Building Walls

There's lots of great fanfic on here with good old Laura cast as Della's nemesis. Why should I be any different. Lord love Barbara Hale & Jean Simmons!

My thanks to CaptainChaos for being my proof reader on this one before posting on here. I previously posted this on another site but hopefully now the formatting has been corrected. All mistakes are mine.

Disclaimer ; I do not own the characters of Perry Mason & Della Street. I make no money from them. All rights are the property of the estate of ESG.

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'Happy anniversary Miss Street.' Perry Mason presented his secretary with two tickets to The Lounge where Sinatra was playing that evening.

'Dinner, Sinatra, dancing, what's the anniversary Mr Mason?' Della Street remained calm, in command of her emotions.

'Our three month anniversary.' Della looked at him with an almost blank expression. 'It's three months Miss Street since you came to work for me. I thought we should celebrate,' he explained

'With Sinatra?' She gave a puzzled expression before continuing. 'I wouldn't expect something this extravagant if I'd been here five years.'

'You've done a great job, the clients are starting to come through the door thick and fast partly thanks to you and…..' And I just want to get to know you better. Break down that wall of professionalism that keeps me from seeing the real you…..is what he wanted to say, but instead finished with, ' We've been working flat out, the least I can do is give us both a night off with a treat. Unless you don't want to.'

Della was silent for a moment before that enigmatic smile he was starting to yearn to see every day came dancing across her lips. Those lips he was starting to ache to touch with his own.

'I'd love to Mr Mason. Thank you, it's very thoughtful of you.' Perry's gut flinched and not unpleasantly. Yes! He thought, and the bricks start to come out of that wall. He gave himself a congratulatory invisible pat on the back.

'How about I pick you up at 7? We can drive to the venue, have dinner and he comes on at 9.30. After that we can dance into the early hours if you want to.'

'We have work tomorrow,' she pointed out not really wanting to pour cold water onto his enthusiasm. 'It's only Thursday morning now. I doubt if my boss will like it if I don't come in to open his office. He's a real ogre you know.'

The handsome lawyer pouted boyishly but chuckled. 'Never mind him,' he joined in her revelry. 'I know him, I'll have word about letting you come into work a little later than normal tomorrow.'

'Alright, but I do have to let him know there are several items he now needs to concentrate on otherwise neither of us will be ready for this evening.'

Perry dropped into his large leather chair and banged the desk with both his large hands. 'Bring them on Miss Street, bring them on!'

The two of them settled into the now familiar routine of professional working both as colleagues and tentative friends, sorting through the ever growing pile of must answer mail. Now and again, Perry shot Della several glances across his desk when he knew her head was down furiously noting his dictation. His mind was wandering to what she would wear. Something classy, most definitely. Would it knock him off his feet at the sight of her out of her demure, yet stylish work clothes, oh he hoped so. After a few dances, some charming small talk, a few gracious compliments he then believed he could start removing more bricks from the wall that was Della Street without her thinking he was a wolf and a pest. He fought hard not to let out an audible sigh in his personal anticipation.

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It was almost 1pm when the insistent buzzing of the phone began. The long buzz each time indicated it was internal coming from the outer reception area where their newly installed receptionist Gertie Lade had just returned from lunch. Della whipped out a practised hand and scooped up the receiver.

'Yes Gertie?' Della listened a moment nodding her head. 'Yes, Mr Mason is free to see her. You'd better send her in.'

Perry's head shot up from the papers he was reading. Before he had a chance to ask who was coming, the office door flew open and in breezed Laura, as in his ex-girlfriend Laura, large as life and covered head to toe in an expensive beige overcoat, topped off with a small fur wrap about her neck and beige gloves. Her impossibly high heels made her wobble ever so slightly as they sank into the thick carpet and the heavy scent of her expensive perfume exploded into the office air like a bath bomb had just gone off.

'Darling,' she purred in that clipped tone that was distinctly hers alone.' I'm soooo glad I've caught you in and that you're not court today.'

Perry rose from behind his desk just in time to see Della slip through the side door into her office.

'No, no court today.' He tried not to sound out the mild irritation he was suddenly feeling. Laura threw her arms around his neck the moment he was in reach, hugging him to her with all the ferocity of a boa constrictor gripping its prey.

'I've missed you,' she hissed quietly into his ear before following it up with a kiss on his earlobe leaving a smear of deep red lipstick in her wake. Perry had suspected a hug was going to be forthcoming, what he didn't count on was the tightness of it or the involuntary movement of his arms which went around her.

'What are you doing in town? I thought you'd be still in Denver?' He tried to remove himself from her embrace but found himself locked in.

'Well, I flew back in this morning. I am seeing an old but still very big client tomorrow afternoon, but I thought you and I could do some catching up.' The emphasis on the phrase catching up was not lost on him.

'I'm sorry Laura.' He managed to prise himself loose even though she was running a perfectly manicured nail up and down the chest area of his shirt. 'I thought we'd discussed this. We're meant for different things, we agreed…'

'Nonsense!' she cut him off mid sentence. 'There's nothing in any rule book that says two old lovers can't also still be friends. Now I'm taking you out tonight so no working late.' Della chose that moment to re-enter the office carrying freshly made tea. Laura ignored her and continued,' I have arranged to get two of the hottest tickets in town for Sinatra and I'm taking you.' Perry was about to say something but she raised her hand and stopped him. 'I won't hear any excuses, I want you fresh and ready to go by 6. I'll call here to collect you. I know you have your bathroom and changing facilities and I'm sure there's a clean shirt in there with all the time you spend here.' Laura turned her cold gaze to Della who was quietly placing the tray on the office table. 'You need to make sure he doesn't pick any jobs up that will keep him from me my girl.'

My girl, my girl…..Della started to fume inside. Who the hell did this woman think she was! Whatever went through her mind, her face and body remained calm, professional and relaxed.

'I will.' Della nodded in acknowledgement at her order.

Perry threw her a desperate glance. This was supposed to be their night. 'I'm sorry Laura,' he tried, 'I have plans tonight, I can't.'

'Rubbish!' she snapped. 'These are once in a lifetime tickets. All the best people in town will be there, and we are some of the best people darling.' Laura threw another icy glare in Della's direction. The meaning of 'best people' not lost on her. 'I'm not taking no for an answer.' And with that she twirled her way back to the door, 'See you at 6.' Then she was gone.

Della slipped into her coat.

'I'm popping out for the sandwiches. What would you like?' Her manner had not changed but Perry's had. He took a step towards her but thought better of it.

'I won't go with her.' He looked at her closely. Nope he couldn't quite read her yet. Liars, thieves and killers he had no trouble with, but his secretary, the one with the perfect legs, not quite there yet.

'You have to,' she answered quietly. 'She's very important these days. It'll do your practice good to be seen with her.'

'But,'

'No it's fine Mr Mason. I could use an early night for a change anyway. It's been pretty full on this last couple of weeks.' And without looking back, Della left to go to lunch.

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Perry Mason entered his office at 9am. The smell of coffee drifted up his nostrils, the mail that had to be responded to immediately laid out neatly on his desk ready for his attention. Della Street was however not there. He sat at his desk, his head throbbing.

'Della!' he called out and within seconds she appeared with a glass of water and an aspirin. 'How did you know?'

'I read in the early edition it was loud as well as very good.' He nodded in agreement. 'I also saw the photograph of you and your date knocking back the Martinis, so I suspected you'd need something for your head.'

The word 'date' made him wince. 'Listen,' he ventured. 'What are you doing this evening?'

Della searched his face looking for an answer as to why he would ask that. 'I'm having a peaceful date with a good book and a glass of wine I hope. Why?'

'I thought we could,' he threw the aspirin back and took a gulp of water. 'Well, I still owe you dinner for our anniversary.'

'It's not necessary Mr Mason.' Della was in full formal mode even though he had asked her a number of times to call him Perry when they were alone.

'What are your plans for this weekend?' He tried to stop his thoughts gaining a voice. Too late. Della looked at him, for once he could see her mind processing the question. Breakthrough? She waited a few moments before answering.

'I have errands to catch up on, my cupboard is bare as they say and I'm meeting an old girlfriend for lunch on Sunday so I need a trip to both the dry cleaners and the laundry room. Why, do you need me to work this weekend?'

Perry was now starting to muddle his words. The great orator was stuck.

'I erm, I thought you and I….'

'You and I could what?'

'We could…' think Perry, damn it think.. 'It's the Law Society dinner next week, and I…erm I was planning on writing some of my speech. Erm, I thought if you have the time, I could bring it over tomorrow evening and we could go through it. I can bring take out if you have the wine?' The last words were spoken more in hope but was trying hard to make the whole scenario casual, like a working evening.

Della considered his proposal. The telephone rang before she could answer.

'Yes, hello Perry Mason's office how can I….' Della heard a familiar voice on the other end. 'Yes, he's here, yes I understand you had a good time last night. I'm glad you both enjoyed it.' She held the receiver to him. 'Your date from last night.'

'Well?' Perry placed his hand over the phone.

'I'm sorry I have plans as I've outlined. Send the draft over by messenger or leave it here for me on Monday and I'll go over it whilst you're in court.' With that Della went to her office, leaving him to no doubt have a conversation he didn't want.

Perry sighed in frustration, the bricks that built the wall around Della Street he had managed to remove in the last three months were now firmly back in their place. Worse still, the wall now seemed to be building itself higher than ever.

Fin