Chapter Fifteen

Della Elizabeth was their first born a little less than a year after taking their vows. Perry Junior arrived two years later and Mae Katherine finally made the bunch complete. Perry Mason had promised his wife three children and had gladly obliged her. After all, she was the most beautiful expectant mother he had ever seen. His strong-willed offspring however wore him out. Their needs, their voices and inquiring minds. He often felt his hair was graying by the minute, scrumptiously complementing the laugh lines around his eyes as his wife always put it when she was trying to seduce him into having one more child.

He didn't know how Della did it, how she managed to dote on their three so effortlessly. Granted, it had taken her a while to accept that she could only be at one place at a time but she had soon found a way to divide herself between their office and their home. When Della had been six months pregnant with Lizzie, they had finally set up a home office for them both. After the joyous news of her second pregnancy, Della had turned one of Perry's spare rooms at the town office into a nursery, very much to her husband's dismay – at least in the beginning, until he had discovered how well his wife knew to keep their children out of his office when a client came to call. When Della sat in a meeting to take notes, Gertie gladly kept an eye on the Mason bunch who always seemed so well-behaved around everybody but their parents. Paul and Aunt Mae also dropped in on occasion to take the children off Della's busy back. It was the late nights that had changed the most Perry often deemed: diaper duty, feeding sessions and hurting bellies. When he sat down for a drink with Paul to chat, the private eye a father now himself, they rarely left the office, both too worn out to actually care about an after hour snack.

It was the amount of love that had taken him off guard. The kind of energy his children cost him but all the things he got back instead. And although he still loved nothing more than loving up his wife in the privacy of their bedroom, watching her asleep on the couch with the three darling creatures she had given him, safely tucked away in her motherly arms, came in on a very close second.

Over the years, Della had never ceased to amaze him, as his secretary or his wife. But the way she fought her exhaustion, managed their life while aging so gracefully as their children grew up – her endless source of love, her energy through ups and downs, tears and pain, sickness and crises. He wouldn't have thought it possible, but at seventy-five he desired her as much as when she had finally agreed to marry him back in 1962, her body then beautifully naked, and pressed against his to anticipate the vows they were about to take. Thirty years later he loved her all the more, more than at their wedding, when she had put a ring on his finger with shaky hands and accepted his with tears forming in her eyes. More than on their honeymoon when they had made love to top their lewd engagement and she had invited him to explore her from without and within. Thirty years into their marriage, he loved her knowledge of him, his likes and peeves, his weaknesses and faults. How she rarely complained and always forgave him, no matter how much he felt he had hurt or neglected her over the years. He loved how she had turned their house into a home, how she had let Kate go to grad school in the East without making a fuss although it broke her heart because she was their youngest. How she always welcomed her eldest with so much joy, no matter how many times she ended up arguing with him, her father. She always knew how to smooth the edges of their disagreements. His oldest daughter, working at the DA's office. Perry just knew that Hamilton loved the irony of the situation while Burger's own son had decided to intern with Perry Mason, attorney-at-law, only a few years back.

Perry sighed as he studied his wife's face as she was sitting at her desk in their home office , showing their twin grand-daughters what she still did when their grandfather was on a case. She had agreed to not retire until he would learn to find her level of gratification in just being there for their family. As always, she was patient with him although he knew how much she had started to worry about his health since Paul's minor heart attack.

He hadn't told her that he had decided to wind down a little professionally. That he was hoping for Liz to reconsider her position to take over their practice while Perry Jr. was still in law school and Kate undecided whether she really wanted to enter what she called the family trade.

It was her trust in him that made him love her more. The way she handled her frustration with his gruffness when he was brooding over a case. He knew he could be difficult, and that hadn't improved with the presence of their children over the years although it had strangely made him soft. He had always hated how Della had had to divide her attention between him and them, their boy so very much like her, down to her curly hair. Their daughters such a mix of them both, stubborn and hard-boiled at times, but sensitive and both blessed with their mother's generous heart.

Perry smiled as he watched his wife throw her head back to laugh. Her voice had grown deeper over the years, from all the worrying and shouting and making love to him. He loved when she sounded sultry like that in all her preserved innocence. He remembered the many sleepless nights when Kate had had her accident, a car, full frontal, had hit her on her bike when she had been eight. Then Lizzie's ruptured appendix when she had been barely out of junior high, and Perry Jr., for most of his school years, easily getting into fights. They hadn't had it easy with their mixture of obstinacy, heart and that strong sense of justice. But Della had managed them all, had laughed through her tears and always stood tall.

"What are you thinking about?" Della asked as she suddenly stood next to him in his cushioned chair. She moved her hand over his neck in a tender caress and rested it half inside his collar to caress his skin with her fingers.

"You," Perry replied with a melancholy grin and caught her hand with his own to pull her down to him.

"My, counselor," Della teased him with a smile of her own. "I'm flattered."

"Do you know what day it is today?" Perry held on to her hand and welcomed how she embraced him from behind.

"The day your grand-daughters asked what it is you are doing at the office since I seem to be doing all the work," his wife retorted sassily.

"And what shall I suppose you said?" Perry wrinkled his forehead and met her mischief with his courtroom glare.

"I said you do all the thinking," Della said innocently and didn't mind covering the smirk that washed over her lips.

Perry eyed her with suspicion, aware she was hiding a personal joke, especially when the twins rushed past them out to the backyard and shared a giggle with their much adored grandmother.

Perry took a deep breath and decided to hide the joy the scene was giving him. Then he cleared his throat and repeated his question. "As I was asking: do you know what day it is today?" He looked at her and waited.

"I don't know," Della shrugged and complied to her husband's wish to come sit on his lap. "Two weeks before our anniversary?" She asked, humbly leaving her birthday unmentioned, two weeks later, when she would complete yet another decade.

Perry smiled and pulled his wife into a lingering kiss. "Thirty years ago today, we found a baby boy abandoned in my office and you took him home."

"Leander," Della whispered.

"Yes." Perry nodded. "You still remember his name." He wasn't surprised and yet amazed.

"Of course I do," his wife whispered and rested her head on his shoulder to softly kiss his neck. "I've never forgotten the loves of my life."

Perry Mason smiled and brought his fingers up over her hip and waist to finally caress her face. "Would you have married me if he hadn't broken your heart?" He sounded thoughtful but his eyes showed nothing but deep love.

"I'm sure I would have," Della answered amorously. "Eventually."

"I'm not sure I've mentioned it," Perry met her mood and kissed her deeply. "But I'm glad you did." His voice vibrated against her lips as he fondled her mouth.

Della absorbed what he was giving her, completely losing herself in his deepening kiss. Then they heard that familiar chuckle, their granddaughters standing right behind them like their own children had had so often, breaking up their moment of bliss. Perry growled and Della laughed, pulling them into a grandmotherly embrace.

Two weeks from now they would be up in Bear Valley, celebrating their anniversary, undisturbed. Perry sighed. Just one night with family and friends before they would take off.

Yes, thirty years into their marriage, a buzzing law practice and three kids all grown up, and Perry Mason still enjoyed those private moments with Della like nothing else.