Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, I'm just entertaining them. :) This story was triggered by the TV movie from 1987 with Jean Simmons, TCOT LOST LOVE, a story a lot of us love to hate I think. If you don't know the TV movie, this story may not make a lot of sense to you - or maybe it does. Either way, I hope you'll enjoy this from Laura's point of view. PS: This was written a while ago but I just stumbled upon it... My WITHOUT YOU story is not forgotten, be assured of that. :)

She had to hand it to Miss Street: not only did she know how to handle Paul Drake without breaking his vim, the secretary also played her part beautifully. She dressed conservatively without hiding her amenities. She was a woman from head to toe - her face innocent, her smile dazzling to a fault, her taste in food down-to-earth and homey. She was, in all her feminine perfection, one of the guys, laughed at their jokes and rolled her eyes when Mr. Drake took a pun too far, much to her employer's delight, too often triggering a smile so dimple deep it made Laura cringe as she watched her lover from a distance, seconds before she announced her arrival, feeling unwelcome and out of place.

Despite her body language, Della Street always met her gaze with geniality upon intrusion, was quiet and savvy without pride. She looked all natural behind his desk, sitting or standing right by his side, her curves soft and dainty, often leaning over and across the table to answer his phone, a gesture so dutiful and full of poise it shouldn't have made her uncomfortable. But Laura watched her routine with squinted eyes, her mouth pursed to hide her disapproval. If it was any other woman, Laura had known her motives were anything but chaste, but Miss Street oozed righteousness and virtue, despite her looks and tailored charm. Any word of protest would have attested to her jealousy and that was the last thing she wanted to admit. After all, Perry Mason's girl Friday was graceful by nature, her warmth genuine, her kindness never put on. Her remarks were cordial and sometimes sassy, her attitude never catty or annoyed. According to her sources, Della Street behaved reputably at the office, her appearance always classy, her behavior never haughty nor full of spite. Some people whispered she had it in her, could very well be Perry Mason's wife - and that was the one thing she couldn't be, that was the flaw Laura couldn't forgive, a threat she sensed wouldn't go away. With every smile and gentle word, every tender touch and intimate look exchanged with her employer, Laura felt the rift between her and his confidante growing deeper, her gut rejecting Della for everything she was: steadfast, loyal, unpretentious and the perfect partner for her boss.

It took her thirty years to get a chance to ask the question: "What about Perry and you?" Miss Street's evasiveness was almost charming, her uneasiness real and bordering the sweet. If only Perry hadn't interrupted them and thus stopped his head of office from admitting the truth, from finally voicing what Laura felt she deserved to know.

Days later, when he said goodbye after her confession, after he had struggled to expose her guilt in court, his associate was nowhere near to interfere with what Laura longed to ask, now him instead of her. But she found his feelings barred from what they used to have, his eyes telling her farewell for good. How long a time had passed since he had fallen in love, Laura wondered. How long had it taken him to accept his feelings? Laura didn't know why she still clung to him and what they used to be back in the days. She didn't understand why she always kissed him when they met although he had long stopped kissing her back, why her own husband had never been able to take his place. It was the melancholy she sometimes detected in Perry's eyes, the fact that it was so hard for him to say no - out of nostalgia or respect, she didn't care to know. He always reminded her of her younger self, but when his lips grazed her fingers in her holding cell, Laura knew it was the last she would see of him - his offer to defend her honest yet unavailable, a loving gesture but nothing else. It was an act of courtesy as he denied her the kinds of feelings she longed to claim but knew he didn't have. He cared for her, had once anyway, before the truth had dawned on him in the courtroom, moments ago. Disloyalty and broken promises, two deadly sins Perry Mason detested from deep within. She had inflicted a wound on him she couldn't undo, a pain she knew only one person was allowed to heal.

When the officer escorted her to the police station minutes after his departure, leading the way across the parking lot outside, Laura Robertson saw Perry leave with his devoted shadow by his side. The famous lawyer, his shoulders strong and broad though sunken in, walked slowly, like a beaten dog, his left arm affectionately tucked around his secretary's shoulders, soaking up her strength, her warmth - a picture so familiar, Laura half expected Paul Drake Senior to open the car door for them instead of his son who suddenly appeared like the child Perry and his secretary never had.

It was the kiss Laura didn't expect, a kiss that lingered, so soft and intimate it pierced her heart. Thirty years and finally an answer, Perry's arm now gracing Della's waist as he held her tight, his hands so clearly at home on her curves, her skin clad in clothes too neat to suggest she would welcome him in anything but their marriage bed. Laura watched how Perry's lips grazed his lover's curls, her temple and cheek, how his embrace became possessive for a second, shortly before he assisted her to get in the car right next to him.

"Why didn't you just tell me?" Laura whispered to herself, envious of the other woman's hearty smile, contented and loving, then saw the reason shining from the lawyer's darkened eyes, his gaze so full of love and tender as he drank in his lover's ease: he was in love with Della Street, loved her so much that words did not suffice to express the depth of his affection for the woman beside him. And the look on Della's face said enough for anyone to know - she loved him, too, and always had. Thirty years ago, her eyes, her smile, her touch had already given her away.

The End