"Why would you want to help me find out about my Mom?"
The question surprises him and she can see that. "I guess I like to see justice done. What happened to your mother and what that's done to you isn't … fair … so if I can help you to get closure, it would make me feel a bit better about it", he shrugs in apology, not very happy at how he's expressed himself and not wanting to tell her that he's somewhat intrigued by the case.
She moves away and flops down into one of the chairs, pulling her legs up and wrapping herself in her arms, appearing much smaller than usual. She stares up at the screen, looking at what he's done so far, thinking about how he's managed to get her to tell him things no one else has ever heard. She turns to look at him and her mind runs through the last couple of weeks. He's caught her in his house, he's caught her after a B&E, he's looked after her, treated her injuries, hasn't reported or handed her over to the police. He likes her, it's obvious in the way he looks at her, the way he treats her, and yet she can't understand why …
She turns back to look at the screen. It would be nice to have some help, but can she trust him not to use that information? Will he keep whatever they discover between just the two of them or will he find a way to put it into his books … she couldn't bear to have her Mom's case put out there for the public to gloat over … no, she needs time to think about that part. As to the retainer, well a hundred bucks or whatever a month would help, and if all she has to do for that is to tell him how she'd go about breaking in to some building or other … not a difficult proposition, especially if that means spending a bit of time with him. Did she just say that? Pathetic Kate!
"The other documents in this folder, what are they about?"
He looks at her, pushes himself off the desk and closes both the folder and the map. He taps the next three documents and spreads them out over the screen. The first is his own version of the police reports; each paragraph an abbreviated report on the B&E along with the salient points of the interview he's had with the owner. She can see that a number of them have either 'Refused to talk' or 'Not available' next to the 'Victim's Interview' header under the each case note. The word victim makes her flinch a bit.
She turns her head to the next document and see's Story Ideas as the title. Below are a number of paragraphs outlining some idea or other he's had for the book. Her eyebrows shoot up as she reads some of them, lips curling in amusement or disparagement depending on what she's reading. Castle watches her face from where he's settled back down on his desk, his eyes flicking back and forth between her face and the screen as he tries to spot what she's reading each time her face changes.
"Really? Jameson Rook? Not very subtle is it?" she asks in amusement, "And what does NH stand for?"
He hesitates, looking at her and trying to keep the amusement off his face, eventually he manages to school his features into some semblance of seriousness and says "Nikki Heat"
"What! You can't be serious … that's a stripper's name!"
"So, I did say she'd be kinda slutty" he grins at her, "Seriously, it's a good name for her ... and just think of the possibilities with the titles"
She shakes her head, far from convinced and then turns back to him, "So, when do I get to read about my alter ego?"
He twists round, leans over the edge of the desk and slides open a drawer from which he pulls out a folder. Tucking it under his arm he stands up straight, turns off the laptop and screen and indicates they should head back to the sitting room. Nodding, Kate stands up and precedes him out of the study and back to the couch.
He grabs the bottle off the kitchen counter, refills their glasses and settles down on the couch again before handing her the folder. He places his hand on top to stop her opening the cover and adds, "Keep in mind that it's just a rough draft, up till now I've only ever allowed Alexis to read my stories at this stage … she's a pretty good critic to be honest … so … just be kind, ok?"
She realises then that in spite of all his success as a writer, in spite of the confidence he exudes whenever she's with him, he is in fact as vulnerable as anyone else. So she nods in acquiescence, and he removes his hand from the folder, allowing her to flip the cover and begin to read.
Kate turns the next page and to her dismay realises it's the last page in the folder. With a frustrated sigh she lifts her head and takes in her surroundings. She's sitting in the centre of the couch, feet up on the coffee table, glass of wine forgotten next to her right foot. She also becomes aware of the fact that she's sitting right next to Castle, her shoulder pressed against his side, his arm curled round the back of the couch, not quite touching her but close enough for her to feel its presence just behind her neck.
His head's turned to observe her, a slight smile on his lips and it gets her, not just the smile, but the fact that she's lost herself in his unfinished, unpolished story and worst of all, she's allowed him to watch her doing so. She can feel her defences rising up, ready to deflect and deny.
But he stalls her, doesn't go for the fun poking she was expecting, instead it's a slightly hesitant "Well? What do you think?"
"I … I'm surprised, she's not as shallow as I was expecting, I mean given the fact it's just a first draft …" she adds hastily.
He laughs, "What, you were expecting some bimbo burglar?"
She shrugs, "With a name like Nikki Heat … well yes, what d'you expect? Also there are a couple of things that are wrong …"
"She wouldn't be able to cut the glass with a normal cutter, high-rise buildings use tempered glass for their cladding and it can only be cut with specialised laser cutters, otherwise it would just shatter … so you're either going to have to load her up with some very expensive and bulky equipment, come up with some fictional Mission Impossible type tool or she's going to have to find a different way in"
"See, I knew you'd be a great consultant!" he grins at her.