Disclaimer: I own nothing. Anything that you recognize, anything Perry Mason related, I do not own. Any and all mistakes are mine…although that's not something to be proud of I suppose.
A/N: Well, I am obsessed. Not only with Perry Mason, but apparently with writing fics about it as well. I got this idea a week ago and then went on vacation. Since I own nothing, some of the names might be wrong, but I took some lines from TCOT Bedeviled Doctor (TV episode), they sprang into an idea and I hope you all like it! Also, if we look at the PM Returns series, it would seem that Paul would've had to been married…let's pretend, for the purpose of my story that he isn't. At least, not yet! Enjoy!
"I don't know a secretary who would go to bat like that for her boss," Della said.
"Neither do I," Perry agreed.
Della looked at him with wide eyes until he shot her a smile. She then realized that he was teasing her, just like he always did. She shook her head at herself, appalled that she almost fell for it.
Paul barged into the office right then. "Hello, Perry. Hi there, Beautiful."
"Hello, Paul," Della said. Perry just nodded his acknowledgment.
"So, are Peter and Dana going to get married?" Paul asked. "Now that Nancy is out of the picture they would be free to."
Della shrugged. "I have no idea."
"Well, I guess I'll read about it in the gossip columns if they do," Paul speculated.
"Probably not," Perry contradicted. "I was reading through the last couple of week's columns, to see if there was anything about them that might relate to this case and there was nothing. Nothing at all."
"Well, you can't expect them to write something that's true," Della quipped. "My gosh, they would lose their credibility that way!"
Perry chuckled. "Very true. I can't understand how they missed the affair though."
"They didn't miss it," Paul said confidently.
"Oh, really?" Della asked unbelieving Paul's statement. "What makes you so sure."
"Well, in order to miss it, you'd have to be dead," Paul said.
Della and Perry were used to this kind of thing from Paul, so Della inquired further. "How do you figure?"
"They way she was protecting him," Paul explained. "I don't know of any other secretary who would protect her boss like that. In fact, if there are any others, I would say they would definitely have to be having an affair with their boss or be in love with their boss."
Della's eyes were wide and Perry, having a bit better control of his emotions, began to shuffle papers around on his desk. They were looking anywhere else but at each other. Paul let a small smirk grace his face at the display the two were putting on. The smirk quickly disappeared though; he didn't want them to become suspicious.
"I don't think those two are mutually exclusive, Paul," Della said, after she had gotten a better hold on herself. "Just because a secretary protects her boss doesn't necessarily mean she's in love with him."
"My secretary would never stick her neck out like that for me," Paul pointed out.
"Maybe you just don't have a very good secretary," Della snipped.
Paul raised his eyebrows and even Perry shot one eye up to Della in surprise. She sounded angry and while she had been angry many times before, she never let them take control of her words like this.
"Sorry I brought it up," Paul decided. "I was just curious because Peter doesn't love Dana as much as she loves him."
Della sighed. Paul always managed to hook her. She had to ask, "Why?"
Paul raised one eyebrow wondering why she asked when she so obviously didn't approve of his other explanation, but he knew better than to question her. "Because he let her step out so far for him. If he really loved her, he wouldn't want her to get in trouble just to try and protect him."
"He had an affair, Paul," Della pointed out. "I'm pretty sure he loved her."
Paul shrugged. "I'm pretty sure he loved his wife too. In the beginning. Love doesn't always last. In Peter and Dana's case, I'm pretty sure it's more physical love than it is anything else."
"And how do you know all this?" Della questioned. "You aren't married."
Paul grinned. "Why do you think I've managed to escape it this long?"
Della rolled her eyes and sighed at his attitude toward marriage. Sure, she wasn't sure she wanted to get married, but she didn't look at it as something a person "escaped."
Perry decided to diffuse the situation before it got more heated than it already was. "Paul, we're headed to dinner. You coming?"
"Don't I always?" Paul asked cheekily.
"Yes, you do," Della muttered under her breath.
"Well, if someone doesn't want me to come…" Paul trailed off, hearing Della's muttering.
Perry looked at Della in astonishment. She usually wasn't intentionally this rude. Sure, she had been mad at Paul, and even himself before, but she got over it in a matter of seconds and was never this rude.
"Are you okay?" Perry asked Della. He knew she would never answer him truthfully right now, but he would be able to tell by her answer what he needed to do.
Della collected herself and answered. "I'm fine. I'm sorry, Paul. I don't know what I was thinking. Come with us to dinner, please."
Paul looked at her assessing, then looked at Perry. He knew that Perry would tell him what to do. He couldn't read this woman as well as Perry could. Looking at Perry, Paul received an almost imperceptible nod. "If you're sure…"
"Positive," Della assured him. "I don't know what came over me."
As Della and Perry walked out, Paul walked a few feet behind them. He again let a smirk grace his face. Success!
"Thank you for dinner, Perry," Della said as he was driving her back to her apartment after dropping Paul off. "It was lovely." She paused for a second and added her next thought. "Even with Paul, the tag-along."
She was getting ready to get out of the car when Perry stopped her. "Hold it."
"What?" Della asked.
"I am coming up with you, so let me park," Perry told her.
Della wrinkled her forehead. "Why?"
Perry managed to not roll his eyes as he maneuvered the car into a parking spot. "Because something has been wrong since Paul came into the office earlier and I am going to find out what it is."
Della's eyes widened as she turned her face away from Perry's searching eyes. "Why?"
Perry shook his head at her stubbornness as he got out of the car. When he opened her door for her he said, "So I can fix it. I'll beat up Paul if I have to."
Della let a small smile cross her face, knowing that's what he was hoping for when he added the last comment. She also knew anything she might say would not deter him from following her up to her apartment, so she might as well let him.
As they got into the elevator, Della's mind worked furiously. She had to think of something to tell Perry. She couldn't tell him the truth. She could never tell him the reason she got so mad was because she was afraid. She was so afraid that what Paul was saying was true. At least for her it was. She knew she could never hope Perry could feel the same way about her. Della wasn't naïve. She knew she wasn't ugly, but she knew she wasn't the type that Perry could fall for. Perry needed someone beautiful, someone who could be a housewife, someone who wasn't his secretary, someone who…wasn't her. Della quickly stopped these thoughts. She needed to think of something to tell him, and they had almost reached her apartment!
Della unlocked the door, stepped inside and threw her coat over the back of the nearest chair. She could hang it up later. "Do you want some wine?" Della asked Perry, stalling for time.
Perry shook his head. "Maybe in a minute. First tell me what caused you to blow up at Paul."
"I didn't blow up at him!" Della exclaimed, defending herself.
"No, you didn't," Perry conceded. "But you weren't yourself and you have been off since. You were fine before Paul came in and I know what he was saying upset you. Now, tell me why."
Della rolled her lips. "He was stereotyping secretaries. The way he was talking, he made it sound like if a secretary so much as cared about her boss a bit then she was in love with him. More than that, he made it sound like if a secretary cared about her boss she would completely disregard anything and everything just to keep him safe. That's not true! Any secretary who has worked closely with their boss for more than a year is naturally going to care about that person. It doesn't mean they are in love with their boss. Besides, I bet if you asked Paul's secretary, Maureen, when push comes to shove she would protect him. It doesn't mean she loves him. It just made me mad that he was sitting there stereotyping secretaries and making it sound like we are weak, little things who have roaming eyes or something."
"I can assure you that's not how he meant it," Perry said.
"I know. He was just being Paul and wasn't thinking, but it just made me mad. I mean, I would definitely stick my neck out for you…" Della trailed off. She quickly changed the subject, not wanting to finish that thought with a lie…or with the truth for that matter. "Now do you want some wine?"
Perry nodded. "Sure."
Della went into the kitchen to get the glasses and the wine and Perry sat down on the couch, thinking. He had hoped maybe Della felt something for him, the way he did for her. He knew though that thought was just wishful thinking. Della needed someone who was young, handsome and not tied to their job the way he was. Still though, when she had gotten mad about what Paul said, he had hoped maybe it was because she was masking her fear. Unfortunately, her monologue disproved that. On the other hand, she did say she would stick her neck out for him. He, of course, wasn't going to jump to any conclusions, but he did want to see how far she would go.
Della came back into the room with two glasses filled with red wine and sat one down in front of Perry. He took a small sip and turned to her. "You said you would stick your neck out for me. How far would you go?"
Della turned to him with a frown on her face. "Why?"
"Just curious," Perry lied. Well, it wasn't a total lie. He was curious, that just wasn't the real reason he asked.
Della took a sip of her wine and put it down on the coffee table in front of them. She then turned to Perry. "As far you asked me to."
"If I didn't ask."
"As far as you needed me to."
"So if I was convicted of murder…"
That statement gained a laugh from Della. "You would not be accused of murder. You could never kill someone. Even if you did take leave of your senses and kill someone I would be no help. You wouldn't kill someone in front of me."
Perry smiled at her reasoning. "If I was accused though, you know you would have to go on the stand and testify. What if I hated the person who died and you had heard me tell Paul I wanted to kill him."
Della stared at Perry for a few seconds. "I don't think you would be stupid enough to say something like that. You know how those things can come back to haunt you."
Perry sighed in exasperation and amusement. "Would you stop being so analytical! This is a hypothetical situation. If I did say something like that, you know the prosecutor would pounce on it. Would you tell them you heard it?"
Della shook her head, wondering if he was fishing for an answer. Actually, she knew he was. He was wondering if she would perjure herself for him. She was sure this meant something more than just friendship, but she wasn't going to lie to him about this. "Probably not."
"You realize that would mean you would be lying under oath, which would earn you time in jail for perjury," Perry reminded her.
"I know," Della assured him. "No matter what you said, you would not have committed a murder. So, I would perjure myself for you."
"Well," Perry commented lost in thought. That was interesting. He was pulled out of his thoughts by Della's next question.
"Would you want me to?" Della asked.
"No," Perry answered automatically. When he went back a few seconds later to review what she asked and actually think about it, he knew his answer was the same.
"Why not?" Della questioned.
"You'd go to jail," Perry repeated. "I would never want that to happen because of something I may or may not have done. If I really didn't commit the murder, there is no way the prosecutor could find enough evidence to convict me. Even if he did, I would get a good defense attorney to defend me and maybe together we could find the real killer. I definitely wouldn't want you to spend time in jail because I was being an idiot."
Della smiled. "Alright then. I'm glad we were able to clear up those matters of your murder conviction."
"Can I ask you one more hypothetical question?" Perry inquired, getting up and walking toward the far end of the room.
"What would I do if you were caught stealing?" Della teased.
Perry grinned at her humor, but it faded, thinking about what he was going to ask. He turned toward her. "If what Paul had said in the office were true, about secretaries and bosses…would that be so bad?"
"I don't know," Della answered, knowing this was no longer hypothetical and knowing it wasn't supposed to be in the first place, no matter what Perry had said. "Would it?"
Perry knew as well the hypothetical aspect had left and the way he answered this question could affect his relationship with Della from now on. She would lay it all on him. "I guess not."
Della raised her eyebrows. "You guess not?"
"No," Perry corrected. "No, if what Paul said were true it wouldn't be bad at all."
Della nodded. "I'll keep that in mind." She then took a sip of her wine, trying to hide her smile. She knew she was failing though; she could feel the corners of her mouth twitching, trying to turn up into a grin.
Perry saw the grin trying to break through, so he knew right away she was teasing. "You know, I really appreciate you keeping that in mind. I would appreciate it even more if we could do something about it."
Della got up and began to walk toward him. She was only a foot away from him and still advancing when she began to speak in a low and sultry voice. "Oh, you want me to do something about it? Well, why didn't you just say so."
Della, having taken off her high heels, reached up to loop her arms around his neck and stood on her tip toes to connect her lips with his. Perry had wound his arms around her and was just beginning to request entrance into her mouth when she pulled back. She smiled wickedly. "Is that what you had in mind?"
Perry narrowed his eyes at her. "Not exactly." He initiated the kiss this time. His strong arms lifted her up off the ground so she could be at his height without having to stand on her tip toes. He ran his tongue across her lips. She granted him entrance and it wasn't until she heard a faint sound (it would've been much louder had she not been so distracted) did she realize they had been moving and he had kicked her bedroom door shut with his foot. She smiled into his passionate kiss. This should be fun.
The next morning, when Paul barged into the office again, he noticed something had changed. He had suspicions, but he wasn't going to say anything until he saw some solid proof. He wasn't sure what he was waiting to see, because if the change was what he assumed, they definitely weren't planning to advertise it.
Paul squinted his eyes. He noticed the small things. A touch here, a smile there. They always touched each other and smiled at each other, but he could tell it was a little different. When one touch lingered a bit too longer than would be considered acceptable between friends, Paul finally decided to voice his suspicions.
"Are you guys finally together!" Paul questioned excitedly.
Perry and Della just stared at him.
"Come on, you have to tell me!" Paul goaded. "If you don't, I'll just spy on you until I figure it out."
Perry and Della looked at each other and had one of those conversations with their eyes that Paul always found a bit annoying. Della turned to him. "Yes, Paul, we are."
"It's about time!" Paul exclaimed. "I can't believe my plan worked."
Perry and Della raised their eyebrows. Della voiced their confusion. "Your plan?"
Paul winced. He definitely hadn't meant to say that out loud, but since he already did he might as well finish. "You two belong together, but have done nothing about it, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I've been flirting with Della for so long now by calling her beautiful, but it did nothing, so I decided to get a bit more drastic.
"Della, I knew you would stick your neck out for Perry and I knew Perry wouldn't let you go very far. I didn't think you would get so mad, Della, but when you did get mad, I figured it worked better that way. After all, Perry would probably know what I said made you mad, but he wouldn't know why and he would ask. When he did, I thought maybe you two would actually talk," Paul concluded.
Perry and Della were still staring at Paul in shock. They weren't actually shocked that Paul had went through with the plan, it was more that they fell for it. Della shook her head and Perry rolled his eyes.
"Paul, did I give you an assignment?" Perry asked.
"No," Paul said.
"Why don't you go find one," Perry suggested.
Paul shook his head. "I get you guys together and this is the thanks I get."
"Paul!" Perry and Della shouted together. Paul rushed out and closed the door behind him.
"I can't believe we were set up!" Della said. "By Paul Drake, nonetheless!"
Perry shook his head. "It was sneaky and underhanded, exactly like something Paul would do."
Della chuckled. "That's true."
Perry grabbed her hand and tugged her down into his lap. She looped her arms around his neck. He kissed her lightly and said, "Oh well, I guess it doesn't really matter."
Della smiled at him. "I'm definitely not complaining."
Perry kissed her again a bit more passionately this time. He continued to kiss her and Della considered breaking this kiss. She needed to set ground rules, she needed to tell him what they could and couldn't do in the office. Anyone could walk in on them and they would be getting interrupted by Gertie all the time as well. She needed to pull away, she needed to tell him. On the other hand, the ground rules and things could wait. Della was just going to spend the next few minutes not complaining.
Well, that's it. It's a bit longer than the last one, but I hope you like as well…or better than my last one. Paul may be a bit out of character but I liked the idea of Paul setting them up. He probably wouldn't tell them out loud, but I wanted you all to understand what he was doing. This one makes me nervous as it is longer and a bit more detailed than my last one. I would really appreciate it if you would review and thanks so much for reading!