Della and Mae had finished dinner and Mae insisted that she could clean up by herself. Della hugged her and said she was going for a walk on the beach. She needed some time to herself to sort out things in her mind.
A few minutes after Della left, a knock on the door brought a smile to Mae's face. She thought, it had taken him long enough. Of course, as she crossed the room to answer, she wasn't going to make this easy. Placing a frown on her face, she opened the door.
The full moon cast a beautiful glow on the water. Della walked barefoot along the sand, letting the warm water lap at her ankles. She knew she'd have to go back to the office eventually. She just didn't know how she was going to face Perry. He'd be angry with her, probably calling her childish. But she wasn't childish, she was…what? She refused to believe she was jealous. She kicked at the water, feeling the tears come. She hated that she felt this way.
She hadn't known he was behind her until he spoke.
"You know how much I hate walking in the sand."
Della frowned, but didn't turn around. She was definitely going to have a few choice words to say to her aunt.
"Well, you didn't have to follow me. You could have waited for me to come back."
Perry moved closer to her. He started to put his hand on her shoulder but thought better of it.
"Well, Mae wasn't exactly in a receptive mood. She told me where you were, but that was about all she'd say, before she slammed the door in my face. I get the impression there's going to be some groveling involved, with both of you, before I'm in good graces again."
Della laughed softly. "Mae's going to require more than me I'm afraid."
Now he did put his hands on her shoulders, gently turning her to face him. The light from the moon gave her face a soft glow, and caused the tears on her cheeks to glisten. He used his thumbs to wipe them away.
"Please don't cry, Della. I'm sorry. God, I am so sorry. I'm an idiot. I know that. Please tell me what I can say, what I can do? I'll do whatever you say. Just please forgive me. Please, please tell me what to do."
Della looked up at him and smiled. "My first instinct is to tell you to go jump in the ocean."
Perry shook his head, but returned her smile. "If that would make up for everything, I'd do it now. Is that what you really want?"
Della tilted her head, putting a finger to her lips, as if considering her options. Perry could almost see her thoughts and he had the bad feeling he was going to get wet.
Finally, Della put her hand on his arm. "I think you should take off your jacket. Salt water probably isn't good for it."
Perry cocked an eyebrow at her. "Seriously?"
When Della just put her hands on her hips and stared at him, he gave a deep sigh and took his jacket off, handing it to her. His shirt followed, leaving him bare chested. Della felt her heart skip a beat at the sight. When he started to undo his belt, Della gasped.
Thinking he better not go any further, Perry turned and walked slowly into the water, thankful the water was semi-warm. When he was knee deep, he took a breath and dove under an incoming wave.
Della had watched as he moved into the water. She saw him dive under and she searched the waves waiting for him to surface. When he didn't come up, she dropped his clothes and waded into the water.
"Perry!" She looked right and left, but saw no sign of him. Wading deeper, she called frantically. "PERRY!"
She was waist deep when she felt a tug at her ankles and she fell backwards into the surf, coming up sputtering. Perry popped up beside her, shaking his head like a dog, spraying her with water.
Della smacked his shoulder. "Darn you Perry Mason!"
She struggled back through the water to sit on the sand. Perry joined her, pushing his hair back from his face. "I figured you owed me one for worrying me by leaving the way you did."
They sat side by side, the water napping at their feet, neither speaking.
At last Della turned to look at him. "Perry?"
"Can we please get out of these wet clothes?"
Perry threw back his head and laughed. "I think we can. Do you suppose Mae will let me in the house long enough to get dry?"
"Don't worry Chief. I'll run interference for you."
Perry stood and helped her to her feet, grabbed his clothes from the sand and took her hand as they headed back up the beach to the bungalow.