"Say Perry, why do I feel like we just snuck out of the office behind Della's back to do something wild and crazy she wouldn't approve of?"
Perry chuckled heartily. He took a left turn, just making it through a green light before it changed. He knew full well, without even looking, that Paul's expression said he was loving every minute of being abducted to who knew where. At least he hoped so; he was counting on Paul's spirit of adventure.
He made his voice sound as neutral as possible when he said, "Well, Paul. As much as I enjoy Della's company, and I know you do, it's nice sometimes to just grab your best friend and go night driving. Don't you think?"
"You'll get no argument out of me." Paul stretched his long legs as far as they could go and lay back deeper in the passenger seat with a contented sigh. "But I know you're up to something." When Perry grinned broadly, he said pleadingly, "Come on, just a little hint where we're going?"
"I could guess 'til I get it right."
"We're not driving to the Florida Keys, Paul." Perry grinned.
"It would take me that long, huh?" Paul asked with a frown.
"And you still wouldn't get it right."
"You don't think much of my guessing prowess, buddy." He sulkily decided he should be compensated for that, so he opened the glove box and poked around in it. "Got anything to eat in here?"
Perry pulled a face. "I hope not. I haven't had a reason to open that in a week."
"Yipe!" Paul quickly withdrew his hand. "There's something soft and squishy in there."
"Well, what is it?"
"You expect me to find out?" Paul asked, sounding and looking thoroughly horrified.
"Of course." Perry was having far too much fun, that much was clear. "You're the private investigator, Paul. Investigate."
Paul turned to look over his shoulder at the back seat, where he spotted a map. He reached for it, rolled it into a tube, and poked it into the glove box. Carefully, he lifted out the soft, squishy object - it was one of Della's scarves. "Oh for--!"
"Hey, wait a minute!" Paul wasn't done poking. "Something's rattling in here."
"Could be a snake."
"Very funny, Perry." Paul squinted his eyes shut dramatically and reached inside, only to withdraw his hand with a perfectly harmless looking key between his outstretched fingers.
"Ah," Perry said, not sounding overly concerned by Paul's find and the potential spoiling of his surprise. "You wanted a hint. There it is."
"Okay." Paul held up the key to catch the glow from the streetlights they were passing. "You bought a new house."
"You bought me a house?"
Perry laughed. "No!"
"A car? No. I know - you found a treasure chest!" Paul guessed hopefully. When Perry shook his head, he tried, "You built a dungeon?"
Perry raised his brows and gave Paul a funny sidways look before quickly concentrating on the road again.
Paul didn't seem to notice. He was sniffing the air curiously. "Hey, we're at the coast." He grinned. "A boat! You finally got a boat, Perry."
Perry pulled into the road leading to the marina, and by the time he killed the engine and turned to look at Paul, Paul was beaming from ear to ear. "You realize you look about ten years old when you grin like that."
"Perry, I feel about ten years old! Now, show me before I burst!"
Perry laughed out loud. "Well, I can tell you this much: I've no use for a ten year old in this, so keep your excitement to an adult level."
"Okay, okay, I will." Paul jumped out of the car and started craning his neck, immediately proving himself a liar. "Which one is it?"
"The sportscruiser, far end of the pier." Perry started walking that way, and Paul was hot on his heels. "She doesn't have a name yet. You can help me think of one before Della gets in ahead."
"Perry, this is great!" Paul stretched out a long arm, easily reaching the side of the boat. He stroked the sleek fibreglass surface. "Outboard motor?"
"Yes." Perry was already on the boat. "Come on, Paul, let's take her for a spin."
"Thought you'd never ask." Paul followed him up the gangway and hopped on board, where Perry showed him the controls, filled him in on how to run the boat in case of emergency, and then started the motor.
"Hey Perry, this thing's got a cabin."
"It sure does. Go down and have a look." Perry steered them safely out of the marina and out to sea, and once he was sure they were on an empty stretch of water, he secured the boat and shut down the motor.
Not surprisingly, Paul came right back upstairs. "Did we run out of gas already?" he asked, not looking at all worried.
"No. I'm just enjoying the peace," Perry told him. "And the moonlight." He looked at Paul, who stood by the wheel, smiling at him. "And the company."
Perry moved closer, resting his hands on either side of Paul against the wheel. He looked deep into his eyes, congratulating himself on having picked a moonlit night to kidnap Paul.
The night was warm but breezy, just perfect. The boat was swaying gently, the Pacific ocean lapping at its side and cradling them. Aside from the waves and a few seagulls for atmosphere, there was not a single sound to be heard, aside from their breathing - which was a fair bit faster and less regular than it should have been for two men in good shape and standing perfectly still.
Best of all, as far as Perry was concerned - Paul wasn't bolting and jumping over the side. In fact, he was still smiling, holding Perry's eyes.
"I'm guessing showing me the boat wasn't your big surprise tonight."
Perry shook his head. "How do you like it?"
"The boat?" Paul asked with mock innocence. "Why, it's fantastic, Perry!" He might have started on about all its amazing features and all the fun they could have with it, but Perry's face was suddenly very close, and even Paul knew when it was a good idea to just be quiet. And wait. Until your best pal was finally, finally ready to get smart and kiss you after months, if not years, of subtle hints and puppy dog eyes.
When Perry's hands slid into Paul's hair and his tongue coaxed Paul's mouth open, Paul let him know with a happy sigh that he considered the wait to have been well worthwhile.