Chapter 7

Denver, December 1989

"Why indeed?" Perry muttered with an arched eyebrow, his gaze firmly locked with Della's. "I can't remember. Perhaps they just went out of style…Do you know, Della?"

"I seem to recall that you had a tendency to lose them… or destroy them in some manner," Della smiled at Perry, a smile he was glad that Ken couldn't see, that sexy naughty smile reserved for only him.

"Mmm… I do recollect that now."

Ken couldn't quite put his finger on what changed the atmosphere in the room, but glancing at his watch, he was glad the time had come for him to depart for the airport.

"Well… I hope you guys have a Merry Christmas and a safe flight back to LA. I'll see you next year!"

"Next decade!" Perry corrected as he levered his large body out of the chair.

Ken hugged Della and kissed her cheek. "Merry Christmas, dear. Enjoy your time at home." She offered as she escorted him to the door.

"And come back ready to work!" Perry groused, following them close behind.

"Always, boss. Have a good flight yourselves."

Della exchanged a few more pleasantries with Ken before bidding him a final farewell and closing the door behind him. She turned, back pressed against the door and took a moment to watch Perry's backside with undisguised interest, for his front was hidden behind the open door of the coat closet nearby. With a knowing smile she moved forward.

"Looking for something, Chief?" She moved to his side and deftly stuck her arm over his shoulder to relieve him of his new headgear.

"Baggage!" The muffled epithet emerged from the closet but its speaker didn't.

"You haven't called me that in years… decades, even." Della said nostalgically.

"But it's still appropriate at times." Most of Perry emerged from the closet, only one arm still hidden inside. "Like now…" His voice trailed off as he eyed her appreciatively, the rakishly tilted hat on her head already having its usual effect on both huge body and brilliant mind. "You knew exactly what you were doing, young lady. That hat… You know that the reason I seldom wear a hat is every time I put one on I tend to get… umm… excited… because you always manage to wear it… usually wearing nothing else…"

"And you have a problem with that, Mr. Mason?" Della cocked an eyebrow at him and continued. "Have you already found what you were looking for?"

"Give me back my hat!"

"But chief…"

Perry grew almost lightheaded at the look Della gave him. Knowing the effect she was having on him, she ran her hand over the hat brim, pulling it lower on her forehead. "What do I get in return?"

Perry's arm emerged from the closet carrying a well preserved fur coat. "I'll keep my mouth shut about why you stopped wearing this," He gave her his best stone faced courtroom stare.

"I wear fur coats all the time, counselor." The hat sank lower still.

"Mmm… but this one… you never wear it… yet somehow… but some fortuitous circumstance… here it is in Denver…"

"The weather has gotten so warm in L.A… and this particular coat has… other uses."

"Miss Street, you are up to your neck in this gift conspiracy!" One thick gray eyebrow lifted, piercing blue eyes accusing. "I keep expecting my old fedora to pop up!"

"Why, Mr. Mason! I have no idea what you mean!" Della turned her back to Perry and started to walk away from him. He watched with amusement as she stopped and turned her head back over her shoulder, wide flirty eyes beckoning him. The silky red robe slipped down over one shoulder revealing smooth bare skin beneath.

'Damn!' She'd been sitting there calmly drinking coffee, chatting with Ken, wearing his new hat while being absolutely and deliciously NAKED! AGAIN! Perry's eyes widened and his nostrils flared.

"Coming?"

"After you, baby? Always!" He laughed as he tossed the coat at her. Della caught it handily, but had to give up her grasp on her robe which then slipped lower down her back.

Moving quicker than his size should have allowed Perry lunged for her. She danced out of his grasp but he managed to catch hold of the robe. Della laughed merrily as she let the garment slide away, moving quickly toward the bedroom as she clutched the fur against her nude body.

Perry tossed the robe away and followed purposefully, his dressing gown falling to the floor a few feet further on. Pausing in the short hallway to kick away his slippers he paused, staring into the mirror and remembering…

There he was again, the stranger in the mirror with Perry's face. But he was a familiar stranger now. The smile was there… the blue eyes made black with growing desire… Years of love and passion tempered with tenderness and devotion. That long ago yearning for his lovely girl realized that night was still growing. The depth of his commitment to this woman had been fully accomplished and never wavered. He belonged to her and her alone, and she to him.

And she still looked so damn sexy in his hat! Many women had passed through his life but only Della Street had the power to drive him insane with both love and lust… the only woman he wanted to have sex with… the only woman he wanted to make love to… the woman he loved more now than that first time… the woman he would love the rest of his life.

As he shifted his gaze toward the bedroom door and moved, Perry could have sworn he heard his doppelganger in the mirror behind him whisper, 'Told you so!'

Perry walked into the bedroom, his step jaunty, only to stop short. Instead of reclining on the bed as he expected, Della was standing beside it, the coat clutched beneath her chin and a distant look in her eye.

"Baby?" Perry moved behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, his chin coming to rest on her shoulder. "What is it?"

"That night… it was such a long time ago… but it seems like it was just yesterday. Where did all the time go?"

"Hey… where did this come from?" Perry turned her in his embrace and stooped to kiss her lightly. "That night was amazing… as amazing as every night since has been… every morning… every afternoon… every breakfast, lunch and dinner, every vacation…"

Della's fingers lay across his lips and stopped him. "Every single moment…" She tilted her head back to kiss him fully… passionately. "And I want more of them, a lot more."

"Your wish is my command… boss. Whatever you desire…"

By way of an answer Della tossed the fur coat onto the bed then grabbed the sides of his pajama top and pulled with all of her strength. Buttons flew as she stripped the top away. Pressing her bare torso into his, she attacked his mouth, ravaging it with lips, tongue and teeth. By the time they broke the kiss to breathe his pajama pants and underwear lay in a puddle on the floor as did her panties.

"Why, Mr. Mason! What kind of girl do you think I am?" Della's eyes sparkled as she lifted the hat from her head and, taking a step back, held it down over the evidence of Perry's desire. He looked down and smiled.

"My girl…"

"And don't you forget it!" The red tipped forefinger planted in his chest pushed him backwards toward the bed. When the back of his knees hit the bed he stopped, and expectantly held out his arms. Della simply pointed.

"Why Miss Street! One might believe that your intentions toward me are less than… chaste?" There was that smile with the hint of devil in it… the smile that drove her wild… and it grew bigger as he spread his large girth out on top of the fur covering.

"One might be correct, Mr. Mason." Della lifted a knee and placed it on the bed beside his hips then stared pointedly at the hat Perry had dropped over himself now. "Let me assure you that I intend to do very wicked and very naughty things to you. Do you have an issue with that?" Her voice had dropped so low it was barely a whisper and the hat bobbed in response.

Perry stared at his lover… at his love. She'd been playing peek-a-boo all morning but at last there she was. Time had refined his Della but that sassy young lady who had rearranged his practice and his life still lurked… the 'wife' who kissed her husband so passionately in a hotel lobby as he was abandoning their honeymoon… the 'moll' to his 'gangster' on that trip to San Francisco… the secretary who'd been willing to chance jail only a few hours before their steamship departed… the woman who'd answered his call wearing only a fur coat… the partner he'd spent his life loving…

"No issues. But only if I'm allowed to return the favor." The timber of his voice matched hers.

As Della swung her leg up and over to straddle her lover the new black hat sailed across the room to land with a quiet thump. There it lay undisturbed in the corner of the bedroom, a silent witness to the love of a man and woman… a love; physical, emotional and spiritual; that had lasted for over forty decades… a love that even now grew with every breath, with every passing moment… a love proven to stand the test of time.

Hat or no hat.

~Fin~

Note: Above references are from the following books:

The wife: The Case of the Caretaker's Cat

The moll: The Case of the Empty Tin

The secretary: The Case of the Lame Canary

And the woman is of course The Case of The Counterfeit Eye.

Thanks for reading.