Della's Dream Job

It had been two years since the day that Della had accepted Perry's job offer. Della and Perry had an intuitive, successful working relationship which no one could dispute. Add in P.I. Paul Drake and the trio made a nearly unbeatable team.

And when the offices closed for the night, the lawyer and his trusted secretary were cultivating a personal relationship that very few knew about.

It had taken a full year before they had acted on the undeniable attraction that they felt for each other.

It had started with an impulsive embrace in the empty office late one Friday afternoon. They had just returned from the courthouse, a bit giddy after a big win on a tough case, and their kiss had been more celebratory than intimate. But the ensuing "victory dinner" included generous amounts of the best champagne, and had ended with a much more earnest kiss at Della's apartment door before Perry pulled himself away quickly and mumbled an apology.

A line had been crossed that night, however, and soon the kisses became more frequent and intense, stolen in the law library or Perry's office when they were certain that the doors were locked and the staff had left for the night. Late dinners led to cuddling and some breathless petting on the couch in Della's apartment. It was unspoken but understood, that neither of them was quite ready to take that next step to intimacy.

For even though Della knew that Perry's heart was faithful, she still felt the specter of jealousy rear its ugly head when a beautiful woman used her wiles and tears to appeal to Perry for help.

And of course, Laura still interfered from time to time, desperate to get her claws into Perry again. It was times like these when Della struggled to control her fears and doubts, and Perry did everything he could to reassure her of his love.

The latest flare-up had been precipitated by yet another phone call from Laura, begging for Perry's help. This time, the incident had ended with defensive, angry words from Perry, and hot tears on Della's cheeks as she spun on her heels and stalked out of the office.

Perry had sat in his chair, trying hard to concentrate on the case file in front of him. He had always known that Laura was the thorn in Della's side. He had done everything he could to distance himself from that woman, but Laura was never one to give up easily, if at all. And, for some reason, Perry couldn't just say "no" when Laura cried wolf.

He knew that his temper had gotten the better of him when Della had confronted him after Laura's call. In the heat of the moment, it had seemed like Della was being particularly obstinate this time. But soon after she had stormed out, he reluctantly admitted to himself that it was his own feelings of guilt and shame - at being duped again by the ultimate trickster - that had caused him to lash out. As he remembered Della's tears, he had realized that her feelings were much more complicated and serious than he had first sensed. She very rarely cried, especially not in anger. He sensed that, for the time being, the best way to handle this was to leave her alone until she had composed herself and was willing to talk to him.

Meanwhile, Della sat in her apartment, nursing a headache and trying to get her emotions under control. Oh, how she detested that vile woman. Upon their first meeting, it had been instant and mutual contempt, and their relationship had not improved in the years since.

It was apparent that Laura's blinding hatred of Della nearly rivaled the depth of her desire to own Perry completely. It had only gotten worse when Della became Perry's secretary. Della had always attempted to take the high road, but Laura's latest attempt at disruption had been the final straw. When she had told Perry that she'd had enough, he had lashed out at her with a raised voice and angry words.

Della knew her jealousy was unfounded, but her emotions kept getting the better of her. She loved Perry so very much. Why couldn't he see how much he hurt her? Upon reflection, she knew that she had said some pretty hurtful things too. She couldn't get past the basic fact that she needed him. That was the one thought that kept running through her mind. At last, she made her decision.

PDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPD

Perry walked slowly down the hallway to his apartment. He was bone tired and just plain heartsick. He wanted…no, he needed Della. The only plan he could come up with was to call the florist first thing in the morning and have a gigantic bouquet of roses sent without delay to her apartment. Then he would beg her to let him take her out for an elegant dinner. And, most importantly, he would apologize profusely and plead for her forgiveness. He sighed heavily as he put his key in the lock. He wasn't sure what else he could do to prove his devotion to the woman that, just two years ago, he had nearly fallen in love with at first sight.

When he opened his door, he thought he was dreaming for a moment. Della sat on his couch, dressed in a soft sweater and capris, and she was barefoot. She stood as he entered, holding out a glass of champagne to him.

"Good evening, Counselor."

Unable to interpret her expression, Perry walked to her and took the glass. He downed it too quickly, hoping to slow his racing mind and heart rate.

"Good evening, Miss Street." She took the empty glass from him, refilled it, and then sank down onto the couch again. Avoiding her eyes, he took off his jacket and tie, and unbuttoned the first three buttons on his shirt. When he sat down next to her, and all his senses caught up to him, he finally noticed the unusually dim lighting and the bluesy record playing quietly in the background.

"Della, I..." He knew he had to throw himself at her mercy, but his throat was suddenly dry and, for once, the erudite lawyer was at a loss for words.

She leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on his lips. "Dance with me," she whispered.

He gazed down into her hazel eyes, still unreadable. "Now?" he asked, still flustered by Della's enigmatic expression and demeanor.

She stood and grasped his hands. "Now."

Well, so be it, Perry thought. If he was being led into a trap, he would take his punishment, whatever it was, like a man.

The music changed to a soft, slow song that Perry recognized immediately. He heard Della start to softly hum along.

"I have dreamed that your arms are lovely

And I have dreamed what a joy you'll be

I have dreamed every word you'll whisper

When you're close, so close to me"

He carefully placed his hands on her waist and they began swaying to the music. She pulled his shirt out of his waistband and finished undoing the buttons, slipping it off his shoulders. She ran her hands across his chest, tangling in the soft hair there, her cold hands causing goosebumps. She placed kisses in a trail up to his shoulder, following with her nails. Then she encircled her arms around him to run her hands up and down his broad back, enjoying the feel of the shiver she induced. Bringing her hands around again to his chest, she slid them up around his neck, again swaying to the music.

"How you'll look in the glow of evening

I have dreamed and enjoyed the view

In these dreams I've loved you so

That by now I think I know

What it's like to be loved by you

I will love being loved by you"

Perry closed his eyes and took a deep breath, praying that he was reading her signals correctly. Hesitantly, he slipped his hands under her top and around her waist. He ran his palms slowly up her bare skin, lifting her sweater as he ventured higher. When she didn't pull away or make a move to stop him, he gently pulled the soft material over her head, and dropped it to the floor. He bent his head to kiss her throat, then trailed his lips down to the valley between her breasts.

"In these dreams I've loved you so

That by now I think I know

What it's like to be loved by you

I will love being loved by you"

A low moan escaped Della's lips. "Perrrry."

Hearing his name purred from her lips broke Perry's resolve. He picked her up and carried her into his bedroom, laying her down gently on the bed. Although he wasn't entirely sure that he could slow down his momentum or stop his body's enthusiastic reaction, he paused to look Della in the eyes and ask in a husky voice, "Are you sure that this is what you want?" When he received a simple nod, he kicked off his shoes and quickly joined her to address both of their desires.

PDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPDPD

Sun streaming into the bedroom woke him. Perry lazily opened his eyes, and the ceiling came into focus as he slowly regained consciousness. He attempted to sit up, only to realize that there was an unusual weight on his chest. Looking down, he saw that he was being restrained by a very feminine leg thrown over his thigh and an equally delicate arm flung across his torso. The subtle fragrance that he knew belonged to Della filled his nose. He started to move again, causing Della to moan softly. That quiet sigh, her skin on his, her intoxicating scent…he lay back and fought for control of his own body.

When he had managed to slow his breathing to an almost normal rate, he trailed a finger down her cheek to her lips. She opened her eyes. "Mmmm. Good morning."

He placed a light kiss on her lips. "Good morning to you, young lady. How are you feeling?"

She stretched like a contented cat. "Hungry."

Perry laughed and kissed her again. "Of course you are." He started to sit up, but she tightened her arm across his stomach. "Perry, wait."

He looked at her in surprise. "Yes, love?"

She pushed him onto his back, rising up and staring down into his eyes. "I'm not hungry for food this time."

Perry's laugh echoed around the room as he rolled her underneath him to satisfy her.