Disclaimer: For the record, I do not own "Perry Mason", otherwise I wouldn't have to post it here.
I owe my beta a big thank you. She gives so much and never asks for anything in return.
So this is the sequel to "TCOT Returning Relative". Took me just two years to start it. I'll try to update on a weely basis. Let me know what you think and feel about the story!
The Case of the Returning Revenger
"Men regard it as their right to return evil for evil and, if they cannot, feel they have lost their liberty." ~ Aristotle
Paul Drake stopped the rented car and drew a deep breath, before he turned his attention to the lovely old house to his left. Nothing in this small town or this street or this home had changed. It seemed not even the season had changed. The last time he was here, it had been snowing like hell and today it was just the same. His flight had been late due to the bad weather conditions and it hadn't been easy to get here. The roads were icy and the sight was worse. A frozen hell he had entered – just like three years ago, when he had followed Perry here, because the lawyer was defending Della's little brother Ian for the murder of their own father Richard.
Even though Ian Street was innocent after all and the murder caught, the whole case was not something Paul considered a success. On the contrary, the case had split up the three of them. Perry, Della, and Paul had never been the same after Pauline Straight, the widow of Della's father, had been arrested.
Paul knew life was always changing. It was the natural flow of fate, but losing Della had been hard on him. He missed her and her wicked tongue more than he had expected. Everything had changed for the bad after she had left the office and Perry.
All because of Pauline.
Not only that she had almost killed Della when she kidnapped her. As a result of the stress and the physical exhaustion, Della had lost the child she had been expecting from Perry, a loss she had never really recovered from. Paul had never pictured Della as a mother, but after the miscarriage, he had realized how long Della had waited for the chance to be a mother and how much she suffered because the chance had been taken away from her. Perry, of course, had still insisted on marrying Della, but the independent and stubborn secretary had refused and in the end had left L.A. and the lawyer.
Almost three years ago Della had moved back home, because her brother had moved to Chicago and Mae had become too old and fragile to stay home alone. Della was now working as a secretary for a tax consultant, trying to leave her adventurous past behind, but every time Paul talked to her on the phone he couldn't help but believe that she was missing it. She was still alone, though many men showed interest in her. Not that it was easy to live a social life with someone like Mae in the background.
Paul sighed. The snow had already covered the whole front shield, but he had to get out. Della was expecting him. He had announced his visit, but she didn't know the reason for his visit and he wished it was less dangerous and less hard to communicate.
"It's so good to see you," Della said warmly, as she greeted Paul with an embrace. "It's been some time."
"Way too much time, Beautiful!" Paul agreed, leaned back and watched her with growing concern. To him she would always look fragile underneath her lovely exterior. "How can you stand living in this cold hell?" he added as he gave her his snow covered coat and rubbed his cold hands.
She laughed, "I grew up in this cold hell, remember? I'm used to it."
"Where's Mae?" Paul asked, as he looked around and couldn't detect the old woman.
"She's in bed," Della answered, as she returned from the closet. "She's still an early riser, but therefore she retires earlier. She's really getting weaker. The wheelchair doesn't agree with her idea of being active." Della shrugged and offered Paul the couch. A pleasant fire flickered in the fireplace and spread a very welcomed warmth in the living room.
"Why are you here, Paul?" Della wanted to know, after she had settled down next to him and passed a glass of whiskey to him. "What happened?"
He gave her a surprised look. He hadn't told her he had bad news, but apparently, she already sensed something was going on.
She smiled, "Oh, please, why would go through so much trouble to visit me in this cold hell if it wasn't important? What is it?"
"Della...," he started, bur broke off.
"Is something wrong with Perry?" she asked, alarmed when she noticed his hesitation. "Did something happen to him?"
"No, he's fine."
"Is he getting married?" Della asked, lowering her eyes to her own drink. Her thumb ran slowly over the edge of the glass.
Paul was flabbergasted. "What?"
"This town isn't the end of the world, Paul. Even here the newspapers write about the new woman at his side. Lorraine is her name, right?"
"Lorraine and Perry are not getting married," Paul cut her off quickly. "And she's not the reason I'm here. I'm here because of Pauline."
Della's thumb froze and she looked up.
"What about her?" she asked, tonelessly.
"Yesterday evening she's escaped the mental institution she has been in for the last three years. She killed a nurse and a guard on her way out..."
Della's eyes grew bigger. "What does that mean? Am I in danger?"
Paul drew a deep breath and nodded. "Yes, Beautiful, I'm afraid you are." He took her hand and squeezed it gently. "That's why I'm here. You need protection. The best would be, if Mae and you left this town and come back to Los Angeles. Steve Drumm and his men can protect you. Perry thinks..."
"Did he send you?" she asked, her mind now racing like a roller coaster. Pauline, Perry... her heart exploded in her chest and her stomach transformed into a stone.
"Yes, he wants..."
"Well, he could have told me himself what he wants." She abandoned her glass and rose. Covering her face with her hands, she started to pace up and down the room.
"That's not the point now and you know it. You and Mae have to leave this bloody town!" He jumped up and grabbed her shoulders. "I'm serious. Pauline is dangerous and we can't take any
risk... The police have no idea where she is and God knows what she's up to!"
"Tell Perry, I'm not going back to Los Angeles," Della said, staring at some spot over his right shoulder. "I'm sure the police here can protect us as well."
"But the police here..."
"I know the Lieutenant quite well..." she explained lowly, still avoiding eye contact with Paul. "I'm sure he'll do anything to protect us."
"Della, please..." He placed his hand under her chin and forced her to look at him. "You should know better than everybody else what Pauline is capable of! She killed your father and your friend! How can you stay here?"
He knew her answer before he heard it. He had known it when he saw the expression on her face the moment he had mentioned Perry.
"How can I go back?"