back.

Dong.

"So that explains my solitary last year... no midnight kiss."

Dong.

"You were alone last New Year's Eve?" She hadn't known that. Della had gone home last Christmas and stayed through the first week of January. Her parents had hosted a party, but she deftly managed to be out of the room when midnight struck. There was no one there she wanted to be kissing.

Dong.

"There was no one here I wanted to be with... to be kissing," he replied, echoing her thoughts.

Dong.

"I didn't kiss you last New Year's Eve." He stepped closer. "Do I have to be lonely this year, too?"

Dong.

"Tell me you don't want this, Della, and we'll start the New Year as though this never happened."

Dong.

This wasn't on her list of fantasies, but it was awfully good.

Dong.

"No, Perry, neither one of us has to be lonely anymore."

Dong.

She was conscious of everything. The desire in his eyes...

Dong.

...the gentle strength of his hand as it cupped her face...

Dong.

...the tenderness of the kiss he pressed to her lips.

Dong.

Mere seconds into the New Year and Della already knew it was going to be wonderful.

The End

~P&D~

Author's note:

This story was inspired by one song then developed to fit another one. Both are great, but then how can you go wrong with either Frank Loesser or Irving Berlin?

~P&D~

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve
Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser

Maybe it's much too early in the game
Aah, but I thought I'd ask you just the same
What are you doing New Year's
New Year's eve?
Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight
When it's exactly twelve o'clock that night
Welcoming in the New Year
New Year's eve
Maybe I'm crazy to suppose
I'd ever be the one you chose
Out of a thousand invitations
You received
Aah, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance:
What are you doing New Year's
New Year's Eve?

~P&D~

Let's Start The New Year Right
Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin

One minute to midnight
One minute to go
One minute to say good-bye
Before we say hello

Let's start the new year right
Twelve o'clock tonight
When they dim the light
Let's begin

Kissing the old year out
Kissing the new year in

Let's watch the old year die
With a fond good-bye
And our hopes as high
As a kite

How can our love go wrong if
We start the new year right?