When Martha walks into the loft she's surprised by the sight of her son and daughter standing either side of an attractive redhead as all three work at the kitchen island. She looks familiar, but right now she can't place her.
"Good evening everyone, and who do we have here?" She asks as she approached them. Alexis drops the spoon she's using to stir whatever it is in the bowl and runs round to give her grandmother a hug saying as she does so "Hey Grams, Kate's helping us prepare Chicken Provençale!"
Watching the hesitation on their guest's face, Martha, one arm round her granddaughter's shoulder leans forward and holds out her hand "Nice to meet you Kate, I hope my son is looking after you adequately? … and haven't we met before?"
"Hello Miss Rodgers, I …" the fact that she's colouring up for no apparent reason intrigues Martha no end, and just as she's about to unleash one of her apropos-about-nothing risqué remarks, Castle butts in to stop her.
"Mother! Kate is helping me with some research … and you know her from the office …" he adds with a sweeping gesture towards the room behind her, some of the sauce dripping off the fork that he's holding in his hand.
"Ah! Of course dear… oh, and call me Martha," as the light dawns on her, the courier, what on earth can she be helping Richard with, apart from the obvious. However, the poor girl doesn't look too comfortable with the current exchange, and Martha being Martha, she sets out to sooth their guest's nerves … and dig around a bit if she can get away with it.
She grabs a couple of wine glasses, places them on the island with a pointed look at her son and slipping her arm through Kate's drags her off towards the couch. "So, tell me Kate dear, how did you and that terrible son of mine meet?"
Kate throws a deer-in-the-headlights look at Castle and he gives a hopeless shrug in return. Hurricane Martha is sometimes too much even for him. He's quick to pour the wines and carry them over to where the two women are seated on the couch. Checking that his daughter is out of earshot he glares at his mother and says. "Be nice and don't interrogate her. Kate's helping me with some background information and I don't want you spooking her!"
"Richard dear, as if I would, all I'm doing is getting to know this lovely girl!"
"Well if this lovely girl yells for help, you can find somewhere else to stay" he utters as a dire warning as he returns to the kitchen and the half-prepared meal.
Kate's not sure whether to laugh or not at the extraordinary exchanges she's witnessed during the last few minutes. Castle's mother is obviously one for the theatrics and she's highly amused by them, but there is also some script going on which she has yet to pick up on. However, for the moment she'll just go with the flow and try to keep out of any minefields.
She does a pretty good job of deflecting and in spite of her overwhelming sense of guilt at taking her jewellery she enjoys her talk with this extraordinary woman. The smell coming from the kitchen is adding to the overall sense of wellbeing and she really can't think of a good enough reason to leave tonight.
Martha doesn't miss the occasional looks her companion throws at her son and granddaughter in the kitchen, or the somewhat protective looks he's returning. There's something more going on here than meets the eye, but she's not sure what exactly. The kid's obviously had a rough time from the sad look in her eyes and the way she dodges certain questions, and she's much too bright and well-read to be just a simple courier. But she also knows her son's propensity for meeting strange people with even stranger jobs when it comes to research, after all, he'd even been mixed in with the mob!
Dinner is a fun affair, with everyone congratulating Kate on her recipe whilst Castle pouts claiming he's the one who's done all the cooking. Martha makes a point of recounting embarrassing stories, embarrassing where Rick was concerned of course, which has Kate in tears and Alexis alternately covering her ears and staring in awe at her Dad. With dinner finished and everything cleared away, Martha heads upstairs to get ready for an evening out with friends and Alexis heads for the couch to watch a TV show.
Kate is standing by the kitchen island, slightly shell-shocked from the evening and wondering what to do with herself. She's suddenly startled as Castle comes up beside her and places a gentle hand to the small of her back. She flinches instinctively, but then finds that there was no pain, only a little discomfort. She turns her head and looks apologetically at him.
"How about we go to the office and I check you over …" then realising what that sounds like hastily adds "… I mean your cuts and bruises!"
Kate has to bite her lip to stop from laughing and deciding to have a bit of fun throws him a glare. He's trying to come up with a good out but obviously each line he thinks of is worse than the previous one from the expressions chasing each other across his face. Deciding to let him off the hook, she pats his arm and strides off towards the office. Castle stops on the way and she hears him telling Alexis he's just going to change her dressing.
"You need any help Dad?"
"No Pumpkin, I've got this, you enjoy the programme"
He disappears into the bedroom and returns a few minutes later with the med kit. "You want to do the …" and he's waving his hand about obviously suggesting she bare her back and shoulder. She slowly shakes her head, for a playboy he's pretty lousy when it comes to getting a girl to take her clothes off. The thought spreads the grin across her face and she has to turn away to hide it from him. When she's able to face him straight-faced again she lifts her hand, finger pointing downwards and twirls it, indicating he should turn around. She lets the smile appear when he's got his back to her and unclips her bra, sliding T-shirt and shoulder strap off her right shoulder. Once she's turned back to the desk and has both hands resting on it she tells him he can turn around.