"I was working nights in a bar and daytime as a messenger for a courier service …. not the one I'm with now … when one of our people delivering a package walked straight into something; he was killed. The cops came round to tell us about it and to ask questions. A couple of days later we learnt he was related to one of the mob families, I didn't know why he was working as a courier, but whatever the reason it stirred things up"
"One night at work, the barman calls me over and says someone wants to talk to me. The guy's about my dad's age, smartly dressed and got two bodyguards as big as wardrobes either side. He says he's interested in anything I can tell him about Rico …" she pauses, looks at him and adds "… the courier who was killed. He pulls a picture of the crime scene …" here she takes a deep breath and wipes a tear away before continuing, "… he must have got the picture off the cops, but what struck me was the similarity between my Moms' death and that of Rico, they both had the same type of wound and were propped up against a wall the same way. Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe not"
"You got a glass of water or something I could have?" she asks. He startles up from where he's sitting, arm along the back of the couch and gets to his feet.
"Sure … water, juice, beer, wine?"
"Water's fine thanks"
He heads to the fridge and pulls out a couple of bottles, showing them to her. She nods and he grabs a couple of glasses from a cupboard and takes them over to the table, unscrewing the tops and pouring the glasses. She takes a couple of swallows before settling back into the corner of the couch putting her feet under her and turning to face him across the couch.
It's the first time she's looked straight at him since she's started to relate her story, and he's glad that she seems to be opening up to him slightly.
Cradling her glass in her lap, she takes another sip before continuing "I tried to get the whole thing out of my mind after they left … and had just about managed it when I got a second visit a few months later, only this time it was a different guy, he said he was a PI" here she took another sip, "Seems my first visitor was Rico's Dad and he wasn't convinced about the cop's version of his son's death. Whatever he uncovered, his bodyguards weren't protection enough … someone had taken out the two guards and cut Cambrea's throat. I'm not sure … I can only guess and put two and two together from what the PI said … but it would seem the family decided they didn't want to be directly involved … probably didn't want to wake up the same way as Rico and his Dad. Anyway, they passed the job onto Jimmy Valote the PI, and when I mentioned the similarities between my Mom's death and that of Rico's he seemed interested. Long story short, he offered to investigate my Mom's case along with the Cambreas' for a fee …" here she paused and looked him in the eyes "… one thousand bucks a month … danger money he said"
Rick gives a silent whistle as he absorbs what she's just told him. He checks his watch and sees its well past lunch time. He debates with himself for a few seconds, he really wants to hear the rest of her story, doesn't want to give her a chance of clamming up again, but he also thinks they need a break from the tension.
"Look, my daughter will be back from school soon and I think we need to carry on this talk in my office later, but meanwhile we could take a breather, I can get us some lunch and check your back, see how it's doing"
At first she's not sure, she's finding this talk much more cathartic than she'd expected, Castle is a good listener and doesn't make her feel weak or stupid, but she is also aware of the tension building in her body and the thought of food is not unwelcome despite the late breakfast. Suddenly the first part of his speech registers.
"Oh my God! Your daughter! What are you going to tell her … I mean, about me?" The alarm in her voice has him grinning as he carries the empty coffee cups to the kitchen.
"I'll just tell Alexis that you're a friend helping me with some research"
"Uh! That sounds so .. so .." she says, wrinkling her nose in distaste.
"So double entendre?"
And at her nod he laughs "Its ok, Alexis is sweet, she's also smart … and one thing I don't do is bring my double entendres home, so she'll take it at face value …" he turns to look at her "… after all, there is no double entendre is there?"
She gives him an eye roll and throws the empty water bottle at him.
A few minutes later he suggests she put her washed clothes through the dryer whilst he knocks something up to eat. Once the clothes are dry she takes them out, heads to the study to grab her backpack and goes upstairs to change back into her underclothes and pants, pulling the AC-DC top back on to cover the bloodstain that hadn't completely washed out. She hesitates about what to do with the boxers and sweatpants she's been wearing along with the bathrobe from last night. She'd been adamant about leaving this place when she'd fallen into bed in the early hours, but since then she's felt pretty comfortable and having Castle treat her back was an added bonus. Should she leave this afternoon or should she spend another night here. She flops down onto the bed and groans as she buries her head in the clothes bunched on her lap.
"Are you Ok?"
Her head shoots up at the question and she sees him standing in the doorway hand raised as if about to knock.
"I ... I couldn't make up my mind about what to do with these ..." she says lifting sweatpants, boxers and robe.
"Oh, I thought maybe your back was giving you trouble, didn't realise it was a pants problem ..." he grins at her "... why not just leave them on the bed for now. If you decide to leave I'll deal with them, if you decide to stay the night you can use them ..." he lets the suggestion hang in the air.
She looks at him for a moment still trying to decipher him. Eventually, with a sigh she stands up, folds the clothes and lays them on the end of the bed. She straightens the bedcovers, still favouring her right shoulder but finding it slightly less of a problem than earlier in the day,
"Why did you come up?" she asks.
"Oh, just to say that lunch is ready"
Looking at him she thinks it is probably true, he doesn't have the guile to dissimilate if he'd come up to check on her, make sure she wasn't in the wrong bedroom, opening drawers she had no right to open, had that been the case he'd be all flustered right now ... and though he's giving her a slightly quizzical look, she concludes he probably hadn't even thought of it. And she'd better do something before her attitude does get him to think along those lines.
"Ok, Castle lead the way!"