Thank you very much for reading this story, thanks for your advices, PM's and nice and kind reviews, AND also the not nice and not kind reviews of course. I've learned a lot writing this, and I've enjoyed it very much.

You're the best!

I wish you all a very nice weekend.

Epilogue

" So, and then he said it only took him five minutes to throw her out of his bed…" Della laughed out loud at Paul's report of last day's events. Paul glanced sidewards to Perry, who just narrowed his eyes and said nothing.

" And that makes me wondering, at his age, really Della..." Paul added, still watching Perry.

" What, Paul ? " she asked in a playful tone.

" He needs just five minutes? "

" Paul, you stop it right there….! " But Mason hid his laughter behind his hand.

" Oh, you know, Paul, sometimes it doesn't even take him five minutes… to fall asleep... " She chuckled. " He can be asleep within a few seconds. Sometimes he litterally falls asleep when his head hasn't even touched the pillow yet. "

" You see. He is not old at all … " Ken added as they all looked at the subject of their banter, to see a reaction.

" My … I can't stand this anymore. I'm off. " Perry sighed wearily, feigning annoyance. " You can all stay here, empty the liqueur cabinet or the fridge. Or both. Good luck. I'll be somewhere in this house where no one can find me. "

" I'm coming with you … " Della reached for his hand to stand up. He laced his fingers with hers.

" Please, don't go anywhere we can't find you. " Paul stood up. " I really have to catch a flight. And, I'm still tired of searching and finding you the last time. "

" You, young Paul Drake, should get used to play hide and seek. There might be someone who wants to play that game with you in just a couple of years. " Perry laughed at him with a small hint of emotion in his eyes.

" I don't think it'll be a problem, being the detective I am. Though I don't like the last excercise I had. " Della smiled softly at him. " Don't get lost like that again, please ... " Paul hugged her fiercely " … granny …"

" Bye grandpa ... "

Mason's grin was wide and dimple deep, his eyes narrowed, when he hugged his best friend's son.

" Goodbye, Paul. Take care, son. And take very good care of your Linda. "

" Let us know how you are doing… " Della whiped a tear from the corner of her eyes.

" Yeah. You too. "

Paul waved to them one last time, and climbed into the taxi, after laughing out loud while shaking the cabdriver's hand.

" Is that the same cabdriver as the one who drove you up north? " Della asked Perry.

" Yes. We're good customers, I suppose. " His arm reached around Della to pull her close. They waved together at the leaving taxi.

" We're off too. " Ken and Amy walked out of the house. " I have a client to attend to. "

" But we closed the office this week? "

" Nah. I have to go and see Bobby Spencer, he seems to be in some kind of trouble. "

" The hockeyplayer? " Della queried.

" Yes, he's in trouble with his employer, Thatcher Horton … "

" Thatcher Horton? " Perry blew out a breath. " Well, good luck. "

" You know him? "

" No. I heard of him. A lot. He is a … well, he is not easy. "

" Well, I'm not either. " Ken shook hands with Perry very firmly with his left hand.

" Good luck, Ken. And thanks again. " He squeezed his apprentice's upper arm firmly, before embracing Amy gently. " And thank you too, dear. Thank you for helping us out. "

" You're so welcome, Mr. Mason. "

" Della, I'm so glad you're back here. He is a disaster without you. " Ken whispered to her, but made sure it was loud enough for Perry to hear it.

" Thank you, Ken. Goodbye dear, we'll see you next week again. " She kissed him on both cheeks before letting go, and to fiercely hug Amy.

As the young couple made their way to their car, Della spoke softly. " It's a shame. "

" Yes. "

" I don't think they're going to make it. "

" No. They won't last very long. " Perry looked at her from the side. " Will we ? "

" What do you mean ? "

" Will we last very long? I mean, I am old, and a disaster, and … "

" They're just teasing, honey, you know that … " she hugged his arm.

" The only teasing I want right now, just involves you and me. "

" Perry… "

" Let's get inside, my lady. "

####

She went through the papers the bank had given them about the retrieved money. Leaning forward over the table, she picked up a pen, to write some remarks on the papers.

He had sat down to take in her form from behind. Though he really couldn't care less, he knew it was not appropriate at all to enjoy the view like this, so very thoroughly and so very much, the sight of her igniting all kinds of inappropriate thoughts in his mind. Some of them also involving the table.

A dirty mind is a joy forever.

Remembering the one liner from Paul Drake, he smirked silently.

When he had decided to fondle the curves he had just watched, he stood up to let his hands wander free.

" I didn't know we had so much money. " He leaned his chin on her shoulder from behind, to pretend he watched the documents with her. In stead he studied the texture of the skin of her neck, to decide whether to bite her or kiss her, and if he had decided about that, where exactly he would start to perform his actions.

" Minor correction: you have so much money. " She shifted out of his embrace a little to pull back and watch his face from the side. " And I see you used my account … "

" Yes, I did. I was quite sure you didn't tell your kidnappers about that one. And the bank assured me it would be fine for me to use it. As long as I made sure I would refund everything I withdrew. "

She gasped. He had decided for a kiss at the hollow of her throat.

" Oh, you're so smart." She turned to be in his embrace completely, and wrapped her arms around his neck. " And so you do know how to withdraw? "

" Of course I know that. And I know how to earn, and I know how to spend. How else could I ever be able to get you presents, my lady? "

" So … " she cocked her eyebrows and tilted her head to the side. A slender finger played with the exposed skin of his chest where he had left his shirt unbuttoned " … they told you to refund everything you withdrew? "

" Yes. " His voice was low.

" Did they say uhm … how to refund? " It was 'that look' and the same gleam in her eyes that had made him very vulnerable at numerous moments during just the last forty years, and this time he experienced no exception to this rule.

He cleared his throat playfully. " No, Miss. But their exact words were: ' We trust you to make arrangements with Miss Street about how and when you are to refund what you withdraw from her account.' "

" Did they mention anything about, you know, paying in kind? "

" They didn't, but I'm sure we can come to a mutual agreement about that. And would that be with or without interest … Miss ? "

" Well, with of course. And you'd have to make it interest - ing. "

" And can I pay in terms ? And how much would you want me to pay in kind? And can I pay in let's say 'rings' ? Two of them ? "

" Do you already have them … ? " He was treated to a surprised look on her beautiful face.

" No. But I ordered them. They'll be ready this time next week. Then I'll take you to the jeweller, so you can tell me if you like what I asked them to make. "

" And, if I accept them as a refund. If that is still necessary next week. "

He roared with laughter. " It depends on how you value my … services … Miss. And, I'm sure we'll reach an appropriate agreement … "

" Do you want to reach an agreement before or after the … uhm … refund? "

" During. Simultaneously. "

She snorted and chuckled out loud at his mischief, wrapping her arms around his neck. " U-uh. "

" However, I don't mind deliberating afterwards about some details … " They were forehead to forehead, when he started kissing her lips, slowly, tasting, tantalizing softly and sultry. His breathing heavied with hers, and he pushed her against the table behind her, trailed his mouth down towards her cleavage while her hands held his head close to her. His own hands took their time to reach down and wrinkle up her skirt, and boldly caress everything they found underneath.

As his hands moved by their own record, she moaned softly to his ear. " Is this the refunding part ? Because if it is … "

His voice was impossibly low with a slight catch of a breath. " Well, Miss. This was the refunding part … and now we'll start the interest … ing part. "

" U-uh. "

He lifted her chin to look into her eyes, and whispered to her in a way she had to halt her breath for three seconds, then gasped, closed her eyes, and obeyed.

" … turn around ... "

####

Mutual agreements about refunding and interest momentarily adjourned, he had led her to the couch to pull her down with him. Now she lay her head on his chest, dwelling in her favourite spot for over forty years. His warm arms all around her told her she was really safe now. At home.

" What was it he so very desperately needed to know from me? " Perry asked her, stroking her back, leaning his head on hers.

" Him? Emmett? "

" Mmm-mmm … "

" Nothing spectacular really. He wanted to know all about you and me, and I told him how I fell in love with you and how we had our struggles, and how I knew I didn't want to be apart from you, and how I know how much I love you now. "

" You call that: 'nothing spectacular really' ? " Perry snorted. " And how do you know how much you love me? "

" Sometimes it's just a feeling, when I look at you, when you don't notice it, or when you stare your stare. When you work. When you perform in court. The way I can handle you when you have the concrete stare on, the way we work together, our respect for eachother. The way we dance, still, and how that makes me feel. The way you fill my nights and days. I tried to explain, Perry, but all he could think of was how to get through to me, how to make me love him. How to make love to me. While he didn't stand a chance. " She looked up to his face, and smiled softly.

She whispered to his closed eyes " And I told him about the way you fall asleep while I'm talking to you about something important and then I don't mind … " Slowly she moved his arm from her shoulder to stand up.

His hand caught her wrist. " No. Stay here. I was listening, the last word was 'chance'. "

" Right. But I really have to use the bathroom now. "

When she came back, she sat down next to his legs. " Do you know what day it is today, Perry ? "

" Thursday. "

She snorted. " I mean the date. "

" Mmmm. No. I seem to have lost track of time. "

" Third of September. "

" Really? Well … "

" Mmm-mmm. Forty-one years … "

" That calls for a celebration, doesn't it ? "

" U-uh … Do we have champaign? "

" I don't know. Check the fridge … "

He grinned widely when he heard her cry of surprise and then a loud chuckle coming from the kitchen.

Earlier, he had barely had enough time to fix the tray with two glasses, the champaign and the long vase with the one long stemmed blue rose. He had just made it back to the couch in time to pretend to be dozing still.

" I could have known … you are not only very interest ing, but also very very sweet sometimes, you know that? " She took his face in both hands and kissed him long and passionate.

" Yes, I actually do know that, because a certain someone tells me that every year around this time. It's actually the only reason I remember this date. "

He took her hands from his face, and kissed every slender finger. " And, now, I'll also never forget about it, because it's the reason we found you back. It was so smart and sweet of you to leave that date in dollars in the account. "

" Have you told them what the occassion was? "

" No."

" Good. "

" But they guessed. "

" Oh, dear. "

" Mmm-mmm. My dear too. "

Toasting with the champaign he whispered softly to her. " I love you, Della. I have loved you forever. " The kiss that followed was one to very clearly underline his statement.

" I love you more, and have done so longer." She broke the kiss to toast. " So … here's to us. "

" To us, my baby. "

The phone interrupted the start of a second kiss. Della answered it and spoke into the receiver, just inches from Perry's lips. " Yes, Ken. Just a moment, please. " She put her hand over the receiver.

" Thatcher Horton was murdered, and they've arrested Bobby Spencer for it. Will you go and see him? "

Perry sighed deeply and nodded.

" Can you come and pick him up, Ken? No, I don't know if he wants to do it yet. But he'll speak to him. Yes, we'll be staying at the Havenhurst from tomorrow on, while our bedroom is redecorated. "

When she put the phone back in its cradle, she turned to find Perry buttoning a crisp white shirt. " He'll pick you up in an hour … Back to work, Perry … I'll get you a suit. "

" Yes, back to where I belong. " He pursed his lips.

" With me. "

" With you, Della Street. With you. "