No Longer Lonely

This MM explains what happens following a scene in the Case of the Lonely Heiress. Perry and Della are in a motel room, re-enacting what a witness told them happened the night of the murder. They're trying to figure out how poison got into the champagne bottle without their client pouring it in while the murder victim's back was turned.

Puzzled, Della held the bottle of champagne and commented, "After all, I've seen models of a clipper ship with full rigging in a bottle like this. I never understood how they did it." Thoughtfully she added, "Unless, they cut off the bottom and then re-sealed it."

Perry, a quizzical look on his face, slowly replied, "No, no, they couldn't do that. They go through …" Just then, sporting a big smile, Perry grabbed the bottle of champagne from Della and replied, "Della, I love you." Still smiling, but realizing he just said he loved Della out loud, he quickly responded, "You're a positive genius."

Wondering what just happened, Della said, "What did I say?"

Thrilled that he'd figured out the sticking point in his case but anxious to avert Della's attention from his rather hasty admission, Perry reached for Della's purse and gloves. He handed them to her and said, "Come on. Let's go. Let's get out of here."

Still reeling from the fact that Perry had just said he loved her, Della asked, "What about the champagne?"

Hustling her out the door even as he spoke, Mason said, "We'll leave it for the manager."

Della tried to focus on simply putting one foot in front of the other but as they walked toward Perry's car her mind was racing in a thousand different directions. What just happened? Did Perry really say he loved her or was it all a dream and she would wake up any minute, back to the reality of being hopelessly in love with her boss and unsure whether he shared her feelings? Had she spent so much time thinking about him today that her dreams took on a new sense of realism? But wait … she could feel the warmth of his hand through her coat as he clutched her elbow. That reassuring touch that always gave her such a sense of peace had become one of the first reasons she started thinking differently about her boss. "So this is real," she thought and once again all those questions started bombarding her brain. Did he mean what he said or was he just grateful she helped him consider another scenario in the case? Was he talking about true love or the love one feels for a good friend who helps you through a difficult situation? If he did love her, what would that mean for her job? Would they still be able to work together? Would they still want to? She had so many questions and couldn't think of a good/easy way to get any answers.

Meanwhile, Perry's mind was rushing a mile a minute, all the while hoping that she didn't notice his slip. Yet, if she did, he'd have to figure out some way to respond. But how? That was the million dollar question. The truth was that he did love Della Street. He wasn't sure when his feelings for the lovely, sexy woman had changed, but soon after she began working for him, he found himself thinking of her more often than he'd ever thought possible. In fact, he soon realized he was thinking up reasons to involve her more and more in his cases, calling her at all hours of night to request she come back to the office or better yet, he would pick her up. Of course, he'd told her from the beginning that she shouldn't expect her job to be limited to the hours between 9 and 5. Still, he admitted to himself, he didn't always need to have her with him. Yet he'd come to rely on her presence more and more. Della possessed an uncanny ability to calm Perry's nerves simply by being near him. And, more times than not, like tonight, Della was the one who helped Perry see a different angle. If he were honest with himself, Perry should probably tell her that he'd come to view her as his good luck charm.

Still, the undeniable fact was that he was acutely aware of how she felt about that cliché "boss and secretary" relationship and he certainly didn't want her to think that they fell into that stereotypical category. After all, there was no doubt in his mind that Della had started working for him without any thought of "snaring" a wealthy husband.

They reached Perry's black Cadillac convertible each still deep in thought. Perry opened his door and Della, very gracefully, sat in the driver's seat, turned and eased her long legs into the car. Daintily she slid over, leaving Perry just enough room to sit down behind the steering wheel.

Slowly, Perry folded his large body into the vehicle wondering what the next step would be. And was the ball in his court or hers? As he settled himself into the seat, he knew instinctively that her lovely hazel eyes were looking at him.

"Is something wrong, Della," he queried as he turned to look at her. "I couldn't help but notice you haven't said a word since we left the room. Anything I can do to help?"

Deciding instantly how to handle the situation, Della changed her demeanor, chuckled and gave Perry her most dazzling smile. With her eyes twinkling, she reached over to pat his hand and said, "I love you, too!"

Surprised and admittedly a little shocked, Perry stuttered, "Della, I …"

Della moved closer to Perry and reached her hand up to his mouth, placing her forefinger on his lips. "Shhh, it's okay. My heart can wait until you're ready. Until we're ready."

Letting her words sink in, Della leaned in and kissed Perry gently on the mouth.

"Now, let's get back to the office. We, I believe, have work to do." Della decided to stay close to Perry, enjoying the warmth of his body next to hers.

Perry, a bit shaken by what had just happened, reached down to turn the key in the ignition and took advantage of the movement to reach over to put his arm around Della's shoulders. "That's my girl," he smiled and whispered in her ear.